Communication Leadership Blog
Bill Mitchell at Poytner Online reviews the Kindle, which he sees as a "supplement to print and online as opposed to a substitute for either." The demographics for the Kindle, he argues, appear to skew older, which may be bad news for newspapers hoping that the device will save their industry. He notes some problems with the format and function of the Kindle, but in general has a positive review.
In the UK, Google is arguing that laws should be relaxed to allow newspapers to consolidate. In papers submitted to the Office of Fair Trade, the search engine suggests that revising the existing barriers to merging would allow local and regional newspapers to compete with Google itself as well as other internet sites. Google's comment comes as the OFT is reviewing the newspaper merger framework.
This summer, the Federal Trade Commission is expected to release new guidelines for bloggers and the way they handle sponsored posts. Specifically, the guidelines will dictate that bloggers disclose when they're voicing opinions that aren't their own, or are writing about a product they received for free. The rules are not binding, and may leave some wiggle room, but are an attempt to provide the same level of transparency and accountability in social media as exists in traditional media.
Ryan Chittum of the Columbia Journalism Review does the math on the Kindle, and concludes that it is "just another way for papers to lose money." Newspapers available on the Kindle would receive only 30 percent of the revenue from the subscribers -- $4.20 from a $14 subscription fee. Since there are no advertisements on the Kindle, there is no additional revenue stream. The setup means that if all of the New York Times subscribers were to switch to the Kindle, the paper would only make $52 million, enough to fund about a quarter of its newsroom costs. Chittum's conclusion is that there is still a long way to go on the Kindle.
Beth Teitell of the Boston Globe, noting that only a third of Americans would personally miss the printed newspaper, lists the important societal benefits that newsprint provides. "You can shed a tear right now for the iconic ransom note, with letters clipped from newspaper headlines. What's a kidnapper to do?" Teitell queries. She also advises people to invest in umbrellas, and to find an alternative to papermaiche for their child's next school project.
Next month, Martha Stewart will begin to charge for online videos from the archives, which are not currently available on the web. Users can purchase the videos and download them to their computer, mobile phone, or iPod. A price has not yet been determined. The Web site will continue to rely mostly on paid advertising as it experiments with charging for online content.
The New York Times has more information about David Geffen's intent to purchase the newspaper. The paper reports that Geffen remains interested in purchasing a stake in the paper but, wary of antagonizing the Sulzberger-Ochs family, will remain on the sidelines until an opportunity arises. Geffen's friends maintain that he believes the Times should become a nonprofit, and if he were to purchase the paper he would not run that nonprofit himself. Some, however, are skeptical that Geffen could really function as a passive owner.
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.