Saturday, May 30, 2009

How the Obama Administration
Can Save Newspapers

It needs to get over antitrust concerns and allow papers to find more ways to charge for online content.

Executives from many of America's leading newspaper companies and the head of the Associated Press met quietly in Chicago on Thursday to discuss ways to increase revenues from their online operations -- presumably by charging visitors to their websites -- as well as how to recapture some share of their catastrophically declining classified ad business.

The meeting, whose participants included an antitrust lawyer to make sure the conversation didn't stray into impermissible collusion or price-fixing, was conducted under the auspices of the Newspaper Assn. of America, and its agenda was titled "Models to Lawfully Monetize Content." These guys may be slow on the uptake, but their legal departments have schooled them well in risk management. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

'The Scarecrow' by Michael Connelly

Jack McEvoy has one more murder story to write and one more killer to catch -- before he leaves the L.A. Times for good.

The novels and short stories we conveniently pigeonhole as "genre fiction" often are the tripwires of our literature's social consciousness.

It's unsurprising, therefore, that the first fictional work to take the newspaper industry's agonizing decline as its backdrop is a mystery, nor that its author, Michael Connelly, is a onetime crime reporter who spent the last years of his print career at the Los Angeles Times. He's one of the masters of contemporary crime fiction with a Stakhanovite work ethic that must have delighted his city room editors as much as it now does his legions of fans. "The Scarecrow" is his 20th novel and 21st book since 1993. It's also his best work since "The Poet" 13 years ago and revives that bestselling novel's main character, newspaper police reporter Jack McEvoy.

Back then, McEvoy was toiling for Denver's Rocky Mountain News -- now closed, as this new book acknowledges -- and since has published a bestselling true crime book and been hired onto the staff of the Los Angeles Times at a big salary. These days, that's like having a large target painted on your back, and "The Scarecrow" opens with McEvoy being called into a supercilious assistant managing editor's office and given notice that he's being laid off -- with a two-week grace period to train his replacement, a newly minted J-school grad with dewy cheeks and an ability to file with equal superficiality to every online, broadcast and hand-held "platform" imaginable. [Click for MORE]
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Monday, May 25, 2009

Ka-ching... Ka-ching... Ka-ching...

Online News Fees:
Financial Salvation or Suicide?

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is a rarity among large U.S. newspapers _ it's selling more weekday copies than a decade ago. In Idaho, the Post Register's circulation has remained stable, while many other print publications have lost readers to the Internet. How can this be?

The executives behind the Arkansas and Idaho newspapers believe it's because they've been giving free access to their Web sites only to people who subscribe to the printed edition. Everyone else has to pay to read the Democrat-Gazette and the Post Register online. Meanwhile, most publishers have been giving away their stories and photos to all comers on the Internet.

"To me, an online subscription is just the commonsense thing to do," says Roger Plothow, editor and publisher of the Post Register in Idaho Falls, Idaho. "To just give it all away on a Web site is completely and blindly idiotic." [Click for MORE]
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Sunday, May 24, 2009

NYT Had First Watergate Tip But Blew the Story

George Tames/The New York Times
L. Patrick Gray of the F.B.I. is said to have supplied tips to a Times reporter.

The Watergate break-in eventually forced a presidential resignation and turned two Washington Post reporters into pop-culture heroes. But almost 37 years after the break-in, two former New York Times journalists have stepped forward to say that The Times had the scandal nearly in its grasp before The Post did — and let it slip. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content