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au> Tuesday, February 28, 2006 The Guardian: moving brand online Simon Waldman, director of digital publishing at The Guardian, talks about moving the newspaper's brand online in an interview with Jemima Kiss of journalism.co.uk. Asked what has kept him at the Guardian for ten years, Waldman responded: "Whenever I've even thought about packing my bags, something fascinating has always emerged … In addition to that, there has been a long standing commitment to the net from the top of Guardian Newspapers down ... we've been able to spend most of the last decade building a fantastic online presence and business rather than constantly having to justify our existence. Lots of organisations have been willing to chuck huge chunks of cash at the net in sporadic bursts, but few, if any, have shown the same level of steady, continuous support and that is probably the single reason why we've been able to do so well." When asked who is doing the best work in online news, Waldman replied: "I still think we're way ahead of the pack among newspapers and the BBC only ever nudges ahead because it has such a vast resource to play with. I think the Washington Post has done some interesting things recently with mashups and Technorati, and at the other end of the scale I think the way that the Newbury Weekly News has adopted video is really quite spectacular given the scale of its operation." Waldman gave the following information regarding upcoming Guardian projects: "What are we up to? These days of course, everyone else is noodling about with blogs often rather desperately but our planned comment blog 'Comment Is Free' will take things to a whole new level. We're also going to build up our podcasting activity in the coming months." When asked: How much further do you think newspapers can and will go to incorporate reader content on their sites? Waldman replied: "It's not how much further they can or will go but how much they have to go. And I think the answer to that is much further than many currently feel comfortable with. If newspapers want to remain relevant and exciting in the decades to come, it will be essential for us to rewrite the rules on how we engage with our readers and users … We should
acknowledge that a new generation of under25s is emerging with radically different expectations of media. To put a commercial spin on this, we can't just think of them as our future readers and users, but as the brand managers and media buyers of the future as well. We ignore them and their expectations of us at our peril." Source: journalism.co.uk
Monday, February 27, 2006 US: local/digital adrenaline shot for ailing paper Significantly smaller than its immediate rival and operating in a market that has been on a downturn for 20 years, The Seattle PostIntelligencer's plight is well known in the American newspaper industry. Some even predict that the daily will eventually die. But several reforms the paper is undergoing could prove these pessimists wrong. A few years back, the PI launched "Project Tornado", an initiative which repurposed some newsroom employees to finding out specifically what the paper's readers wanted to see in the paper. Now, the project's findings are being implemented, causing a complete restructuring of the newsroom. Tornado found, as most newspaper/new media pundits have been predicting, that the issues that most concerned readers tended to be local and that stories from outside the area should be given a local flavor. In order to provide better local coverage, the newspaper had to adapt its newsroom. The paper's managing editor, David Mccumber explained that "Instead of tying staff to individual sections of the newspaper, we're tying them to topics we want to cover particularly well." Reporters can now be shifted from one area to another. For example, the business section just lost its real estate journalist to the neighborhood section. The sports section is divided into professional and "everything else," especially outdoor sports that Seattle area residents enjoy. Articles from arts and metro could end up being printed in the business section, according to business editor Margaret Santjer. The newsroom also added four assistant managing editor positions and made its physical structure more open by knocking down office walls.
It also began a "Web first" initiative through which reporters post breaking news on the paper's growing website before the article is ready for the print edition. Additionally, reporters have been assigned to produce only breaking news for the web and blogs and forums are soon to follow connecting the paper more closely with its community. Source: MSNBC
Tuesday, February 28, 2006 Are newspapers sacrificing news for entertainment? Bill Emmott, the outgoing editor of the weekly The Economist recently commented on the success of his newspaper suggesting that dailies had contributed significantly, but not in the way one would hope. Having helped to double the paper's circulation to over 1 million during his 13year tenure, Emmott said that the tendency of daily papers to print more "entertainment" news while sacrificing hard facts and insightful editorials left the analytical Economist a niche for educated readers craving intelligent journalism. To see if others in the industry felt that newspapers were straying from their core function, The Editors Weblog asked several newspaper men and women to react to Emmott's comments: George Brock, Saturday Editor, The Times, UK; President, World Editors Forum The view of an editor of a magazine as successful as The Economist deserve respect, but let's not forget that The Economist is a weekly "newspaper" and is thus likely to lean towards the analytical. And the "space" into which The Economist has shrewdly grown is the expanding curiosity about global business. Serious daily newspapers have always mixed entertainment, news and analysis: the issue isn't the fact of the mixture but whether or not the proportions are right. Over the past 20 years, the quantity of commentary and analysis both in opinion columns and in news analysis in my own paper has risen steadily. Persuading a reader to form a longterm relationship with a daily may partly depend on analytic qualities. In the next few years, with news being transmitted more and more by digital platforms, papers may concentrate more on analysis not as easily read on the web. But readers can also be persuaded to buy papers and, yes, papers seek to maximise their readership by something they urgently want or need.
Bill Densmore, Director/Editor, MediaGiraffe Project, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA
At the local level, newspaper publishers can still gather news, without analysis, and get along. But they have offered it in more ways than on paper. Beyond their topical or geographic niche, however, Emmott is right. Entertainment, world and national news are now a commodity. So, actually, is commentary. But factbased analysis remembers rare and prized. I think newspapers have to learning to become the information home base or valet for their users able to find, reference analyze and recommend information from anywhere.
Bachi Karkaria, National Metro Editor, Times of India, India Bill Emmott is both right and wrong. Yes, analysis is what print does best, for both reasons of legacy and now perhaps default. I would not however agree with the statement that Net and TV have left this space largely to us. In India, some channels draw much prestige for the quality of their discussions, and it is not a domain they will relinquish. It is a select viewership, but an influential one, in the same way that readers of the edit page form a very small but coveted part of the general readership. As for the future composition of newspapers, they will stick, though not exclusively, to serious issues, but they will have to keep finding ways to present them in readerfriendly ways, different ones for different contexts. Conversely they will bring gravitas to areas conventionally deemed frivolous. Lifestyle will be looked at less as a transient event, and more as a trend. Editorial page writers will deem (or be asked to consider) this a subject worthy of comment as society takes its due place along with politics and economics. The sociology and psychological fallout of changing mores, relationships, leisure options will get more serious discussion. Technology too will move out of its niche, and assert itself in mainstream pages. In India, urbanisation is fast asserting itself on news and editorial pages; city rather than nation is an already apparent trend. Emmott mentioned `authoritative analysis'. Yes, but participative media is here to stay. Net can stroke this beast most seductively, and TV and radio can accommodate the instant phonein/sms/email public response. Print too will have to find creative ways of serving the need of today's audiences who are looking for news that's relevant to them, insist on a say in the forming of opinion. No newspaper can afford to position itself as the oracle, talking down from on high.
Philip Meyer, Knight Chair in Journalism, University of North CarolinaChapel Hill, USA The problem is more complicated than a choice between entertainment and analysis. The media that have flourished in the past half century are those that attract specialized audiences. That's good news for small community newspapers, bad news for large metropolitan papers whose content is a broad mosaic that tries to contain some appeal for everyone. The Economist is a niche publication, albeit a very large and vital niche. But to say that newspapers should imitate it is no more logical than saying they should emulate People magazine because it has a large audience.
Philip Stone, followthemedia.com, Switzerland At followthemedia.com, where our number of readers goes up around 5% monthly, we are told time and again that we are read for our analysis. People want help in understanding information. As you may recall the Economist has had its biggest subscriber increases in the US and if you think of the way American journalism is taught that the journalist gives the facts and only the facts and keeps opinion out of stories, then it is natural that if people want analysis, and they do, that they look at the venues that provide that. And the Economist is as good an example as any you will find for that. As to the content of local newspapers, we at followthemedia.com believe strongly that newspapers must increase their local coverage to a far greater degree than they do now, and should invite more reader participation. . People want to know what is happening to their neighbors, to the local school and the further you travel from the front porch the less interest there is for those distant events on a daytoday basis. But the key is the proper convergence with the Internet in other words newspapers must become multi platform, and, indeed, there may be less reliance on "paper" in the world of newspapers. So apart from the stories and boxscores etc. on the local sports team one should be able to go the newspaper's web site and see some video of that game, and listen to a podcast interviews with some of the players, the coaches, etc.. It does not have to be that professionally produced, indeed it can be audience participation video/audio taken by parents and others going to that game but no longer is news just text, or pictures, or video, or audio it is all of these things put together and newspapers must adapt so that they are the multiplatform delivery system that people turn to.
Barry Sussman, Editor, Watchdog Project of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, USA One thing left out of Emmott's explanation is the continuous, expensive promotion The Economist undertakes. Without it, no amount of concise analysis would have brought such great success, in my view. I'm not sure more analysis would help newspapers succeed but it would be better than a glut of celebrity news. I'd focus on hard news and the kind of global report that Emmott describes, and I'd try to promote them heavily. Would that work? Maybe, since the world is getting smaller every day. But if it wouldn't, let's at least go down swinging. The other thing I'd do is study the Internet for best practices and how to apply them.
JeanPierre Tailleur, Journalism professor, Political Science Institute at AixenProvence, France Bill Emmott’s comments are very instructive for newspapers managers who tend to ignore the peculiarities of their media in their competitive environments. Some French regionals, for instance, excessively decide what is fit to print according to what television news put forward or to what they believe consumers like (entertainment namely). Dailies do not build strong confidence with readers, however, if they are seen as followers of commercial trends or broadcast media. Like The Economist, which has been investing on investigative stories in its specific area (world politics), they should cover more deeply their specific fields to ensure a solid readership base.
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