Archive for August 29th, 2009

Howard Owens has weighed in with his view on what the newspaper industry’s “Original Sin” was in the early days of the Internet:

Alan Mutter says we screwed up by failing to charge for content. I say not only was that not a mistake, but many newspapers did try to charge for content. I have written that the Original Sin was that we “did next to nothing to explore how we might use this new technology to help businesses connect with customers.”

Howard, publisher of the digital startup The Batavian, contends that a greater error was keeping our online units “tethered to the mother ship.” Howard, one of the most insightful people working in digital journalism, makes an excellent case in his blog that we would have done a better job in moving into the digital age by spinning our web sites off into standalone companies. (more…)


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I was privileged yesterday to be panelist for a discussion about the future of journalism education. I am pleased that journalism educators are considering the important issues for the future of journalism and the news business and hopeful that this means they will be teaching the right issues and skills and contributing valuable research.

I attended a meeting in Chicago of the Accreditation Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the body that sets curriculum standards for teaching journalism in universities. The same day as the group was meeting, Ernest Wilson, dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, asked in a centerpiece for Poynter Online, “Where are J-Schools in Great Debate over Journalism’s Future?

I believe journalism schools need to play a stronger role than they have in shaping the future of journalism, so I was pleased to share my thoughts with the Accreditation Council and the journalism educators who were present. (more…)

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A recent post that I wrote included some hearty debate in the comments between Tim O’Brien of the New York Times and me (with several other people weighing in). That debate for a couple weeks didn’t include the person whose post launched the discussion, Chris O’Brien (no relation to Tim apparently) of the San Jose Mercury News.

Chris was gone to Yosemite (lucky fellow) for a week when the debate originally broke out. Then an illness further delayed his response. While I approved his comment this morning, I wanted to use it in a separate post, partly to give it greater prominence and partly so I can respond to some specific points.

I should note that this debate is really about a secondary point of my post a couple weeks ago. I argued that the Original Sin of the newspaper industry in the early days of the World Wide Web was not failing to charge for content, as Newsosaur blogger Alan Mutter has written, but failing to innovate in how we served businesses. I think this is a much more serious issue than the one Tim and Chris and I are debating: why readers buy the newspaper and how much they are paying for it. But nonetheless, this is an important and interesting issue, so I gladly highlight it again. (By the way, I’m planning another post soon about another huge mistake we made early in the digital age, and what we need to do to avoid repeating that mistake.) (more…)

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