The Newspaper Business in the Age of Digital Media, Part 1

Old newspaper by ShironekoEuro (some rights reserved)

Who still reads the local newspaper or any newspaper for news these days? I recently saw an ad for a position at the local alternative paper looking for a digital content coordinator, essentially to help the paper “develop and define the publication’s digital presence across a variety of platforms.” In the early 1990s I interned as a Fact-Checker for the Los Angeles alternative paper just before getting my Bachelor’s degree in Journalism but went into public education instead. Like many memories from those days, the paper and its clout seemed to be a lot bigger than the current version. A lot has changed in the intervening 30-years, making me wonder, what is it going to take to make the news business work with today’s challenges?

When I was a kid I watched my dad read the LA Times every morning and watch the evening news every night. I think I still have one brother-in-law who reads the paper daily. I also have maybe one friend who is a Sunday Brunch/LA Times Calendar section kind of person. And that seems to be about it for news consumption on the part of anyone that I can think of. I think I have to go back at least 30-years to remember the last time I was a faithful subscriber to the daily newspaper, but over my life it’s been more of an occasional novelty that I quickly abandon when the piles of unread paper get too embarrassing. Granted, working nights and going to school most of my adult life, I never seemed to develop the kind of sit-down-at-the-table habits that was part of my father’s world.

My own peripatetic lifestyle aside, the problems facing modern journalism aren’t any one thing. They are technological, economic and sociological. Everyone tends to focus on the economic and technological challenges… which are very real. Losing advertising dollars to the other emerging forms of media and the whole lost Want-Ads revenue stream would be show stoppers alone. And somehow technology is expected to come to the rescue, as in just eliminate the expense of paper (storage, processing and transportation) and go digital with a website or app on one’s smartphone or tablet and it’ll all be better.

For example, in 2010 when everyone from Sports Illustrated to Time Magazine jumped on the iPad bandwagon, I was quite interested to see if I’d suddenly become more of a regular news consumer without the embarrassing piles of paper to shut me down. I wrote quite a few times about my e-News experiences (see the links below). Yeah, it turns out that even though I had been using an online system called Zinio for some time on my computer, also having access to magazines and newspapers on my iPad didn’t quite make me a regular news consumer on the platform. Well, that’s not entirely true…

caveman-typing-750I guess the error, on my part, was assuming that because I didn’t consume my news like my dad that somehow I was doing it wrong. Because sitting down with the paper every morning and watching the news every night wasn’t part of my routine, somehow I was part of the reason that newspapers were disappearing. Yeah, not so much. Turns out that thanks to the 24/7 cable news channels and continuous news cycle, I’d gotten use to the notion that I could tap into news coverage whenever something was happening or whenever I wanted to. I learned over time to not depend on an AM/PM news cycle. That’s the sociological plus technological challenge: we’re no longer on the same “news cycle” and have an expectation to get our news whenever it’s happening and whenever we want it. Way back in 2005 I realized that my need for news, especially tech related news, was being taken care of via audio and video podcasts. I was getting my news very consistently and found sources who held to journalistic standards I’d expect from any kind of news source. There was nothing on TV or traditional radio that could compete. And waiting for the monthly magazine news cycle was completely useless. So the solution isn’t really about paper versus digital versions of the news, but managing live AND on-demand availability of journalistically vetted information.

The question remains, how do you get your news? Recognizing that my experiences aren’t remotely universal, I posted an informal questionnaire about ones news habits. I’ve upgraded the questionnaire to a google-doc based survey and would greatly appreciate your responses. Please click the following link:

http://goo.gl/forms/UoeuQy3ZxY

Previous posts about Journalism and News:

Saving History: Rescued Film Project & 31-WWII Rolls of Film

I was just writing an article about something that happened eight-years ago like it was ancient history and decided to pull up and post images from that event. Then I stumbled into this article by Michael Zhang on the PetaPixel Facebook page about someone who was using his old-school photo developing skills and digital technology to rescue 31-rolls of undeveloped film that dates back to World War II.

What I love so much about this story is that each roll had to be hand-developed and taken care of in a way that wasn’t really doable with mass-processing. But at the same time without a digital scanner what image was there wouldn’t be rescuable. It’s a story about how analog and digital can work together. And without the curator doing the work, we’d never have these images to tell this story that’s been lost for almost 70-years.

Resources:

Witnessing History: The Best Steve Jobs Keynote

402244783_255d93fd21_oJust over eight-years ago I was in the auditorium on January 9, 2007 and witnessed history when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the world. It seems weird that this happened only eight-years ago, and at the same time hard to appreciate how the technology world really changed after that keynote. Apple was a sliver of the computer market with less than 10-percent of the PC market, the emerging smart phone business belonged to Blackberry on the business side and Palm Treo on the non-business side and you needed to be hard-wired if you wanted any meaningful connection to the Internet. The idea of a touch-interface specifically designed for the form-factor limitations and function just wasn’t on anyone’s radar.

If anyone doubts how revolutionary this touch-interface was, here’s an example of the smart phone Google wanted to introduce circa 2006:
google phone v1

verizon-voyager001Between the announcement in January and the release at the end of June the whole smart phone market flipped on it’s head and suddenly everyone was doing touch (except Blackberry!). Here’s Verizon’s attempt at touch-based interface circa December 2007 (image on the right).

A little over a year ago I found that I had unedited video tapes from this keynote (yes, I was using non-solid-state media at the time). Hopefully I’ll pull together this footage with other shaky-cam video that I must have gotten off of my Treo. In the meantime, the most complete version of the keynote is still available directly from Apple in podcast form via this link. For those just wanting to press “Play” I was able to pull up the following version on YouTube (though how long it will remain on YouTube is never certain). Enjoy.

Resources:

Where Do You Get Your News?

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Hey Online Friends, I’m doing an informal survey about where we’re getting our news these days. I’m looking at re-engaging my former journalism-ways, but want to take the pulse of my social network friends on where you get your news. Thanks in advance.

  1. How often do you read a newspaper?
    A. Daily/Paper
    B. Daily/electronic (web/ipad/kindle)
    C. Weekly (Sundays)/paper
    D. Weekly (Sundays)/electronic (web/ipad/kindle)
    E. When the pile gets to be three-feet tall
    F. What’s a newspaper?
  2. Do you watch the nightly news (TV)
    A. Yes-Live
    B. Yes-Recorded/PVR
    C. Yes-Web/Podcast/iPad/app
    D. Is TMZ considered news?
    E. No.
  3. Alternative “News” Source:
    A. The Daily Show with John Stewart
    B. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
    C. Colbert Report
    D. SNL Weekend Update
    E. FaceBook Feed
    F. Twitter Feed
    G. Podcasts
    H. YouTube
  4. How do you keep up on national news stories?
    A. Newspapers
    B. TV News
    C. Office/Work conversations
    D. Social Network Feeds
  5. How do you keep up on local news stories?
    A. Newspapers
    B. TV News
    C. Office/Work conversations
    D. Social Network Feeds
  6. How do you find out about local entertainment events (movies, concerts, festivals)?
    A. Google
    B. Online Apps (like Fandango)
    C. Friends
    D. Local newspaper (calendar/story)
    E. Local newspaper (advert)

Please respond in the comment area below. Thanks.

(Image source: http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/woman-thinking-5228806)

Better Than This…

This video reminds me of the sense exploration that I grew up with during the Apollo era of the 1960s and 70s. It caused me to remember the good that we’re capable of when we lift our sights above the small minded fighting over or denying others things that aren’t ours to claim. Tomorrow I will have the privilege to join others for a #NASASocial gathering at the Kennedy Space Center to witness the final preparations and next day unmanned launch of the maiden voyage of the new Orion capsule and systems. I never got a chance to see a launch of the Saturn V live, so I’m really looking forward to experiencing the power and beauty that we are capable of when we set our minds to doing good.

To my fellow Orlando friends, look to the East at 7 O’clock on Thursday morning. This is going to be amazing.

Click the image for info on this first unmanned launch and mission.

Click the image for info on this first unmanned launch and mission.

Is Cyber-Monday Still A Thing?

I don’t know if you’re more motivated to shop because of all the noise on TV and made by annoying friends with blogs (sorry about that)… but I know that I have to stop myself sometimes because there are things that I’ve been thinking of getting for myself or as gifts that I put put off that suddenly becomes very important this time of year. Consumerism at it’s best. Well, if you’re someone who is going to shop at Amazon today, please use the following link on your way there and enjoy the sales. I get a few pennies per sale, even if you don’t buy anything I’ve linked to but just begin your search with my link. Thanks again and enjoy.

Begin Search Here...

Begin Search Here…

Other “Help a Bro Out” Links:

image: Cyber Monday by Kevin Marks https://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinmarks/5218166919/ taken on Nov. 29, 2010

Reminder For Those Shopping From Home

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shopping-cart-icon-515Hope y’all are enjoying Black Friday from the comfort of your home. Just a reminder for those of you doing your holiday shopping at Amazon.com, if you’d kindly begin your search with one of the links below it’ll help moi while I continue my “Next Chapter” of my career. Besides my good friend, Tom Lucas’ latest book, this list was inspired by podcasters or those I’ve heard about from my podcast stream. Hope everyone has a wonderful, safe and cozy holiday weekend. Enjoy.

Podcaster “Friends” Amazon List

Pax Titanus by Tom Lucas

Pax Titanus by Tom Lucas

The Year in Tech History by Tom Merritt

The Year in Tech History by Tom Merritt

And God Save Judy Garland: A Gay Christian's Journey by Randy Eddy-McCain

And God Save Judy Garland: A Gay Christian’s Journey by Randy Eddy-McCain

Sword and Laser Anthology [Kindle Edition] by Tom Merritt & Veronica Belmont

Sword and Laser Anthology [Kindle Edition] by Tom Merritt & Veronica Belmont

Power Friending: Demystifying Social Media to Grow Your Business by Amber Macarthur

Power Friending: Demystifying Social Media to Grow Your Business by Amber Macarthur

The Best American Infographics 2014  by Gareth Cook

The Best American Infographics 2014
by Gareth Cook

A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss

A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing
by Lawrence M. Krauss

The Martian: A Novel [Kindle Edition] Andy Weir

The Martian: A Novel [Kindle Edition]
Andy Weir

Connection: Hollywood Storytelling meets Critical Thinking [Kindle Edition] by Randy Olson

Connection: Hollywood Storytelling meets Critical Thinking [Kindle Edition] by
Randy Olson

Even This I Get to Experience [Kindle Edition] by Norman Lear

Even This I Get to Experience [Kindle Edition]
by Norman Lear

The Beatles: All These Years, Vol.1 Tune In by Mark Lewisohn

The Beatles: All These Years, Vol.1 Tune In by Mark Lewisohn

Batman: The Complete Television Series (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray]

Batman: The Complete Television Series (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray]

Batman: The Complete Television Series (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray]

Helpin’ a Brother Out

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monopolyRecent events have reminded me of the John Lennon quote, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” I came out to Florida in 2008 because it was an opportunity to put all the things I’d learned at that point into practice and to step up my potential teaching influence. Now I’ve been given another opportunity to consider where next to share this expertise. Many thanks to friends and family who have expressed their support and concern. I’m working on pulling together my portfolio and exploring what the next chapter of this journey might be.

In the meantime, for any of you planning on doing any holiday shopping (yes, it is that season already) and plan to use Amazon.com, if you use any of the images/links I’ve listed below I will get a referral fee from the transaction (the referral fee does NOT effect your purchase price!). Also, the links that I’ve listed below are for books published by some of my local Orlando friends, and that would also make their holidays a touch brighter. Even if none of the books look to your liking or gift-giving taste, if you begin your Amazon search using one of the links and purchase something I still get the referral fee. So please click on any of the images/links below and do that American holiday thing, shop-shop-shop. Thanks.

 

The Second Draeken War by Ben Hale

The Second Draeken War by Ben Hale

Pax Titanus by Tom Lucas

Pax Titanus by Tom Lucas

The Heart of Education by Dara Feldman

The Heart of Education by Dara Feldman

Collections, Ink! by German Martinez

Collections, Ink! by German Martinez

NOCS: Nocturnal Encounter by Jessica Lang

NOCS: Nocturnal Encounter by Jessica Lang

Immortal Dynasty by Lynda Haviland

Immortal Dynasty by Lynda Haviland

God Doesn't Love Us All the Same by Nina Guilbeau

God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same by Nina Guilbeau

A Gift of Ghost by Sarah Wynde

A Gift of Ghost by Sarah Wynde

Leather to the Corinthians by Tom Lucas

Leather to the Corinthians by Tom Lucas

Marshal Gold by Geoffrey J. Veit

Marshal Gold by Geoffrey J. Veit

Don’t Leave Your Wallet with St. Vincent

I’ve had a bad habit of watching any movie with Bill Murray in it. There have been more than a few clunkers, but what the hell, it’s Bill Murray. With this latest film, St. Vincent, let’s just say that most of those sitting around me continued to sit through the credits just because it featured five-plus minutes of Bill Murray being Bill Murray; it’s that good. It’s not Caddy Shack-silly and I sure as hell would not leave my wallet lying around with most of the characters. But maybe that’s part of its charm. It’s a comedy whose characters have every day, real life flaws. This is one Murray’s best and his young friend, played by Jaeden Lieberher, does a great job adjusting to the weird directions his life is taking during the movie. It’s a must see in a world of remakes and soulless SFX bores.