July 10, 2009

Too much media in Ann Arbor, Michigan? Videos capture panel's thoughts.

UPDATED: If you're looking for a scapegoat for the changing media scene of Ann Arbor, Michigan, blame the economy, say a group of people involved with the newest media efforts in that comunity.

A local economic club and a weekly business magazine brought together representatives of five news organizations to talk about "evolution of local media" in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The Ann Arbor News, which was not represented on the panel, covered the event. I'm borrowing most of its summary of the changing mediascape:
Advance Publications is closing the daily Ann Arbor News this month, its weekly Ann Arbor Business Review in August and launching a Web-centric news company called AnnArbor.com this month.

Last year, former News opinion editor Mary Morgan launched the Ann Arbor Chronicle, a news Web site, joining the longtime monthly Ann Arbor Observer, a news magazine also online. Heritage Newspapers plans to state the Ann Arbor Journal weekly.

Nathan Bomey, the associate editor for the Ann Arbor Business Review who will become a digital journalist for AnnArbor.com when his publication migrates, moderated the panel discussion that is now on Russell Video's YouTube channel. (Smart video company - they have a video ad there also.)

The Review hosted the event with the Washtenaw Economic Club Thursday morning.

Panelists included Paula Gardner, Business Review editor who also is moving to AnnArbor.com in August; Ann Arbor Chronicle's Mary Morgan; radio show host Lucy Ann Lance and Ann Arbor Observer's John Hilton.

AnnArbor.com's chief content director Tony Dearing shares quite a few details about the thinking behind how his news organization is shaping up.

Part 1 - Introduction to Ann Arbor's News: A computer crash delayed this video but it is now up (and skippable). Paula talked briefly about why such a panel and shared the news about the Ann Arbor Business Review's demise before Nathan introduced the panelists. He's surprised that many in the audience say they read newspapers before sharing that he sought a newspaper subscription for his 16th birthday but dropped it five years later when he left the market for an internship.

Part 2 - A Community Resource Will the lack of a daily newspaper mean that some segments of the community will lose their voices? This segment includes Dearing saying that "Newspapers not going away because people don't like them. It's the collapse of the economic model."

You'll also hear one competitor praising another for its effort as part of a discussion of how the community media efforts are finding their places.

Plus is citizen journalism really like "talk radio?"

Dearing said there will be 75 people who will be contributing information to the site, people with expertise in topics such as parenting, wine and books.

Part 3 - A Business Questions include: Is there room for all the media in Ann Arbor to survive? What's the business model? How important is branding?

Part 4 - A Catalyst for Conversation and Comments. A lively discussion about comment included an obersvation that The Ann Arbor Chronicle (not Observer as I said earlier) almost went without comments based on the founder's experience with comments on Mlive.com.

Part 5 - Questions and Answers, includes comments on aggregation and how a reporter reading blogs for two-and-a-half hours can boil the best down for a reader to consume in five minutes. Besides talking about the role of blogs as a news source, Dearing spends time on what what they can do in an online news media.

Part 6 - Questions and Answers, includes Dearing talking about a need for editing content before posted it goes online

(Morgan, by the way, was to also speak to the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday about how her news site fits into the overall scheme of things. I'm not sure if it was held.)


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