When this 1981 video from KRON San Francisco resurfaced this week, I should have posted it right away. Instead I think I showed it to about 50 people in my office and shared it across e-mail.
I particularly like the prescience of the editor suggesting they don't expect to make money and might even lose a bit on this computerized newspaper thingy.
Dan Gillmor, writing in his Center for Citizen Media blog, is a dissenter in the new chorus for the endowed, non-profit newsroom.
The New York TImes and New Yorker this week commissioned work that examined the idea of a foundation-driven non-profit newsroom to shield it from economic pressures and encourage editorial independence.
Gillmor is having none of it. He views the idea as without economic and creative merit and believes time could be better spent on other matters. The role of non-profits could very well be in financing enterprise and investigative work, but not the whole entity of a news operation.
Nice idea to discuss, "but please, let’s move onto realistic possibilities."
A few weeks ago The Printed Blog surfaced as an aggregator of posts.
Unsurprisingly not far behind is the All Tweet Journal, published this week for the first time, featuring information gathered and submitted from Twitter.
The PDF download is only a page in its first week, but promises more. Given the amount of information --- links to longer text, photos and graphics --- it's hard to believe it won't be difficult to create a full-fledged publication online (and printable).
What isn't all that clear yet is what it wants to be. Its Edinburgh founders leave the door open to anything --- including frequency of publication and size, not just the content.
A new online publication, aiming to link 10,000 Canadian contributors to one million users, is making its debut later this spring.
The Mark is the brainchild of three collaborators: former newspaper executive Ali Rahmena, former magazine editor Joshua Knelman, and consultant Jeff Anders.
Its recruitment post suggests it will provide short summaries of top events, multimedia accompanying them, other multimedia of interest, and expert commentary and contribution. It has a hefty goal in the digital space, considering such entities as BigThink and other public intellectual portals.
But in an era of media loss, it's redeeming to see a media gain. A fuller story is available here from J-Source.
Steve Outing, the respected and venerable columnist for Editor & Publisher, has taken the step of scoping out the all-digital newsroom remnant of the newspaper.
He takes a good whirl at the attributes of the digital newsroom and arrives at these:
1. Fewer journalists.
2. Fewer stories, more blogs.
3. Every journalist gets a community.
4. Fewer long stories, regular blog updates, more regular instant updates.
"The great hope will be that these digital-only newspaper descendants will learn and grow, and once again provide more jobs for journalists."
A couple of years ago it seems just about every newspaper threw in the towel and lowered the firewall to content. The supposition was simple: Traffic would grow much faster that way --- along would come revenue from display advertising --- than if the firewall remained and the subscription revenue crept along.
The risk of harming the newspaper franchise was calculated at the time and the decision was that it was better to move forward and grow audience than limp forward with a smaller one. Besides, everyone noted, others were offering content free, so it was necessary to jump in.
Of course, much has changed in the newspaper business since then, particularly the economic model of advertising-supported news companies. Lately there have been some calls to look again at the all-is-free model and try to charge. There are some clear technical hurdles (firewalls are relatively easy to scale) and some major cultural ones, but in this essay for Online Journalism Review, Gerry Storch of Outlook.com lays out the case.
He argues that it's necessary to discard the print model and create niche powerhouses online. It's an interesting read.
Steve Coll, the former Washington Post writer and manager, writes on the non-profit endowed newspaper for The New Yorker.
His argument isn't terribly different than those put forward in the New York Times: an endowment would provide insulation from financial pressures, and the revenue from advertising and circulation would suffice in paying down the remainder of a newspaper's costs.
That two major news organizations have examined ---- or at least placed the notion into the discourse ---- suggests much about the momentum of the idea. As Coll points out, it's strange that a tiny college might have a billion-dollar-plus endowment but something like the Washington Post have nothing.
Robert Picard, one of the world's leading economists studying media, has a calming blog post that suggests the bottom isn't falling out of the newspaper business.
The old business model isn't working as well, but the industry isn't dead or dying, he asserts. He expects many firms to look outside the industry for help because the newspaper business has no experience with this kind of transformation.
The painful restructuring is necessary and will compel owners to focus on particular assets (and discard others) and add new value to their newspapers, he concludes.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project has some surprising data on which generations are doing what online.
Contrary to the notion that Internet use is dominated by Generation Y --- the generation that has always had an Internet --- the report concludes that Generation X seems most into e-commerce, boomers are booking travel, and the so-called Silent Generation is commanding e-mail.
A slide presentation of the report is below.
I spoke early --- very early, it felt --- today to a group at Quay Strategies of about 20 communications professionals from Vancouver. The subject was the changing newsroom. A summary of what I said is in the Slideshare presentation below.