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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Potts’

I won’t be blogging for a few more days about Clayton Christensen‘s Nieman Reports piece Breaking News, but I want to acknowledge it and encourage reading it. (I’ve been too busy to dig into it, but plan to do so this weekend.)

Mark Potts, one of the smartest voices about digital journalism, calls it “maybe the most insightful, important article on the future of the news business since Clay Shirky’s legendary ‘Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable‘.” (I blogged about the Shirky piece when it was published in 2009.)

When I was at the American Press Institute from 2005-8, we partnered with Christensen on the Newspaper Next project. I came to respect his insights about business and disruptive innovation greatly. I wish the newspaper business had followed the Newspaper Next recommendations more aggressively. I encourage people in the business to read Christensen’s latest piece (co-authored by David Skok and James Allworth). And I’ll have more to say on it soon.

Update. I have now blogged some thoughts on Christensen’s Breaking News.

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Wow. This is going to be a short blog post because you shouldn’t be reading me, you should be reading Mark Potts.

Mark’s A Vision for the Future of Newspapers — 20 Years Ago is one of the most insightful pieces you will read on the history of news online and the opportunities blown by newspapers.

He tells the story of a memo Post Managing Editor Robert G. Kaiser wrote 20 years ago after returning from an Apple-sponsored conference in Japan. Awestruck by the upcoming developments he heard forecast (nearly all of which are old hat by now), Kaiser wrote:

None of this is science fiction — it’s just around the corner.

The memo, which quaintly notes “Hook” as a movie viewers might want to see, and Mark’s reflection 20 years later provide insights into a sincere effort by a great newspaper to get ahead of the digital curve that it clearly saw coming.

Mark also reflects on the industry’s failure at digital efforts:

The history of the past 20 years of newspapers and digital media is, unfortunately, a legacy of timidity, missed opportunities and a general lack of imagination and guts to leap into the future.

But stop reading me. Go read Mark. I can’t remember the last piece I read that was this good about the history of digital news.

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Reviewing 2010 on this blog:

My job change to TBD was a major theme of the year here. My most-popular post of 2010 shared tips on job-hunting, from my own experience finding a new job and hiring the community engagement staff at TBD. That’s my second most-read post in two-plus years writing this blog. Other posts among the year’s leaders dealt with my job change as well: Pursuing a new opportunity in Washington, Wanted: vision for community engagement and Our community engagement team is taking shape. Another post relating to the job change took a longer view, discussing how I have twice redirected and rejuvenated my career. I also told how TBD’s launch prompted my first foray into public relations and brought back memories of an earlier launch. I explained why we need a director of community engagement, even though engagement should be everyone’s job. I have blogged as well for TBD, writing about our commitment to accuracy and transparency, and about why and how we chose TBD as our name. (more…)

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From the day that Pierre Omidyar announced plans for a digital news organization in Honolulu, I have been intrigued by the project. Here was one of the most successful digital entrepreneurs, venturing into the local news field, where print-focused businesses were mostly failing dismally.

But it wasn’t just any digital entrepreneur. Omidyar was the founder of eBay. When I explained the direct sales aspect of my Complete Community Connection business model, I cited eBay as an example of the businesses that pioneered direct digital sales, while the newspaper business was stuck in its advertising model. I made the same point in discussing newspapers’ “original sin” of the Internet age and in discussing the future of freedom of the press. I thought Omidyar had as good a chance to figure out the business model for local news as anyone. I applied to be editor of his new project, then called Peer News. (I ended up at TBD and John Temple became Omidyar’s editor. But I continued watching closely, and when John made his first hires of “reporter hosts,” I  changed the titles for the community managers we were planning and called them community hosts instead.)

When Civil Beat (it changed names when it launched) debuted earlier this year, I was stunned and disappointed to see that it had a paywall. To get access to the full content, members have to pay $19.99 a month. I believe strongly (and have written perhaps too many times) that news organizations that charge for most of their online content are foolish. The prosperous future for digital local news, I believe, lies in assembling a large audience through content that is free or mostly free, and helping businesses connect with that audience in more meaningful ways than traditional advertising — with targeted ads and with opportunities to buy products, services, gift certificates and discounts directly from local businesses. I see the local news organization providing a digital marketplace for local businesses. Who better to develop that model, I thought, than the guy who owns PayPal? I was amazed to see Omidyar was using PayPal only to charge for content. (more…)

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Note: I have added an update, in bold below, since originally posting this.

A study of Baltimore news sources was more deeply flawed than I initially realized.

I blogged Monday about weaknesses in the How News Happens study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and about the misinterpretation of the report by many journalists and media outlets. After further study of my own and a response from Tom Rosenstiel, director of PEJ, I have concluded that old-media biases by the researchers were so profound that they truly didn’t understand the “news ecosystem” they were studying. (more…)

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I followed this up with a subsequent post on Saturday, Jan. 16.

The reaction to How News Happens may tell us more about the news industry than the study itself does.

The study of the news ecosystem in Baltimore  was published today by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, and news of the report was first published Sunday. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, editorsweblog and more tweets than I could count trumpeted the finding that most news originates with newspapers and those upstart blogs contribute barely a trickle of original news. The favorite fact cited was that 95 percent of stories reporting fresh information came from the endangered old media, newspapers primarily. (more…)

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