Tuesday, December 5, 2006

When do we jump ship?

Hey all,

I've been meaning to post on here for like forever. I figure that since I'm at home and on my pre-holiday fun vacation (as I couldn't get any time around Christmas or Thanksigiving off from work) I should post.

I'm currently living in Arizona and working at medium-sized newspaper as a page designer. I like my job for the most part, but I can't stand living in the desert. Too darn hot and far too many old people. Anyway, for now and next few months, I'm happy and can tolerate living there.

Here is the dilemma I bring to my fellow Medill people: I don't want to live in Arizona forever, and I'm not sure how long I should stick with journalism hoping for that big break to a place I'd actually want to live. Times are tough in the industry. Jobs are cut left and right, and those who find themselves jobless are applying for positions that are more lateral moves thus making it harder for those kids who want to move up to bigger papers and hopefully better locations. Do we wait for that big break that might never come or do we find a backup career to replace our journalistic aspirations? Thoughts?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

the lede

hey guys! so although i no longer write/report and i no longer work at a newspaper, i'm still a news junkie and i love the nyt's lede blog. although i don't read it all too often (i'm mostly on gawker hehehe) i think it's pretty cool that the times is addressing media happenings on the main part of their website. http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/

totally unrelated, for those who don't know, i'm working at hearst magazines right now doing a sort of design fellowship, which is awesome! and because i've only worked at newspapers and have heard about newspapers trying to find the youth and to make a better website and, having experienced it myself, putting ads on the fronts of sections (san diego union-trib's sports section YUCK) i didn't realize that magazines were also in trouble. we just had a meeting with the prez of hearst, and she was trying to build up all of what hearst does and everything and i guess the sales and marketing side of magazines are really struggling to get advertisers and make enough money without losing customers to tabloid-ish weekly magazines. it's kinda cool to get another perspective of the media business. hope everyone is doing well!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

College papers deliver

Not sure if anyone saw this on Monday; it's pretty interesting. Happy Thanksgiving. Dalia


From the Baltimore Sun

College papers deliver: While the mainstream press struggles, corporations and advertisers latch onto profitable campuspublications

By Nick Madigan
Sun Reporter
November 20, 2006

Mainstream newspapers may be up against dwindling circulation and shrinking advertising revenues,but college papers have become hot commodities.

Spurred by research indicating that about 76 percent of the nation's 6 million full-time collegeundergraduates read their campus papers at least occasionally, big corporations and advertisers are latching onto student-run publications.

One of the most notable examples of the trend occurred in late summer, when a subsidiary of MTV,one of the country's best-known youth brands and part of the Viacom entertainment empire, purchased College Publisher, a company that runs Web sites for about 450 college papers - nine of them inMaryland.

So solid are the economic prospects for the student-run newspaper at Florida State University,FSView & Florida Flambeau, that it was acquired in August by a mainstream newspaper, TheTallahassee Democrat.

"There's no more local paper than a campus paper," said Dina Pradel, general manager of Y2M, whichfounded College Publisher in 1999. She said that while large urban newspapers are trying to wooyounger readers, college papers have a ready-made audience of adherents, willing to read news about their immediate environment, and to be tempted by ads targeted to their tastes.

The typical campus audience they cater to, she said, is "a very attractive demographic," a groupwhose members will spend $1 million or more in buying things and services over a lifetime. While in college, many students will be making major first-time purchasing decisions - cars, insurance,electronics - a market advertisers dearly covet.

The health of campus papers is due also, in part, to the explosive growth of the Internet and ofWeb-based advertising, much of it aimed at the young. About 600 campus papers publish onlineeditions, and advertisers have been quick to exploit their potential. Many campus newspaper Websites now carry ads from national retail chains and other big-ticket companies.

And students are checking in. A recent survey by Student Monitor, which tracks the buying habits,concerns and activities of students nationwide, showed that, while students watch an average of 10hours of television a week, they spend 15 hours a week online.

At the same time, college students are still reading the papers' print editions. A Student Monitorstudy says 76 percent of college students surveyed during the spring semester this year read oneout of the previous five print editions of their campus paper. That number has remained roughlyconsistent for almost two decades, never dropping below the high 60s, said Eric Weil, managingpartner of Student Monitor, which twice a year surveys 1,200 full-time students on 100 four-yearcampuses.

The difference now, he said, is that 38 percent of students regularly read an online edition oftheir campus paper, and they spend an average of 19 minutes doing so, Weil said.

"From a net readership standpoint, there's no question that the online versions have gained thepapers' readers," Weil said. "In fairness to the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times, a collegepaper is free, and it's about me. For the students at the University of Pennsylvania, The DailyPennsylvanian is a lot more relevant than The New York Times."

Mainstream newspapers like the Times are struggling to keep the readers they have. While manypapers, including The Sun, have seen an increase in Web readers, newspapers' print circulations ingeneral have dropped an average of about 3 percent in the last year. The decline has remainedfairly consistent in recent years as the print media industry continues to be hit by competitionfrom the Internet and other new forms of technology. In 1980, 62 million Americans read a dailypaper. Last year, that number was down to 55 million.

Readers of campus newspapers, meanwhile, inhabit somewhat insulated ecosystems, with their ownnews, personalities and events, so that picking up a free copy or browsing for its content onlineis, for many students, almost automatic.

"We have a captive audience," said Brian Stelter, in his third year as editor of The Towerlight, at Towson University.

Stelter, who has gained renown tracking the television industry on his TVNewser blog, recalledbeing frustrated as a freshman when he kept seeing "a lot of papers still left on the racks."

No more. The Towerlight prints the same number of papers it did then - 10,000 copies, twice a week- but now they tend to vanish."

That makes the circulation people happy," Stelter said. With Towson's student population of 18,000 expected to rise to about 25,000 in the next decade, the paper's role in campus life, he said, will rise, too."

We might not be in print everyday in 10 years, but we'll be online everyday," said Stelter, whooversees 13 paid staff members, as well as a number of freelance writers. This semester, the paperbegan running Web-based classified ads, a crucial money-earner.

Towson University provides The Towerlight with free office space and Internet access, but thenonprofit paper's $250,000 in annual expenses is supported solely by advertising, said generalmanager Mike Raymond. Ads have increased in number in the last few years, he said, and so have costs.

"We aren't really growing in leaps and bounds, but we've been able to hold our own," Raymond said,"whereas mainstream papers seem to be losing their audience, to a degree."

This summer's purchase of Y2M, the parent of College Publisher, by the MTV subsidiary mtvU was aclear signal that big-money interests were looking with favor on college newspapers and their Websites. In addition to providing online tech support to campus papers - as well as addingtechnologically complex features such as podcasts and video tools - College Publisher acts as anadvertising agency, placing national ads on the papers' Web sites in exchange for a share of therevenue.

The student-run papers at nine Maryland institutions - Towson University, the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, Hood College, Morgan State University, Mount Saint Mary's College, Goucher College,Loyola College, the University of Maryland and the University of Baltimore - are supported by theCollege Publisher technology.

For the MTV subsidiary, the purchase of Y2M and its College Publisher unit was "an amazingopportunity to have a visceral connection with students," said Stephen Friedman, general manager of mtvU. "Advertisers are absolutely comfortable with the very well-lit space of a newspaper sitewhere kids are creating journalism. That's where we realized there's a huge opening here in beingable to contribute to that conversation, to students' ability to talk to each other in a brand that everyone is reading."

Friedman said his company is working with 150 national advertisers who are looking to connect withcollege students. "Advertisers understand that to get inside the college bubble, you need multipletouchpoints - on air, online, in the paper," he said.

Students "have a massive amount of buying power," said Jason Bakker, marketing director at CampusMedia Group, a Minnesota-based marketing company that helps ad agencies reach high-school andcollege students.

Given many students' relative inexperience with what Bakker calls first-time "buying dilemmas,"they are prime targets for advertisers. "It's a really great entry point for national advertisersto introduce them to a brand or service and hopefully build brand loyalty at an early stage,"Bakker said. "The audience is relatively pure, in the sense that a brand can be pretty much assured they're going to reach their target [demographic]."

At Florida State University, the audience of the twice-weekly FSView & Florida Flambeau wasevidently desirable enough for The Tallahassee Democrat, owned by the Gannett Co., the country'slargest newspaper chain. The student paper's editor, Brandon Mellor, said the paper's purchase bythe big local daily this summer "came as a shock," on the very day the deal was consummated, andthat there were fears on campus "that the Democrat would take over" the student body's singular voice.

"It isn't true and it won't be true," said Mellor, a 22-year-old senior who oversees 14 editors and about 25 writers, all students. "It's not that big a deal in the long run. The only thing is thatwe get paid a little differently, but there's no input as to what we run in the paper."

So why was he told the takeover by the Democrat had occurred?"They felt they weren't reaching the college audience," Mellor said. "They saw it as a way to reach that audience and make some money at the same time."


Friday, November 17, 2006

i dub this blog the new corner of light (at least for me)

hello, kiddies. long time no talk. sigh. that's kind of my fault. i'm a workaholic (though no longer on cops, surprise, surprise).

i might as well admit up front that i generally suck at blogging ... but for y'all, anything. my posts might be a bit stream of consciousness, though. and with that warning i'll let the rambling begin:

first, an evanston-florida connection (so that i can justify the orange balconies label): in the city of melbourne, which is in one of the seven counties covered by the orlando sentinel, there's a little piece of our college home ... mustard's last stand. for any of you who eat meat and haven't been to this hotdog heaven near the football stadium, go now. get every topping. relish the heartburn.

second, i want to pick your brains. what do y'all think of the implosion of knight-ridder and impending implosion of tribune? long time coming? beginning of the end of newspapers as we know them? just another bump in the road? speak, please. i mean, i've read all the romenesko, wsj, nyt articles and i'm just wondering if any of us have a different perspective (especially since we're all still relatively new to the professional journalistic workforce).

third, i want to direct any of you who don't already read the la times column one stories to start doing so now ... some are even podcast (i recommend the one about the boxing time keeper).

and i'll leave you with my favorite sentence, which was written by one of my favorite editors when he was still a reporter (it's a feature about a pre-school-age ballet class). i think of it every time i'm struggling to find just the right turn of phrase: they jumped with all the grace and precision of exploding popcorn.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

news linking toy

What do you folks make of this?

It reminds me of a site I really like, Visual Thesaurus. It doesn't seem as immediately addictive, in part because the interface isn't quite as natural.

By the way, if you would like to post a link to your Web page or blog in the sidebar, please let me know. Or, since you all have admin status, you can do it. Eventually, I'd like to include a list of all the publications we write for or have some other kind of relationship with along the side.

what makes a good podcast?

I'm not sure if any of you are into podcasts. (Strike that, I'm sure Scott is.) But I think it's a great medium, for many reasons. However, as a genre, the podcast seems to still be in its infancy. Most of the ones I've subscribed to via iTunes have decent production -- but that's often only because they're culled from radio and TV. I feel like the podcast may still be in the stage newspaper Web sites were in when they tried to post the entire paper online as a PDF. So what makes for a good podcast? And how can we make podcasts better?


Hi folks:

Just so you know, I've made everyone who's registered for the site an administrator. This means you can invite guests... so please do.

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