It’s the seemingly unintentional, passive-aggressive jab that I sometimes get from older or otherwise more established journalists, writers and editors. Most often and in many ways, I’m sure the sentiment is pristine in its accuracy, often abutted by the never-to-be-defended-against “it takes time,” which, of course is always true.
But I can’t help but think what’s happened since, say, 2007 or even later, is something bigger that is changing the value of a lot of once rock solid professional advice for young and otherwise aspiring journalists, and making it awfully hard out there.
Nobody in business will ever say he isn’t concerned with listening to the customer. Really proving it, of course, is the difference between well-loved companies and those that aren’t.
Even notoriously frustrating Comcast has gained ground with its use of social media — a powerful mechanism for communication that, despite all the attention, we still may have yet to fully grasp. But beyond the buzz, the real value is hearing from customers who experience your products, whatever they may be — from buying tires to reading news.
I had two experiences with the concept recently, one from your friends in old media.
On Friday, I was driving a car that wasn’t my own through Flemington, N.J., though I had been holding on to the keys quite a bit in the past few months and noticed no warning signs of trouble. After filling up the tank at the Quick Check — something of a North Jersey Wawa, 7-11, fill-in your moderately well-liked convenience store that makes hoagies etc. — I turned the key and.. nothing.
I got the chance to offer, as a regular customer, my thoughts but didn’t feel anyone cared — how strange a successful regional corner store chain can’t do what old media did the same week.
When local news is at its best, it delivers coverage no one else on the planet it can. So, it’s important to take it seriously.
A friend revisited with me a story from northeastern Pennsylvania earlier this year that exemplified it wonderfully: a steer gets loose from a pen the night before a high school agricultural fair. For more than two days it runs wild. The local press, highlighted by the Easton Express-Times and then the Morning Call when it got particularly ridiculous, chased the high school teachers — friends of mine — and the students and administrators as they chased the steer.
It made great, fun, well-followed news. If lessons can be made from when news outlets make mistakes, they can certainly be made from their triumphs. And, livestock or not, this was a triumph. Follow the news feed from that magical May week and what seemed to work.
There were protests acrossthe country calling for Yoo to be fired. He wasn’t. And, as news is want to do, it seems to have all but quieted. That’s how John Yoo became a household name and will soon be forgotten.
Newspapers, large and small, have served for generations as a gateway for providing information about the deaths of loved ones.
Without any real numbers to back this up, it sure seems that unlike things like job listings and other classifieds, obit profits haven’t been eaten away nearly as much.
When I look at highly targeted community Web sites — successful ones like Howard Owens’s The Batvian and My Missourian (read about if they are sustainable) — I don’t see them trying to do the same. Any site that has any meaningful geographic focus and critical mass of readership there needs to see this as an important monetization strategy.
The graphic analysis, as depicted above, aims to give some sense of the how the sources of information developed in common society. It suggests that in the next 10 years, we’ll find more and more news and information via social networks, with declines in TV, general Web sites and blogs.
After a few hundred years of newsletters, pamphlets and other written news sources known of in Europe and perhaps present elsewhere, the idea of a regularly published, verifiable collection of news source was developed in the United States in Boston, New York and Philadelphia in the mid-18th century. Leading to that turn of the century, more than 50 newspapers of varying stripe were bubbling in the colonies, leading to the idea of “freedom of the press” when the 1791 Bill of Rights were ratified.
This graphic and its explanation — well worth your time — gets the history down, if briefly, but I can’t say I agree with all its prognosticating about the future of news gathering.
The Tribune-owned Baltimore Sun issued Jeff Quiton of Inside Charm City a cease-and-desist letter claiming that Quinton has been republishing “substantial portions” of The Sun’s content, and because the infringement was willful, Quinton could face up to $150,000 per violation in addition to lawyers fees.
The Sun took issue with Quiton copying large portions of their stories, though the suit added they don’t have a problem with a headline and a graf being used by bloggers if links are included.
It’s another case of old media taking on new media. And I am completely on the side of old media on this one.
Editors have been cut. I assume there are more young journalists freelancing and those with staff jobs can’t be getting the same attention. College journalism professors are almost all naturally inclined to a generation no longer here.
Who the hell is teaching the next generation of journalists?
I’m betting that a revenue model for newspapers will develop in the coming years -whether it be as a nonprofit or whether online advertising can be revolutionized. Many general interest newspapers will be lost, but a tier will remain for at least some time, I think.