Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's a manifesto

It's been the formula embraced by every half-crazy, screw-the-system dreamer in history, from Henry Thoreau to Jerry Maguire:

Do less, better.

And for journalists, it's the way of the future. It's exactly what consumers are demanding.

How cool is that?

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Online news should be replayable

Follow-up thought on yesterday's iTunes for news defense: When analysts say things like:

Newspaper content is ephemeral by nature ... It isn't the same as downloading a song and keeping it and replaying it. It loses its value almost instantaneously.

...the speaker is not describing a problem with iTunes. She's describing a problem with the way news is traditionally presented.

It's a problem that can be solved.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dept. of mythbusting: Money can indeed be exchanged for goods and services

Is an iTunes for news possible? The cool kids all say no.

They're wrong.

A year ago -- three months ago! -- I would have been the last person to make a case for paid content. But I've been coming around, and not for the reasons you think.

It's not because I think newspapers can ever turn back the clock or put the news genie back in the bottle. They can't. From now on, most content will always cost $0.00.

But not all content will be free, because money is not the only cost consumers must pay to read content. Gathering information -- even free information -- requires time, effort and knowledge: time to find it, effort to determine whether content is reliable, and knowledge of what content does or doesn't exist.

If a product can save its readers enough time, effort or knowledge, they'll pay money for it.

This isn't to say that newspaper Web sites in their current form can save people enough time, effort or knowledge to be worth money.

My point is: the problem here isn't the price.

It's the product.

(photo courtesy Flickr user Roby72)

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Monday, April 13, 2009

King Content needs a diet

Here's a simple principle for general-interest-ish publications an age of abundance:

Most readers don't want more. They want less. Though they want more of it to be relevant.

Quicker is better.

Simple as that.

And as Eric Schmidt noted the other day: when speed is the goal, print still works faster than pixels.

Newspapers aren't very fast.

But print is, or can be.

That's why print is still king among newspaper readers.

It's something to consider.

(photo courtesy Flickr user mharrsch)

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

The career ladder loses its top rungs

One of the many reasons that small markets are not safe from the current roil: small papers and broadcast stations, with their low pay and heavy workload, have always been subsidized by the promise of advancing to a larger market, which (unlike the small papers) offered an upper-middle-class family wage and the time to produce high-quality work.

Now that larger markets tend to be basket cases, this subsidy will cease; fewer talented, hardworking people will be drawn to smaller markets; and the quality of small outlets will suffer observably.

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