Fatal assumptions

I may be the last to comment on the American Press Institute's report, "Newspaper Economic Action Plan," which was produced in May and distributed in June at the not-so-secret NAA meeting in Chicago. But I was flipping through it this morning and was struck how thoroughly the report exposes its own fatal flaws, in a section titled "Assumptions:"

Death to the 'death of journalism' meme

The wailing, the gnashing of teeth, and the rending of garments is getting tiresome. The "death of journalism" / "death of newspapers" meme has been useful, but it's time for it to die. It's not true, and it's outlived its usefulness.

Useful? Yes, useful. Five years ago American newsrooms were dominated by denyers who refused to face the facts about changes in the media landscape, and curmudgeons dedicated to the proposition that all change is inherently bad.

That is no longer true.

Innovation studios and newspaper factories

My trip to Minneapolis has reminded me of how much the newspaper world lost when the McClatchy Company acquired the Star Tribune in 1998.

While it was never McClatchy's goal to do so, it snuffed out one of the few bright spots where innovation critically important to the future of newspapers might have happened.

What I'll be telling journalists in Minnesota

Tuesday I'll be at a University of Minnesota conference titled "New Economic Models for News."

The conference is cosponsored by the Newspaper Guild, so I'm focusing my brief presentation on some things working journalists need to understand about their own business, and I'll be speaking from an inside-the-mainstream perspective.

I'll be joined in my session by Joel Kramer, who was my uberboss at the Star Tribune in the 1990s, and now runs the nonprofit startup Minnpost.com.

Been-dones and am-doings

My friend Steve Outing has what he calls a "blog rant" listing a number of ways to "save" the newspaper industry, but says, "No longer do I have much confidence that newspaper CEOs and publishers will do the right thing."

While I often share that lack of confidence and while I'm perfectly aware that there are, indeed, morons scattered throughout the hierarchies of newspaper companies, I'm struck that his to-do list includes quite a few been-dones and am-doings.

When, how, and why did you go online?

I used to ask new hires: When, how, and why did you "go online?"

The question seems quaint now, and it's been more than a decade since I asked it. After all, many of today's job prospects grew up with home broadband access to the World Wide Web, text messaging on their phones, and possibly a laptop in their bags.

But maybe it still applies.

A tale of two audiences (and beatblogging and topics pages)

Everybody is different from everybody else, and there are lots of ways to group people. But when looking at the audience of a newspaper website, there's one way that I continue to find compelling -- and troubling.

When we group users by frequency, we get something like this:

two audiences

The episode in which I sell out to the promise of paid content

Last week I put my stuff on the market. If you're a Kindle user, you can pay $1.99 a month to get my blog wirelessly delivered to your device. Setting myself up as a Kindle content vendor took about five minutes. Digging myself out of the crater that the stock market made of my 401K? That could take forever.

Your co-workers are all Star Trek aliens

It's Star Trek weekend, so here's a Trek-centric look at The Mess We're In.

The strength of Star Trek has always been its ability to make us look at ourselves -- our own human traits, good and bad, projected onto "alien" species.

Obsolete jobs: Wire editor, features editor

Charles Apple has highlighted some structural changes at the Tribune Company newspapers that many find troubling. The comments on his blog post are especially interesting.

Some of the reaction struck me as reflecting a big disconnect between working journalists and economic reality.