Thanksgiving week Odds and Ends

Since it’s Thanksgiving week in the U. S., a slow week for news about newspapers, I’ve got some odds and ends, most of them from across the pond:

Who’s on Twitter? Following up on my prior musings about Twitter, here’s a list of U.K. journalists using the service, courtesy of Stephen Davies of PRBlogger.com. A compilation of U.S. journo-Twitterers might be a useful tool, as well. Or at least a list of links to lists. I’ve only come across the Twitter directory of the enlightened newsroom of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. (Which covers local Twitter developments, as well.)
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Who’s next to make the leap? The estimable U.K. columnist and blogger Roy Greenslade suggests in his Guardian column today that The Independent should exit the world of print and go 100 percent digital. The paper losing its owners about £12 million a year, sells only about 200,000 papers a day, but has more than 8 million website unique visitors a month. Their predicament sounds similar to that of the Christian Science Monitor, which last month announced its plans to go all-digital. From the column:

I imagine the O’Reillys both wondering – and not for the first time – if this media commentator has lost his marbles. But I sincerely believe their ailing newsprint paper is in danger of attracting so few readers in the coming year that the balance of those sums is likely to change for the worse. So they need to plan now for an online future and to reap the rewards of being the first major paper in the world to boldly go where no man has gone before.

That Star Trek reference could not be more apt because they are in a position to explore the final newspaper frontier, the one highlighted to an extent by none other than Rupert Murdoch in his speeches in Australia last week. [Subject of a prior post of mine.] Though he was stressing that newspapers do have a future (though I tend to think he means his own newspapers rather than other people’s) he also made it clear that news brands are the future.

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A new addition to my blogroll: Utrecht (Netherlands) journalism prof Piet Bakker blogs daily at Newspaper Innovation on the subject of free newspapers around the world. The news about free print is mixed: some are shutting down (The Virginian-Pilot’s Link, Czechia’s 24 Hodin, the Mitteland edition of News in Switzerland), but elsewhere there are new launches (ADN in Columbia). Readership of free papers is up in the U.K, but down in Spain. In the Netherlands, some free papers are crossing the line by selling their editorial space. A free paper might be an option for some U.S. papers looking restructure themselves into online-print hybrids, so keep an eye on Bakker’s blog.

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North of the border: Insights from Jonathan Kay at the National Post, urging like most of us journo-pundits that radical change is needed, on “islands of profitability” that might survive the current challenges to print journalism. His life raft is aiming for:

(1) Business-oriented media that cater to older, more affluent readers of the type who can justify the expense of long-form news consumption (in both time and money) as a work activity. Successful media in this mould will look more like the Wall Street Journal than the New York Times, more like The Financial Times than the Daily Telegraph….

(2) Premium publications that cater to the ideologically involved and intellectually upscale — i.e. the sort of well-educated, well-heeled reader who prefers to spend his scarce free time in the world of ideas. These people do have a sense of community — but it is a sense of community rooted in their political attitudes, foreign-policy interests, cultural beliefs, charitable causes and consumer interests, not their geography….-

(3) The hyperlocal. People love local news — which is why even really bad local newspapers manage to remain profitable. Simply put, people want to find out where the big potholes are, who got drunk and wrapped their car around a phone pole last night, what happened at yesterday’s school-board meeting and — most of all — how the local hockey team is doing.

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I agree: Amy Gahran urges reporters to link to sources. This seems obvious if you’re writing a blog, but not to newspaper reporters and publishers, which is just another indication that they are still overwhelmingly print-centered.

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Make a different wish: If you’re looking for a Kindle under your holiday tree, forget it. Dan Frommer reports Amazon is sold out. Order now and you’ll have one in late February, maybe. That means it might be a Kindle 2. (Previously on News After Newspapers) Amazon still won’t say how many units they’ve sold (nor will book publishers, but one mentions a “triple digit” jump in e-book sales , but my educated guess is, More Than You Think. Among the best-sellers on Kindle, as ranked among e-books: The New York Times (number 28), The Wall Street Journal (number 36), and the Washington Post (number 158). [ADDENDUM: Just after posting this, I found via Paul Biba’s TeleRead the Nieman Journalism Lab post with good evidence (a Times internal memo) that the New York Times now has 10,000 Kindle subscribers. That’s about 1 percent of their entire circulation. Good news, along with the Times’s rapid acquisition of a slew of Facebook friends, also mentioned in the memo.]

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Happy Thanksgiving to all!

One Comment

  1. jack said:

    Maurice Jones said in a report posted Saturday on the Virginian-Pilot’s Web site that a decline in advertising sales during the economic downturn prompted the newspaper to make several changes
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    jack
    Transmitter

    December 4, 2008

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