Communication Leadership Blog
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.
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.