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Archive for July, 2009

For all of my career and far beyond, the Associated Press has existed to serve the interests of the newspaper industry. For most of that time, AP has served our interests well.

When our readers needed us to provide national and world news, stock tables and coverage of sports beyond our own markets, AP developed a cost-efficient way to provide that content and fill our huge newspapers. It was a great relationship. AP contributed to and shared in our success while we racked up profit margins way beyond our best advertisers’. (more…)

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A tweet from @NiemanLab just called my attention to a Universal Hub blog post about a man hit by a trolley.

As @NiemanLab noted, this was a breaking news report based solely on Twitter. From the report, I can read and link to eyewitness reports from Mark Epstein (@epstemar), who identifies himself as a student at Northeastern University, and from Jeff Purser (@jeffpurser) of Cambridge. They provide details, such as that the victim was conscious when placed in the ambulance and this sequence from Purser: “Heard horn. Brakes. Thump. Ambulance responded quickly.”  (more…)

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One of the first lessons I learned in chess was that the best defense is a good offense.

In team sports, a defense can keep the other team from scoring and win a championship. But chess has two points: you try to keep your king alive and you try to capture the opponent’s king. The best you can do without going after the other king is a stalemate. I’m far from a chess master, but experience has taught me that I will win more games by attacking my opponent’s king than by building a protective circle around my king.

Media companies need to learn this lesson. Both Attributor and the Associated Press plan to protect its members’ content (which the AP told Danny Sullivan it was no longer bothering to explain, speaking of protective circles), are efforts to protect our king. (more…)

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One of my favorites in my collection historic newspapers is the one that tells of the death of President Lyndon B. Johnson, Jan. 23, 1973.

It’s not that I celebrated LBJ’s demise, but I’m interested that the tragedy obscured the most significant news of the previous day: the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion and influenced politics and culture in the United States for the 36 years since.

In the same way, the recent news of the death of yet another newspaper, the Ann Arbor News, might have obscured the more important news of a significant web-focused community news organization, AnnArbor.com. (more…)

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I hesitate to write again about newspapers’ insistence on finding a way to make paid content work online.

I’ve written that we can’t cling to the past, that we never made our money by charging for content, that we already know paid content doesn’t work and that people will find other news sources if we erect pay walls.

As David Simon and Ryan Chittum campaigned for pay walls in the Columbia Journalism Review, I considered jumping in on the issue. As the New York Times, which couldn’t get people to pay for its famed columnists, prepared to try again, I considered taking another swing, but held up. (more…)

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Thanks to all who have prayed and expressed concern and support for my nephew Patrick, whose battle against leukemia I wrote about in February and again in March after his bone-marrow transplant.

I wish I had an encouraging update, but tests this week confirmed that Patrick’s leukemia has relapsed. He and his parents are considering a range of treatment options. He is a brave young man (turns 16 next Thursday) whose good humor in the face of this heartbreaking news had doctors and his parents laughing. We continue to welcome prayers. (more…)

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I thought I would have more to say on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11.

Hanging on my office wall is a frame made for me by my son Joe to display newspapers from my collection of historic front pages. As I displayed the front page from the July 21, 1969 Columbus Dispatch, proclaiming “U.S. ASTRONAUTS WALK ON MOON!” earlier this month, I thought I’d need to blog something profound when the actual anniversary approached. (more…)

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