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Posts Tagged ‘Alan Mutter’

Alan Mutter makes a point that I’ve been hearing editors make most of my career: Most newspaper stories are too long.

I’m sure he’s right. But some newspaper stories are too short. And story length is way down the list of problems facing the newspaper business.

I remember when I was at the Des Moines Register, Jim Gannon, who I believe was executive editor at the time, decreed that no story could be longer than he was tall. He was 5’10″, as I recall, so a story couldn’t be longer than 70 inches. 70 inches! Register reporters were writing so long that Gannon’s idea of introducing some discipline was to limit stories to 70 inches (and newspaper columns were wider then than they are today). (more…)

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I call your attention to seven recent pieces about the business of news. I don’t feel strongly enough (or have enough new to say) about any of them to comment at length, but I’ll comment briefly.

Dean Starkman of Columbia Journalism Review continues to pretend that paywalls are a panacea for the news business, saying that the Washington Post needs one immediately. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that I’m wrong and paywalls are a good idea. At best, they’re only part of a solution. If they were the path to posterity, the news organizations with paywalls wouldn’t be struggling the way they are. Even if a paywall works, we need a lot more than paywalls, and the single-minded focus on paywalls is slowing the development of other solutions.

Mathew Ingram’s response to Starkman is, not surprisingly, much more insightful: “This focus on a paywall as a magic solution misses the point about the larger risks facing both the Post and the industry as a whole.” (more…)

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I have blogged this week about various aspects of digital-first journalism. For any of that to succeed, digital-first must succeed as a business approach.

It will. It is. I’m not going to explain that in detail in this post, though. I’m going to shift to curation (an important process and skill in digital-first journalism), because lots of people have already explained the business aspects of the digital-first approach well.

John Paton, CEO of Digital First Media (and Journal Register Co. and MediaNews Group) explained the company’s business approach better than I would (which is good, since he’s the CEO) in his June address to the International Newsroom Summit in Zurich: How the Crowd Saved Our Company. His recent post on news media as medium and messenger elaborates, including the slide below. His September post announcing the formation of Digital First discussed some of the results of the approach so far (and we’re just getting started).

Digital First revenue: stacking dimes

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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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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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I still don’t have a lot to say about this week’s changes at TBD. But I know people who follow this blog are interested in business models for news and in the TBD experience.

So, in the spirit of TBD’s model of linking to other content, I will pass along links to other people’s analysis of the business aspects of what has happened here (I don’t agree with all of them; just passing them along):

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Reviewing 2009 on my blog (mostly for my own information, but I share it because that’s what bloggers do):

My most popular post by far (more than twice as many views as anything else) was my Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection, posted April 27. I proposed a detailed new business model for community news organizations. It received more links from other blogs and more tweets than anything else I’ve written this year. And interest in C3 remains strong. (After traffic on that post declined from June through September, it increased in October and November. December didn’t quite match November, but exceeded August, September and October). C3 gets more attention in a slow month than my average post gets total.

Everyone wants a blog post to go viral, but I’m glad I didn’t write something quirky that went off the charts. C3 was one of the most important things I’ve written this year (or in my career), so I’m pleased that it received more attention than any other post. I’ve been invited to make presentations dealing with C3 in Florida, Nevada, California, Texas, Siberia and Canada. I hope in 2010 to be writing about how Gazette Communications and other organizations are carrying out the vision of C3.

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