Should this be illegal?

Submitted by yelvington on April 18, 2009 - 11:38am

My first job as an editor was at a weekly newspaper. My parents and I had pooled our funds (read: my college savings) and bought a couple of failing small-town newspapers. One of the things I did every week was scan other weeklies and dailies in the region and write a summary of their high-school sports coverage, citing and crediting each source, of course.

It was a different time. Back then (when I had long hair and a motorcycle), most of the publications I cited weren't generally available in my community. There were no computers. There was no Internet.

Warnings about the online-only path

Submitted by yelvington on April 16, 2009 - 10:30am

Neil Thurman and Merja Myllylahti of City University in London have published a study "Taking the paper out of news" in the academic journal Journalism Studies, examining the case of Taloussanomat, a Finnish financial publication that responded to the economic failure of its print product by shifting to a Web-only, advertising-supported strategy.

Global village or global panopticon?

Submitted by yelvington on April 9, 2009 - 8:05am

Tampabay.com's shiny new Mug Shots gallery has sparked a debate: Is it the proper role of journalism to publicize everything?

In an email to several journalism-related lists, Nora Paul of the University of Minnesota declared: "I think it borders on journalistic malpractice! ... Journalism should be about putting important events in a community into context. This doesn't."

Don't underestimate the importance of small talk

Submitted by yelvington on April 7, 2009 - 4:07pm

The usual curmudgeonly complaint about online interaction is that it's banal: a bunch of bloggers (or Twitterers, or whatever) in pajamas (or whatever) blathering on about what they had for dinner (or whatever). But mark me down as one of those who's not bothered by occasionally reading a Tweet about something good to eat.

Let the bad ideas flow

Submitted by yelvington on March 25, 2009 - 1:32pm

With all the hyperbolic, ill-sourced and often self-serving End of Days coverage of the newspaper industry lately, we shouldn't be surprised to see any number of really bad ideas surfacing -- and I don't just mean paywalls.

I say: Let the bad ideas flow. Sometimes bad ideas spark good ones. Just don't drink the Kool-Aid.

Here's one that might smell good but bear poison: Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin's proposal to let newspapers dodge taxes by declaring themselves to be nonprofit charities.

Newspaper ownership and the fourth generation syndrome

Submitted by yelvington on March 22, 2009 - 10:12am

There are still a few family-owned newspapers in America, but only a few. Most were gobbled up by corporate consolidators -- newspaper chains -- decades ago. The reason, I think, has to do as much with the dynamics of a family business as with corporate finance and the peculiarities of newspapering.

There are four cycles in the life of a family business. Often they align with generations: