#journalism

Clay Shirky on the death of newspapers:

When the Tribune Company recently got rid of their newspapers, the New York Times ran the story under a headline “The Tribune Company’s publishing unit is being spun off, as the future of print remains unclear.”

The future of print remains what? Try to imagine a world where the future of print is unclear: Maybe 25 year olds will start demanding news from yesterday, delivered in an unshareable format once a day. Perhaps advertisers will decide “Click to buy” is for wimps. Mobile phones: could be a fad. After all, anything could happen with print. Hard to tell, really.

It is sort of humorous/sad how reluctant most publications are to call the most obvious of spades a spade. You’d think there was bias or something.

Om Malik on the more mainstream press wading into the Bay Area to cover tech:

When tech was hot at the turn of the century, Vanity Fair showed up lugging along its neon lights and fog machines. A few years later, when Google went to the stratosphere, the pattern was repeated. Has the New York Magazine, having run out of stories about New York and its insecurities and is sending reporters by the plane load to cover Silicon Valley — each one hoping to write about this tech-thing! Have Wolves of Wall Street become so docile that they don’t merit a proctology exam?

Great post.

Michael Moritz on the recently-leaked internal New York Times internal operating memo:

The overwhelming sense from the report is that, except for the desire to refashion its rich trove of archived material, the Times hierarchy is still too busy paying homage to the past. Here are some telling examples. The printed newspaper still carries the slogan, “All the news that’s fit to print” - a slogan that is now so patently false that it sounds like a spoof borrowed from The Onion.

Ouch.

I think a problem is journalism is being overly concerned with writing for other journalists. Twitter, in particular. Journalists have so engaged on Twitter and it’s so empowering and gratifying to write an article your peers really enjoy that you can forget that your peers are very different from your readers. It can be a little bit problematic.
Ezra Klein, speaking to Joe Coscarelli on the launch of Vox.

Ben Thompson:

Nate Silver’s manifesto for his new site is 3500 words long, meaning it would take the average adult just under 12 minutes to read. That 12 minutes is then gone forever, a bit of attention taken from whatever other activity said reader would have otherwise consumed, and instead gave to Nate Silver. That is why Nate Silver is so valuable.

The implication of my news consumption being dominated by the tall skinny part of the power curve is that those who can regularly appear there – the best of the best – are going to win the zero sum game for my attention. And, for that, they will be justly rewarded.

What then, though, of the tens of thousands of journalists who formerly filled the middle of the bell curve? More broadly – and this is the central challenge to society presented by the Internet – what then of the millions of others who are perfectly average and thus, in an age where the best is only a click away, are simply not needed?

It’s a great point and question. The internet has made the “best” more accessible, so why would anyone settle for anything less?

David Carr on the current boom in newfangled journalism:

I was part of the first bubble as a journalist at Inside.com in 2001 — an idea a decade ahead of its time — and this feels very different.

The web was more like a set of tin cans and a thin wire back then, so news media upstarts had trouble being heard. With high broadband penetration, the web has become a fully realized consumer medium where pages load in a flash and video plays without stuttering. With those pipes now built, we are in a time very similar to the early 1980s, when big cities were finally wired for cable. What followed was an explosion of new channels, many of which have become big businesses today.

A good way to look at it, I think. Because of the written-word parallels, so many people want to compare online journalism to newspaper journalism. But perhaps it is far more analogous to other businesses in the past.

David Carr sat down with Pierre Omidyar about his new $250 million project backing Glenn Greenwald:

Carr: Do you think that serious journalism can pay?

Omidyar: I think on its own, probably not. Certainly the learning from our site in Hawaii shows how difficult it is. Advertisers don’t want to put their ads next to the investigative story; it’s extremely difficult to do that. And very few people today actually read those serious news stories on the Web now. The audience for the most important stories can be depressingly small. There will always be a core of readers willing to support that work, but it is a tiny, tiny percentage of broader society. That’s part of the reason we are doing a general-interest site, to work on how we get a general-interest audience to become engaged citizens.

Christine Haughney on the future plans of The New York Times to make money:

The plans vary from news-based products, like video, mobile apps and expanded international coverage, to tangential revenue producers like one-day conferences and cruises featuring Times reporters and columnists as expert speakers.

Yes, that’s actually part of the plan. Cruises.

The New York Times reporting that The New York Times is not for sale:

On Monday, The Washington Post Company announced it would sell its flagship newspaper to Amazon.com’s founder, Jeffrey P. Bezos, for $250 million. The sale of The Post by the Graham family, which owned it for 80 years, leaves The Times as one of the few major American newspapers still run by a family.

In an interview published last week in The Daily Beast, Mr. Sulzberger addressed rumors that a media mogul like Mayor Michael Bloomberg might purchase The Times at some point. “Imagine. People talk. What a shock,” Mr. Sulzberger is quoted as saying. “The Times,” he says, slapping his palm on the table, “is Not. For. Sale.”

Yet.

Leslie Kaufman and Christine Haughney on the failed merger of Newsweek and The Daily Beast:

Given that the two publications lost more than $30 million in the previous two years, he asked, why was it a good idea to put them together? And if The Beast was on schedule to break even in 18 months, how much longer would it take now that Newsweek was part of the mix?

Ms. Brown says she has no recollection of that particular meeting, but half a dozen employees who say they were present said the atmosphere immediately turned awkward. The famous editor gave no ground. The target, she said, remained 18 months.

More than two and a half years later, Ms. Brown has missed the mark. Synergies have long since slipped away. After the magazine hemorrhaged tens of millions of dollars, Barry Diller, the billionaire media mogul whose company owns both publications, publicly called the purchase of Newsweek “a mistake” and the original plan to save it “stupid.” On Saturday, the company announced that it had sold Newsweek for an undisclosed amount to the digital news company International Business Times.

What’s the opposite of “flawless victory”?

David Carr:

"Truth is not the hole in the middle of the doughnut, it is on the doughnut somewhere,” a veteran reporter whom I worked with at an alternative weekly in Minneapolis once told me. What he meant was that articles that strive only to be in the middle — moving from one hand to the other in an effort to be nicely balanced — end up going nowhere. I was just out of journalism school, brimming with freshly taught tenets of fairness and objectivity, and already those values were in question.

Matthew Yglesias:

Like everyone else I’ve seen the headlines remarking on the fact that a New York Times Company which bought The Boston Globe for over a billion dollars is selling it this weekend for just $70 million. But if you read the body text of those articles you’ll see that the paper actually sold for much less than $70 million. It in fact sold for a negative quantity of money.

That’s because the terms under which John Henry is buying the paper stick the New York Times Company with the Globe’s pension obligations, which are said to amount to around $110 million. Which is to say that the worth of the overall Globe enterprise is negative $40 million, not $70 million.

Yikes.