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.com – TV 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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