Communication Leadership Blog
Newsweek's new website has launched, featuring news aggregation and user-generated content in addition to its original reporting. Some new sections will encourage debate on a selection topic or offer four informational links that might otherwise be lost in the shuffle. Editors will even take the tweets directed at Newsweek and post them on the Web sites like comments. The redesign comes at the weekly is dramatically re-evaluating what the magazine will now look like.
By the end of June, the New York Times will reportedly decide on a way to charge for its online content. Two proposals are currently being considered. The first, which executive editor Bill Keller described as "tricky," is a meter system, which monitors a user's page or word count, and would charge a reader only after a certain threshold is consumed. The second option is a membership, where people would make a donation to become part of the "New York Times community."
Thomas B. Edsall considers what may happen to the New York Times if the company faces insolvency, as some expect in a year or two. Edsall argues that if the Sulzberger-Ochs family is forced to sell the newspaper to the highest bidder, the results could be disastrous for the quality of the respected publication. As an alternative, though, the family could sell its shares of the Times to whomever they wanted, giving their chosen buyer effective control over the newspaper.
David Geffen's offer to buy a 19% stake in the New York Times never went through, but the speculation as to why Geffen would make the offer, and what he would do with the Times if he had control, continues to be a popular pasttime. Business Week yesterday ran the story that he is likely spurred by a sense of civic duty. Meanwhile, Forbes suggests that the Hollywood billionaire may be looking for a cheap investment, and is motivated by a traditional investor's desire to turn a profit. The Finanical Times concurs, arguing that he's looking for his latest challenge, "and the New York Times might be just the ticket." Newsweek takes a different perspective, more akin to Business Week, when it reports that Geffen wants to protect the paper as a "national treasure," and that if he gained control he would turn the Grey Lady into a nonprofit, similar to the St. Petersburg Times. -- May 14, 2009
The BBC director of future media and technology, Erik Huggers, spoke yesterday at a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch. He argued that newspapers should make their online content look more like it does in print, and emphasized the potential of devices like the Kindle that could mimic the traditional feeling of reading the newspaper. Huggers also discussed the potential of Project Canvas, a venture that would link digital television and the Internet so that viewers can watch online content on the TV screens. He said that the project would bring the best of television and the best of the internet together.
The NIS News Bulletin, a English-language Dutch news service, reports that the Dutch media minister is set to hire 60 journalists. The journalists will work at one of 30 commerical newspapers that cover national or regional news. The Minister explained his decision by saying that younger journalists are frequently the first to be laid off. About 4 million euros have been set aside for this project. The minister has also set up a committee to study other possible initiatives.
Greg Horowitz at the Digitalists raises an often-overlooked question about the impact of micropayments on the journalists who write the stories. He fears that news companies, armed with data about which articles brought in the most revenue, will increasingly adapt their coverage based on what sells. Journalists themselves may be rewarded or let go based on their ability to spur micropayments, and they may start to couch their pieces in more attention-grabbing styles. All of these developments, Horowitz argues, would be bad for journalism. Read the Digitalist post -- May 13, 2009.
Not everyone is convinced the Wall Street Journal's announcement that it will start charging micropayments will prove successful. Mike Mansick at TechDirt argues that charging micropayments actually decreases the value of the content for its users: These days, many people value content for the ability to engage with it, comment on it and share it with others. Micropayments take away that ability, and thus decrease the value of the content, Mansick says.
Business Week discusses why David Geffen, the Hollywood billionaire who once chaired the Dreamsworks studio, would make an offer to buy a stake in the New York Times. It is, after all, no secret that the paper is in financial trouble. Geffen certainly understands this, and therefore likely sees his offer as a civic investment rather than a business venture. Geffen tried to buy the Los Angeles Times in 2006.
Washington state has agreed to provide its newspapers with a tax break, granting the industry a 40 percent reduction in the state's main business tax. The cut is similar to ones bestowed upon Boeing Co. and the timber industry in the past. The tax reduction plan is receiving a mixed reaction. The Business Insider, for one, remains critical.