Saturday, March 28, 2009


By Clay Shirky

Back in 1993, the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain began investigating piracy of Dave Barry’s popular column, which was published by the Miami Herald and syndicated widely. In the course of tracking down the sources of unlicensed distribution, they found many things, including the copying of his column to on usenet; a 2000-person strong mailing list also reading pirated versions; and a teenager in the Midwest who was doing some of the copying himself, because he loved Barry’s work so much he wanted everybody to be able to read it.

One of the people I was hanging around with online back then was Gordy Thompson, who managed internet services at the New York Times. I remember Thompson saying something to the effect of “When a 14 year old kid can blow up your business in his spare time, not because he hates you but because he loves you, then you got a problem.” [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Peter Finch Is Still 'Mad as Hell'

Network, 1976 Sphere: Related Content

Friday, March 27, 2009

Farewell Print, Hello Electrons

From Poynter Online:

The Christian Science Monitor
March 27, 2009, Newseum Image

March 27, 2009: Two messages from Page One of the last daily print edition of The Christian Science Monitor:

The New Monitor

This issue of The Christian Science Monitor represents a significant moment in our 100-year history. As of today, the daily Monitor makes its transition from print to online. Follow us 24/7 at and subscribe to our new print weekly. The Monitor move, which was announced last fall, is being watched by other news organizations, many of which are weighing changes of their own.

Editor's Message
John Yemma explains how our new formats -- Web, weekly print, e-mail -- will make Monitor journalism more relevant. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Would You Print This Cartoon?

A Jewish human rights group is denouncing a Pat Oliphant political cartoon on Gaza as anti-Semitic, likening its fanged Star of David to Nazi imagery before the Holocaust.

The syndicated cartoon published Wednesday in newspapers across the country depicts a goose-stepping uniformed figure wheeling the Jewish symbol as it menaces a small female figure labeled "Gaza."

The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish rights group with more than 400,000 members in the United States, said the cartoon is meant to denigrate and demonize Israel.

"The imagery in this cartoon mimics the venomous anti-Semitic propaganda of the Nazi and Soviet eras," the center said in a statement. "It is cartoons like this that inspired millions of people to hate in the 1930s and help set the stage for the Nazi genocide." [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Jim Bellows Celebration in New York

Friends of Jim Bellows, the late editor of the New York Herald Tribune, the Washington Star and the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, will hold a cocktail party in celebration of his life on Friday, April 3, from 5 - 7 PM in the World Room of the Columbia University School of Journalism. Among the speakers will be Tom Wolfe and Jimmy Breslin and others who have a funny story to tell. All his friends and colleagues are invited.
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Oh, No! Gal Reporter Brenda Starr
Has Been Put on Furlough!

Click image to enlarge.
The newspaper business is tough all over. Things are so bad that even comic strip heroine Brenda Starr—that feisty gal reporter—will be put on furlough this week. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

10 Newspapers That Will Survive The Apocalypse

Click to start >

Believe it or not, there are investors who still want to buy local newspapers.

Our favorite person of this stripe is an investor who has already plunked millions into the industry and is in the process of spending much more.

"I might be running head first into the buggy-whip business, but I'm not sold on the death of print quite yet," he tells us. (He's asked us to keep him anonymous because many of those deals remain under non-disclosure agreements.)

So what does this investor see in the newspaper industry that the rest of us don't? Lots of room for improvement, for one thing. [Click for MORE]

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

U.S. Bill Seeks to Rescue Faltering Newspapers

With many U.S. newspapers struggling to survive, a Democratic senator on Tuesday introduced a bill to help them by allowing newspaper companies to restructure as nonprofits with a variety of tax breaks.

"This may not be the optimal choice for some major newspapers or corporate media chains but it should be an option for many newspapers that are struggling to stay afloat," said Senator Benjamin Cardin. [Click for MORE]

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

By 'Optimizing' Ads, Can the Rubicon Project Save Newspapers?

The L.A. firm says its technology, which helps match ads to Web page content, could boost revenue by 60%. This could be the way to make money on online news.
Frank Addante of Rubicon
Stefano Paltera / For The Times
“We want to be the Visa, the Nasdaq of online advertising,” says Frank Addante, co-founder and CEO of ad optimization service the Rubicon Project.
By Dan Neil
Los Angeles Times

This promises to be the Silent Spring for big print media. Already this year we've lost the Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Dozens of other papers have been driven to the brink by double-digit losses in circulation and print advertising revenue and an overburden of untenable corporate debt. My beloved L.A. Times, owned by the bankrupted Tribune Co., is bleeding reporters and editors from every orifice, despite the fact that the paper's readership -- online, at least -- is through the roof.

Not surprisingly, the news release from the L.A.-based Rubicon Project promising to help newspapers "find money" online caught my eye, as a flotation device attracts the casual interest of a drowning man. With the Rubicon Project's technology, says Frank Addante, the 32-year-old co-founder and chief executive, newspapers and other "premium news" outlets can increase their online revenue by an average of 60% a year.

Could this be, I wondered, daring to hope, the Secret -- the means by which newspapers finally "monetize" their content? Is this the online oxygen for our asthmatic industry? [Click for MORE]

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Printing The NYT Costs Twice As Much
As Sending Every Subscriber A Free Kindle

Silicon Valley Insider says: Not that it's anything we think the New York Times Company should do, but we thought it was worth pointing out that it costs the Times about twice as much money to print and deliver the newspaper over a year as it would cost to send each of its subscribers a brand new Amazon Kindle instead. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Gannett Imposes Another Round of Furloughs

Gannett Co. is forcing most of its U.S. employees to take another week of unpaid leave this year as the largest U.S. newspaper publisher prepares for its rapidly sinking advertising revenue to extend its slide during the second quarter.

The furloughs spelled out Monday in a company memo must be taken before July and are designed to spread the pain through Gannett without the need for further layoffs.

The McLean, Virginia-based company jettisoned about 4,000 jobs, or about 10 percent of its work force, last year to survive a slump that has seen more than $1.1 billion in annual advertising revenue evaporate since 2006. [Click for MORE]



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A Web Site’s For-Profit Approach to World News

Philip Balboni, left, and Charles Sennott, founded GlobalPost, a news site with 65 correspondents worldwide. [Jodi Hilton for The New York Times]

Overseas reporters have been a casualty of budget-chopping news organizations, leaving an opening for the online start-up GlobalPost. But at a time when many news executives are exploring nonprofit business models to keep specialized reporting flowing, GlobalPost, which made its debut on Jan. 12, is intended to be a moneymaking venture.

With 65 correspondents worldwide — drawn from a surfeit of experienced reporters eager to continue working in their specialties even as potential employers disappear — GlobalPost has begun offering a mix of news and features that only a handful of other news organizations can rival. [Click for MORE]

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What Happens When a Town Loses Its Newspaper?

Disused newspaper racks clutter a storage yard without newspapers
Disused newspaper racks clutter a storage yard. [Noah Berger / AP]

What effect do newspaper closings really have on a town? Or a nation? Depending on a person's reading habits, the answers to these questions range from "It's the death of democracy!" to "Newspapers? What newspapers?" But with the demise of two major metropolitan dailies, the 149-year old Rocky Mountain News and the almost equally venerable 145-year old Seattle Post-Intelligencer in the last month alone, the issue is becoming a matter of practical rather than just theoretical concern. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content