Posted on | November 5, 2015 | No Comments
By Kelly Puente, staff writer, Orange County Register, 11/5/2015
A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury on Wednesday awarded $7.1 million to former Los Angeles Times sports columnist T.J. Simers, who contended he was
pushed out of his decades-long career because of his disability and age.
The columnist, 65, sued the Times in 2013, claiming he was fired after he suffered a minor stroke while covering the Dodgers’ and Angels’ spring training in Arizona.
“The jury got it right in this type of case,” said his attorney, Carney Shegerian. “Mr. Simers has had a long, amazing career at the Times, and his columns and articles were phenomenal until he had this on-the-job mini stroke in Arizona.”
Read more here.
Posted on | October 27, 2015 | No Comments
By Jules Older, Oct. 27, 2015
This opportunity comes from Vermont Lifeguard, Joe Healy. If you’ve had a bear experience, it may be for you ….
I’m editing an anthology of bear-attack stories, or close calls, and looking for stories. Any species of bear is okay. The publisher will pay for the stories—an honorarium, in any case, as this is a collected anthology. And the accepted authors will get a byline in a book. The project is from Skyhorse Publishing. Writers can contact me at email@example.com. Deadline is December 1, 2015. Length—up to 5,000 words is good.
Previously published stories are fine, with consent to re-publish world rights. I’ll work out the compensation with each contributor, it will be a modest reprint fee and we may pay a little more for original stories. Depends. — Joe
I called this little e-missive “Bear With Me.” That’s because I just submitted my tale, “Night of the Grizzly,” to Joe. And that’s it. If you do submit, tell Joe you’re a Lifeguard and a FOJ.
Posted on | May 23, 2015 | No Comments
This is the sixth in a series of blog reports on the status of the news landscape and a challenge to create a new one. The series is authored by Bill Densmore, a 2008–2009 RJI Fellow and originator of the Information Valet Project. View the series here.
By Bill Densmore on March 10, 2015
When it comes to getting paid, who are news organizations competing with, and what can they do about it?
First answer: They aren’t competing with each other. They are competing with all of the other things consumers spend information-access dollars on.
If all American households were the same, each would have spent $1,300 in 2009 on information services (source: U.S. Census statistical abstract). They bought subscriptions or single copies of newspapers, magazines, books, video, film, music, cable and Internet access and other services — not including basic phone service (wired or wireless), which might easily double the total.
How much of that $1,300 per year might be spent on services that provide — at least in part — trustworthy, appealing information about civic issues? Newspapers’ share of the $1,300 was an average of $72 for subscriptions. With circulation revenues peaking and advertising revenues plummeting, more digital ads alone likely won’t sustain journalism as we’ve known it.
One way or another, a bigger burden will need to come directly from users — via subscriptions, donations, transactions, events or aggregated small payments across many services — or the cost of producing journalism will need to shrink. Otherwise, there will continue to be less professional reporting.
“I think the only future for journalism is reader revenue,” Andrew Sullivan, founding editor of the subscription news blog “The Dish,” told Capital New York in October 2014. “Without it, you are in danger of becoming a public relations or advertising company disguised as journalism, like BuzzFeed and even The Guardian. BuzzFeed is really an ad agency with some journalistic window dressing.”
In this report we’ll:
- Highlight the current environment for “charging” for news, and point to some experiments.
- Suggest why they aren’t working.
- Probe what users want, including personalization.
- Consider what has to change to economically deliver personalized experiences.
- Envision what our media ecosystem will look like as a result — a shared-user network for trust, identity, privacy and information commerce.
The experiments at “charging” for news
There have been many experiments over the past two decades at methods to pay for content. “Right now, it’s easier to buy Angry Birds on your iPhone than it is to buy journalism on your phone,” wrote DigiDay reporter Chris Smith in a Nov. 11, 2014, story.
Payment experiments underway fall into two general categories — traditional payment services and those that promote some element of gifting, donations or crowdfunding.
Posted on | May 5, 2015 | No Comments
By Kathryn McManus
PBS Media Shift
There is tremendous transition within the field of journalism. The number of full-time U.S. daily newspaper journalists now stands roughly at 36,700, according to the American Society of News Editors, down from 55,000 in 2008. I constantly receive calls from journalism colleagues who are in transition and grappling with how to move forward with their expertise. For any journalist who is in a state of transition, it is tremendously useful to know how to build on an idea and scale it into a business.
I am fortunate to teach entrepreneurship at the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Each semester I break the class into three teams and ask thought leaders in journalism, technology, and communications to share a real-life challenge they see within our industry. These thought leaders have recently included Chris Crommett, founder of CNN en Español; Louis Libin, former CTO of NBC and president of Broad Comm; and Marian Salzman, CEO of Havas PR.
The student teams spend the rest of the semester researching and conceptualizing workable business models. Throughout the
course, they learn theories of scalability, positioning, team development, competition, barriers to entry, and funding. More than 30 community and national experts mentor the students. All of this hard work culminates in an event with more than 100 community leaders in attendance. The students present their findings in the form of an investor deck. After each presentation, the community offers feedback on how the students can make their businesses stronger.
PART OF A JOURNALIST’S GENETIC MAKEUP
When I started creating the curriculum for the course, I realized that the skill sets necessary for success as an entrepreneur are part of the genetic makeup of journalists.
As journalists, we are naturally curious and exposed to the world unlike any other profession. We see the very best and worst of varied systems and societies. We interact with pioneers, innovators, politicians, and celebrities as well as leaders who are altruistic and leaders who are corrupt. We are exposed to and report on innovation. We have been trained to seek out truth and stay politically neutral while amplifying our stories to educate. With shrinking budgets, we have learned to adapt and become resourceful. I cannot think of a better training ground for entrepreneurs.
And I’ve learned by doing. For more than three years, I traveled 150 days a year covering news as a field producer for TV Asahi. I worked as White House press, became a CNN internal consultant evaluating operations for international affiliates, launched CNN Japan, and founded a journalism technology startup that connected interview-ready subject matter experts with journalists globally. And now, at the same time I’m teaching entrepreneurship at Cronkite, I head up communications and strategy for SocialWhirled, a digital publishing platform and campaign management system used by national brands and their agencies of record.
Through it all, I think my biggest skill is understanding what it is that I don’t know and then seeking out the very best advisors. There is no way I would have been able to take on the various challenges without the guidance and mentorship of others.
As I continue to teach and develop operations, what really excites me is the additional impact other journalists will have as trained entrepreneurs. Not only will journalists identify, report, and educate us on society’s biggest issues, fellow journalist entrepreneurs will be prepared to act on their passion to develop solutions that impact us all.
To learn more about how to create and monetize an entrepreneurial venture in journalism, be sure to register for my DigitalEd training, which will take place on May 6, 2015, at 1 pm ET / 10 am PT. If you can’t attend the live session, we’ll provide archived video for all registrants.
Kathryn McManus joined SocialWhirled as the vice president of communications and strategy in 2014. She also is a faculty associate at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, teaching its flagship entrepreneurship program. McManus served as an international assignment editor, and an internal consultant for streamlining operations at CNN before launching CNN Japan. She also developed and sold NewsCertified Exchange, which created a communications solution that connected interview-ready thought leaders with journalists from over 250 of the world’s top media outlets.
Posted on | February 2, 2015 | No Comments
By Jules Older
One of the pleasures of staying in touch with other writers is finding myself the recipient of many unexpected acts of kindness.
How many? Many many. Here are half a dozen.
“On one condition”
In 2011, I got the bright idea of publishing and editing a skibook ebook. The idea came when ski writer Gerry Wingenbach wrote me about a humiliating event in his life. He wrote in October; the book, with 20 contributors including Gerry and me, was out before Christmas. I called it SKIING THE EDGE: Humor, Humiliation, Holiness and Heart.
I chose the other contributors in part because they were easy to work with and mostly because they were outstanding at writing personal — sometimes, deeply personal — ski stories.
When I invited them, I described the project and offered each the munificent sum of $75 for their chapter.
Almost everyone said yes, but one, G.D. Maxwell, added a caveat. When he accepted the commission, he did so “on one condition.” The condition? That I wouldn’t pay him until I’d recouped my expenses.
When I told Effin, she said, “Oh, isn’t that nice. I’ll send him a check.”
“No, no! I know Max. He means it. If the check comes, he’ll withdraw his chapter.”
And so, lo these many moons later, sales still haven’t exceeded expenses, and poor Max still has yet to be paid.
But the check lies waiting; it’s just a matter of time before Max’s act of kindness is repaid … I hope.
Cheerleader in Chief
Though she’s easy to work with and a fine writer, Claire Walter wasn’t among the invited. That was only because I didn’t associate her style with those self-revealing stories I was seeking.
Nobody likes to miss an invitation. It would be so easy to sulk and whine. Claire went the other route. She did everything in her power to promote the book; she became its volunteer reviewer, publicist and cheerleader. If there’s ever a SKIING THE EDGE, Volume 2, you may be sure Claire will be in it.
It. Is. Going. To. Be. Fine.
Moira McCarthy was in it; her chapter described the frustrations of skiing with a sulking teenage daughter. One of Moira’s daughters has diabetes, and as a consequence, Moira’s become a diabetes maven — writing, blogging, even speaking to Congressional leaders about it.
So when the young daughter of New Zealand friends developed diabetes, I told them, “I’m putting you in touch with Moira.”
Here’s part of what she wrote to these people she’d never met on the other side of the planet:
I’m Moira, FOJ (friend of Jules).
Welcome to the D mom Club. While my child, Lauren, was a tiny bit older when diagnosed, she’s had Type 1 for 17 years now. The first thing I want you to know is — it really IS going to be okay. In her years with diabetes on board, Lauren went to sleepovers without me, rode her bike all over town with her friends, was on a competitive swim team, became an expert skier, was a state tennis champ, student body president, a really bad soccer player who looked cute in the outfits. She drives, she drinks beer (but not at the same time!), she went to college 500 miles away and loved it.
In other words, she has done everything she would have done without diabetes on board. Just with some extra steps. It. Is. Going. To. Be. Fine.
Tell me where you are and I’ll see if I can find someone for you. And until then — I am officially your best diabetes mom friend — okay?
Feel free to ask me anything.
Got the Assignment
All the stories so far, and the one that follows, involve Writers Lifeguards. This one doesn’t or, rather, not exclusively.
A magazine put out an online call for a writer who knew enough about a province in the South Island of New Zealand to do a piece on skiing there. No fewer than six friends and colleagues spotted it and passed it on to me. My thanks to Karen Misuraca, Dick Jordan, Barbara Rogers, Laurie King, Shirley Moskow and Donna Peck.
And yeah, I got the assignment.
Although she’s a Lifeguard and a Joker, I haven’t set eyes on K.K. Wilder for 20 years. Still, she wrote me how much she liked our minimovie about the New Zealand earthquake, QUAKE CITY.
She asked, “Have you ever done any documentaries for Public Television?” then, in a bigger font, added, “I watch a lot of PBS and you and Effin are every bit as good as what I’ve seen.”
I thanked her. Instead of saying, “You’re welcome,” K.K. scolded, “I’m not looking for thanks. Send it to them!”
So I did. The odds are terrible … but not as terrible as if I hadn’t sent it.
Going to be a great interview
Finally, you may recall Writers Lifeguard 106, Sports Report[er], a tale of a 12-year-old boy named Jack Kelley offering his services to San Francisco Chronicle executive sports editor, Al Saracevic. (In case you don’t recall, it’s attached).
It was a touching tale, and on the other side of the country Becky Blanton was not only touched, she was moved to action. Here’s what she wrote me:
I hooked up Jack Kelley, the 12-year-old sports writer, with my friend/client Robert Steele, author of Steele Here. Robert’s a Dallas Cowboy miracle story, as his book (a good read) shows. He not only played for Tom Landry, he played with some of the biggest and most iconic sports figures of all time. NICE guy … won a Superbowl … going to be a great interview. He’s excited about talking to Jack. Thanks for sending out that story. It really struck me, and now it may help what I think is a talented young writer. You done good!
I say, You done good. These acts of kindness and many more, make me proud to call myself a writer.
Posted on | January 2, 2015 | No Comments
By Jules Older
January 1, 2015
Guess who’s talking, and who put the words in their mouths:
They thought about how good that ice cream tasted.
They thought about how much more fun it was to eat ice cream than to mop floors or mash up beef livers.
They thought about how, if the Fairy Godmother granted them three wishes, the first two would involve ice cream.
Then Ben said, “Yeah, but whaddaya’ wanna’ do, Jer’?”
And Jerry shouted, “BREAKTHROUGH!”
Ben looked at his pal the way you look at somebody when you’ve said, “Nice day, isn’t it?” and they’ve screamed “EASTER BUNNY!”
“Uh, whaddaya’ mean, ‘Breakthrough,’ Jer’?”
“I mean… I mean… Ben, look at me. What are we doing?”
“Sitting here trying to figure out how to make a little money.”
“And what else are we doing?
“Eating ice cream.”
“Yeah, but what does—”
“Don’t you see? That’s how we’ll make money!”
“Eating ice cream? Jerry, nobody will pay us to eat— ”
“No, man— we’re not just gonna’ eat ice cream. Man, we’re gonna’ make ice cream! Can you dig it?”
Ben sat and thought. He licked his ice cream cone. The strawberry tasted good. He licked some more. He thought some more.
Slowly, slowly, ever-so-slowly, a little smile crept onto Ben’s face.
The smile grew into a grin.
The grin grew into a laugh.
The laugh grew into a great big, ear-to-ear, shoulder-shaking, thigh slapping, nose snorting, tears-in-your-eyes, choke-on-your-sugar-cone, hee-haw hee-haw, widebelly laugh.
Ben clapped Jerry on the back and yelled,
“I CAN DIG IT!”
Right. Ben & Jerry said it. Who wrote it?
I did. Years ago in a kid’s book called BEN & JERRY: THE REAL SCOOP.
And their words sprang to mind on Sunday, on a walk down by the San Francisco Bay. Effin and I were having The Serious Writer Talk.
You know the talk. Don’t like the way things are looking… the writing’s on the wall, the basement wall… gotta find a new path… maybe improve the website… any money in blogs? Ebooks, then? Twitter? Monetize. SEO. Ads. Kindle. BookBaby. ROI. PlatformBrandSocialmediaPinterestVine. We have to find a new way ‘cause the old one ain’t workin’ any more.
Now, we’re really depressed. We kinda’ slump toward home until, halfway up Polk Street, I stop and shout, “BREAKTHROUGH!”
“WHAT?” says Effin, sounding startled and maybe a wee bit concerned.
“We’ve been thinking about this all wrong.”
“The ship is sinking, and we’re applying sunscreen. The car’s on fire, and we’re cleaning the ashtray. The plane—”
“Right. No more analogies. As writers, we’re in the midst of an epic change, facing an ever-growing crisis, and we’re thinking small. We’re thinking that a new website or a better ebook format will improve our lot. The engine room’s flooded, and… no more analogies. We have to think bigger. Much, way bigger. We can’t keep painting the deck when the ship is going dow… or the writer’s equivalent.”
“Ri-ight. So what do you think we should do?”
“I … I don’t know. I have some ideas, but I don’t know. Here’s what I do know. We are on the sinking ship of disappearing markets, terrible contracts, plummeting incomes, hollow promises – CONTENT IS KING! — and we’re surrounded by circling sharks. This isn’t the time to repaint the railings. This is the time to learn to fly.”
“Got a flight plan, Jules?”
“No, but I have those ideas. And I know who has more. I’m putting out the call.”
Writer’s Lifeguards! SOS! MAYDAY! We need a BREAKTHROUGH! And in the name of the seven mad gods who rule the digital sea… we need to THINK BIG! And learn to fly.
My own thoughts are below, but before you read them, I urge you — think big, yourself. You may come up with way bigger/bolder/better ideas than mine. After you….
OK, here goes Jules:
Emulate. Through fat times and lean, there’s one group of writers that does spectacularly well. Its members have, believe it or not, great contracts, high pay, even real medical and retirement plans. No, I’m not making this up. I’m talking about the screenwriting members of the Writers Guild of America. When a union movie makes money, the writer shares in the bounty. When a script is bought, but the movie’s not made, the writer still gets paid – well paid. When residuals are owed, the WGA collects them for you. When the union says, “They’re trying to screw us — down tools!” no work gets done. These are writers living well off their writing. Feeding their families, sending their kids to college. Maybe we should emulate them. And, as they did, organize.
Own it. This is far riskier — something like 80% of startups fail. But 20% succeed, and in times when the failure rate feels closer to 95%, those odds look considerably better. So, own it. Start your own Digital Age publishing company, video production outfit, niche magazine, [fill in the blank here]. DIY.
Help me help you. Teach others to become writers. I don’t mean soak newbies by pretending that you know the road to riches; I mean show them what writing is all about. Between university, school and library teaching (usually, through my course, Writing For Real) and running our own daylong workshops (travel writing, children’s writing, general writing) and Effin’s tutoring, we’ve probably made more money showing than doing.
Go Contrarian. This came to me when I was growling at my once-favorite airline. They’re following other carriers in offering less for more, selling lunches at inflated prices, nickel and diming at every opportunity. I think they — and we — should go the opposite route. Give more, be nicer, make folks want to fly with us. One way — if you decide to Own it (see above) — treat your writers well. If they survive the shock, they’ll move mountains for you.
Stop writing for table scraps. Just say no. Like I did last month:
Thank you for the invitation.
Until I got to the line that read, we’re not budgeted to pay writers, I was excited that you’re opening a new outlet on skiing.
I want to suggest that not paying writers is a bad way to begin. Offering “exposure” only makes it worse. People die of exposure.
Like ski instructors, waiters, plumbers and publishers, writers must be paid. It’s the pay that allows us to keep writing.
So thank you for the invitation. I invite you to reconsider your position on not paying writers.
And last week:
How does that grab you, Jules?
Badly. I’m a professional, not a hobbyist. Would love to, but not if it means selling out my family and my fellow writers. And it does.
So, that’s my BREAKTHROUGH.
What’s yours, pussycat?
Posted on | January 1, 2015 | No Comments
By Jules Older
I had no plans to send you anything today. We have family here; you probably have family there. But when I opened today’s San Francisco Chronicle, I saw a piece by Lifeguard Al Saracevic that I couldn’t resist.
Happy hols and here tis …
By Al Saracevic
Dec. 28, 2014
The tagline made me leery. We get a lot of queries from people who want into the sportswriting business.
“I’ve always loved the Giants and thought I’d be a great columnist for you.” Or, “You people are idiots. I could do a better job than any of you.” That sort of thing is pretty common.
But I clicked on the message anyway, against my better judgment. What came up on my screen that day in May turned out to be my favorite e-mail of the year. I thought I’d share it here, with The Sporting Green faithful, as a holiday gesture.
Here’s what the note said:
Hello! My name is Jack Kelley,
I am 12 years old, I love sports, and I love to write. I was wondering if it was possible for me to write for the San Francisco Chronicle. I am a big fan, (both of the Chronicle and about San Francisco sports teams) and I want to take my sports writing to the next level. (My blog is jackstake.weebly.com .) I wouldn’t need to be paid. I think I have an interesting point of view because I am younger than most bloggers and can connect to a younger reader.
Thanks, Jack Kelley
A smile crossed my lips and I thought back to sixth grade, the year I started in this business of ink-stained wretchedness. Way back then, at Glenbrook Elementary in the suburbs of Cleveland, this sports editor launched into his first publishing endeavor. I called it the “President’s Journal,” and I chronicled the happenings of my fellow sixth-graders — on the sports field, on the stage, in the classroom and beyond.
Yes, I was that geek. My father had gotten me hooked on reading Mike Royko’s syndicated columns from Chicago, in the old Cleveland Press, and that’s what I wanted to do. Write for a living. Tell people how it is. Thirty-some odd years later, that’s kind of where I ended up. I’m no Royko, but I’m in the game. And it all started when I was 12. Just like Jack Kelley.
I printed out the kid’s letter, thinking my fellow crusty editors in the morning meeting would get a kick out of it. Sure enough, there were chuckles all around.
“You should get him to pick games on Sunday, Al.”
“Get that kid a blog!”
I thought that might be the end of it, but I couldn’t leave young Jack hanging. I owed him a note. So I clicked on his blog first, and was pleasantly surprised. Some grammar issues needed to be resolved, but the kid had a voice. And an opinion.
In his “Draft Assesment: 49ers,” Kelley had this to say: “With the 30th pick in the NFL Draft the 49ers selected safety Jimmy Ward from Northern Illinois University. I think this pick will be good for the Niners, who are in need of a good DB, after losing Donte Whitner last year. Ward is a bigger hitter and a playmaker that will fit in perfectly with the 49ers defense. Coach Harbaugh has already talked about playing Ward in the nickel, and on Social Media, Ward is being compared to Seattle Seahawk safety Earl Thomas.”
Pretty good analysis for a grade schooler. I would know. And let’s just say, my sixth-grade insight didn’t include what they were saying on social media. (Ward had a spotty first season, in hindsight, but Jack will learn that all sportswriters specialize in being wrong in public.)
I sent Jack a note thanking him for his interest, asking him to connect me with his parents at some point. Maybe he could come by the paper sometime and take a tour. As I put it back in May: “Thanks for making my day, Jack. I started a newspaper when I was 12. You remind me of me.”
The youngster responded quickly, informing me that he actually lives in Oregon, but that he reads all our stuff online. His dad traveled down to the Bay Area every once in awhile, so maybe he’d tag along on one of his father’s business trips. I thanked him again for the interest, and figured that would be it.
Until young Jack showed up at my office. True to his word, the young writer talked his dad into taking him on a trip to San Francisco in November. Tom Kelley e-mailed me and asked if it would be OK to drop Jack off for a couple of hours while he attended a meeting downtown.
Sure. Why not?
And that’s how Jack and I ended up sitting in that very same meeting room, with those very same crusty old editors, talking the days news with a 12-year-old kid who dreams of someday writing for a living.
Afterward, I gave Jack some advice. (“Don’t write for free, kid.…”) Then we went out for some pizza. (“Don’t eat too much pizza, kid…”) And then we sat down for an interview. Him interviewing me.
After about 20 minutes of grilling, ranging in topics from my favorite authors to my least-favorite sports, Jack folded up his notebook and announced he was done.
I asked him why he liked to write. “I started writing in third grade, because my third-grade teacher, Miss Lois, encouraged us to write.” (Huzzah, Miss Lois!)
I asked him what he thought of the 49ers leaving town. “I’m actually a little disappointed in that. I thought it was cool being in the city. That’s where all the real fans are. I think it’ll be more businesspeople down there.” (Exactly.)
The Warriors? “I was really surprised they fired Mark Jackson. That was one of the best seasons they had. But the new guy will do a good job.” (Steve Kerr seems to be doing just fine.)
And what about Colin Kaepernick? “I don’t know if he’s a franchise quarterback. He’s got to run less and get more accurate with his passes.” (Spot on, Jack.)
Four-for-four in my book. Maybe this business isn’t so hard.
Jack’s dad came by to pick him up and off they went, back to Oregon. Dad to his job. Jack to his blog.
If you’re wondering where this is all heading, I’m guessing you’ll be a little disappointed. I didn’t hire Jack to be The Chronicle’s Huck Finn columnist. Jack didn’t go on to pick 20 straight NFL games. There is no book deal or TV reality show.
What we have here is a young kid, ginger hair and great smile, who loves sports and loves to write. Here’s hoping he maintains that passion, whether as a journalist or not. Writing is becoming a lost art in a world dominated by 140 characters and disappearing photos.
Happy holidays, Jack Kelley. Keep on writing. You never know where it might lead you.
Posted on | December 12, 2014 | 1 Comment
The inability of newspapers to resonate with digital natives has left them with a daunting demographic challenge. Two-thirds of the audience at the typical newspaper is composed of people over the age of 55, according to Greg Harmon of Borrell Associates. “The newspaper audience ages another year every year,” he adds. “Everyone’s hair ought to be on fire.”
As the newspaper audience grays, the readers that newspapers – and most of their advertisers – would like to have are, instead, busily racking up page views at places like BuzzFeed, Circa, Mic, Upworthy, Vice, Vocative and Vox.
To delve into the demographic disparity, I pulled the audience data on Mic.Com, which comScore calls the favorite news destination for individuals from the ages of 18 to 34. Although many publishers and editors never may have heard of Mic, comScore says it is visited by a thumping 60% of Millenials.
To make things interesting, I compared Mic’s audience with the aggregate data for the 28 geographically dispersed markets served by McClatchy Co., the largest newspaper company furnishing user data to Quantcast.Com, which requires publishers to opt in to its data service.
Quantcast indexes audiences against the national population to make it possible to compare the demographics of one website against another. This means a site whose audience perfectly mirrors the national age distribution would index at 100. Now, here’s how Mic compares with McClatchy, according to Quantcast’s data:
At Mic, users from 18 to 24 index at 156, meaning that the site has 1½ times more readers in this age group than the national average. The index climbs to 171 for the 25–34 crowd.
The story is quite the opposite at McClatchy, where the under-34 age groups come in at less than 100 but where the incidence of older readers is above the norm, indexing at 108 for 35–44, 117 for 45–54, 126 for 55–64 and 125 for 65-plus.
Assuming McClatchy is representative of the industry – and I see no reason why it wouldn’t be – the big question is how so many highly intelligent and highly motivated newspaper executives failed to connect with this massive and influential market. Here’s a not-so-subtle clue:
In a recent study, researchers at the University of Missouri reported that only 29% of newspaper publishers conducted focus groups prior to putting paywalls around the digital products that most profess to be the future of their franchises.
Instead of talking with their intended consumers, fully 85% of respondents to the survey said they asked other publishers what they thought about erecting barriers around the content that they had been freely providing for the better part of two decades.
While paywalls boosted revenues at most newspapers because they were accompanied by stiff increases in print subscription rates, the tactic gave the growing population of digital natives – and non-readers of every other age – the best reason yet for not engaging with newspapers.
Of course, newspapers were losing Millenials well before they started feverishly erecting paywalls in the last few years. But what if publishers and editors had begun studying the needs and attitudes of the emerging generation from the early days of the Millenium? Could the outcomes have been more positive?
In the interests of tuning into the thinking of those elusive twenty– and thirty-somethings, a newspaper client recently brought a panel of them to a strategy session. Here is what we learned:
- The Millenials said the only media that matter to them are the social media, where they get current news about their friends, as well as cues to other interesting or relevant content.
- They put a great deal of trust in recommendations from their friends but are not motivated by loyalty to media brands.
- They will click on whatever content interests or amuses them, and they make no distinction among news, entertainment and advertising
Read more here.
lan D. Mutter is perhaps the only CEO in Silicon Valley who knows how to set type one letter at a time. Mutter began his career as a newspaper columnist and editor at the Chicago Daily News and later rose to City Editor of the Chicago Sun-Times. In 1984, he became No. 2 editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. He left the newspaper business in 1988 to join InterMedia Partners, a start-up that became one of the largest cable-TV companies in the U.S. Mutter was the COO of InterMedia when he moved to Silicon Valley in 1996 to join the first of the three start-up companies he led as CEO. The companies he headed were a pioneering Internet service provider and two enterprise-software companies. Mutter now is a consultant specializing in corporate initiatives and new media ventures involving journalism and technology. He ordinarily does not write about clients or subjects that will affect their interests. In the rare event he does, this will be fully disclosed. Mutter also is on the adjunct faculty of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley.
Posted on | December 12, 2014 | No Comments
USA Weekend, the second-largest Sunday newspaper magazine in the United States, will print its final edition on Dec. 28, succumbing to soaring distribution costs and plunging advertising.
The circulation of the Sunday supplement, which was stuffed into newspapers delivered to as many as 70 million homes a few years back, has fallen today to about 18 million, according to a knowledgeable source at Gannett Inc., the parent of the publication.
With advertising sales collapsing by nearly half in the last few years, USA Weekend was expected to produce about $40 million in revenue in 2014, yielding losses in excess of $10 million in each of the last two years, according to the source, who declined to be identified because s/he is not authorized to speak with the press.
Some 30 advertising and editorial staffers will lose their jobs in the shutdown.
The demise of USA Weekend will leave the contracting Sunday supplement market to Parade Magazine, whose distribution is about 32 million copies. A few years back, its circulation was double that size, according to industry sources.
Financial information is not available for Parade because it is privately held. However, industry sources say revenues today are in the neighborhood of $60 million, as compared with $100 million in the last two or three years.
Parade was sold in the fall to Athlon Media by Advance Publications, which had owned the title since 1976.
The once-robust Sunday supplement business unraveled as the result of the declining economics of newspaper publishing and the changing demands of advertisers.
In the heyday of newspapers – when industry-wide revenues and profits were approximately twice as large as they are today – the publishers of USA Weekend and Parade were able to charge local publishers for the right to distribute the magazines in their Sunday papers.
When newspaper advertising began the slide that has taken it today to less than half of the record $49 billion achieved in 2005, the Sunday supplement publishers found themselves first absorbing the costs of shipping the product to local newspapers and eventually paying local publishers to distribute their magazines.
The flip in the distribution model not only eliminated tens of millions of dollars of annual revenues for the Sunday supplements but also burdened them with tens of millions in new costs.
“The cost structure got crazy,” said an executive who tried to turn around the decline at USA Weekend. “You could afford to pay people to take the magazine if you had enough advertising but this doesn’t work if you don’t.” Read more here.
Alan D. Mutter is perhaps the only CEO in Silicon Valley who knows how to set type one letter at a time. Mutter began his career as a newspaper columnist and editor at the Chicago Daily News and later rose to City Editor of the Chicago Sun-Times. In 1984, he became No. 2 editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. He left the newspaper business in 1988 to join InterMedia Partners, a start-up that became one of the largest cable-TV companies in the U.S. Mutter was the COO of InterMedia when he moved to Silicon Valley in 1996 to join the first of the three start-up companies he led as CEO. The companies he headed were a pioneering Internet service provider and two enterprise-software companies. Mutter now is a consultant specializing in corporate initiatives and new media ventures involving journalism and technology. He ordinarily does not write about clients or subjects that will affect their interests. In the rare event he does, this will be fully disclosed. Mutter also is on the adjunct faculty of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley.
Posted on | November 29, 2014 | 1 Comment
November 29, 2014
By Jules Older
Yes, I have something better than money.
And so do you.
When do-good organizations come a kn-kn-knockin’ as they do at this time of year, we writers can offer them something better — much better — than cash.
We can amplify their voice. No matter whom we write for — papers and mags, blogs and zines, radio and TV — we can magnify their message, swell their audience.
I have found a voice to amplify. It’s my favorite kind of do-good outfit; it goes right to a basic human need.
‘Basic human need’ starts with safe drinking water. Amazingly, that’s still missing in many, many parts of the world. And that’s where I want to put my time and skills.
Now, thanks to my friend Dawnet Beverley, I have the place to put them. Dawnet introduced me to Jon Kaufman, who founded H2OpenDoors.
Not only does H2OpenDoors bring pure water to some of the poorest places on the planet, it does so in a way radically different from almost everyone else.
Instead of drilling wells, a process that all too often litters the landscape with the rusting remains of broken dreams, Jon asked himself, “What if we used existing ground water and purified the hell out of it?”
I put Jon’s idea and his outfit before experts, and they said, they’re sound. After meeting him and peppering him with rude questions, I reached the same conclusion.
So H2OpenDoors is where I’m amplifying. I’m doing it now, and I’ll do it soon again in an article on holiday gifts. Here’s how it will read:
Few expenses in this world provide a worse STP, satisfaction-to-price ratio, than an expensive watch. It doesn’t tell time as well as a Timex or your smartphone, and despite those beautifully lit ads in haute magazines, it doesn’t look better, either.
Few expenses in this world provide a better STP than a contribution to a worthy cause. One of my faves is relatively new. H2OpenDoors takes a different approach to bringing pure water to impoverished parts of the planet. Instead of drilling to find water (an endeavor littered with the detritus of failure), H2OpenDoors uses existing water — lakes, rivers, bogs —removes the filth and toxins, then lets villagers drink clean and free. All powered by sun and wind. You can see how it works here.
So. H2OpenDoors is where I’m putting my time, my writerly skills, and, yeah, my money. If it’s for you, spread the word, and welcome to our small Merrie Band.
You can reach Jon and H2OpenDoors at jon@H2OpenDoors.org
(If he doesn’t answer right away, that’s because he’s in Panama doing the work we can share with our corners of the world.)
keep looking »