Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Raise your hand if you want to work for a newspaper

Hmmm ... any hands go up out there?

Didn't think so, at least if you check out the recent post by AOL Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis (thanks to Gary Karr for the outpoint).

Leonsis, who also likes to be known for his interests in the Washington Capitals, Mystics and Wizards, spends some time recounting a guest lecture he gave at Georgetown and the responses to his questions about what search engine, IM service, etc., the students use.

He closes with this:
When I asked which industry or career would they pursue, almost everyone said a career in the entertainment or new media industry. Many said they wanted to make documentary films. Many said they wanted to be in marketing, advertising, sports management or start their own business or go work for a non profit. When I asked who wanted to go work for a newspaper, NOT a single hand was raised. Not one.

If no one is reading a newspaper on campus and no one wants to go work for a newspaper, what does that auger for that industry compared to new media?

OK, so this isn't unbiased. He has a dog in this hunt. (And as a note, people are reading newspapers on campus. See this study (pdf) that shows about a 50/50 split among all students, and significantly more readership among undergrads.)

Still, that last paragraph should be something that every editor, every publisher and every newsroom talks about every day. It is clear newsrooms are not getting the best and the brightest -- at least not to the extent they once did.

What do they plan to do about that? What are you doing about that? Let us know in the comments area.

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At 2/27/07, 9:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once had the same thing happen in front of a class of students, which stopped me cold seeing as they were journalism students and I teach in a print-oriented program. Yikes! When I rephrased the question and asked how many saw themselves working at a newspaper at some point in their career, about half the hands went up. I suspect the young folks are much more platform agnostic (or under the sway of TV and magazines) than us older folk.

At 3/1/07, 9:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I majored in journalism, worked in the news business and worked at the some of the leading online publications (startribune.com and washingtonpost.com)

Most newspapers don't get where the value is, and more importanly where it will be.

It is treated as a manufacturing business where the end product is the dead trees that are delivered to you. That's the wrong way to look at it - the product should be knowledge.

Yet every day, newspapers throw away accumulated knowledge and start over. All of the context that exists throughout the news creation process is lost.

It drives me crazy... they could do so much better at very little incremental cost.

Some of my thoughts on how to turn around the business are here: http://blog.agrawals.org/tag/newspapers

At 3/5/07, 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wrote a piece about how papers can create long-term value from the content they create and create more compelling news experiences.

At 3/5/07, 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops, forgot the URL:


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