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Archive for July, 2010

Twitter succeeds sometimes in spite of itself.

I have promoted Twitter use among journalists on this blog and at conferences, seminars and, of course, on Twitter itself. So I make fun of Twitter not as one of those critics who don’t understand it and refuse to like it. I write as one who has tweeted more than 13,000 times, can’t picture myself without using Twitter and am occasionally amused or annoyed by its shortcomings.

But I gotta say: Twitter sucks at using location. (more…)

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Buttry at son Joe's wedding rehearsal

That moment of silence for my iPhone was not mourning. I was just stunned. The sobbing, that was mourning.

For three years now, since the first iPhones came out, Apple’s mobile meth has been at the heart of my innovation pitch.

At the first Newspaper Next symposium in February 2006, Harvard scholar Clayton Christensen used phones as an example in explaining disruptive innovation. I understood instantly. At an intellectual level, I understood Christensen’s story of how Alexander Graham Bell’s original telephone disrupted Western Union and the telegraph business. At a personal level, I understood deeply Christensen’s story of how the original mobile phones – though barely good enough by such standard measures as reliability, audio quality, battery endurance and size – changed communication forever because they offered mobility. (more…)

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Details mark the great writers. Like this tidbit in an obituary by Kay Powell:

In fact, after she was widowed, there were 13 toothbrushes in her bathroom, all kept there by people who regularly enjoyed her company.

The detail tells you about the person who died and shows you why Kay is a journalism treasure. (more…)

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I don’t expect newspaper companies to follow the advice I offered Wednesday for a new business model for obituaries. Why should newspapers start following my advice now?

So I’ll turn that advice around and suggest that it could work for journalists who have retired, accepted buyouts, lost jobs staff cuts, or are still seeking to break into a shrinking news business. (more…)

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For academics studying whether “citizen journalism” is going to “replace” traditional journalism, let me save you some time: It won’t. It’s not trying to. It shouldn’t.

Journalism is not, never has been and should not become a zero-sum game.

A study by a team of five university researchers showed a fairly common old-media bias in comparing citizen media sites to traditional media in 46 metro areas. The title of a report on the study by Missouri School of Journalism researchers Margaret Duffy, Esther Thorson and Mi Jahng describes the flawed premise: “Comparing Legacy News Sites with Citizen News and Blog Sites: Where’s the Best Journalism?(more…)

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Maya enjoys the Magic Kingdom

If you read this blog in January, you might remember the story of Maya, the Haitian orphan who joined our family following the Jan. 12 earthquake.

To summarize quickly:

My niece, Mandy Poulter, and her husband, Matt, had completed the the three-year adoption process before the earthquake and were just awaiting a U.S. passport so they could bring 4-year-old Maya home in February. In a series of events that Mandy and Matt describe as a miracle and an answer to prayer, ABC’s Robin Roberts found Maya at the orphanage six months ago today. Mandy and Matt brought her home to Pella, Iowa, just a week after the quake. Mandy sent this update today: (more…)

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Monday night I criticized a Pennsylvania newspaper’s plan to charge loyal online readers to read the obituaries. Today I want to suggest a more innovative, future-focused approach to obituaries.

I was interested that Ernie Schreiber, editor of the Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster New Era, cited my Newspaper Next experience in scolding me for Monday’s post. He clearly had an awareness that N2 was about innovation, but (like many of his peers in the newspaper business) he did not learn the core principles of disruptive innovation that we taught in N2.

One of the fundamental lessons of N2, based on the disruptive-innovation research of Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen, was that innovation opportunities rest in identifying “jobs to be done,” needs people have. Innovators who provide welcome solutions to those jobs are on the path to success, Christensen says. (more…)

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When I posted Newspaper charges for reading obits online: double-dipping on death, I invited Ernie Schreiber, editor of the Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster New Era, to respond. I posted his response as a separate post, because I think it’s fair to give him his say uninterrupted. But he raised points that demand or merit a response on my part. So I respond here, republishing his email to me again in full, this time with my commentary interspersed:

Steve,

It’s disappointing to learn that when you left the newsroom, you left behind fairness, the bedrock of credibility in our profession.    As you well know, an ethical journalist reaches out to the subject of a story before publication of that story, not afterwards.  And an ethical journalist does not engage in silly name calling. (more…)

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When I posted Newspaper charges for reading obits online: double-dipping on death, I invited Ernie Schreiber, editor of the Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster New Era, to respond. His response is below. I responded separately.

Steve,

It’s disappointing to learn that when you left the newsroom, you left behind fairness, the bedrock of credibility in our profession.    As you well know, an ethical journalist reaches out to the subject of a story before publication of that story, not afterwards.  And an ethical journalist does not engage in silly name calling. (more…)

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Update: Ernie Schreiber, editor of the Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster New Era, has responded to this post. I encourage you to read his response.

If I were seeking to kill off newspapers (I’m not), I would try to persuade them to charge people to read obituaries online. Apparently that’s the plan of Journalism Online, a profiteer seeking to cash in not only on newspapers’ death wish but on the deaths of their readers.

Journalism Online’s sucker in this fantasy-based paywall experiment is the Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster New Era (oh, the irony in that name; I will call it the Old Era for purposes of this blog). People who read more than seven obits a month at the test site, LancasterOnline in Pennsylvania, will be denied access unless they pay $1.99 a month or $19.99 a year. (more…)

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Bloggers, including this one obviously, are abuzz about Google Me, the Facebook-killer-wannabe rumored to be under development in the Googleplex.

Of course, the naysayers are pointing out that Google has flopped with two ballyhooed social tools in the past year: Wave, which was launched with lots of hype and anticipation, and Buzz, which snuck up on the market, generated a lot of brief (yeah) buzz, then virtually vanished from the social conversation. (more…)

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