Posts about newspapers

On the future of used words

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger gives lectures in India on the future of newspapers and an informed public; Guardian Unlimited bizboss Simon Waldman has the links. Now if only Alan had a blog so he could put up the text and maybe a podcast while he’s at it….

Well, it’s only TV

Media Orchard has a good inteview with Regret the Error‘s Craig Silverman and here’s an interesting bit on the NY Times’s boo-boo-prone TV critic Alessandra Stanley:

This is an instance where I sometimes wonder if I’m piling on. I don’t like the personal nature of the attacks on her, but she continues to make inexcusable errors. I call them inexcusable not because they are particularly egregious in the sense of their consequences. They are inexcusable because she is getting very simple things wrong on a consistent basis.

There’s a side element to this: the New York Times — the paper that created the modern correction format in the early 1970s — does not as a rule indicate the source of an error in a correction. Some other papers will note that it was a reporter’s error, or an editing error. It’s possible that some of her errors were inserted by an editor, but we don’t know because the paper doesn’t specify.

At this point the errors in her work have become a distraction and I would hope that this is something that her editors are working with her to change. You can’t just dismiss the criticism as blog chatter. Gawker and Reference Tone have proven that there’s an issue here.

I would prefer to see someone receive training and extra attention before getting canned for making errors, but there is a point where you have to draw the line. Really, is it so hard to re-check all the names and titles in a piece before putting it in the paper? I understand the pressure on newspaper reporters to file quickly, but it’s better to get it right than get it fast.


: And they continue.

Sweetheart, get me rewrite… Sweetheart?…

It’s amusing — in a pathetic, end-of-days way — that a newspaper is making reporters use their cell phones to free up lines for all those customers dying to call in to give the paper money. (‘Yes, that must be why we’re not making a fortune: The phones are busy!’) So now the reporters are complaining about crappy cell connections as the newest excuse for errors in stories. I have one word of advice: Skype.

Amusing Times

I’m listening to the amazing podcasts by Ricky Gervais, star of Office and Extras, brought to us by Guardian Unlimited. Ricky and mate Steve Merchant prod the empty space inside Karl Pilkington very round head about monkey news and “the penile habits of Papua New Guineans.” It’s weird and hilarious and popular.

Could you imagine The New York Times doing this? I can’t. Any American paper or news organization would fret over brand and credibility: “Well, who’s fact-checking and copy-editing this monkey news?”

But in Britain, I imagine the Guardian editors coming up with this idea and saying, “Brilliant, let’s have a go!” The Guardian respects its readers-turned-listeners enough to get the joke and getting Gervais to amuse them is quite the coup. So this opens all sorts of horizons for a newspaper as news-and-entertainment venture.

When you think about it, why shouldn’t The Times have produced Seinfeld: sophisticated New York jokes for sophisticated New Yorkers? ntourage would have been a hit for the LA Times. Maybe the Washington Post should make the sitcom based on Ana Marie Cox’s book. EBut don’t get stuck in my sitcom rut: Just make a podcast, like Gervais’ or a vlog like Rocketboom or simply promote those who do. Maybe your credibility is about sharing the good stuff. Maybe your brand is about becoming a gathering place for people of intelligence who share interests and taste…. and a sense of humor.

On second thought… Newspaper people are not, as a rule, a barrel of monkeys.

(Full disclosure: I write a column for the Guardian but they don’t pay enough for me to suck up to them. I just like the Gervaiscast.)

: A QUESTION inspired by this comment: Who should play Maureen Dowd in the sitcom that is The Tiems?

Black and white and dead all over

Michael Kinsley writes a, well, cute column about the Rube Goldberg process that produces newspapers and how it’s likely doomed. Not sure what the news is there. In it, he asks:

No one knows how all this will play out. But it is hard to believe that there will be room in the economy for delivering news by the Rube Goldberg process described above. That doesn’t mean newspapers are toast. After all, they’ve got the brand names. You gotta trust something called the “Post-Intelligencer” more than something called “Yahoo” or “Google,” don’t you? No, seriously, don’t you? Okay, how old did you say you are?

The latest Ad Age, in a special issue with American Demographics, asks Americans just that question (no link, damn them):

What Web site provides the most reliable source of information on the internet?

Top picks were Yahooo (cited by 11.3% of U.S. consumers), MSN (10.4%), Google (9.9%), CNN (8%), AOL (5.2%) and Consumer Reports (3.1%). Google scored first among younger consumers, with 22% of the 18-24 crowd and 15% of the 25-34 group choosing to Google.

In Europe, no single media property emerged as most trustworthy and objective. But Eruope has a clear choice for most-reliable Web information source: Google ranked tops in France, Germany, Netherlands and Spain, and scored No. 2, behind the BBC, in the U.K.

Google’s strong showing in the U.S. and Europe as a reliable Web information source is intriguing since the site largely leaves it to users to figure out what in the sea of unedited search results should be believed or discarded. But that leaves consumers in control, and those consumers count on Google to lead them to the truth.

Behind these stats lie a few phenoms: Yes, online brands are trusted. And in a world of new ubiquitious and international uberbrands, it’s impossible for a local or niche brands to rise up in top lists such as these. But don’t get trapped into old, media 1.0 big-think: The aggregation of the smalls is the powerful force here. Small is the new big.

But the real lesson is what Ad Age said at the end: This is about control, about finding, packaging, editing, judging sources on our own.

The challenge for those black, white, and dead-all-over old properties is to find the ways to contribute to that new world and be found when Google is the front page.