Tag Archives: online

As editors dream up online strategies, the short-term future of college newspapers remains in print [Video]

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While the current trend among newspapers in this country is to throw brains and money at the online side of the business, student newspapers are just getting strategies in place to put more thought into websites and social media.

At first glance, it appears counterintuitive. Today’s students are technologically savvy, quick adopters of new devices such as smart phones and programs like Facebook and Twitter. Product planners are also fast to note how infatuated twentysomethings are with their phones and tablets. But in Boston at least, student newspapers aren’t planning to abandon the print product anytime soon.

While students are generally connected through social media, it’s going to take more time to get them to go to the Internet before going to the newspaper. So much time, in fact, that editors are in no rush to abandon the print product and view the two technologies as generally separate entities.

“This is as social media savvy of a school as you can find,” said Alexander Kaufman, editor in chief of Emerson College’s Berkeley Beacon. “People at Emerson are eager to tweet about things that irk them or what they’re thinking about.”

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Link Like a Gentleman

The person who thought of putting hyperlinks in a story probably thought it was a great idea. He or she wondered if there could be a way to find other Web pages that had information about a given topic or could provide more context to the story and embed them in the online copy. But to be honest, I’ve never really clicked on hyperlinks. In fact, I usually rollover them just to see where they link to. And really, linking to stories is no more than a courtesy to the reader. Sort of a handshake agreement that the writer or editor will aid your reading experience, right?

Maybe not. Mathew Ingram of GigaOM wrote and did a Storify last weekend on a spat between The Wall Street Journal and MG Siegler of Tech Crunch after he apparently broke the story Apple was buying app-discovery service Chomp. Siegler was miffed the Journal didn’t link to him in their own story after they confirmed of Apple’s purchase. Actually, miffed is a polite way to describe his rant on his own Tumblr.

Ultimately, Siegler thinks WSJ should have given him and Tech Crunch props for being first on the story, by at the very least linking to his story. What the Journal really did was re-report the story, probably based on what Siegler reported earlier in the day. I know I’ve written things that were later picked up by another publication without so much as a mention to me, and that’s OK. What’s not OK is to blatantly rip off someone’s story. That’s not what the WSJ did here.

Siegler’s probably overreacting, but Ingram raises a good question: What is good linking protocol? I say linking is to give readers reputable sources of information to provide greater context. Newspapers are notably stingy on doing this, usually linking just to their own stories about the topic. That’s not bad journalism, but it’s inconvenient. Mind you, I’m not one to click on links when in the middle of a story, but it’s worth going back and seeing what other information I can get out of an article. Linking is just polite, plain and simple. It’s one of those things that’s appreciated and helpful to some readers.

Siegler should really cool his jets and not boycott WSJ links out of spite. But WSJ and other outlets should do some more reporting and at least begin to acknowledge other outlets (and Tech Crunch is no small outfit) reporting news well ahead of them. That would be gentleman-like of them.

Photo: Flickr/buddawiggi

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Paywalls Closing In on Me

When did reading newspapers online become an expensive hobby? I can understand car collecting, sailing, diving for buried treasure. But reading op-eds in the comfort of your own couch on your iPad? (And, for the record, an iPad isn’t that cheap either.) On my college student budget, I can’t afford to subscribe to everything I want and that’s making for some tough choices.

My reading habits are about to get more expensive now that the Los Angeles Times has joined the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Boston Globe in the club of big newspapers that ask readers to pony up to read online content. Some are digging that grave for newspapers while they rapidly blog. Others are biting their nails to see whether the LA Times, still the fifth-highest circulated paper in the country, can stop its readership slide. I’m wondering how much I can afford.

When The New York Times put up its paywall last year, I hemmed and hawed for a month before breaking down and pulling out the credit card. Ironically, since I’ve been paying about $8 a month to read nytimes.com on my computer (via their temperamental Chrome app) I don’t think I’ve actually used all of my 20 clicks a month, ones that would be free if I didn’t subscribe. It’s just too easy to get around the paywall since a lot of what I click on comes from social media platforms or Google News.

The Globe’s policy is too cheap to give you any free clicks per month, so you think I’d have given into their paywall by now. Trouble is, the things I actually want to read from the Globe are free on Boston.com. It’s a similar story at the Wall Street Journal. Although I used to regard a WSJ online subscription like a rare commodity, (I used the password from a previous employer for as long as I could) it’s easy enough to find what I want for free. As long as they don’t put Dan Neil behind the paywall, I’ll be a happy camper.

Unfortunately, the LA Times plans to hide their auto critic, Dave Undercoffler, behind the wall – and a lot of other great writers too. They’re only giving out 15 free clicks a month before asking for about $2 a week to read everything. I’m conflicted because while I much prefer the NYT for DC and other national stories, they can’t do California news well. And, more emotionally, I grew up reading the LA Times. I have a devotion to it similar to that of Bostonians to the Globe, which is why they’re willing to subscribe online when I can’t bring myself to.

I tweeted yesterday that buying an LATimes.com subscription might come at the expense of an NYTimes.com one, something of a “Sophie’s Choice” decision to me. James Cobb, the NYT auto editor, tweeted back and said, ” But Sophie would never turn against her Old Gray Lady…” He’s right. I should just pick up the damn paper again.

Photo: Flickr/JoeinSouthernCA

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Comments: Are we angry over some God-given right or just a nice touch?

When exactly were comments expected at the bottom of every story from a news organization? I have some nostalgia for the days you read something in the paper and then slammed it down in disgust, only giving your opinion to the person next to you. Apparently no one else cares to relive those memories.

There’s no getting around the fact comment sections are better breeding grounds for vicious attacks rather than insightful discussion. That’s the tangle the New Haven Independent got in this month just before shutting off its comments section. The editor, Paul Bass, was fed up with filtering out obscene, ridiculous posts all day. I can’t blame him. Bass hopes to find a way to return to offering comments in the near future, but I think this cooling-off period serves as a reminder to news organizations of every size: There’s no right way to do comments, they all present problems.

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It’s nice when things, and people, work

I used to fret about getting a well-paid job in journalism. Not something that could afford me a new Bentley every year and Malibu beachfront property, but something to comfortably pay the bills and keep me in new J. Crew sweaters every now and then. As I prepare to get graduate, get a diploma and interview for my first post-grad job, I’m trying to find opportunities that pay at all. And with news that AOL’s Patch network of hyperlocal sites are axing freelance budgets and thinning out content, I don’t think I’ll be filling out an application there anytime soon.

The goal of Patch probably wasn’t to give recent j-school grads some entry-level jobs. The mission was, of course, to capitalize off of disappearing local newspapers in areas underserved by larger metropolitan papers. In theory, a hyperlocal, online-only approach to community news makes sense when people have so many other outlets for sports, stock numbers, national news, etc.

I give some of the Patch-ers credit. Certain regions have decent local content in addition to locals blogging about their own causes and events. In some regions, Patch does create a community forum and local news spot that probably didn’t exist before. Even in Boston, the Back Bay Patch tweeter does a good job of keeping tabs on breaking news in that neighborhood. (And she’s far less annoying than the Globe’s mass Your Town tweets.)

But the plan to effectively dumb-down Patch and make it a host for events calendars and columns by people who don’t know how to write doesn’t really serve any community well. Those things are nice if they compliment a site that provides facts first, that has reporters at public meetings and actually reporting. Insiders say Patch isn’t lighting up AOL’s bank balance and is therefore not long for this world. Can’t say I’ll miss the sites when they’re gone. I’ll just miss the jobs.

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What a Media Junkie Feeds On

Writing about my media monitoring habits sheds light on the fact I’m a man of relatively narrow interests. If I’m not reading news, I’m reading about news coverage. Maybe it’s not making me a well-rounded person, but that’s for a therapist to tell me.

Acting as an enabler in this process is Media Decoder over at The New York Times. It’s kind of a go-to for middle-of-the-road analysis for everything media related, from how badly Fox News bungled an interview with Newt Gingrich to whether or not Oprah’s network will ever be watched by people other than those who have shows on it.

I began following Mashable long before Dan Kennedy included it in his class’ must-read selection. They’re all about “new” media and probably waiting for the final nail to be forced into the coffin of the printed word. Their media section is, however, a favorite of mine for lists like X reasons why journalists should use this-website-I-haven’t-heard-of-until-now.

One of the good things to come out of Facebook’s Subscribe feature was my new interest in Jeff Sonderman. The Poynter Institute digital media fellow isn’t as anti-“old” media as others and that’s a good thing. But his posts still include a lot about good and bad changes in the industry thanks to the Internet. Sonderman’s coverage is a little less insider-oriented than Poynter’s own Mediawire, which I also closely monitor – especially when there’s news about the Tribune bankruptcy or something like that.

Finally, Howard Kurtz, longtime Washington Post columnist and now a member of the fledgling Daily Beast and its Newsweek subsidiary, is always worth a glancing at when his face comes up on TweetDeck. I regularly question his analysis, but who said anything about always agreeing with the people you read? Not that I ever disagree with Media Nation and thoroughly respect the ground its author walks on …

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Jfurrer

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Introduction

It doesn’t take a news junkie to notice the twists and turns in the media industry today. What it does is a close analysis on how people cover information, how technology is turning the industry upside down and how everyone – not just journalists – are able to be increasingly involved in the processes of newsgathering and information sharing.

For a purist and a news junkie like myself, this media revolution is both fascinating and confusing. I used to resist giving bloggers and anything that wasn’t a traditional print or broadcast organization much credit because I saw questionable practices being used. In reality, I was giving the old guards too much credit and it’s wrong to ignore the power bloggers (Brian Stelter and Nate Silver come instantly to mind) and committed Tweeters have , and they assets they give to existing news outlets.

I am a senior journalism student at Northeastern University who has worked for both student newspapers, small local newspapers and online-only publications. Working in companies of various sizes and structures has allowed me to see the successes and struggles different approaches to media face today. And as a journalism student, it’s immensely interesting. Thanks to Twitter, I spend a lot of time following the headlines, monitoring everything from traditional newspapers like The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, to online firms like Slate.

Don’t get me wrong, print still has a place in the media landscape. But sitting back and blogging during this industry’s world during a revolution is a thrill.

 

 

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