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Archive for April, 2011

Alan Mutter documents the no-longer-surprising fact that newspaper advertising revenues continued to fall for the 20th straight quarter in the first three months of 2011.

This decline comes at a time when the economy has been growing for nearly two years, turning around declines in broadcast, magazine and online advertising. Mutter closes: “Clearly, newspapers need new ideas. They need to develop a broad array of targeted content and advertising solutions to serve diverse audiences across the web, mobile and social media.”

Actually, newspapers don’t need new ideas. They need to unshackle themselves from their old advertising-and-circulation model and start serious pursuit of the dozens of ideas already presented for developing new revenue sources. Here are some ideas (not all mine and not new here, but not yet in wide use, at least by newspaper companies): (more…)

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TBD’s community engagement team has all moved on to new challenges now, except for me. Elliot Kort, a late addition to the team, left Thursday to take a new job as an interactive strategist for NJI Media.

Elliot Kort

Elliot and Elyse Greenberg produce Capitol Bites, one of the first members of the TBD Community Network. Before he began working for us, he was an enthusiastic TBD supporter and we were following each other on Twitter.

He pitched me last year with a thoughtful plan to produce podcasts for TBD. While I couldn’t hire him to carry out that plan, I liked what I saw and heard, and kept him in mind as a prospect to work with TBD. (more…)

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Update: Lots of people are finding this post through Google searches for “the 5 W’s.” If you’re interested in something on the 5 W’s of journalism, you might try my post, The 5 W’s (and How) of writing for the Web.

Jay Rosen wrote a thoughtful blog post, What I think I know about journalism, that summarized succinctly many things Jay has been writing and saying about journalism into four clear principles. He inspired me to do the same with my thoughts about the news business. So this is what I think I know about the business of journalism.

Every journalist learned quickly in our first journalism class or newsroom lesson about the “5 W’s“: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? (How gets lumped in with the 5 W’s like Penn State in the Big Ten, a joke I’ll have to modify or abandon soon.) We have to answer those questions (some of them multiple times) in every story, or the story is somehow inadequate. The same questions are essential to survival and prosperity in the business of journalism: (more…)

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Jeff Sonderman

When a friend at The Poynter Institute told me Poynter was looking for someone to write about mobile and social media, I thought immediately of Jeff Sonderman.

Jeff starts his work with Poynter next month. He will be the final member of the outstanding community engagement team I hired last year to leave TBD. Other than me, he will be the only one to make it to his first anniversary, and just barely.

I first met Jeff when he was an editor at the Times-Tribune in Scranton, Pa., and I was leading a discussion for a seminar at the American Press Institute. I probably met 30 editors at that seminar, but Jeff was the only one to stay in touch. I left API to become editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. We followed each other on Twitter and through reading and occasionally commenting on each others’ blogs.

When I announced that I was leaving Cedar Rapids to join Jim Brady’s as-yet-unnamed and still optimistic local news venture in Washington, Jeff immediately sent me an email saying he wanted to join our team. He stood out among a strong field of candidates and I hired him as our senior community host. (more…)

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I enjoyed the full-page obituary of Marijane Auten Johnson Bensmiller Zegel VanNess Torjesen that ran in the Des Moines Register a week ago (might be easier to read online in the Legacy version, but check out the first link to see the page). She lived a full life and her son told her story well (so well the Register’s Mike Kilen did a story on the obit).

That’s what an obituary should be, a genuine story of the life just ended, not the formulaic string of facts that too many newspapers run.

Most people don’t have family members who can tell their stories as well as Stan Zegel told his mother’s story. That’s why I suggested last summer that newspapers and individual journalists could develop a successful business model around telling commissioned life stories (not just obituaries, but for weddings, anniversaries, retirements and the like).

I wonder how many families would commission a journalist to write as full an obituary as Zegel wrote about his mother (and pay to publish it in a newspaper, online, or in a booklet). I would love to have such a keepsake story about my father, who died in 1978, or my nephew who died in 2009.

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Update: The chat is finished. If you didn’t join us, read the replay below, or the Storify summary.

I am pleased that my blog post last November, calling for an update of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, has stimulated a discussion about journalism ethics in the digital age.

Tonight, Kevin Smith, chair of the SPJ Ethics Committee, and I will lead a Twitter chat (#spjchat), starting at 8 p.m. Eastern time, about whether SPJ should update the Code. Mike Reilley of DePaul University organized the chat and will moderate. (more…)

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Update: I originally forgot to include Amy Gahran’s post about Will Sullivan’s advice, but I’ve added it as the first bullet.

Some interesting links relating to mobile-first strategy, about which I have written here repeatedly:

  • Alan Mutter writes strongly for Editor & Publisher that “more advertising is bound to migrate to mobile, because the intimate, personalized, and immediate quality of the platform makes it, by far, the most targetable and effective of all media.” This is the best piece I can recall seeing from Mutter on the important mobile opportunities. (more…)

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Treat your job hunt like a big story. Just as you research a source thoroughly, looking for clues and connections, you do the same with a prospective employer or company.

If the employer blogs, read lots of blog posts. Read stories by and about people who will be interviewing you. Follow them on Twitter. Just like thorough research helps you ask the right questions in an interview when you’re a reporter, thorough research will help you nail the interview as a job applicant. I’m not talking about gratuitous praise of the prospective boss’s blog. But when you’re thoroughly prepared, you’re going to say something that will show your preparation. And everyone wants to hire smart people who prepare well. (more…)

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I share a lot of new-school views of journalism and journalism ethics in this blog. Today I want to share some old-school advice by a friend whose teaching of ethics transcended generations.

In the fall of 2009, I returned to my alma mater, Texas Christian University, to lead a seminar on the challenges of digital journalism. I was pleased to see a familiar face, Phil Record, who, as I recall, had been city editor of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram when I was a TCU student. I hadn’t known him well then, but we chatted often enough at meetings of the Society of Professional Journalists (then known as Sigma Delta Chi) that I remembered who he was, and I was surprised and pleased to see that he remembered me some 33 years after I had graduated.

In a bit of generational stereotyping that embarrasses me, I presumed he was there as a courtesy, an emeritus faculty member showing up at a journalism school event to socialize and support. After all, I figured, what did an 80-year-old retired journalist want to know about the ethics of Twitter and blogging? I was shamed and pleased to see that Phil still taught ethics at the Schieffer School of Journalism and that he was one of the most engaged participants in my seminar. He didn’t know a lot about Twitter, but he was eager to learn and to dig into the ethical issues thoroughly enough to teach them. (more…)

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