Thursday, August 30, 2007

JOURNALISM: Lots of jobs out there if you are multimedia-trained

Mark Glaser, who writes the MediaShift blog on the PBS website from is San
Francisco vantage point, has written a thorough roundup on the state of
journalism jobs. His conclusion -- plenty of opportunity for those who
take the time to learn digital storytelling skills.

He starts . . .

If you follow the world of traditional journalism, you can.t help but notice the seemingly constant stream of layoffs and buyouts at news organizations. But media observers don.t often emphasize the flip side: As newspapers and broadcasters slice their senior-level workforce, they are also quietly building their digital and online teams.

For example, when I heard about job cuts at the New York Times Co. last winter, I took a quick look at the company.s online job listings, and saw a healthy supply of digital jobs still up for grabs. And while Tribune Co. has been in the news for all its devastating cuts to the L.A. Times staff, there.s still a selection of 85 interactive job openings at the parent company, including a handful at the Times. Similarly, the MTV cable networks have had far-reaching cuts and reorganizations , yet there are dozens of digital job openings listed online.

The staffing situation at traditional media companies is much more fluid than the simple cut-and-slash horror stories that play well in the press. The dire layoff scenarios at major news organizations are not as dire in smaller rural communities, where local newspapers and TV stations still perform well, or overseas where competition, audiences and ownership structures are different than in the U.S.

Sites such as and are far from hurting when it comes to media job listings. Dan Rohn, a former reporter for the Washington Post who has run since the late .90s, says he is contacted by reporters doing the same stories on layoffs in the newspaper industry about every six or eight months. But the reality is that job openings are still plentiful . including print jobs at newspapers around the country.


NEWSPAPERS: Matt Storin -- "The game of monopoly is over"


(COMMENTING ON: "In Praise of Paper"

View Forum Post
Topic: Letters Sent to Romenesko
Date/Time: 8/23/2007 6:18:35 PM
Title: The game of Monoply is over
Posted By: Jim Romenesko

> From MATT STORIN, retired Boston Globe editor: I have often admired the press analysis of William Powers, and in his piece, "In Praise of Paper," I find myself in agreement on his major points. But it's what he didn't say that leads me to dissent.

First, the areas of agreement: yes, journalists are alarmists; yes, paper is not dying (in fact I am sure paper will make fine books for many a decade yet); yes, quality sells, by which I take it he means quality journalism, and, yes, there is "irrational exuberance" in this discussion. But here are the points I think he ignores or misses. It takes lots of money to finance the quality journalism of the type he mentions, i.e. The New York Times, The Washington Post etc. Ask Bill Keller or Len Downie what it costs each month to keep their operations going in Iraq.

For the past 50 years or so, newspapers have been virtual monopolies in their markets, despite TV and radio. They owned powerful, hugely expensive printing presses and distribution infrastructure that no local competitor could afford. For that reason the newspaper was the dominant medium for both serious news and content-heavy advertising, particularly classifieds. Also, along with magazines, they were a natural for advertising aimed at high demographic readerships.

Today, for the price of a designer and a webmaster, you can have your own website. You too can sell ads. And if your business is classifieds, you have a medium that is made for the message. Hence,, Google and others have not just nibbled at the profits of some papers, they've nearly devoured them.

Yes, quality journalism sells, but what Mr. Powers doesn.t seem to realize is that historically at larger newspapers in particular, circulation revenues barely covered the costs of paper and distribution. The profits that finance quality journalism come from advertising. And that's where the decline of newspapers is being felt most acutely, even as circulation also ebbs, because young readers especially, are getting information online. And whereas they used to go to a newspaper to look up a batting average, a film time, or a stock price, today they can go to one of those websites that might possibly be owned by a newspaper company, but often will not be. Information of all kinds that once was best served up by newspapers is now available, free, at millions of other venues. And many of those take at least a bit of the advertising dollar. And even if a newspaper-owned site grabs some eyeballs, the ad revenue is just a fraction of what the market-dominant print product used to !

Many papers are fighting hard and creatively to save their franchises. And hopefully they will succeed. But it is hard to see how it will ever be the same. The game of Monopoly is over. Anyone analyzing the future of print journalism has to recognize this.


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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Bloomberg News says Yahoo, Microsoft asked to censor Chinese blogs,1,5500419.story

From Bloomberg News
August 24, 2007

Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and other providers of blogging technology in China agreed to try to sign up users under their real names and to censor their posts, a journalism advocacy group that condemns the accord said Thursday. Under the accord with the Internet Society of China, an offshoot of the Information Industry Ministry, the companies are "encouraged" to register users under their real names, Reporters Without Borders said in a statement. The companies may be forced to censor content or identify bloggers, the Paris-based group said.

The agreement is detrimental to free speech because service providers would be forced to divulge bloggers' identities or be punished by the government, Reporters Without Borders said. The companies also are required to "delete illegal and bad information" from blogs, the group said. "As they already did with website hosting services, the authorities have given themselves the means to identify those posting 'subversive' content by imposing a self-discipline pact," the group said.

The accord stopped short of banning anonymous blogging, a technique Chinese Internet users have used to criticize the government for fear of reprisal. China had 162 million users in June, second only to the U.S. Microsoft said it wouldn't ask users to reveal their identities. "The document makes some recommendations that Microsoft does not support," Adam Sohn, director of the company's online services group, said in a statement. "We will not implement real-name registration for blogging in our Windows Live Spaces service."

Yahoo spokeswoman Linda Du referred questions to Corp., which runs Yahoo's site in China. Porter Erisman, a spokesman for, didn't immediately comment. Other blog providers that agreed to the accord include Inc. and Qianlong Wang, Reporters Without Borders said.

NEWSPAPERS: Imagining how newspapers may look -- dramatic changes may come

POSTED: Aug. 23, 2007

By Lisa Snedeker
Media Life Magazine

Lisa Snedeker is a staff writer for Media Life. © 2007 Media Life Magazine

When readers think of their newspapers, one of the last things they think about is design. Newspapers are utilities, information delivery systems. Delivery systems need to work, not look pretty. Newspaper editors especially have stuck with that notion, resisting all but the most minor redesigns.
Suddenly, all this is changing. What's likely coming is a period of dramatic change in newspaper design. What will the local daily look like in five years? Nobody knows, but it could look radically different. We see hints of that already: Ads appear on cover pages, even front pages, and dailies including The New York Times are trimming their page widths. The barriers to change are falling.

What's driving it all is a rising dissatisfaction, an impatience, with the clunkiness of newspapers, their bulk, the difficulty of finding things, their lousy graphics, the clutter they create. "People are frustrated by newspapers," says Alan Jacobson, a longtime newspaper designer and founder of Brass Tacks Design of Norfolk, Va. "Itÿÿs gone from something that belonged on my couch to something that I am not happy with." Whatÿÿs driven that dissatisfaction is whatÿÿs driving so much of the turmoil in traditional media: the internet. With the rise of the internet, the notion of navigation, getting from one point to another within or between web sites, and doing so with ease, intuitively, came to the forefront of design. When people talked about internet design, they were really talking about navigation, design not as a look but as functionality. Sites that were hard to navigate lost traffic to sites that were easier to get around.

Internet designers were responding to a real demand. As the well of information expands, the need to create quick, clean ways to retrieve that information becomes more and more critical. These navigation pressures are being felt beyond newspapers, by magazines, by radio, and especially by television as more channels come on. Simply finding out whatÿÿs on at any moment has become a challenge. Fittingly, the icon of this new era of design, the ideal, is the iPhone, Jacobson says, and he believes it will guide the coming rethinking of how newspapers are designed.

ÿÿIn many ways, the iPhone represents what may be the best potential for the newspaper, which is something thatÿÿs very simple on the face but does an awful lot of stuff. Apple fixed the cell phone as we know it. They made it simple and easy to use. If newspapers are going to be successful, they are going to have to really simplify.ÿÿ That is, they need to become easier to use and to get around, more intuitive. Rather than flipping pages to find things, readers will be able to go right to them, or at least find them as quickly as they might find something on a web site. That could mean adding keys to the front page, or a full table of contents.

It could mean much smaller newspapers, smaller even than the tabloid format, making them easier to tuck into a purse or a briefcaseÿÿor under the sofa when company shows up unannounced. If the old format served the needs of publishers and advertisers, the new formats will first serve the needs of readers. It could also mean more ads on the front page, even above the fold. Newspaper editors think of ads as a necessary evil, design-wise, something to wrap stories around. But readers see ads as information on a par with editorial, and often as real news, in the case of ads touting huge, one-day-only sales. Smart publishers will be learning from their web sites, observing how people use them and how they navigate about as they add more and more features.

As in all things media-related, the driving force leading to experimentation and change will be economics. With circulations sinking and advertising revenues in decline, publishers are willing to consider changes that were beyond the imagination even a few years ago. The issue will be how aggressively they will act on them.

Lisa Snedeker is a staff writer for Media Life. © 2007 Media Life Magazine

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Google experiments with giving news subjects contiguous comment

Perspectives about the news from people in the news

Tuesday, August 7, 2007 10:32 PM

Posted by Dan Meredith and Andy Golding, Software Engineers, News Team

We wanted to give you a heads-up on a new, experimental feature we'll be trying out on the Google News home page. Starting this week, we'll be displaying reader comments on stories in Google News, but with a bit of a twist...

We'll be trying out a mechanism for publishing comments from a special subset of readers: those people or organizations who were actual participants in the story in question. Our long-term vision is that any participant will be able to send in their comments, and we'll show them next to the articles about the story. Comments will be published in full, without any edits, but marked as "comments" so readers know it's the individual's perspective, rather than part of a journalist's report.

As always, Google News will direct readers to the professionally-written articles and news sources our algorithms have determined are relevant for a topic. From bloggers to mainstream journalists, the journalists who help create the news we read every day occupy a critical place in the information age. But we're hoping that by adding this feature, we can help enhance the news experience for readers, testing the hypothesis that -- whether they're penguin researchers or presidential candidates-- a personal view can sometimes add a whole new dimension to the story.

We're beginning this only in the US and then, based on how things go, we'll work to expand it to other languages and editions. We're excited about the possibilities of this new feature and we hope you are too, so if you've been covered in a news article please send us your comments and we'll work with you to post it on Google News.


August 10, 2007, 10:30 am

Google's Fascinating News Experiment

By Stephen J. Dubner

I have long wondered if or when Google would get into the media business directly, buying up a newspaper company or three. My friends at Google always reply with the same mantra: We are a search company, not a content company. Okay.

Regardless, it's undeniable that Google has greatly affected how journalism is consumed in this country and, consequently but to a lesser degree, how journalism is created. Journalism is a market like any other, and it responds to market forces. Consider now this really fascinating idea that Google is rolling out: a feature that allows the subjects of news articles to comment on the published article.

This makes sense, doesnt it? The writer has his/her say by writing the article; the everyday reader gets to weigh in via the comments section; and now the subject gets to reply in a highlighted comment section.

If this becomes widely implemented (no guarantee), I think it will shake up a lot of people, mostly for the better. I always try to glean feedback from the subject of an article that I write, and I generally find it valuable. I can't think of a good reason why the subject shouldn't be allowed to speak up in a forum that everybody, and not just the writer, can see.

Friday, August 10, 2007

"Journalism of action" -- changes, involvement, solutions at Chronicle

Published: August 07, 2007 10:00 AM ET

Bronstein Launches New 'Journalism of Action' After Big Cuts

By Joe Strupp
Editor & Publisher Online

NEW YORK -- With its massive newsroom staff cuts essentially complete, the San Francisco Chronicle is embarking on a new approach to coverage that Editor Phil Bronstein likens to that practiced by William Randolph Hearst.

"Journalism of Action," the phrase being bandied about in the Chronicle newsroom since last Thursday, will take the paper.s regular coverage of an event, topic, or issue and expand it to include ways that readers and others can seek changes and improvements.

"How does the story affect people? What can they do about it?" Bronstein told E&P in explaining the approach. "There has been a bit of a tradition of saying, 'Here is the information -- good night, see you tomorrow.' We will deal more with the solutions, get involved and tell people what they can do.

Bronstein, who recently finished overseeing the staff cuts that ended with the departure of about 90 people from his 400-person newsroom, met on Thursday with those who will remain and directed them to take the new approach into daily news coverage. "It is more about solutions, helping them understand what they can do about things," he said. "Yes, there are murders in Bayview, and Muni is broken down. But what can you do about it?"

The editor compared the approach to the paper.s popular ChronicleWatch feature, which focuses on specific government-related problems such as potholes, broken stoplights, and the like, and follows the progress of efforts to fix them.

"I'm not saying in every circumstance, but to look at stories from that aspect, you can direct people to learn what they can do to help,. Bronstein said. He cited the death of a hiker in June at Half Dome in Yosemite National Park as an example of a story that could be expanded.

While the Chronicle reported on the statistics of deaths related to the attraction -- and the opinions of safety experts -- it may in the future take such a story further. "the comments online you had some of the solutions," he said of the reader-reaction posts. "You have the use of technology and even an editorial crusade to get things done..

Steve Proctor, deputy managing editor/news, said the paper took such an approach earlier this year when there was a trash company lockout in Oakland, which resulted in replacement workers being brought in by Waste Management Inc. During the 20-day lockout, he said the Chronicle covered the story, but also sought to focus on specific neighborhoods and how the lockout was affecting them.

"We identified places that were not being picked up, put pictures in the paper and followed them," he said."We had a garbage watch everyday, picked a place and tried to see if we could get Waste Management to respond." He said the paper eventually found that the poorest neighborhoods were among the most neglected.

Proctor also pointed to a column by C.W. Nevius on homelessness in Golden Gate Park. He said the column was prompted after an outcry related to a coyote attack on a dog in the park. Nevius. column stressed that homelessness in the park was much more severe and common than coyote attacks. "It drew hundreds and hundreds of comments and made it an ongoing story," Proctor said.

Bronstein said other approaches might include bringing an issue or problem to a public official, such as a law enforcement leader or mayor and pinning them down for answers and a plan of action.

"You have all of these multimedia aspects to it," he said, noting the use of Web, print and video or audio. "I am not saying it will always work, but it is something you can try."Noting William Randolph Hearst.s historic use of his papers, including Bronstein.s former employer, the San Francisco Examiner, to bring issues to light, he said the Chronicle could do so today. "Every newspaper is talking about watchdog journalism," he added. "That is different from advocacy, which is telling people what to think."

He said the paper would also focus the effort on specific areas, but said they had not been chosen yet. He noted, however, they might include "green living," real estate, politics, and technology. "Beats will be realigned based on that," he said. "There will probably be some physical shifts within the building."

He said the paper may even create a "central nervous system," where representatives from departments such as news, photography, features, online and others will be based to react immediately on all fronts to some stories. "The basic departments who are in on the discussion from the get-go."

Adds Proctor, "when you cut down as much as we have cut down, every paper has cut down, you have to look at what you have to do fabulous work."

Joe Strupp ( is a senior editor at E&P.


The article above is copyrighted material, the use of which may not have specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of political, economic, democracy, First Amendment, technology, journalism, community and justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' as provided by Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 107, the material above is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this blog for purposes beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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