Thursday, February 02, 2006

Interesting contrast

An interesting contrast this past week about newspapers and their innovation.

From David Lieberman at USAToday:
But stop the presses. Media's sleeping giant is waking up.

Executives throughout the industry, which generated an estimated $65 billion in revenue last year, are opening their minds to a host of ideas, including new paper publications, television and radio services, websites, podcasts and transmissions to cellphones.

"I don't think I've ever seen the sense of innovation and willingness to take risks that I'm seeing now," says John Kimball, chief marketing officer of the Newspaper Association of America (NAA).

Two days earlier from Jack Shafer at Slate:
I'm not about to predict what the collapsing cost of media creation will ultimately do to the news business, if only because my track record at prophesy is terrible. But this much I know: The newspaper guild (again, reporters, editors, publishers) can't compete by adding a few blogs here, blogging up coverage over there, and setting up "comment" sections. If newspapers, magazines, and broadcasters don't produce spectacular news coverage no blogger can match, they have no right to survive.

But instead of improving their product by deploying technology bloggers can't afford (yet), newspapers are devolving. Many are cutting staff. Daily newspapers are growing smaller and uglier, with no paper looking anywhere near as lovely as Joseph Pulitzer's New York Worldfrom the late 1800s. Comic strips have gotten so tiny you need a magnifying glass to read them. I'm fine with newspapers cutting back on stock tables, but they aren't adding something new to the package. Most newspapers claim they've shrunk their dimensions to combat steep increases in newsprint prices, but that's a lie.

What else do I want? I want a daily newspaper that looks as good as Vogue but smells like a cinnamon bun instead of perfume. I want smarter newspaper headlines. I want a Mike Royko in every daily newspaper. I want editorials signed by people, so I know who to yell at. I want newspapers to restore editorial cartoonists to their place of honor instead of eliminating them. To broaden the answer, I want the newsmagazines to give me a better reason to read them than remixes of the last four days' news cycle, and I want them to look like Harry N. Abrams' coffee-table books.

I want Arthur Sulzberger Jr. to straighten out the production problems at the Washington-area plant that prints the New York Times so it arrives on my doorstep more reliably. I also want more for my Times subscription than TimesSelect and its stingy 100 "free" searches a month from the archives, its News Tracker, and the paper's columnists.

And that's just for starters. If my fellow guild members want to save their jobs, they'd best meet my needs.

Yes, indeed, folks, no matter what your persuasion, here at Common Sense J, we have perspectives for everyone.


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