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…)


Read Full Post »

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…)

Read Full Post »

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…)

Read Full Post »

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…)

Read Full Post »

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…)

Read Full Post »

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…)

Read Full Post »

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…)

Read Full Post »

Chuck Peters responded this morning to a couple of comments on his blog, stating that I had been “marginalized” or “relegated to a lower-level room running out the clock on his contract.” I have already described my current role at Gazette Communications.

I welcome people to state their opinions, either on my blog, on Chuck’s or in other formats. I don’t feel any obligation to change minds when people are critical of me or my company. If we are successful at our work, our success will speak for itself. Until then, arguing is pointless.

My reluctance to give attention to commenters who clearly are seeking attention is offset by my commitment to accuracy, so I will correct a factual error: I have no contract on which to run out any clock. I came to work at the Gazette based on a letter of agreement that did not specify any length of time I would work here.

Read Full Post »

Here is the one-page summary of C3 that I gave colleagues at the Poynter/McCormick Big Ideas Conference today.

The central point of my Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection is that media companies need to change our relationships. We need new relationships with our communities and with businesses. Here’s how I explain it in the blueprint:

For consumers, we will be their essential connection to community life — news, information, commerce, social life. Like many Internet users turn first to Google, whatever their need, we want Eastern Iowans to turn first to Gazette Communications, whatever their need. For businesses, we will be their essential connection to customers, often making the sale and collecting the money. We will become the Complete Community Connection. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Buttry Twitters #BigIdeas at Poynter

Buttry Twitters #BigIdeas at Poynter

I’m at the Poynter Institute through Wednesday for the Big Ideas Conference. I’m one of 29 people in the media sharing innovative ideas. You can follow on the liveblog (I’m one of the livebloggers this afternoon and Wednesday afternoon) or on Twitter, with the hashtag #BigIdeas.

Read Full Post »

Frank in uniformThis is the World War II diary of Army Chaplain Frank M. Arnold II, my uncle. I have published four earlier sets of excerpts. Uncle Frank used ellipses a lot. I am not using every entry here, but if I use an entry, I use it all. The ellipses are just his writing, possibly indicating multiple times that he wrote in the same day. My notes and translations (using Google) are in italics. CCB is Combat Command B, Uncle Frank’s primary unit.

2/20 Went to Dudelange and Dippach. At D. (sic!) spent quite a while straightening out an undisciplined adolescent who was trying to divorce his wife – whom he said he still loved – to marry an Army nurse whom he hadn’t seen for 3 mos.

2/21 Had services for 46-B and CCB at Bettembourg. Went to see Cohen for a while Went to 37th to finish up with previous day’s business… Prepared to move quickly, and then find out it is not until tomorrow.

2/22 Left Bettembourg to the tune of tears… Stopped en route and fired Carbine, P-38 and 45. Did surprisingly well with each. Arrived at ruins of Reisdorf. Went over to Wallendorf, Germany. Beat Sgt. Morris in a game of chess. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Here is a draft of a story I wrote for this Sunday’s Gazette, based on some reporting I did when I was in Biloxi last month and some follow-up reporting by telephone after returning to Cedar Rapids. For more on the recovery on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, check the coverage in the Sun Herald.

Biloxi, Miss. – Billboards along Interstate 10 tell the mixed story of a resort town fighting its way back. Most signs invite visitors to the casino shows of yesteryear’s stars (Johnny Mathis, Gladys Knight, Engelbert Humperdinck). But one billboard targets local residents, hundreds of whom still live in FEMA trailers. The sign informs the locals that new flood insurance maps are ready.

The communities of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast have spent nearly four years learning how difficult, demanding and slow disaster recovery can be. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »