Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bad news, good news -quick hits

Ah, I love the Web. In one day you can find:

The bad news
  • Sam Zell says things are so bad in the business "nobody can survive."
  • This takeout on Demand Media that ought to scare the hell out of every journalist. Sure, Demand, known to more people as eHow, isn't doing big-J journalism. It's simply doing the kind of "refrigerator journalism" that for years has seriously helped pay the bills. Only it's doing it for $15 an article for writing, $2.50 an article for copy editing and 8 cents a headline. The scary part, though, isn't the prices per se. It's this observation from Jason Fell at Portfolio (which sounds eerily like the arguments I was making here about commodity journalism long before the bottom fell out):
    But what jumped out at me while reading the Wired piece wasn’t Demand’s soaring profits. It was how co-founder Richard Rosenblatt (former CEO of Intermix Media, the company behind MySpace) thinks other media companies, which have been trying to increase the value of their content to at least match the cost of producing it, have the equation backwards. As he’s done with Demand, Rosenblatt said the trick is in cutting costs until they match market value for your content.
    Chew on that for a while.
The good news
  • In my e-mail this afternoon comes this. File it under "score one for the good guys":
    The Arizona Supreme Court has held "that if a public entity maintains a public record in an electronic format, then the electronic version, including any embedded metadata, is subject to disclosure under our public records law." This is the first state supreme court opinion in the country to rule that metadata is available for public review. This is a big deal, not only for access to metadata, but for electronic records in general. Special thanks to ASU professor Steve Doig for his assistance with the amicus brief. http://www.supreme.state.az.us/opin/pdf2009/CV090036PR.pdf

  • Daniel Gross writes in Slate that before we start filling in the grave on newspapers, we ought to take a closer look at their finances and how they are restructuring their business models so that subscribers pick up more of the freight. He makes some interesting arguments worth considering.
All in a day's reading.

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