Media stories of note for Friday, March 22, 2013:
Earlier this week, Slate's economics writer Matt Yglesias wrote
on these being the glory days of American journalism, what with such abundant sources and platforms of content. Conor Friedersdorf, writing for The Atlantic Online,
takes issue with an element of that assertion in his essay. He argues that local coverage is suffering, no matter the breadth of new resources to understand the world. He says citizen journalism hasn't filled any breech opened by local newspaper cuts. "Until some entity is doing the work that local journalists aren't doing anymore, we're likely to see more instances of government waste and corruption, citizens who are more poorly informed about the government closest to them, and all the unpredictable dysfunction that entails," he writes. "Much is better --- and much is worse."
The Economist adds its voice
against measures to impose press regulation in Britain. A royal charter passed in the Commons this week provides a simplified defamation process for those who enlist in the regulator and leaves others open to more severe penalties. The Economist says that in a choice between regulation and expression, it is far better to have expression. Even though tabloids have on occasion broken laws and victimized innocent people, they have also exposed lies and corruption in high places.
In the new edition of Nieman Reports,
filmmaker and author Errol Mendes discusses truth in journalism.
Mendes' new book examines the four-decade-old case of convicted murderer Jeffrey MacDonald, whom Mendes has concluded was innocent. But Mendes, a former detective, says the truth isn't about what a majority of people believe. "We are constantly creating narratives, but we should remember that narratives can be shown to be false," he says. "The world always trumps whatever story we can concoct for ourselves."
Media stories of note for Monday, March 18, 2013:
The annual State of the News Media report
has been released by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. The report is a scorecard on media, primarily in the U.S., in the last year with special examination of elements of media. This year's report identifies several critical problems, principally a smaller workforce in traditional outlets and the rise of special-interest groups in covering significant news. Its other main conclusions:
the public is noticing the cuts, the news industry isn't earning a large share of digital advertising, there is a sharp growth in sponsored content, the growth in digital subscriptions appears to be having an impact on revenue, local TV news is following newspapers into cuts, word-of-mouth is leading to deeper news consumption.
Britain's Parliament will vote Monday on a proposed charter to regulate the media. On the eve of the vote, The Guardian reports t
hat three major news companies indicate they would boycott any regulator with legal clout (a proposal from the opposition Labour party) and establish their own self-regulation. The proposal follows the collapse of all-party talks on the matter following the Leveson inquiry into press conduct. Early Monday, though, the three parties agreed on a plan,
although they are publicly disagreeing on whether there is legal underpinning of a regulator.
Ken Doctor, writing for the Nieman Journalism Lab,
has an elaborate look at what he believes will be the newsroom economics (newsonomics, as he calls it) in five years. His main expectation is that data will be gathered about the audience to permit advertisers to understand and value the content creators appropriately, but he has an extensive blueprint, much of it patterned on the recent successes of Financial Times in this space.
Justin Ellis, also writing for the Nieman Journalism Lab,
examines how The New York Times last week experimented with an online comment filter following the announcement of the Pope to filter their identities and moods. The result was a more structured and arguably more relevant online discussion, he concludes.
In his latest post to Publishing 2.0,
Mark Briggs summarizes a conference on online development and concludes the future is very much hooked into local.
It's an immature space, he hears, and there is sufficient scale to make a business out of it. Newspaper retrenchment, mobile emergence and the spoils will go to those organizations that connect local business with worthwhile content.
"But if you work for a local news organization that isn’t serving local businesses with innovative digital solutions, better buckle up," he writes.
Briggs spills out his notepad in the post, but it's a useful primary guide.
Josh Korr in Publishing 2.0 identifies a central problem in the recent efforts by some media organizations to aggregate local information with an extensive series of links.
The problem is that it's often unhelpful to offer so much help. It can add to the load just enough to make it overload.
His argument, though, is the benefits outweigh the detriments --- that the advantages of a composite sketch of local stories is useful, even if they can't all be read.
My view, for what it's worth: These are early days in the link economy and in aggregation, and we're all still feeling our way in determining how to serve as a filter and a funnel, a gatekeeper and an enabler, an authenticator and a conduit. Maybe it's too early for a good debate on this. Maybe we just need to let it happen for some time and sort through what works.
New media are starting to connect with the notion that hyper-local ads at low cost can engineer growth and haul in the low end of the advertising food chain beneath the noses of bigger media.
The strength of targeted, lower-cost online media spending is offering an option to retailers and services in communities . Larger legacy media are having more difficulty in making this adjustment, notes Dow Jones Newswire.
Journalism 2.0 asserts that not all is lost on the local news frontier online. It's still possible to develop value through joint ventures and connections, that it's not necessary to do everything any longer, and that it's time to hit the ground running now.
In the end, everything is local.
It should not surprise anyone that Huffington Post, the most successful pure-play online news entity, would shift its attention to local franchising at some stage. Their/her first stop is Chicago, where HuffPost will aggregate local news, blogs and content, but dozens of U.S. cities are on the horizon.
Meantime, Topix has entered into a handful of content deals in listings, apartments, TV and movie listings, business and (yes) pet directories. It's shifting itself from a mainly news to a broader portal locally.