Unrequired Reading {23.12.08 to 27.12.08}

December 29, 2008

These are some of the things that have caught my atten­tion lately. It’s a more eclectic mix than just the news busi­ness, but then so’s life:

  • Newark Star-Ledger’s Paul Mulshine Says Blog­gers Are No Replace­ment for Real Journ­al­ists | WSJ.com — Yawn: “[I]f you want a car or a job, go to the Inter­net. But don’t expect that Web site to hire some­body to sit through town-council meet­ings and explain to you why your taxes will be going up. Soon, news­pa­pers won’t be able to do it either.

    Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched a parade of top-notch report­ers leave the Star-Ledger for the last time. The old model for com­pens­at­ing journ­al­ists is as obsol­ete as the tele­graph. If any­one out there in the blo­go­sphere can tell me what the new model is, I will pro­nounce him the first genius I’ve ever encountered on the Internet.”

  • Pro­to­type — The Com­ics Are Feel­ing the Pain of Print | NYTimes.com — Comics.com serves more as a mar­ket­ing tool than a sig­ni­fic­ant source of rev­enue. Ms. Wilson says the site does bring in money from advert­isers, which include cell­phone com­pan­ies and Net­flix. But its primary func­tion is to build a fan base — and to provide links to sites where fans can buy books, cal­en­dars and other items fea­tur­ing char­ac­ters from the com­ics. No one expects Comics.com to fully com­pensate for what Ms. Wilson calls “declines on the print side.” The site, she says, is “a plat­form for what comes next.”
  • Me and My Blog | Jon Slat­tery — “I get the same fun put­ting up an “exclus­ive” story on my blog as I did when I was at Press Gaz­ette although I think I am using the word in both its mean­ings – it has not been pub­lished else­where and is going to a very small audi­ence.
    The good thing about blog­ging is that it gives you a voice and is like own­ing your own news­pa­per or magazine except that you are not los­ing money and you don’t have to sit in pub­lish­ing meet­ings. The bad is that you have cre­ated this thing that needs to be fed and kept alive with new con­tent but won’t earn you a bean.”
  • Just what are they teach­ing future journ­al­ists? | 10,000 Words — One of the biggest com­plaints about mod­ern journ­al­ism schools is aren’t equip­ping the next wave of journ­al­ists with the skills they need to com­pete in today’s news­rooms. So what are they teach­ing stu­dents? The online course descrip­tion for sev­eral J-schools were run through Wordle. Here are the results.
  • Tim Russert — b. 1950 — Role Model | The Lives They Lived — NYTimes.comTV Journ­al­ism as sports: “Dan Rather came of age want­ing to be the next Edward R. Mur­row, the cereb­ral and styl­ish god­father of broad­cast journ­al­ism. The late Peter Jen­nings seemed to have been born in a trench coat in an exotic loc­ale, and he car­ried the genes of his father, an eleg­ant anchor­man on the Cana­dian Broad­cast­ing Cor­por­a­tion. In my remote corner of South Dakota, our fam­ily got its first tele­vi­sion set just as Hunt­ley and Brinkley were begin­ning their met­eoric rise. As an impres­sion­able teen­ager, I was drawn to the cool, con­ver­sa­tional style of Brinkley, a mas­ter of the nar­rat­ive form and the ironic take on the day’s news.

    Tim Russert was in the next gen­er­a­tion of broad­cast journ­al­ists, and his role model was none of the above. As he often told me, Tim was a John Mad­den man. Mad­den, the large, rumpled former coach of the Oak­land Raid­ers who became the N.F.L.’s premier tele­vi­sion analyst…”

  • Coffee’s con­nec­tion to local TV news | Lost Remote — Back in the late 1950s and early 60s, Max­well House began slowly sub­sti­tut­ing tasty but expens­ive “Arab­ica” beans with bit­ter but inex­pens­ive “Robusta beans” in its cof­fee. After all, cus­tom­ers were com­plain­ing about the increas­ingly high prices. Max­well House made the trans­ition slowly, con­duct­ing con­sumer research along the way, and the vast major­ity of its cof­fee drink­ers were unable to detect the dif­fer­ence. This kept prices under con­trol, cus­tom­ers happy, and the busi­ness con­tin­ued to run at a respect­able profit. Other cof­fee makers did the same.

    By 1964, cof­fee sales declined for the first time in the his­tory of the U.S. Younger people weren’t becom­ing cof­fee drink­ers. Why? To a first-time cof­fee drinker, it tasted hor­rible. Coke and Pepsi sales began to skyrocket. Cof­fee con­tin­ued its decline. Then a man named Howard Schultz took note of the espresso bars in Italy and launched a little com­pany called “Star­bucks,” bring­ing back Arab­ica beans with a new way of doing business.

  • Stephen Glover: Pon­ti­fic­at­ing Mr Peston, self-indulgent blog­gers, and why the BBC should stop put­ting opin­ion before facts | Mail Online — Mr Glover pon­ti­fic­ates: “I ques­tion the wis­dom of BBC report­ers giv­ing any opin­ion in their blogs even when I agree with it. Even if it is not tinged with polit­ical cor­rect­ness, even if it does not reflect fash­ion­able opin­ion, it is still an affront to the val­ues of the BBC for report­ers to prof­fer their opin­ions in pub­lic.
    The cru­cial point is that a reporter who indulges a pas­sion for pun­ditry will for­feit our trust as a reporter, and under­mine his call­ing. We will think we know where he or she is com­ing from.
    Moreover, hard-pressed journ­al­ists are not using their time well if they spend hours pen­ning blogs when they could be talk­ing to sources, and get­ting out and about. The BBC’s man in Aus­tralia may be blame­lessly employed in writ­ing a blog since there are few other out­lets avail­able to him, but I won­der how busy report­ers can find the time.”
  • 12 and a half rules to be a good journ­al­ist | sans serif — Just what it says…
  • Talk is cheap, but here’s my money | Howard Weaver — Yes, the stock price sucks. As you know (or should) that reflects Wall Streets’ ana­lysis of our pro­spects. And we all know those are some smart guys who always get it right, huh? To cite stock price as a defin­it­ive meas­ure of per­form­ance is as bad a sin as those who ran their com­pan­ies mainly to max­im­ize stock price.

    This much is clear: When McClatchy demon­strates, as it will, that it is com­ing out of the the downturn/transformation chal­lenge whole, that price will rise again.

  • My favour­ite Typefaces of 2008 | i love typo­graphy, the typo­graphy and fonts blog — “This year has been a great year for type, with many new releases. Some of them are excep­tional. Fol­low­ing is a list of my per­sonal favour­ites of the past year…”
  • Long Tail the­ory con­tra­dicted as study reveals 10m digital music tracks unsold | Times Online — [A] new study by Will Page, chief eco­nom­ist of the MCPS-PRS Alli­ance, the not-for-profit roy­alty col­lec­tion soci­ety, sug­gests that the niche mar­ket is not an untapped gold­mine and that online sales suc­cess still relies on big hits. They found that, for the online singles mar­ket, 80 per cent of all rev­enue came from around 52,000 tracks. For albums, the fig­ures were even more stark. Of the 1.23 mil­lion avail­able, only 173,000 were ever bought, mean­ing 85 per cent did not sell a single copy all year.
  • 2008, Journ­al­ists & Blog­ging: A Part­ing Shot | Adam Tin­worth — If you spend your life teach­ing people in media about social media, about con­ver­sa­tional pub­lish­ing and genu­ine online com­munity, you will spend a good per­cent­age of your time being told you are wrong. Some­times it’ll be in small ways of the “inter­est­ing but… nah” way, and some­times in all-out con­front­a­tion, which I rather like. And some­times it’ll be in the soul-sapping “I’ll be all nice to your face and under­mine you and your work behind your back” kinda way. But you’ll get some ele­ment of it every single work­ing day. 

    And sure, there’s noth­ing there that isn’t just part of office polit­ics gen­er­ally. But you don’t get into a job like this unless you’re pas­sion­ate about the thing you’re evan­gel­ising, and con­stantly hav­ing to defend it against a bar­rage of neg­at­iv­ity can get wear­ing. Hav­ing to defend what you’ve done is one thing, hav­ing to con­tinu­ally defend the exist­ence of your own pos­i­tion is quite another.

  • Annals of Drink­ing: A Bet­ter Brew: Report­ing & Essays | The New Yorker — Ignore the ter­rible dropped intro and enjoy read­ing about beer: “I leaned for­ward and put my nose to the grain. The bar­rel was more than a year old, but the wood smelled freshly milled. A sharp, spicy, res­in­ous scent came off it, like incense and mulled wine. To stand up to its aroma, Cala­gione said, he had filled the bar­rel with a strong brown beer. It was made with three kinds of hops, five kinds of wheat and bar­ley, a dose of unre­fined cane sugar, and a sturdy Scot­tish ale yeast. It had a creamy head when poured, like a Guin­ness stout, and con­tained about twelve per cent alcohol—two and a half times as much as a Bud­weiser. Cala­gione called it Palo Santo Mar­ron. It was an extreme beer, he said, but to most people it wouldn’t have tasted like beer at all. There were hints of tobacco and molasses in it, black cher­ries and dark chocol­ate, all inter­laced with the wood’s spicy resin. It tasted like some ancient elixir that the Inca might have made.”
  • Deloitte Study: Mil­len­ni­als, Mobile and More | New­TeeVee — Tele­vi­sion remains the most impact­ful and influ­en­tial advert­ising medium across all age groups, and watch­ing tele­vi­sion was the most pre­ferred type of media for con­sumers as whole. Mil­len­ni­als were the excep­tion with their media pref­er­ences scattered across TV, movies and the Inter­net; all were import­ant to them.
  • Inter­net Over­takes News­pa­pers as News Source | Pew Research Cen­ter — The inter­net, which emerged this year as a lead­ing source for cam­paign news, has now sur­passed all other media except tele­vi­sion as a main source for national and inter­na­tional news.

    Cur­rently, 40% say they get most of their news about national and inter­na­tional issues from the inter­net, up from just 24% in Septem­ber 2007.

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