Newspapers & News

This week’s Economist has a couple of interesting articles on news and media, so if you’re interested in the subject you should probably pick up a copy. Meanwhile, here as links to the print articles on the Economist website:

How newspapers are faring: A little local difficulty

“The United States is the worst case that we see worldwide, and a lot of media news comes out of the US, so it is exceedingly negative. But the US experience is not being replicated elsewhere,” says Larry Kilman, deputy head of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), an industry body. “There’s an assumption that there’s a single crisis affecting all news organisations, and that’s not the case,” says David Levy, director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University. “There are different kinds of crisis in different countries, and some countries in the developing world are experiencing expansion rather than decline.”

Making news pay: Reinventing the newspaper

Another tack, now being tried across America, is to build new, internet-native metropolitan news organisations supported by philanthropy. Examples include the Voice of San Diego, the St Louis Beacon, the MinnPost in Minneapolis, the Texas Tribune in Austin and the Bay Citizen in San Francisco. “Where they exist, they are doing a very good job, in some cases exceeding the quality of dailies,” says Mr Doctor. Because traditional newspapers are in trouble, these not-for-profit online news organisations can take their pick of experienced journalists, many of whom are also attracted by the new sites’ focus on politics, civic engagement and accountability journalism. “We believe the gap that we’re trying to fill has to do with reporting,” says Jonathan Weber, editor of the Bay Citizen. “There’s a lot of opinion out there, and a dearth of reporting.”

Impartiality: The Foxification of news

One way forward, suggests Mr Rosen, is to abandon the ideology of viewlessness and accept that journalists have a range of views; to be open about them while holding the reporters to a basic standard of accuracy, fairness and intellectual honesty; and to use transparency, rather than objectivity, as the new foundation on which to build trust with the audience. He cites the memorable phrase coined by David Weinberger, a technology commentator, that “transparency is the new objectivity”. In part, this involves journalists providing information about themselves. For example, on AllThingsD, a technology-news site owned by Dow Jones, all the journalists provide an “ethics statement” with information about their shareholdings, financial relationships and, in some cases, their personal life (two journalists are married to employees at large technology companies). “People are more likely to trust you if they know where you are coming from,” says Mr Rosen.

Lastly, an answer the popular question, “Who the hell still buys CDs?” Germans do!
Germany’s odd media: Last-mover advantage

Despite iTunes, piracy and a shrinking population, CD sales have fallen much more gently in Germany than elsewhere (see chart). Germany used to compete with France for the title of Europe’s second-biggest music market, well behind Britain. It is now Europe’s biggest market. The country has exported pop acts like Tokio Hotel (pictured) across Europe. Unheilig, a band that sings in German, popped up on last year’s global top 40 albums chart, beating the likes of Gorillaz and Robbie Williams.

Never heard of Unheilig, but then I’ve never heard of Gorillaz either… kids these days and their silly bands.

Interesting stuff, thanks for the links!

Have you heard of Blur? :)

Oh yeah, I think they were on this “Music Television” thing once!

Yeah I’m still buying CDs :(

I still buy CDs because the quality is better than MP3s. But as a nation, we are buying less CDs, which I think was Chris’s point.

On newspapers: an editor for the Kansas City Star, who has worked for papers around the country, said the problem isn’t so much people reading news on the internet vs. newspapers, but that papers get most of their money from advertising and people just don’t use newspapers for the ads the way they used to. For example, he stated, the Sunday classifieds is where most people used to go for house and car ads, and also where you’d go if you were looking, say, for a used sofa. Now everyone goes to the internet for that, which resulted in enormous drops in classified income for newspapers.

Gotta say he’s correct. We’ve purchased a couple of houses in the last few years and a couple of cars, and we relied on the internet almost exclusively. Same for just about everything else. I can’t remember the last time I went to a newspaper’s classified section as my primary source for something I needed to buy (or sell.)

Yes, that’s covered in the first article. :)

Oops. Missed the link. More coffee. ;)

I think a few other shows have done pieces on the death of the local newspapers and how we need to reverse it. And yet, it has gone on with no solution in sight.

Hasan Minaj did an episode on it, and it was interesting to see a 2020 update to this story.

Very interesting to hear about that one town with no local paper where all the government officials are basically robbing the tax payers blind because there’s no one to report on it locally.

He also kind of throws out an idea at the end there that I’ve never heard before: some kind of public funding for local newspapers? Could that work? Certainly for that little town, if they had a publically funded local newspaper, they could have been saved from those local politicians so maybe it could have saved them money. And on a national level, I find PBS and NPR to be pretty great sources of news. So maybe it can work well on a small town level as well?

I think partnering with local university papers may be better that the pure philanthropy model. Better mentorships and better access to potential Grant money.

That’s a great video. It should be watched & shared by everyone.

Samantha Bee / Full Frontal did a piece on the importance of newspapers 3 years ago… I assume things have just gone to the pits since then.

And jumping from national back to local, some NPR affiliates aren’t doing so well this week.

They blame it on COVID, but they also said their pledge drives were meeting their targets. So either they are losing a lot of corporate grants in global belt-tightening, or they needed the box office take to continue to support Live From Here. (Oddly, the Hilarious World of Depression podcast by the man who did the NPR show Wits was also cancelled, and that didn’t have a live show to support.)

This is a free market problem. Right now there’s so much “free” internet news out there, in the form of aggregators or sites peddling opions/unresearched-garbage, that nobody wants to pay a fee to anyone for news. That trend will continue until people realize that we really don’t know what’s going on and all news is PR/Proganda that someone is funding for us to see. Then there will be a shift in consumer attitudes and suddenly people will be willing to fund actual journalism again. I have no what economic model will emerge, but it will be interesting to see.

The biggest thing hurting local papers is that by the time you get the paper the news is two days old, the sports are two days old. And then they tell you to check their websites for updates. So unless you just want to read the editorial page or the obits there is no reason to buy a paper.

UK papers are a sewer of right wing filth or chav gossip rags and the entire industry can die as far as im concerned. More than happy to sacrifice The Guardian to see the Mail and Murdochs shitrags disappear forever. The net effect will be one of good.