This piece by Jon Fine raises the question of whether newspapers should get in on the U.S. financial bailout. Although it’s labeled as tongue-in-cheek, perhaps there’s something there. As he notes, newspapers are an institution that is essential to democracy. After seeing the car companies go begging after even more years of incompetent management than newspapers, why shouldn’t the media get a little help?

This would make the public service aspect even clearer. At the same time, this would open the whole issue of media independence. Perhaps there’s a middle ground that could be found.


I left a comment on the Reflections of a Newsosaur blog about what I think is a delusional posting arguing that newspapers aren’t doing enough to engage audiences. I think the post is fundmentally confused about what’s going on in journalism. The problem is not reaching audiences. If you look at Web traffic, news organizations are reaching more people than ever all around the world. However, readers don’t want to pay for the physical paper when they can read online for free, where they can also pick and choose just the stories that interest them.

It’s the business model that is the problem, and finding a way to make money from all those online eyeballs. Part of this needs to come from news organizations reclaiming the value of their own content by standing up to news aggregators and search engines.

Dave Winer of Scripting News suggests that a new model for journalism could resemble jury duty, where citizens are pressed into press gangs and given some brief training before they are sent out to report. The problem with this is that it fails to address the real issue of why professional journalism is floundering: the broken business model. Who will pay for all these citizen journalists that he proposes?

I don’t think there’s any shortage of people out there willing to commit acts of journalism, professional or amateur. What we need to figure out is who is willing to pay to have these watchdogs on the beat. Millions of readers are flocking to news Web sites, as I have mentioned. Journalists are finding innovative ways to report in new media. But the lights will indeed go dark for professional journalists if they can’t make a living, and then the real value of content will finally become apparent.

The audience is definitely out there, and Web sites posted huge traffic on election day. I’m sure many people were doing like me and had two screens going — watching TV and checking the laptop for more detailed info.

I was at an event at the Stanford (design school) last night and one instructor mentioned an idea about trying to reach audiences in this way by keeping them engaged simultaneously online and on TV. Perhaps that’s just an interim step before people drop TV altogether.

Newspapers around the country sold out of their post-election day issues, as people sought to remember the day the race barrier was swept out of the White House. While this one-day spike in sales will not be the salvation for print media, it does show people want something they can hold in their hands and keep when history is made. Real paper still has emotional resonance.

The New York Times is even selling copies of the issue for $14.95. Despite the price, which is 10 times the regular newsstand rate of $1.50, the store is getting heavy traffic and doesn’t appear to be working properly on this Thursday morning. Maybe they should have charged more?

This is a really nice multimedia feature tied to the election on The New York Times’ Web site, cool way to offer interactivity. Basically, it’s like a one-word Twitter stream.

This is a rather amusing leaked memo from the Raleigh News and Observer. It’s just another example of the unenlightened management that is leading newspapers to their death. The executive editor perhaps deserves some credit for letting the masses eat pizza, but this still basically just saddens me. Look at companies like Google and Facebook where employees can gorge on free gourmet meals — the totally opposite way to treat employees.