Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hearst to Begin Charging for Digital News

Hearst Corp. said its newspapers plan to hold back at least some content from their free Web sites, launching the publisher onto the vanguard of print media companies to begin charging for their digital news and information.

A top executive at Hearst, which publishes 16 newspapers including the Houston Chronicle and Seattle Post-Intelligencer, said the company is mulling how much of its online offerings to keep free, while reserving some content exclusively for people who pay. [Click for MORE]

iTunes proves newspapers can and should charge for online access

Newspapers need to band together for a joint online subscription service.

Digital readers would pay a monthly fee -- let's say $10 -- and in return they'd have full access to the likes of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the L.A. Times and any other paper that wants to be part of the consortium (the more the merrier).

I'll leave it to the lawyers as to whether this would require an antitrust exemption from the government. [Click for MORE]

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Newspaper via Radio Facsimile

Newspaper via Radio Facsimile although an intriguing and mystifying invention, the newspaper via radio facsimile never took off as a mainstream medium. The basic premise was that a newspaper would be printed via the facsimile during regularly scheduled radio broadcasts so that the audience would have a visual along with the auditory experience of the radio.

Developed by John V L. Hogan on June 16, 1934, the facsimile system, and its utilization in the transmission of newspaper, was intended to broadcast a condensed version of a normal newspaper into the home. At the time there were no national newspapers that could be easily distributed into every household across the country, and it was hoped that the radio facsimile could doctor this issue. The facsimile receiver was similar in size to that of a record player, and it could be attached to any normal household radio. One of the initial demonstrations of the news via radio facsimile technology was conducted on April 17th, 1946, when it successfully printed a four-column newspaper at a rate of about 500 words a minute. The black and white transmission was completed with relative clarity onto a roll of paper at an approximate speed corresponding to a normal reading pace, or slightly faster to make up for illustrations.

There is some discrepancy as to the commercial cost of the radio facsimile machine and its accessories. In 1936, the necessary rolls of paper were deemed expensive, but according to an article in the New York Times, they only cost $1.00 each by 1946 ("Facsimile Paper 'Printed' By Radio"). Similarly, there are some opposing reports with regards to cost of the facsimile receiver. An article in the May 1939 edition of Radio-Craft Magazine listed the price as approximately $250 a piece. However, the price of a two-column facsimile receiver was listed at $75 a piece before the onset of World War II.

The FCC regulations established in the field of news transmission via Radio Facsimile stated that the entire facsimile edition of the newspaper was to be printed in completion within a standard 15-minute broadcast window, which would allow its delivery to coincide with regular news radio broadcasts. Such a formula ultimately broke down a typical broadcast into 28 inches a minute for four facsimile pages measuring 11.5 inches long and 8.2 inches wide. It seems likely that this final judgment regarding the most efficient and effective paper size directly influenced what is considered the standard size of paper today. [Click for MORE]

From Wikipedia

Hat tip / Miami Herald Alumni

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'Whatever happens, public can't lose. And the reporter can't lose.'

A few predictions: Radio eventually will drive many newspapers out of business. Radio news will become more reliable. Newspapers, certainly the stronger ones that survive the struggle, will become better. Some day (it is scientifically possible now) some sort of television device will bring a complete newspaper to the customer over the wire. Whatever happens, public can't lose. And the reporter can't lose. That gentleman, whether on the air or at his typewriter, will always have his work to do."

-- Stanley Walker
City Editor
New York Herald Tribune
(From the book, City Editor, by Stanley Walker, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1934)

Hat Tip / Miami Herald Alumni Sphere: Related Content

Newspaper Jobs Dying

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Rocky Mountain News: Final Edition

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to you today. Our time chronicling the life of Denver and Colorado, the nation and the world, is over. Thousands of men and women have worked at this newspaper since William Byers produced its first edition on the banks of Cherry Creek on April 23, 1859. We speak, we believe, for all of them, when we say that it has been an honor to serve you. To have reached this day, the final edition of the Rocky Mountain News, just 55 days shy of its 150th birthday is painful. We will scatter. And all that will be left are the stories we have told, captured on microfilm or in digital archives, devices unimaginable in those first days. [Click for MORE]

Rocky Mountain News closes, publishes final edition

Colorado's oldest newspaper published its final edition Friday. The Rocky Mountain News, less than two months away from its 150th anniversary, closed after a search for a buyer proved unsuccessful.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Newsday Plans to Charge for Online News

Cablevision Systems Corp plans to charge online readers of its Newsday newspaper, a move that would make it one of the first large U.S. papers to reverse a trend toward free Web readership.

Newsday, which covers the New York suburb of Long Island, was bought by Cablevision in a $650 million deal last May that was widely criticized on Wall Street as a puzzling move into a troubled newspaper market.

Cablevision had to write down Newsday's value by $402 million on Thursday, pushing its fourth-quarter results to a loss, as U.S. print advertising sales and circulation have dropped with more readers seeking free news on the Web. [Click for MORE]

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Rocky Mountain News to Close,
Publish Final Edition Friday

Watch more AOL News videos on AOL Video

The Rocky Mountain News publishes its last paper tomorrow.

Rich Boehne, chief executive officer of Scripps, broke the news to the Rocky staff at noon today, ending nearly three months of speculation over the paper's future. He called the paper a victim of a terrible economy and an upheaval in the newspaper industry.

"Denver can't support two newspapers anymore," Boehne told staffers, some of whom cried at the news.

On Dec. 4, Boehne announced that Scripps was looking for a buyer for the Rocky and its 50 percent interest in the Denver Newspaper Agency, the company that handles business matters for the papers, because it couldn't continue to sustain its financial losses in Denver. Scripps said the Rocky lost $16 million in 2008. [Click for MORE]

'Rocky' Web Site Offers Blow-By-Blow of Staffers Reacting to Closing-- and Their Questions

A special page at the Web site of the Rocky Mountain News this afternoon chronicled, minute-by-minute, the announcement of the daily's closing, staff reaction and questions they posed to Scripps executives. [Click for MORE]

The "live" blogging is at:

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Amsterdam Plane Crash: Twitter,
Social Media, and the Anatomy of a Disaster

News of the plane crash involving Turkish Airlines flight 1951 near Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam broke first on Twitter, before being picked up by the mainstream media. It's an increasingly familiar story.

The playing out of major events in the world of blogs and social media is becoming an ever more familiar tale. Today’s plane crash just outside Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam broke first on Twitter, the popular microblogging service. Jonathan Nip, who lived near the scene of the accident, was one of the first to tweet about the crash. “Looking at a crashed aeroplane near Schiphol,” he wrote, just moments after the plane came down. “A lot of emergency services rushing to the scene,” he updated, a few minutes later. “Still no more info. Can’t find any info on the net.”

It’s the last part of that tweet that’s interesting, because it underlines the shifting dynamic of breaking news. Here was an eyewitness to an event who was able to broadcast the latest information far quicker than traditional broadcasters could. The internet, which Jonathan Nip usually relies on for news and facts, was being outpaced by his own direct experiences, which he in turn was sharing with the world via the medium of Twitter.

And from there, the news snowballed across the Twitterverse, the blogosphere and social networks. [Click for MORE]

Twittering Obama's Speech

President Obama spoke of the serious issues facing America last night, and while he was delivering his first address to a joint session of Congress, some of its members were busy providing color commentary through Twitter. If you take a look at the Twitterstream on Tweet Congress, you'll see that for the most part, last night's Tweets were respectful disagreements or enthusiastic support that went straight down party lines. [Click for MORE]

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Condé Nast Has Worst Year of Any Mag Publisher

For years, Condé Nast seemed to ride above the fray in the consumer magazine world. But in 2009, that is no longer the case.

The publisher is reeling more than its rivals, as luxury-goods retailers hoard their ad dollars. While the industry is down 24 percent in ad pages so far in the first quarter, many of Condé's venerable titles are down 30 percent. Start-up mag Portfolio is down a staggering 60 percent, while Wired is off 57 percent.

"They are having the worst year of any publisher," said one rival executive who once worked at Condé Nast and said the company's recent cuts of 5 percent each on expenses and staffing isn't enough. [Click for MORE]

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Gannett Slashes Dividend 90%,
To Save $325 Million/Year

Gannett Co. slashed its quarterly dividend 90% to 4 cents a share in an effort to strengthen its balance sheet, following the steps of other media companies in curtailing payments to shareholders.

Newspapers have been hammered in recent years by the rise of the Internet, coupled with a sluggish advertising market. Now, the economic crisis threatens to be a mortal blow to some publishers. Four newspaper owners have filed for bankruptcy protection since December, and privately held Hearst Corp. warned Tuesday it may have to close the San Francisco Chronicle if it isn't able to slash costs at the paper within weeks.

The dividend cut by Gannett - the nation's largest newspaper publisher and the parent company of USA Today - will save the company more than $325 million a year.

Shares dropped 6.1% to $3.52 in after-hours trading and have lost 82% of their value since August. [Click for MORE]

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Does Murdoch Want to Buy the LA Times?

"Incredulous News Corp. insiders" tell Variety that Rupert Murdoch's love of print media is so fervent that he's been talking about making a play for the Los Angeles Times. [Click for MORE]

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Murdoch's Mea Culpa for NY Post Monkey Cartoon

Hat tip: Ed Padgett Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hearst May Sell or Shutter the SF Chronicle

The Hearst Corp. today announced an effort to reverse the deepening operating losses of its San Francisco Chronicle by seeking near-term cost savings that would include "significant" cuts to both union and non-union staff.

In a posted statement, Hearst said if the savings cannot be accomplished "quickly" the company will seek a buyer, and if none comes forward, it will close the Chronicle. The Chronicle lost more than $50 million in 2008 and is on a pace to lose more than that this year, Hearst said.

Frank J. Vega, chairman and publisher of the Chronicle, said, "It's just a fact of life that we need to live within our means as a newspaper - and we have not for years."[Click for MORE]

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2 Papers Get State Bailout for Internet Training

Two Minnesota newspapers will receive a share of state grants normally given to retrain workers in manufacturing and other industries in transition.

The Duluth News Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press will work with the University of Minnesota's School of Journalism and Mass Communication to help staff adapt to an increasingly Internet-based industry.

Minnesota Job Skills Partnership is awarding $238,000 in state funds, while the newspapers and the university will contribute about $469,000 combined, mostly by devoting staff time to training.

Paul Moe, the state program's director, said newspapers around the country are looking closely at the project as a potential model.

Kathleen Hansen, director of the university's Minnesota Journalism Center, said the grant idea came from the Pioneer Press. She said the application was unusual for a state agency more accustomed to businesses that deal in plastics or crop machinery.

"This is a very different kind of workforce group," she said. [Click for MORE]

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NY Post Drops Liz Smith's Gossip Column
Citing Hard Times

After Thursday, the gossip columnist Liz Smith will not have a home in a New York tabloid for the first time in 33 years. The New York Post — which has published her gossip column since the days when Donald was still married to Marla and Christie Brinkley was still married to Ricky Taubman — is dropping her column, citing hard times. [Click for MORE]

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Monday, February 23, 2009

More Newspaper Shake-Ups Loom With Chapter 11

With the four owners of 33 U.S. daily newspapers seeking bankruptcy protection in the past 2 1/2 months, even more upheaval looms for an industry clearly gasping for survival.

Analysts doubt those newspaper companies will be able to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection without agreeing to lenders' demands for radical changes, such as switching some of their newspapers exclusively to online delivery.

Of course, the newspaper publishers already have been mulling dramatic makeovers, including scrapping their print editions, and it's still not clear whether their creditors can come up with any better ideas. But that probably won't discourage exasperated lenders from trying to shake things up.

"These first few bankruptcy filings are like the canaries in the coal mine," said John Penn, a bankruptcy lawyer in Fort Worth, Texas. "It's almost a certainty that they are going to have to change their business models because the old ones aren't working." [Click for MORE]

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David Byrne: No More News

The Tribune Company owns the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, The Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Cubs, a bunch of TV stations and some other regional newspapers. They’re just barely holding on since being acquired in a takeover a year and a half ago by Sam Zell, a real estate billionaire. After the buyout, the Tribune’s editor left, as did a lot of its journalists and columnists. They reportedly weren’t happy with some of the changes that Zell had instituted. The paper had also acquired a relatively large debt. My guess is that after Zell bought the paper, his purchase price saddled the paper with debt; or rather, the paper’s employees — since its board members, like Zell, managed to avoid any personal debt.

I saw similar things happen in the music business in the early 80’s, as record companies merged and were taken over by other companies (Warner Bros. was absorbed by Time and then later, AOL). The result was that the companies suddenly ended up in debt, and, in order to show a profit every quarter, had to forget about their standards and musical instincts. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Murdoch's Newspaper Obsession
'Significant Drag' On News Corp.

Rupert Murdoch, as much old-fashioned press baron as 21st century multimedia mogul, faces a depressing reality: his lifelong fondness for newspapers has become a significant drag on the fortunes of his company, the News Corporation. [Click for MORE]

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Philly Newspaper Owner Files for Chapter 11

The owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sunday in an effort to restructure its debt load.

Philadelphia Newspapers Inc., owned by Philadelphia Media Holdings LLC, is the second newspaper company in two days, and fourth in recent months, to seek bankruptcy protection.

"This restructuring is focused solely on our debt, not our operations," chief executive officer Brian P. Tierney said in a statement. "Our operations are sound and profitable."

The filing Sunday indicated the company has between $100 million and $500 million in assets and liabilities in the same range. The company said it will continue the normal operations of its newspapers, magazines and online businesses without interruption during the debt-restructuring process. [Click for MORE]

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Marc Andreessen to Charlie Rose:
'You Have to Kill the Print Edition'

Newspaper commentary with intro and again at 28:58.


Charlie Rose:
So to play offense for a newspaper for you means what?

Marc Andreessen:
Oh, you got to kill the print edition.

Charlie Rose:
You would stop the presses tomorrow?

Marc Andreessen:
You have to kill it.

Charlie Rose:
Stop the presses tomorrow.

Marc Andreessen:
You have to kill it.

Charlie Rose:
Stop the presses tomorrow.

Marc Andreessen:
Stop the presses tomorrow. I’ll tell you what. The stocks would go up. Look at what’s happened to the stocks. This investors are through this. The investors are through the transition. You talk to any smart investor who controls any amount of money, he will tell you that the game is up. Like it’s completely over. And so the investors have completely written off the print operations. There is no value in these stock prices attributable to print anymore at all. It’s gone.

Charlie Rose:
So you would recommend to the owners of the New York Times, stop printing papers.

Marc Andreessen:
Yeah, absolutely. You have to. You have to –

Charlie Rose:
And take your losses –

Marc Andreessen:
Yeah. You have to.

Charlie Rose:
Like a courageous person.

Marc Andreessen:
Chronic pain? Acute pain. How many years — music industry, same thing. How many years of chronic pain do you want to take to avoid taking a year of acute pain?

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