More than a decade ago the debate began.
First there were the true believers in print. They asserted the slow-loading, computer-crashing Internet would never replace the trusted newspaper.
Then there were the early adopters. They believed the new media would fully take the place of the inky, once-a-day newspaper.
Then there were the debates: The degree of content that should be placed online, the degree of content that should first be placed online, the degree of content that should only be placed online.
Free. Or paid. Or linked to a print subscription. Or added to a print subscription.
The short-form video, Epic 2015, predicted that the commoditization of content would predicate an elite, offline New York Times.
Tell Rall, in his alternative weekly blog, suggests there is no other choice for newspapers but to take three routes: go offline, protect everything with copyright, and discontinue the wire services. He sees that course of action as the last chance for the ailing newspaper business in the U.S.
It makes for an interesting read, and it's not nearly as retro as one might think.
The self-described curmudgeonly blog, CounterValue, has identified the 12-point survival strategy for so-called "subs" --- the deskers we call them in North America --- as newspapers become newsrooms and the print medium integrates with online media.
It's a clever plan: among other things, learn search engine optimization, learn how the content management system works, learn how to template pages to spend more time on the Web, and offer all sorts of effort to glue yourself to the digital path.
Written with a lovely flair, from the right place.
The print media in the U.S. is in a general decline, but the growth in Web traffic continues to be heartening.
The Newspaper Association of America released data today indicating a 12.2-per-cent growth in traffic on newspaper Web sites in the second quarter from a year earlier. The total reach was about 66.4 million unique visitors and about three billion page views.
Jonathan Dube's interview with Arianna Huffington on Poynter Online provides advice from the hottest (4.55m UVs) news Web site: Get a point of view, be accessible and prompt, and show your decision-making.
Borrell Associates has released an eye-catching report today indicating that some 39 per cent of the print revenue from Yellow Pages will disappear in the next five years. That's a $5-billion bite.
Online directories, search engines and the like have hit the venerable print business exceedingly hard (although, it should be noted, those online directories are also at times run by Yellow Pages itself).
Borrell notes a rapid expansion of advertising opportunities (search engines, video, etc.) that is fragmenting the previously solid print directory business. If there is a silver lining in the cloud, the report notes that the online directory business is booming, training and positioning itself for growth.
A bit of a plug for itself in today's Times on Verve Wireless, the U.S. firm attempting to put the newspaper (like the Times) on a mobile platform like the BlackBerry. The challenge, the company notes, is that most local papers don't have the resources to do this. Verve will, in exchange for part of the ad revenue. The other challenge that the piece doesn't discuss is the mobile platform --- although the iPhone and other such devices are getting close.
In the search for new ways for journalism to do business, one of the biggest challenges is sorting through the effectiveness of advertising.
While technology permits much more tailoring and targeting, has the audience necessarily found advertising on the Internet effective?
A recent U.K. study from Dynamic Logic indicates that print advertising remains the most positive in reception from consumers (52 per cent), ahead of outdoor (50 per cent) and television (49 per cent). Surprisingly slow is the consumer response to embrace online advertising, either through search (28 per cent) or display (21 per cent).
Gawker reopens a debate many newsrooms have spent countless hours agonizing: Just how valuable is reader-added commentary on content?
It takes a pretty anecdotal run at the situation and determines that newspapers shouldn't bother. The argument: People aren't all that helpful and often quite harmful.
We've had a long, hard look at this issue at The Vancouver Sun and decided that, with some entreaties to keep the comments clean and non-personal, there's much more benefit than not in opening our journalism to discussion.
A newsroom depends on the public for tips and already the online discussions have yielded plenty of those. They're helping some of our reporting in adding some expertise (although we'd love more and have some ideas about that). And they provide some very useful opportunities to reverse-publish content.
The critical question there (and on this blog here, for that matter) is how to engage with the commentators. The more open you are about processes, the more helpful. The more light you shed on decision-making, the better.
Anonymity is hardly the best way to commit journalism.
Too many anonymous sources crowd into basic reporting. Too many such sources take free swings at those they oppose. Too many journalism organizations permit such unattributed criticism because it makes for salty, lively and descriptive reportage.
It's interesting to see Google take a slightly different stand in its Wikipedia rival, Knol: Only identified authors need contribute. I had a closer look this weekend, and it has enormous potential to add to the digital sphere.
Now, I happen to love Wikipedia, but I also know it is susceptible to rogues in the wide community of scribes. For some it's a reasonable price to pay for the general good --- and speed and scope --- that comes with the wiki. I'm not so sure anonymity is necessary for something like a reference work. I stop short of citing Wikipedia, as do my colleagues, because they are concerned that recent posts have been massaged. It's far better to know the Knol writer.
It will be one of those classic loss leaders, mainly aimed at proving that technology can be presented more than proving that technology can be presented affordably. But Esquire magazine will use an e-ink cover for its September issue. A tiny battery will power the cover and Ford will place a significantly expensive ad with a moving automobile on the inside cover. The production process will move from China to Texas to Mexico to the U.S. market.
If nothing else, this will be a collector's edition. More than likely, though, it's the first of many to come.