Communication Leadership Blog
Starting Monday, The Washington Times will devote a full print news page to articles written by members of the community. Each contributor will receive a set of ethics standards and guidelines from the WT, and a former editorial page editor will oversee the content that covers the capital and surrounding suburbs.
The success of MinnPost, the Voice of San Diego and other recent ventures demonstrate the possibilities of nonprofit journalism. Such sites encourage their readers to become paying members and thereby fund the reporting. Yet the editor of MinnPost doubts the nonprofit structure could support the newsrooms of the New York Times or other large papers. Additionally, the article notes the dramatic pay cut that journalists face in working for nonprofit news outlets.
A host of new, hyperlocal news sites have emerged, offering information targeted to a small, specific locality. Sites like EveryBlock, Placeblogger, and Outside.In aggregate information for residents, and some even do their own reporting. Generating revenue for the sites remains a challenge, however, as they inherently speak to a narrow group of people. They must also address concerns of reliability and sustainability as the sources they pull from are going out of business.
The Atlantic is tweaking its online content, shifting some of its resources to breaking news instead of commentary, creating new verticals such as the Politics channel and the Atlantic's Business, and developing its strategy for mobile content. Even as the Atlantic grows and changes, the site is standing by the decision to drop its paywall beginning in January 2008, reporting that gains in digital revenue have helped offset the slowdown in print advertising.
A comScore report finds that traditional news outlets have not yet found a way to capitalize on Iphone applications, despite the hope that this could serve as a revenue stream for struggling media. ComScore's survey of the top 25 IPhone applications found only Flixster, an app devoted to movies, under the News category. Many of the top applications were games, a notable number of social networking applications such as Facebook and MySpace. The report demonstrates that, even as more news sources are developing mobile applications, they have yet to generate a significant amount of consumption. Read the Editors Weblog post and the comScore press release. -- April 8, 2009
Many, including Maryland Sen. Benjamin Cardin, have proposed that government assist news outlets that are struggling to survive in today's volatile climate. Yet a recent example of government involvement in reporting has raised questions about the ethics of receiving such funds. The parent company of two Ohio TV news stations is receiving over $3 million to run stories within their broadcasts about the new state-sponsored healthcare program. After these segments, the anchor reads a brief disclaimer that mentions the story's sponsor. Is this enough of a separation between government and journalism?
The New York Times offers a summary on the difficulties of converting a free service to paid. Coca Cola did it with water, but newspapers are having a harder time convincing consumers to pay for their online content. The debate continues over paid-vs-free online content, with the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times charging for some of their features, while the New York Times and the Los Angeles TImes both reverted to free content after their experimentations with a paywall did not bear fruit.
Tim Windsor develops some points he would have liked to see Associated Press Chairman Dean Singleton make when the AP head announced that it might seek legal action against news aggregators. On his wish list: making something better than Google News, creating an online locus for news video, sponsoring curated links and additional ideas for how the AP might be able to adapt to the Internet revolution.
Alan Murray, the editor of the Wall Street Journal Online, gave the Nieman Journalism Lab his advice for news media that are trying to find a way to monetize their websites. Murray rejects the idea that the WSJ alone is in a position to charge for content. He suggests a mix between free and paid content. He also argues that the most popular online content should not be put behind pay walls; instead, news outlets should charge for materials that attract niche markets.
Yesterday, Michael Kinsley wrote Washington Post op-ed rejecting the idea of government subsidies for newspapers, suggesting such a newspaper would be sadly compromised by government involvement.
Conor Clarke counters in The Atlantic that newspapers like the St. Petersburg Times exist as nonprofits without apparent difficulties. He suggests that government must close the gap between what individuals determine as the value of newspapers, and the value that society finds in newspapers.
You can read about the dispute in this article on the Washington Post website.