Category Archives: News
Most Americans would agree that our country is more fiercely divided along political lines today — Democrat/Republican and liberal/conservative — than ever before in our lives.
Through the last two or three presidential elections, this divide seems to have become more and more bitter. In the 2016 race, it reached a fever pitch, which has shown no sign of abating since the election of Donald Trump.
Powerful local advocacy is essential to your news brand
As the relentless decline in ad revenues empties more and more newsroom desks, there’s been a little-noted side effect: Waning commitment to locally written editorials.
Nobody seems to be noticing, and that’s a shame. In this and probably a future post, I intend to make the case for strong local opinion-writing as a key element of community journalism.
In the local media business, we like to think that our brand has immense value. I believe the thoughtfulness and impact of our editorials plays a huge part in creating that value. Read the rest of this entry
Last time I blogged about a fairly simple but powerful “Big J” journalism project we did years ago in my hometown, shaking up the judicial system in a very positive way.
Here’s another “Big J” project we did back then. It can be done in any community, and it will reveal very interesting things about who has and wields power in the community. Read further to learn how, and to see clippings of the stories we produced.
It started in 1992, when I was editor of my family’s newspaper in Monroe, Mich. At the time, I was doing some serious thinking about the local power structure. Read the rest of this entry
It’s an article of faith in the local media business: High-quality content is our trump card in the high-stakes business of attracting and monetizing digital audiences.
But how much of that high-quality content do we really produce? And how much of it really has the huge audience pulling-power we need?
It’s the same answer for both questions: Not nearly enough. Read the rest of this entry
Data, data, data. From every direction lately, I’m being hit with urgent reminders about the imperative for local media companies to master data.
Every day, I’m more convinced: This is the next wave of threat — or opportunity — for local media companies. That’s how disruptive innovation works — you either grab the opportunity, or you are overrun by it.
As Big Data marches down upon us, I’m reminded of Longfellow’s poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” It tells how, on the eve of the American Revolution, patriots gave warning of the British Army’s advance by hanging lanterns in the belfry of Boston’s Old North Church:
“One if by land, two if by sea.”
I’m hanging out three lanterns. Big Data is bearing down on us right now — by land, by sea and from every other direction. Read the rest of this entry
In the fall of 2006, as the Internet was devastating the newspaper industry in earnest, the American Press Institute unveiled a new program to push back against the disruption.
We called the project Newspaper Next, and its first report was called Blueprint for Transformation.
Ten years later, what did it accomplish? And what should we still remember from that body of work? Read the rest of this entry
How do you define the mission and purpose of local reporting?
Cover the news? Hold institutions accountable? Maintain a well-informed citizenry? Hold up a mirror to the community? “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable?”
Search around the Web for statements of journalism’s purpose and you’ll find all of the above, and more like them.
And there’s a lot of anxiety these days about the present and future of this mission. With local advertising and circulation revenues spiraling steadily downward, and with newsrooms shrinking along a parallel line, two things are evident. Whatever the mission of local reporting is:
- A lot less of it is happening now.
- Even less will be happening in the future.
In many places in this business, the central question these days is: How can we drive revenue from new sources, so we can keep supporting the functions of journalism that are critical to a free society?
To an extent, I buy that. But there’s also something seriously misguided about it. Read the rest of this entry
Sounds like a great session for a publishers’ conference, doesn’t it? It’s a big topic for local media businesses these days, as mobile web traffic surpasses desktop traffic for more and more newspapers, magazines and broadcast stations.
That’s why I spent an afternoon searching the Web recently. Read the rest of this entry
Lots of people understand that the traditional business model around news is breaking down. Far fewer realize it’s not just the business part — advertising — that’s broken. It’s also news itself.
Why is this so hard to understand?
A planet full of people is going from a daily diet of a newspaper and a couple of news broadcasts to constant access to almost everything there is to know. Inevitably, this is causing people today to want and expect different things from their time spent on content than people did 20 or 50 years ago.
But what we produce as news has hardly changed. Read the rest of this entry
It’s the Year of the Millennials, according to Pew. In 2015, at ages 18 to 34, they will surpass Baby Boomers in the U.S. to become the largest living generation. And a major new report by the Media Insight Project, just released at the NAA mediaXchange, sheds a lot of new light on their consumption of news.
The report (pdf, html) emphasizes the bright side, stressing the finding that most Millennials do value news and consume it regularly. But the most worrisome finding for newspaper companies is that they rarely go to traditional news providers to get it. We are far back in the loop, when we’re in it at all. Read the rest of this entry