April 27, 2009

Advance editors weigh in on fate of newspapers

Editors of two newspapers in the Advance Publications (Newhouse newspapers group) are out on the web about the plight of newspapers.

Oregonian executive editor Peter Bhatia recently was on a panel that discussed what happens to democracy if newspapers die. On Sunday, an edited version of his prepared thoughts are published in "Plight of newspapers."

Bhatia doesn't paint a rosy picture, but he shares what he calls the uncovered story:
"No one really knows if newspapers will go away. No one really knows where technology will lead media and information. No one can predict the future, because the technology is moving so quickly and it -- not talking heads -- will determine the future of newspapers."
He also explores the difference between newspapers and newspaper journalism. You should be able to listen to the panel discussion through Wednesday. The edited text of his prepared remarks will be online longer and is worth reading as he explains why
"The Oregonian isn't going away. There are important and major differences between our situation and other papers you've heard about or read about."
Meanwhile, back in Michigan the online editor of the mother Booth newspaper spoke with journalism students at Cornerstone University. Meegan Holland shared why she believes the future of the Grand Rapids Press remains strong.

She also shares how the newspaper is learning to use Google, Twitter and live chats to effectively engage readers and draw them to the online home of what is now Michigan's largest daily newspaper. She also told the students that how to pay for the online news is a struggle.
“We committed the original sin of giving it away for free,” Holland said, adding that readers now feel entitled to the news. “Once one paper did, we all had to and we can’t go back now.”
Holland, who headed up the Booth Newspaper's Lansing Bureau before it was dissolved, told the journalism students about recent success and challenges in the article.

She pointed to the newspaper's use of Twitter, a micro-blogging Web site, for giving eraders aneasy way to communicate directly with Press editors.

“We really blew off Twitter for a long time until we realized the power of it,” she said. “We’ve started conversing with people … and it’s given a face — a Twitter face — to the newspaper.”

By the way, one of the strongest Tweeters from the newspaper GRGonzo, who has covered a number of events live via Twitter and used it to solicit input on stories for several years.

The battle for survival goes on.

April 26, 2009

Those at Bar Camp News Innovation pass along thoughts on Web ninjas, other topics

A bunch of folks gathered in Philadelphia on Saturday to discuss innovations in news at BarCamp Philly.

Many shared what was happening via Twitter, live streaming and live blogging. Some folks put together videos. And I'm sure once they catch up on sleep, we'll see more posts like this one from Karl Martino.

I've started collecting links to over at Publish2, using the tags #BCNIPhilly and news innovation. (#BCNIPhilly was the hash tag over on Twitter.)

And I hope to pull together some of those thoughts for ideas I'm most interested in - like the Web Ninjas, "a rapid development team focused on creating innovative ways to present news and information." The ninjas shared some of what they are doing at the Washington Post.

Steve King'spresentation is online and Greg Linch liveblogged the session.

Joining King, the "editor of innovations," were Dan Berko, a developer new to the team, and Jesse Foltz, interface developer.

The presentation included King showing off TimeSpace, (see illustration and check out a MediaShift post for an idea of the power of ) the interactive map showing news by location. CKrewson tweeted "TimeSpace sold for the first half of the year for just under $1M - the work of 3 full-time staffers. "

King also talked about the new version On Being series. how it works with the newsroom and web operation being separate and working with the business team/advertisers.

Another tweet from @ckrewson: Visual comments around @washingtonpost.com's OnBeing videos - this feels like the new Web grammar. #bcniphilly (VERY cool also).

I "heard" from several places that folks liked hearing that removed comments are still seen by commenter and only the person who put the comment up. Definitely worth checking out.

One person noted that the feature is using django for comments. Not sure if this tweet from @ckrewson is related to that topic, but I hope so as commenting is so important to building community. Chris Krewson reported that King said "We build in a way that's a re-usable framework - so we can scale to our other sites,' but then maybe franchise out."

@howardweaver tweeted: "WaPo ninja mission = do cool stuff and make it pay."

The web team, which is separate from the newsroom, works closely with the sales staff. It was reported out that the "Washington Post team sells cool techie projects to advertisers together. Journalism/developers show off, sales closes the deal." That attitude is explained more in a Cujo's Byte post on the relationship between editors and advertisers.

The team does try to let sales know what's going on as the projects are developed, so that sponsorship might be possible before launch.

A tweet from @ckrewson: "New firewall - 'Advertising knows I don't need to be in the room when they cut that deal. So I'm protected.

Several folks said they noticed the money angle of the news business came up more throughout the day than it has at other news/journalism events. But I think @etanowitz summed it up nicely: "as journalists, we all need to think about revenue even though it freaks lots of us out. no way around it."

It's not all $$ at the Washington Post, though.

King is quoted as saying that "if one of five projects doesn't sell, that's OK; still do cool stuff, not just make stuff to bring $.

King also talked about integrating with the newsroom and how the relationship is changing. If he needs something, he walks around newsroom to ask. Also, they have monthly presentations to show something cool on Web, which they might not even get to, and then something they could do really easily. Finally, they show something they've built -- in the middle.

King also is quoted as saying non-web reporters have been doing a lot more Web stuff ... there's a lot of shaky video, which can sometimes be used to complement piece ... they rarely provide the kind of video their Web team videojournalists typically do.

Sounds interesting. But then the whole BarCamp does. A big thank you to the folks who took the time to go and the time to share. I enjoyed earning another credit at the college of change.

Revenue 2.0

Check out this SlideShare Presentation from Matt Mansfield - presented at SND Orlando Invent the Future Summit April 17, 2009. Also discussed at BCNI Philly Saturday