Thursday, May 31, 2012

University of Oregon School Newspaper Leaps Into Digital Future

The Daily Emerald, the student newspaper at the University of Oregon, is shifting to a digital-first operation and discontinuing daily publishing. Read about some of the lessons the paper is learning:

Best Books for Future Journalists

Summer is a great time to catch up on reading. Here's a recent list of books that every future journo should read, according to the Columbia Journalism Review:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Student Editors Lose Independence at UNLV

The student government at the University of Nevada Las Vegas has announced it plans to select future editors of the student-run newspaper, The Rebel Yell, previously an independent organization. As a result of a previously unnoticed change in administrative procedures, the university's board of regents inadvertently removed regulations that had given that authority to an appointed advisory board consisting of students and faculty. As a result, authority for appointing the newspaper's editor in chief falls to the student government association. Read more about the controversy in the Las Vegas Sun:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ready for Retirement

Longtime Western Illinois University journalism professor Bill Knight, who created this blog, retired this month. In a recent newspaper column, he shared his thoughts on the subject: If you want sure-fire compliments, the choices are pretty much a) retire or b) die. Highly recommended: a). When you retire you don’t hear from people who think you’re a fool or a boob, and a party especially is nice – like a visitation only you’re there. And alive. Less than a week after I retire from teaching after 21 years at Western Illinois University, my son finishes law school. (His knack for advocacy seems solid; during my retirement reception, he texted me, “Congratulations! You finally got out of college!”) So change is wafting over me like a breeze from Lake Michigan through the cheap seats at Wrigley Field. I’ll certainly miss colleagues and students, though I won’t miss commuting, meetings, ties and so many keys that I half expected someone to quip, “Are you faculty or are you just glad to see me?” Unlike journalism, which I’m convinced is a calling, teaching for me bounced between the best job I ever hated or the worst job I ever loved. Journalist Bill Moyers says, “Most of us in journalism are too obsessed with the here-and-now to think about the past or future tense of our lives.” Retirement is a chance to reflect a bit, at least in solitude. I had years of practice working alone, from delivering newspapers at dawn and mowing lawns at all hours to driving tractors and spending days cutting volunteer cornstalks out of bean fields. I also have spent decades “playing” on teams, mostly baseball, but also construction crews, a “commune” of sorts, labor unions and, of course, newsrooms. Alan Guebert, a terrific ag journalist, not long ago recalled a 2009 West Point speech by literary critic William Deresiewicz, who sought to encourage first-year cadets to spend more time alone to avoid becoming “excellent sheep” that he saw in his Yale University classes. Deresiewicz said, “(For) too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going, who can answer questions, but don’t know how to ask them.” For 21 years I’ve hoped and prayed that I’ve encouraged my students not only to write, but read and think – not necessarily in that order: solitary endeavors. Recently, I’ve heard from former students, ranging from a Pulitzer Prize winner and a Fulbright scholar to sportswriters for AP/News Corp. and a small daily, from a business reporter for a mid-market daily and staffers in big newsrooms and even the military. They seem to be good thinkers and listeners as well as writers; I don’t think I damaged them. Their flattery included compliments about my being a mentor, a “heartbeat” of journalism, of helping them, or making classes insightful and entertaining. I’ve also heard from pals who shared past adventures, friends who are now college administrators, a state senator, a judge, and an assistant attorney general. One said, “It won't be long before you're sitting at the local cafe having breakfast on a Tuesday morning with some of your cronies, other geezers, and wondering, ‘What the heck happened?’ Enjoy that moment.” A reviewer who used to write for me remembered a “writer’s block” dry spell during which I’d cajoled him with a question: “Your hands fall off?” A Tea Party friend emailed, “Retiring? From what? We’ve been blessed with doing things we love.” An ex-PGA caddy buddy warned, “You will find time for more of the things you love, like and some that you don’t.” One former girlfriend, now at a major metro daily, wrote, “Thanks for fighting the good fight.” Another ex-girlfriend made a donation in my name to a journalism student fund. Humbling; another card from a woman sent a note I’d sent her and other students after 9-11, which she’d saved. I’d said, 10 years ago, “At such a time, reading and studying grammar, discussing and exercising news judgment, and expanding our awareness of the wide variety of stories and assignments seem relatively meaningless,. Priorities change,” I continued, “– sometimes in an instant – but reporting and the First Amendment that protects it remain important.” Priorities do change, but I agree with Moyers, who said, “Journalism [is] a continuing course in adult education.” Mine as well as others, of course. So, I won’t be in my classrooms, but I will continue to write a column, do radio, and work on book projects, plus get involved in new media and new ventures. One newsroom manager wrote, “Your work generates more complaints than anything else we use. Keep up the good work.” A high school classmate offered best wishes with a challenge: “Retirement is not for sissies.” I’m ready.

Changes in the New Orleans newspaper scene

The venerable New Orleans Times Picayune is cutting back to three days a week and pushing an aggressive online agenda. Check it out:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Buffet Buys More Newspapers

Warren Buffett moved forward with his plans to invest in additional newspapers today when he purchased all of the non-Florida holdings of Media General. Read about it here:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Court of Appeals Agrees Citizens Can Videotape Police in Illinois

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has tossed out Illinois' controversial eavesdropping law, which restricts citizens from videotaping police officers performing their public duties in a public place. Read the details here: A complete copy of the ruling can be downloaded from the ACLU web site:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sun-Times may buy Chicago Reader

The owner of the Chicago Sun-Times is negotiating to purchase the Chicago Reader for about $3 million, according to Crain's Chicago Business, and the deal could be finalized next week. Sun-Times parent company Wrapports LLC, which took over the daily in December, is looking to buy the alternative weekly from New York investment firm Atalaya Capital Management L.P., which acquired it along with four other weeklies out of bankruptcy in 2009 after lending money to prior owners at Tampa, Fla.-based Creative Loafing Inc. "The Reader will survive and thrive because it represents what so many other media outlets have forgotten today and thus have threatened their very existence; that is, it's all about local, local, local!" said Brad Bulkley, the investment banker hired by Atalaya to sell the Creative Loafing papers. Bringing the Reader into the Sun-Times newspaper group -- which includes seven suburban dailies and dozens of suburban weeklies -- could expand the chain's scant coverage of the city's arts, culture, restaurant and entertainment scene and connect it with a new category of advertisers.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Millennials prefer print: WaTimes

Turns out that college students still prefer to read the old-fashioned printed version of the newspaper, according to the Washington Times. In a recent article, the Times said "The millennials seek out an honest-to-goodness, dead-tree, processed-pulp newspaper, handed out by the paper’s staff, to catch the midday dining rush." Check out the story:

Sunday, May 6, 2012

West-central Illinois newsmen honored by Chicago Headline Club

Two journalists with ties to west-central Illinois on Friday
won in two categories of the Peter Lisagor Awards for Editorial Excellence from the Chicago Headline Club, the city's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). Chicago Sun-Time reporter Mark Konkol (right), a 1995 WIU graduate and Pulitzer Prize winner, won best sports story in a daily with 250,000+ circulation for his feature “Worst. Season. Ever.” It was a look at the Lake County Fielders' short and disastrous season as a minor league ball club. Peoria native Rick Telander (below, right)
of the Chicago Sun-Times won best Sports Commentary for a daily with 250,000+ circulation for his series of columns titled “Murray Park: Can Heaven Still Be Found on a Playground?" It was about the Englewood neighborhood and changes there since NBA star Derrick Rose grew up and developed his talent on local playgrounds.

Chicago dailies rank in new ABC circulation report

Chicago's daily newspapers rank #9 and #10 in the Audit Bureau of Circulation's most recent report on top U.S. newspapers for the six months ending in March. The Chicago Sun-Times is 9th with a total average circulation of 422,335 -- a 0.7 percent increase. The Chicago Tribune is 10th with a total average circulation of 414,590 -- a 5.17 percent decline. "Digital circulation now accounts for 14.2 percent of newspapers’ total circulation mix, up from 8.66 percent in March 2011," said Neal Lulofs, Executive Vice President and General Manager, ABCi. "Digital circulation may be tablet or smartphone apps, PDF replicas, metered or restricted-access websites, or e-reader editions." For a year and a half, ABC has incorporation newspapers' transformation into an industry that's the source for multi-media delivery of contents instead of exclusively the print platform. The "total average circulation" data for the Sun-Times shows the daily with about 200,000 verified print copies and more than 68,000 digital deliveries, plus 152,000 "branded editions." ABC defines that category as "editions of the newspaper that are published at least weekly, have a different name than the member newspaper, but are labeled to include the word 'edition.' Branded editions may include commuter, community or alternative-language newspapers." The Tribune shows higher print numbers (387,000 copies), more than 27,000 digital deliveries, but no branded editions.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

New devices, fewer tech companies, and newspapers remain main source: PEJ

The ninth edition of the "State of the News Media" from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism is out for 2012, and it has some predictable findings and some surprises. First, as mentioned in Politico reporter Reid J. Epstein's remarks at April 28's Spring Journalism Day at WIU in Macomb, "the explosion of new mobile platforms and social media channels represents another layer of technology with which news organizations must keep pace." Next, and somewhat unexpected, in the last year a shrinking number of technology corporations started quickly consolidating their power by becoming makers of almost all devices people use in their digital lives. "Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and a few others are maneuvering to make the hardware people use, the operating systems that run those devices, the browsers on which people navigate, the e-mail services on which they communicate, the social networks on which they share, and the web platforms on which they shop and play," the report states. "And all of this will provide these companies with detailed personal data about each consumer." The most surprising finding, however, may be one that defies conventional wisdom about print journalism as sources of information. "More evidence emerged that newspapers (whether accessed in print or digitally) are the primary source people turn to for news about government and civic affairs," the report notes.

Technies seek journalism's re-invention

At a media executives conference in Madrid in April, a few leaders of tech companies conceded they were looking for a marriage between news and their various platforms, but they do not see themselves as news organizations. “Most newsgathering is still done in a very traditional way,” Facebook journalism manager Vadim Lavrusik told reporter Robert Andrews. "In too many places, it’s still ‘this is what’s happening’, not contextualising what’s happening. There’s a lack of discovering why this is happening, the context. “People want analysis from journalists,” he said. "Posts with journalists’ analysis receive 20 percent more referral clicks [than others]. Content isn’t scarce – it’s the contextualization and making sense of that content that’s becoming scarce.” Richard Gingras, head of Google's news products and Google+ programming simply stated, "We're not a news company. We're a platform."

Media coverage of religion too sensationalized, poll says

A 45-page report from the Annenberg School of Communication at Southern Cal and the Roy C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron interviewed 2,000 American adults and a representative cross section of reporters and found that news magazines, newspapers, radio news, online news websites, and (last and least of all) television news all beckon for audiences, and the religion that beckons for attention will tend to be sensationalized. As interesting as the reaction of news consumer is the concession by news providers: "Less than one-fifth of reporters call themselves 'very knowledgeable' about religion," the report notes

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Online users still turn to newspapers' stories, content

Almost three-quarters of Internet users access newspaper content in some form during a typical week, according to a survey conducted for the Newspaper Association of America. About two-thirds of readers use a digital platform several times a day to read newspaper-generated content, and about the same proportion said they act on digital ads in the paper. "Clearly, newspapers' embrace of multiplatform strategies provides significant opportunities for audience and revenue growth," NAA President Caroline Little said. Meanwhile, another NAA study found that the number of unique adult visitors to newspaper websites increased 4.4 percent in the first quarter compared with the first quarter last year. An analysis of comScore data showed that the number of adult daily visitors increased 10 percent, with an identical increase among 18- to 24-year-olds.

Tribune taps Journatic for hyperlocal content

The Tribune Comapyn last week announced that it's made an investment in Chicago-based media content provider Journatic, which will take over production of TribLocal,the Chicago Tribune's five-year-old network of community web sites and print editions. Terms were not disclosed for the deal, which will outsource all hyperlocal editorial content to reporters and editors at Journatic over the next three months. About half of TribLocal’s 40 staffers, including copy editors, designers and web producers, will see their jobs phased out during the transition, with 11 of 18 reporters being reassigned to provide beefed-up coverage for the Chicago Tribune's suburban bureaus. Founded in 2006, Journatic aggregates data and employs 40 full-time staffers and hundreds of freelancers to provide content to media companies and marketers. Journatic produces the entire weekly real estate section for the San Francisco Chronicle and also owns, which publishes real estate research and news for 20 major metros, including Chicago. Launched in 2007, TribLocal uses staff reporters, freelance writers and user-generated content to produce hyperlocal Chicago-area community news. “We've made an investment in this company because we believe that it is a more effective way of providing hyperlocal news, and we think we can do more of it in this way,” said Tribune Editor Gerould Kern.

American U launches visual history of significant journalism in six decades

American University's Investigative Reporting Workshop has launched the first comprehensive online visual history of how journalists have helped to save democracy. Some of America’s greatest moments of fearless, independent journalism, and how they changed the course of American history forever, are featured. Investigating Power seeks to answer one of the most pressing questions confronting journalism in this age of shrinking media budgets and newsrooms: How can the American people know the truth about those in power with the future of original, in-depth reporting in question? On 51 high-definition videos, the project interviewed journalists who've brought "truth to power" through their reporting during contemporary U.S. history dating back to 1950. Investigating Power defines six crucial “Moments of Truth,” including the McCarthy era, Civil Rights, Vietnam, Watergate, post 9/11 America, and Corporate Power, and features conversations with Carl Bernstein, Ben Bradlee, Seymour Hersh, Dana Priest, Bob Woodward and the late Daniel Schorr and Mikle Wallace.

Journalists use LinkedIn, but wonder why

Journalists use LinkedIn, according to a recent study, but most don't know why. "Where things become fuzzy is show often they use it, for what purposes, and how effective a tool it is," writes Kevin Allen. "Seven out of 10 journalists investigated in the Newswise study had user profiles on LinkedIn, and 42 percent of them responded to requests to connect via the social networking site," reported Newswise, a company that surveyed 1,000 journalist subscribers to its tipsheet. "A significant number of respondents had difficulty with the fundamental process of connecting with others on the site. "Only 1 in 4 respondents expressed an opinion about the value of social networking in general, with 13 percent finding value, and 12 percent finding none," the report continued. "The remaining 75 percent were undecided or neutral. In other words, 88 percent of LinkedIn users had found value or were neutral about the value of social networking."