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As anyone who has paid attention to media issues knows, readers are moving online to get their daily news. And while the migration to the Web has been happening quickly for readers, a similar business model has not made the transition at the same speed. The Economist has a great series of articles examining the…

The End of Print Journalism?

As anyone who has paid attention to media issues knows, readers are moving online to get their daily news. And while the migration to the Web has been happening quickly for readers, a similar business model has not made the transition at the same speed. The Economist has a great series of articles examining the phenomenon, which incidently is happening all across the globe, not just in the United States.

Many companies have made great efforts to build advertising models online, but as I see it, they haven’t been robust enough to keep pace with the revenue that is disappearing from their printed pages. An excerpt from one of the articles: “How impressive are the results of these online experiments? At lots of newspaper companies, internet advertising is growing by at least 30% a year, and often more. At la Repubblica in Italy, for instance, the paper’s website gets about 1m visitors a day, nearly double the circulation of the printed paper. The value of online ads grew by 70% in the first half of 2006. For the first three months of 2006, the Newspaper Association of America announced that advertising for all the country’s newspaper websites grew by 35% from the same period in 2005, to a total of $613m. But to put that in perspective, print and online ads together grew by only 1.8%, to $11 billion, because print advertising was flat. At almost all newspapers the internet brings in less than a tenth of revenues and profits. At this point, says Mr Chisholm, “newspapers are halfway to realising an audience on the internet and about a tenth of the way to building a business online.”

“The big problem is that readers online bring in nowhere near the revenues that print readers do.”

Posted by Joel on August 26 2006 • Journalism

The Problem of Plentitude

I just finished reading a wonderful book called “The Economics of Attention” written by Richard Lanham, a retired UCLA English professor. It offers a great look at the interplay of style and substance in today’s economy. A quote by Epictus gets at part of the thesis: “It is not things but what we think about things that trouble humankind.” It’s a great read for anyone who works in the media, as our entire business is the attention economy. The book is essential for marketers, too. An interesting quote from Lanham’s book:

“Normally, the debate about attention as a scarce resource is about what you pay attention to in a crowded field of regard: the problem of plentitude. Revisionist thinking is about how you pay attention. Free market economists believe that freedom increases with the number of choices available to us. Freedom is the freedom to choose. But too many choices--the problem of plentitude--can obstruct freedom as effectively as too few. A tool that confronts the problem not by filtering the choices but by training the chooser can protect and refine the feedom that markets create.”

Posted by Joel on August 22 2006 • Books

Dare to be Dumb

I enjoy what this article has to say in the Columbia Journalism Review about editors. They shouldn’t let their fear of not knowing everything about a subject limit them when they begin their thinking and reporting. At least this is true as they work to understand and explore the boundaries of scientific research.

“On the other hand, why should they? Humans evolved to procreate, eat, and avoid getting eaten,” writes K.C. Cole, a journalism professor at USC. “The fact that we have learned to understand what atoms are all about or what the universe was doing back to a nanosecond after its birth is literally unbelievable. But the universe doesn’t care what we can or cannot believe. It doesn’t speak our language, so there’s no reason it should “make sense.”

“For all these reasons and more, good science journalists know that if they’re not dealing with subject matter that makes them dizzy, they’re probably not doing their jobs ... The best editors understand all this. As for the rest, perhaps Weird Al said it best: sometimes you just need to “dare to be stupid.”

Posted by Joel on August 06 2006 • Journalism