Archive for January 23rd, 2014

Clayton Christensen, photo linked from API

Clayton Christensen‘s diagnosis of how the newspaper industry blew its Newspaper Next opportunity is dead-on.

In an interview with the American Press Institute’s Millie Tran, Christensen discusses several new disruptive challenges and opportunities in the media. But this exchange hit home with me (I added some links):

What did you think of the industry’s reception of the ambitious Newspaper Next project that you worked on with the American Press Institute back in 2006? Today, would you prescribe different things or in different ways?

CHRISTENSEN: My sense of the Newspaper Next project is that people read it as an interesting, academic exercise but somehow, whether it was our fault or theirs, the report was consumed at the level of the brain and not the heart.

Most newspapers decided that might happen to others but it doesn’t happen to us. And on a day-to-day basis, you don’t feel it until it’s over. And now there are a lot of people who are saying oh my gosh this really is happening in many ways. The degrees of freedom that are available are far more limited now than they were. (more…)

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Fifty years ago today, City Editor Gale Cook of the San Francisco Examiner sent the note below to his staff.

Gale Cook

Gale Cook

I remember memos like this from editors, saved a lot from my bosses and wrote a few for my staffs. I really like this one and share it with permission of Cook’s daughter, Jennifer Cook Sterling. Jennifer’s husband, Robert Sterling, is editor of the Marin Independent Journal, a Digital First newsroom, and Mimi and I enjoyed dinner at their home last summer. (Update: Robert has blogged about Gale and his memo, too.)

I will comment on some of Cook’s note, but I don’t want to interrupt it. So I’ll let it run in full (it’s long, as editors’ memos to the staff can sometimes be, five pages, single-spaced). Then I’ll comment. But one note here that will help you understand the first paragraph: The Examiner promoted itself as the “Monarch of the Dailies.”


I want to offer you some ideas for improving our newspaper – things we can do to strengthen the Monarch’s position in this jungle fight for circulation. (more…)

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This continues my series of posts on advice for a new journalism professor. This is a guest post by Lori Shontz, senior editor at The Penn Stater alumni magazine and an adjunct lecturer in the Penn State College of Communications.

Lori Shontz

Lori Shontz

I start every semester by telling students something like this: “Writing is a craft. Reporting is a craft. As you do things over and over, you get better.”

I’ve found that teaching is similar. I tweak, I worry, I experiment, I revise. I reflect.  So my transition from the newsroom to the classroom felt familiar. I learned to teach partially by reporting — asking questions of veteran instructors, observing and analyzing speakers, mulling over ideas just as I do as a journalist.

Reading other syllabi helps, too. I’ve found the journalism teaching community to be generous with their time and materials, and the syllabus exchange at Poynter’s NewsU is a terrific resource, too.

All that said, here are the three biggest things I’ve learned in nine semesters teaching a 200-level introductory news writing and reporting class at Penn State: (more…)

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