Monday, May 4, 2009

Some Interesting Journalism News & Notes

I enjoy reading about all the things going on in my chosen profession of journalism. I feel that with all the changes going on, it's good for me -- for all of us -- to keep up. Below are some of the stories I've been gathering in my folder for potential blog material that never quite reached full posting status.

The Huffington Post
has come out with its own set of Citizen Journalism Publishing standards. Among the standards: Never plagiarize - it is the hallmark of a lazy journalist. Always attribute material when using material from newspapers, Websites, TV, radio, books or other outlets; Make the greatest possible effort to get your sources to go "on the record" - which means that you can use their quotes. But if they don't want to be quoted, respect their right not to be named; and As we emphasized before, make sure to fact-check your sources, many of whom may be prone to exaggeration or have an agenda when talking to a reporter. Sounds just like what I do!

In what can be said as the understatement of the year, Tribune owner Sam Zell said in an interview on
Bloomberg Television that his acquisition of the newspaper chain back in 2007 was
"a mistake" in that he did not anticipate the steep decline in the newspaper business. What? We've all been hearing about the decline of tradition print media as far back as the early 2000s. Where was Zell when this was happening?

This isn't the first time we've heard all these rumblings about the demise of newspapers. Online magazine
Slate points us back to 1918, when Atlantic Monthly's Oswald Garrison Villard wrote about the demise of newspapers using words that were similar to those used to mark the passing of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Rocky Mountain News. "The leading cause of newspaper death then as now was "the enormously increased costs of maintaining great dailies" and limited advertising," wrote Slate's Jack Shafer.

I read with great interest a recent
blog post by Steven Roll, president of the American Society of Business Publication Editors on what the next phase of journalism will look like. He quotes a speech by my colleague John Byrne, editor of, who said: "the next phase of journalism will require editors and writers to get readers involved with every step of the process, from generating story ideas to filling in the missing details of a published story. Part of being an editor or writer today is learning how to create and build communities and then how to serve them."

Knight Digital Media Center blog had a fascinating post it called essential reading for journalists caught in the meltdown. The post includes links to four articles that "anyone concerned about the future of journalism should read."

I am a big fan of National Public Radio's Planet Money. The
blog recently asked the question those of us in the news business would like to have answered - Who'll Play for News -- And How? The blog cited a story in The Wrap that allegedly had the publisher of the Los Angeles Times defending putting advertising on the front page. Planet Money cited Web portals with paid memberships, micropayments charged to readers for each article viewed, and convincing deep-pocketed patrons to endow major news organizations as not-for-profit institutions as possible future funding models.

The Techdirt blog notes that when the Seattle Post-Intelligencer went to an online-only format, its web traffic dropped 20%. But when the blog looked beneath the numbers, here's what it found: the newspaper cut 80% of its reporters but still held onto 80% of its traffic. Techdirt sees that as good news and wonders why these numbers are seen as a failure. Good question.

As our industry continues to change, it's important that the NABJ board - and more importantly its members - need to keep up with the changes in the industry so we can all prosper and continue to practice the profession we love.
And this is yet another reason why I'm running for Region II director. I want to help be a part of the solution.

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