Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic: The AJC Redesign

Yeah, the header of this blog post is very cliche, but honestly, it's the best description I can offer for this nonsense (The Atlanta Journal Constitution released/unveiled its redesigned newspaper today.)

What year is this?

It is 2009, right?

And we're still talking about and throwing resources behind redesigning the hard copy of the newspaper?

That is disappointing to say the least, disturbing to put it frankly.

Some of the highlighted features and touted new benefits of the redesign include, news that's "easy to find", being able to "navigate to the information you want with color-coded sections, at-a-glance headlines and consistent, clear organization," "more color," and a different type font.

Whoa! Let's not get all crazy with the innovation here, guys. (Creative Loafing Atlanta sees my point.)

....but seriously, I'll cut the sarcasm there and just say..."Wow, that's too bad."

And, I'm not sure if this makes this situation ironic or just additionally unfortunate, but the AJC even went as far as to make a kind of infomercial about the redesign a few days ago. View it, and commentary about it by Creative Loafing Atlanta, here.


First 100 Days gets dizzying amount of coverage

I agree with Spencer Green. As he stated in his Huffington Post piece: "First 100 Days" coverage can lead to physical ailments....I'll spare you the phrasing he uses. (lol) But PLEASE check it out. Hilarious.

As of this morning at 9:33, Google showed 109 million search results for "First 100 Days" and a Google news search showed 43,000 results.


Still, some news outlets are doing some fairly creative multi-media productions of President Obama's First 100 days.

One of the more interesting approaches would have to be this one by The Los Angeles Times.

"A week before the 2008 election, we asked commuters what they expected from the new president. Here are their initial thoughts and their current views. Times editorial page editor Jim Newton puts the first 100 days in perspective."

It's a little old school -- it's got the Man-on-the-Street vibe to it -- as well as digital and I think I like it.

Nossip Potpurri: Part III

- The Facts: Sun-Times Media Group Inc. cut an undisclosed number of jobs late this week as part of the newspaper company's effort to trim payroll costs by 15 percent, according to an internal memo obtained by the Chicago Tribune.

My opinion: I hate to sound uneducated here, but simply put, this is totally uncool.
First and foremost it's a shame that Sun-Times Media Group Inc. is cutting more jobs. Secondly, not disclosing the number of jobs it's cutting goes against what media is supposed to stand for: full disclosure. Not cool. Not cool at all.

- The Facts: Look for Gains in 2010, Says RTNDA Survey Director
"Jobs in local television news dropped by 4.3 percent and salaries dropped by 4.4 percent last year. At the same time, stations set a record for the amount of news on the air while the net number of stations originating news declined by only 4 in the past 16 months," the Radio-Television News Directors Association reported on Sunday.

My opinion: While this is not necessarily a Phoenix rising kind of story, it is quasi-encouraging. Hey, things could always be worse.

- Her Opinion: Amy Goodman: Celebrate dissent, diversity
Pacifica Radio, the oldest independent media network in the United States, turns 60 this week as a deepening crisis engulfs mainstream media. Journalists are being laid off by the hundreds, even thousands. Venerable newspapers are being abruptly shuttered. Digital technology is changing the rules, disrupting whole industries. Commercial media are losing audience and advertising. People are exploring new models for media, including nonprofit journalism.

My opinon: It's funny how quickly people forget history. Clearly, this shows that advocacy journalism and independent sources of information and independent media outlets have been around for a while and can have longevity. With all of the panic over the Digital Age and the doubt that indy journalists have a chance, it's good to read pieces like this.

"And the Pulitzer Prize for Tweeting goes to..."

So the Twitter talk, and talk of Twitter practically never stops.

Oprah tweeted her first tweet and the Web went crazy.

Ashton Kucher and CNN had a Twitter follower face-off.

Just this week Facebook opened its system to third-party developers, allowing them to build Facebook applications that will let users post status updates, share pictures and links, and interact with most other elements of the site without ever visiting Facebook.com. (Some say it's Facebook's way of trying to be like Twitter. Others disagree on the technological spat.)

Microsoft is even trying to be in with the "in crowd", announcing this week a public test of a Twitter-like notification service.

And I must be a bit clairvoyant because apparently people ARE using Twitter to track the Swine Flu outbreak. (An idea that I discussed a few months ago in a class presentation at USC regarding health epidemics and the use of Twitter.)

With the Pulitzer Prize winners being announced last week, this little cartoon came to mind.

It just might be a glimpse into the future.

Never say never.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Scholarly databases becoming collateral damage in Media Wars

Who'd have thunk it?

Databases like LexisNexis are also feeling the pinch as the Digital Media War rages on.

With shrinking staffs and less legacy news being produced databases that rely on original material from newspapers are practically starving for material.

But the databases themselves are to share in the blame for their emaciated state.

As papers began to cut back, databases did little to nothing to find other sources of news to archive and continued to exclude wire reports (and, as we've been learning in class, even wire services have been cutting back.)

A set of scholars even concluded that a Google search uncovers just about twice the number of sources that LexisNexis produces for a given topic.

Funny, I never took the time to think that databases were also on this sinking ship of an industry.

But this does go to support a hypothesis of mine: Google is some sort of info god.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Beyond sad...

Apparently, a "higher-up" at the Associated Press didn't know that the organization had a YouTube channel and recently gave a country radio station in Tennessee a cease and desist order regarding its contents.

Will someone please knock the AP in the head with a common sense stick A-SAP!?!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Still useful....I guess.

I honestly don't even know how I stumbled upon this story (and just in case you're wondering, no, I didn't use Stumbleupon.com or whatever)

This, I guess, is kind of a glimmer on the possible silver lining that exists around the dark cloud of newspaper journalism.

The Commercial Appeal in Memphis has uncovered a financial scandal that involves the FBI, a Christmas party and the city's mayor, Willie Herenton.

I'd qualify this as a big deal.

And guess what? The Commercial Appeal is the ONLY news outlet with the information.

The story has dissiminated to at least three or so other news media, but the Commerical Appeal is the only news source credited as being the originator of the information.

I'm not sure if that's a bad, good or great thing. One one hand it's a SCORE! for the home team.

On the other hand, it kind of shows that, in terms of the big head and long tail form of journalism, that the tail's not really up to much which shows that newspapers ARE still the main source for news which would then mean that they have a reason for living.....

...but then again, this is just one story.