Posted tagged ‘Pace’

The FCC – Newspapers going flat update

December 19, 2007

In a very controversial move, the FCC voted to remove the ban on broadcast/newspaper cross-ownership. If you haven’t heard, I recommend checking it out. I have two quick comments on this decision:

First, it is getting harder and harder to draw the line between the media industries. Take blogs for example; in most ways they are similar to a newspaper, but video content and feeds can easily be added. Can a broadcast company have a website that publishes news? Or is that too close to having an electronic ‘newspaper’? Can a newspaper have a website with video content or things that typically fall under ‘broadcast’ categories? The line was already getting blurry, although it hadn’t caused any serious problems yet (that I’m aware of).

Second, we discussed in my Financial Aspects of Publishing class that many newspaper companies are merging to limit the number of reporters they need to pay, since they aren’t earning as much any more for their product. This is would allow broadcast news companies to further merge with newspaper companies or radio companies. I know its wishful thinking, but with multiple budgets is possible to hire better reporters and allow them to go more in depth, isn’t it? I think this is probably what Kevin Martin had in mind. I’m skeptical about its likelihood but I’m willing to recognize it as a possibility.

All in all, I’m not as opposed to the decision as many others out there seem to be. I think that something needs to be done; I agree with many of the problems they see in todays media; but I don’t think that fighting change will fix the problems. The question is coming up with the right solution. I’m sure the FCC is open to suggestions – any one have any?

I’d love to hear comments on the decision that were more analytical and less bashing.

Newspapers – Going flat?

December 6, 2007

This past Wednesday, Professor Rabinowitz had a friend of his involved in Newspaper publishing in to talk to the class. His name was James Lesserson, and he has worked for the Daily News and The New York Times. The focus of our discussion ended up being the affect that the internet has had on newspapers and the newspaper industry.

He began by telling us about the way Newspapers operated financially before the internet. Generally, Newspapers have three categories of expense: “people”, “paper”, and “all others”. The “people” category includes paying reporters, editors, and people like Mr. Lesserson; it normally accounts for about 50% of a newspapers expenses. “Paper” includes the cost of printing and the paper itself, and it accounts for approximately 10-15% of expense. Finally, all other expenses take up the remaining 35-40%. Before the ‘internet bubble,’ as Lesserson called it, burst in 2000, The New York Times had a circulation penetration goal of 50%. This means they expected to place their paper in 1 of our every 2 households.

However since 2000 things have changed drastically. Goal of circulation is more like 40%; newspapers are losing money in advertising and sales. Most people get their news from internet sites like google. This is causing a major problem. Most of the news we read online is still being gathered and the articles written by newspaper reporters; however, newspapers are no longer seeing the benefits of this work. Google and other internet news sites gather the information, and prioritize it for readers according to the readers’ interests. These companies aren’t spending anything to produce the product, and the articles are gathered and sorted automatically by machine.

Despite the drop in revenue, expenses aren’t decreasing. People don’t want to be paid less, and paper and printing isn’t getting any less expensive. If anything, expenses are increasing. Many newspapers are having to cut back on their newsrooms. As a result, news reporting is slowly becoming less in depth; each reporter is worked harder and every employee has more on their plate.

Is it really any surprise people like Marda Dunsky are arguing that the news is becoming unreliable? That reporters aren’t doing their job?

After talking about these serious issues, all of which the newspaper industry is facing the conversation in class turned to e-book readers and potential ways newspapers might adapt to the future. Mr. Lesserson was of the opinion that newspapers can’t go digital unless they make a large e-book reader that can be folded like a newspaper. I disagree. I think that one about the size of a magazine would do the trick. It would require newspaper publishers to seriously rethink their formatting, and to try and create a digital format visually more like a magazine; it would require learning to present information differently. I suggested that editors and reporters should be encouraged to blog; opinions are important these days and who better to give them then those who are doing research and presenting us with ‘facts’. Think of the advantages to newspapers on an e-book reader, especially one such as Kindle – it could download automatically. You wouldn’t even have to stop outside your door to pick it up. If something was extremely interesting to you, or if you wanted to know more about an article you could do research on the spot. It could include links to other sources of information, original documents, other articles on similar topics.

Mr. Lesserson expressed surprise that magazines hadn’t caught on to digital versions much quicker. He thought that with their industry/interest specific information they would easily make the transition. However, their habit of publishing monthly editions has held them back. They don’t publish fresh information quickly enough. Newspapers publishing daily. Although much broader in content, they have frequency as an advantage over magazines. They are used to producing new content around the clock. Yet they have been just as slow to adapt. Perhaps in the end, those who will be successful are those who take the best of both worlds and meld it together. Maybe in the future we will have a daily news-mag. Or maybe it isn’t too late for these two industries. There is time yet; perhaps they will seize it, and learn to adapt. Either way, there is no doubt; the future is coming.

Financial Aspects of Publishing

December 6, 2007

    In my Financial Aspects of Publishing Class our professor asked us to collect articles related to things covered in class and to analyze the articles. I thought I would put them up here. They are recent examples of the work I am doing in Graduate school at Pace, and I think they are good samples of my writing. The documents include the names and the dates the articles were published in case anyone is interested in looking up the original. Homework for Financial Aspects of Publishing