Lately the founder of the classified giant Craigslist has been discussing the role of journalism. Given his role in providing a new forum for advertisers that had previously used journalistic forums for their messages, he's getting a lot of attention for his insights.
Newmark still sees a great function for journalism in curating relevant content, but notes
it's getting more personal and differently filtered through social media sites and recommendations.
"People are relying more and more on critics they trust, and their friends," he says.
He repeats his recently coined line: Trust is the new black.
The Washington Post today features the latest in a series of essays
from media scholar Robert McChesney and journalist John Nichols on the challenge of modern journalism finances.
They are calling for a form of public subsidy --- not state-run media, but a system of assistance for digital journalistic growth, conversion of ailing companies into lower-profit sustainable ones, and broader financing of public and community media. Their idea isn't to save newspapers, per se, but to save journalism.
"For the first time in American history, we are nearing a point where we will no longer have more than minimal resources (relative to the nation's size) dedicated to reporting the news. The prospect that this 'information age' could be characterized by unchecked spin and propaganda, where the best-financed voice almost always wins, and cynicism, ignorance and demoralization reach pandemic levels, is real. So, too, is the threat to the American experiment."
How do you engage young people in substantial media? If you're the Sarkozy government in France
, one of your approaches is to help provide a year-long subscription to a newspaper of your choice if you're aged 18 to 24.
It's a novel effort designed not only to immerse young people in serious editorial content but to prop the newspaper business. As the program (announced last year) unfurls, some 30,000 subscriptions have been supplied, a fraction of what's to come.
Some 60 publications are participating in the costs and the government is setting aside about $22.5 million U.S. for the scheme over the next three years.
The longstanding complaint in news organizations is that the search engines are plundering their content with no real return. Google is getting away with it, in other words.
Having looked past the notion that these same engines direct audiences their way, they in turn search for a clampdown on the free-to-operate climate. in Germany the publishers appear to have found an ally.
Angela Merkel's government is looking to address this with a particular copyright protection that would make it financially onerous for search engines to enlist journalistic content. Royalties would be payable.
Not surprisingly, the blogosphere is alight with complaint.
"At some point in the future, newspapers may disappear," writes Daniel Gross. "But count me in the later rather than sooner camp."
He writes in Slate
that hope is being conflated by analysis for the doomsayers of newspapers, but that the results indicate otherwise. There's a large audience, substantial revenue stream, and even profit in a recession --- something online sites have yet to develop.
The newspaper-is-dead crowd have a different agenda than one of journalistic research and conclusion, he suggests.
Within the next day or so, users will be able to see a music result from Google using its OneBox display.
The new music service provides artist information and permits a one-time-free stream and links to several services to purchase the music. The service also lets you find a song by searching for a line or two from lyrics.
Given the recommendation-engine emphasis in much media, Google is also partnering with services that provide similar music to your search selection.
The possible implication for media is how it will influence search for content. It may not be a game-changer for the music industry, but it takes search in an additional direction.
The New York Times blogs on it
and a Google video on the service is below.
The world's largest search engine's leader believes the Web in five years will be much more enlivened by Chinese-language content, social media and substantially speedier technology.Eric Schmidt envisions a world
of 100 MB speed --- of video, audio and text moving at the same clip and the elimination of distinctions between Internet and broadcast speeds.
He says the experience we'll all have is the experience teens now have of moving from application to application seamlessly.
And he believes the real-time Web information will be collated more appropriately. Learning how to rank user-generated content is one of the great challenges of the next years, he said.
His speech at a Gartner symposium is attached as a video.
Many newsrooms are employing a so-called pro-am hybrid, bringing experts and passionate creators into the mix of what they produce and distribute to the communities they serve.
But the Knight Digital Media Center correctly points out
that the approach isn't just a simple matter of flipping the switch. In some instances it makes sense to train citizen journalists in the craft.
Mary Turck posts five core tips for the training: getting the basics right, the proper teaching method, positive feedback, reinforcement and constant contact.
As newsrooms move more into the use of such content, it only makes sense to have a method to train those who create.
The newspaper-is-dead mantra doesn't hold up, but it takes some respected essayists to put it down. The Barron's commentary
from Jonathan Knee, author of the new book The Curse of the Mogul, is a strong addition to the discussion.
Knee notes that the newspaper business is very viable, profitable and sustainable, despite circulation declines.
Even good businesses have terrible capital structures, though, and Knee correctly identifies debt loads assembled in better economic times as challenges to overcome --- along with outdated and excessive cost structures.
"Obviously the Internet isn't the newspaper industry's friend," he writes. Embracing technology is necessary, but not in a blind trust.
Newspapers will be part of a crowded environment and need to focus differently. He isn't clear on what.
"Operators must aggressively focus on cost and cooperation, designing truly distinctive offerings that leverage their advantages in this newly competitive landscape."
The news business is changing so fast it is almost impossible to stop and chronicle the shifts and teach those who would like to come along.
Which is why Adam Westbrook's 6 x 6 document
is such a terrific addition to the public sphere at a critical time. Westbrook
is a multimedia journalist in London and a lecturer at Kingston University.
"If 2009 is remembered for one thing in the journalism history books, it will be for when the industry stood at the crossroads, seemingly paralysed by the upheaval in the methods of publishing and distribution," he starts.
But "the revolution spells opportunity" and the need for new skills.
His guide looks at the technical skills of video, audio, and storytelling, and the non-technical skills of branding, business and making things happen.
It's a great starting point for new journalists and an even better wake-up call for those into the career.