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This news media blog explores the nexus between the press, the public and technology with two missions. One, to engage citizens in an online conversation about the role of the news media in their lives, in the hope that they will use and critique the media more effectively. And secondly to explore how the press can remain relevant, essential and accountable to citizens and communities.

Mike Fancher is Editor at Large of The Seattle Times.

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April 11, 2008 3:50 PM

Enough is enough, says longtime observer of newspapers

Posted by Mike Fancher

John Morton, one of the newspaper industry's senior analysts, says newspapers that are cutting costs to maintain high profits are wrongheaded and threaten their own futures.

Morton's comments come in an article entitled, "Enough is enough," in the American Journalism Review.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Journalism trends , Media ownership , News industry developments , The future of journalism |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 10, 2008 8:35 AM

Debating local versus corporate ownership of newspapers

Posted by Mike Fancher

Press Here for a discussion about newspaper ownership that includes Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen and Phil Bronstein, a veteran editor for the Hearst Corp.

Comments | Category: Journalism trends , Media consolidation , Media ownership , Media reform , News industry developments , The future of journalism |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 2, 2008 5:00 PM

Is there a cloud behind the cloud behind the silver lining?

Posted by Mike Fancher

Yesterday I posted an item about the Newspaper Association of America glossing over some really ugly advertising revenue numbers. I said the NAA had presented the silver lining to a dark cloud.

A column I read today suggests there is another cloud behind the revenue cloud. Peter Osnos, senior fellow for media at The Century Foundation, says newsroom morale is a problem at least as serious as falling revenue:

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Journalism trends , News industry developments , The future of journalism |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 1, 2008 8:40 AM

There's a cloud behind that silver lining

Posted by Mike Fancher

The Newspaper Association of America apparently feels there isn't enough good news in the world. It put out a press release last week headlined "Spending on newspaper Web sites grew to 7.5 percent of all newspaper ad spending last year."

The upbeat NAA release said:

Advertising expenditures for newspaper Web sites increased by 18.8 percent to $3.2 billion in 2007, according to preliminary estimates from the Newspaper Association of America. Spending on newspaper Web sites has now grown to account for 7.5 percent of all newspaper ad spending last year (up from 5.7 percent in 2006).

That's all true. But Editor & Publisher, an industry observer, studied the data behind the release and found a different story.

The E&P headline said "NAA Reveals Biggest Ad Revenue Plunge in More Than 50 Years."

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Journalism trends , News industry developments |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 6, 2008 3:10 PM

The future of newspapers -- will they ever be the same?

Posted by Mike Fancher

Press Here to read a heartfelt expression about the future of newspapers in American. It is written by Peggy Drexler, an assistant professor of psychology at Cornell University, who writes:

I have been watching newspapers like you watch a cherished friend who has a slow debilitating illness. You wonder: Even if they survive, will they ever be the same?

The signs are not encouraging.

It's not that the media companies are speeding toward the edge of a cliff. On any given day, 51 million people buy a paper, and 124 million read one. Just for perspective, the Giants and Patriots set a Super Bowl record with an audience of 97.5 million. Profit margins are still in the high teens, and newspapers are touting their success in moving readers online.

This is not an industry that is going to go the way of carbon paper and rotary phones. It's worse than that. It's an industry with a wasting disease that will rob us of essential benefits that we have forgotten how to appreciate...

...I realized there is nobody to blame because it is nobody's fault. You don't blame cell phones when you can't find a phone booth. It's simply the onslaught of technology and the inevitability of consumer choice.

We've seen it before. But this time there is more at stake.

I worry about the quality of debate. I worry about the truth. I worry about a community's ability to examine itself. I worry about the abuse of power when nobody is watching. I worry about losing the sheer enjoyment of great writing and reporting.

But most of all, I just feel sad.

I suspect many of us share that worry and sadness, even as we work to keep this cherished friend on life support, hoping for a full recovery.

As for the observation that there isn't anyone to blame, the combination of high profits and aggressive disinvestment in content would seem to be one place to point an accusatory finger.

Comments | Category: Journalism trends , Media ownership , News industry developments , The future of journalism |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 27, 2008 1:21 PM

No country for old newspaper men

Posted by Mike Fancher

The future of newspapers was discussed by a bunch of gray-haired guys last night at the News Tribune in Tacoma. I was one of them. The others on the panel were:

David Brewster, founder and former publisher of Seattle Weekly and current publisher of Crosscut.com


Jack Hart, recently retired managing editor of the Oregonian in Portland

Alex Tan, former chairman of the Edward R. Murrow School of Communications at Washington State University and currently WSU diversity faculty fellow

Putting us through our paces was Joanne Lisosky, associate professor of communication at Pacific Lutheran University.

"It wasn’t quite dinosaurs discussing the coming meteor," according to a report in the News Tribune. The report continued:

If there was a consensus, it was that newspapers must evolve. But also that changes in technology allow newspapers to involve the community in new and exciting ways.

Another blog report on the session started with an exchange about "What you should expect from your newspaper." Press Here for that report by News Tribune Managing Editor Karen Peterson.

Anything we lacked in being able to predict the future of newspapers was countered by the passion we all feel for the role of the press in society.

Footnote: Brewster and I agreed the Tacoma crowd of about 80 people was far friendlier than any we would have faced in Seattle. That said, I suspect we wouldn't turn down an invitation.

Comments | Category: Journalism trends , News industry developments , News media diversity , The future of journalism |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 16, 2008 1:30 PM

What's ahead for the world's greatest news service?

Posted by Mike Fancher

The traditional business models that bring you the day's news are in flux, including the relationship between the Associated Press and the news organizations that own it.

AP, which began in 1846, is a cooperative owned by some 1,500 U.S. newspapers and run by a board of directors that is elected by its members. But there has been a growing tension in recent years as AP has created new opportunities and revenue sources, some of which involve selling content to emerging businesses that compete with traditional media.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Journalism trends , Media ownership , News industry developments , The future of journalism |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

Recent entries

Apr 11, 08 - 03:50 PM
Enough is enough, says longtime observer of newspapers

Apr 10, 08 - 08:35 AM
Debating local versus corporate ownership of newspapers

Apr 2, 08 - 05:00 PM
Is there a cloud behind the cloud behind the silver lining?

Apr 1, 08 - 08:40 AM
There's a cloud behind that silver lining

Mar 6, 08 - 03:10 PM
The future of newspapers -- will they ever be the same?

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