A Month’s Worth of Links About Newspapers

I Read The News Today Exhibition, The British Library [120709]
Photo by Flickr user danielweir.esq

It’s important to note when discussing the problems at newspapers that spending on advertising is down almost EVERYWHERE, not just in newspapers. Industries that are dependent on ad dollars, of which Big Newspaper is just one, are all hurting. Yes, circulation is down, but there aren’t less people reading the news necessarily, there are just less people subscribing to newspapers. If newspapers were able to charge higher fees for online advertising, they’d be in much better shape, obviously.

On that note, I noticed I had about a zillion tabs open related to the newspaper industry and I thought I’d collect them all here.

Via Daring Fireball, The Awl, demanding context from how bi-annual newspaper circulation numbers are typically reported, put together a chart showing newspaper circulation over the last 2 decades. It’s pretty if you like looking at line graphs with dramatically plummeting line graphs. The LA Times’ fall is breathtaking in its suddenness, and circulation is down 10% across the board.

In supporting Steve Coll’s idea that newspapers should be nonprofits and in attempting to determine the value of local newspapers, Clay Shirky decides to do a “news biopsy” on his hometown newspaper, the Columbia Daily Tribune. From his biopsy, he finds that only 1/6 of the newspaper is “created news” or content created by the newspaper’s 6 reporters and those 6 reporters work for a newspaper with 59 employees.

The city desk editors and the copy chief make the work…more valuable than it would otherwise be. But you can pick any multiplier you like for necessary editorial and support staff and that number, times six reporters, won’t be a big number. In particular, it won’t be 59, or anywhere near it.

His conclusion? “There are dozen or so reporters and editors in Columbia, Missouri, whose daily and public work is critical to the orderly functioning of that town, and those people are trapped inside a burning business model.”

Also commenting on the “the power and necessity of local reporting” Esquire.com uses the recent Samoan earthquake/tsunami as an example of the big guys besting the little guys.

Newsosaur looked into pay walls and found that paywalls might never come because publishers are realizing they can’t afford to lose the traffic a paywall would cost. Which is good news, because some columnists are quitting over paywalls. At the end of the Newsosaur’s piece, there is bleating from Stephen Brill that, “You are misinformed about folks being less inclined” to add paywalls. Stephen Brill, by the way, founded Journalism Online, a company dedicated to helping publishers charge consumers for content, so, you know, he might be biased. (Journalism Online has a funny section of their site called Why Readers Will Pay For Online News, which features several different newspapers talking about why people SHOULD pay for news, but not why they WILL. That’s a distinction worth making.)

Finally, via Kottke, Daniel Gross has a piece in Slate that says despite the falling circulations numbers, it’s not as bad as you think. Several publishers were able to raise subscription revenue by raising subscription costs enough to make up for canceled subscriptions. “This is the new emerging model—cutting costs, raising prices.”

I debated whether to include this last one because I kind of hate Megan McArdle’s writing. I figured since I had already read her post and linked it, I’d leave it there for you to decide if you want to read it or not. Here’s Megan McArdle doing what she does best, spewing confusing nonsense. She doesn’t add anything to the conversation, but wants you to know she’s very concerned about the future of journalism.

A Month’s Worth of Links About Newspapers

The Scorpions and 166 Cellos at Brandenburg Gate

20 years ago, East German officials made the decision that East German citizens would be allowed to visit West Germany and West Berlin. East Berliners streamed to the Berlin Wall and West Berliners greeted them warmly on the other side.

10 years ago, I was in Berlin on the anniversary, and saw The Scorpions play ‘Winds of Change’ at the Brandenburg Gate accompanied by Mstislav Rostropovich and 165 other cellists. It was the most metal moment of my life. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any video or photos of the event.

This year, they celebrated with U2, for whom, ironically, a wall was PUT UP.

The Scorpions and 166 Cellos at Brandenburg Gate

What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell All on the Web

Hell yeah! This is the kind of web documentation I can get behind. Malcolm Gladwell has a new book coming out called What the Dog Saw made up of articles he’s written for the New Yorker over the last several years. Kottke took it upon himself to grab links for all the articles, so it’s up to you if you want to read the articles for free or buy them in a pleasing collection.

Two of my favorites: Troublemakers and Late Bloomers.

What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell All on the Web

1984 Was a Good Year for a Lot of Things

Following up on Kottke’s list of culturally relevant movies that came out in 1984, and Fimoculous’ list of culturally relevant albums that came out in 1984, I thought I’d find the culturally relevant list of books that came out in 1984. Using the best selling books as a barometer, you get the following list. Which seems kind of meh, no?

Fiction
1. The Talisman, Stephen King & Peter Straub
2. The Aquitaine Progression, Robert Ludlum
3. The Sicilian, Mario Puzo
5. The Butter Battle Book, Dr. Seuss
8. Full Circle, Danielle Steel
9. Life & Hard Times of Heidi Abromowitz, Joan Rivers
10. Lincoln: A Novel, Gore Vidal
Non-Fiction
1. Iacocca: An Autobiography, Lee Iacocca
4. Pieces of My Mind, Andy Rooney
5. Weight Watchers Fast and Fabulous Cookbook
6. What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School…, Mark H. McCormack
7. Women Coming of Age, J. Fonda & M. McCarthy
10. Weight Watchers Quick Start Program Cookbook

But you may also be interested in the NY TimesEditor’s Choice: Best books of 1984. Interestingly, neither of these lists have “Bright Lights, Big City”, “The Hunt for Red October”, or “Neuromancer”.

And then I fell completely into the rabbit hole of determining 1984’s status of one of the more culturally relevant years ever. On the stage, David Mamet won a Pulitzer for Glengarry Glen Ross, and Jeremy Irons, Tom Stoppard, and Glen Close all won Tony Awards. Doug Flutie won the Heisman, Desmond Tutu won a Nobel Peace Prize, and Michael Jordan, Charles Barkely, and John Stockton were drafted.

Of course, don’t take my word for it, Bill Simmons has 84 reasons 1984 was a good year including his covering of:
Television

27. NBC’s Thursday night lineup: “Cosby,” “Family Ties,” “Cheers,” “Night Court”…and “Hill Street Blues.” Just a murderer’s row…
28. “Miami Vice,” Season One…
29. “Growing Pains” and “Charles in Charge” both launched. So did the underrated sitcom “It’s Your Move” with Jason Bateman, who should have been one of the five biggest stars of that decade…
35. During the 25th anniversary Motown show in February, Michael Jackson performed “Billie Jean” and unveiled the moonwalk…

Music

42. Also, MTV launched the Video Music Awards that fall — and if you don’t remember Madonna rolling around in a wedding dress at Radio City Music Hall, you obviously weren’t a horny teenager in ’84.
44. If that wasn’t enough, ’80s college music took off — that Cure-Smiths-REM-Depeche Mode-New Order sound that holds up to this day…
48. Come on, tell me you didn’t like these songs: “99 Luftballoons”…”Darling Nikki”…”Cruel Summer”…”Yah Mo Be There”…”Sister Christian”…”Sunglasses at Night”…”Relax”…”Head over Heels”…”Pride (In the Name of Love)”…”Caribbean Queen”…”Panama”…”Billie Jean”…”Hot for Teacher”…”Somebody’s Watching Me”…”Boys of Summer”…”Jungle Love”…”Missing You.”…(Note: Chuck Klosterman is having a heart attack right now.)
49. Run DMC became the first rap act to produce a gold record. It’s true.
51. That’s right, this was the holiday season when Band Aid came out with “Do They Know It’s Christmas”.

Movies

58. “Splash” and “Bachelor Party” — Tom Hanks makes The Leap.
(And speaking of leaps, how ’bout Larry B. Scott appearing as the gay frat brother in “Revenge of the Nerds,” then the only black member of Cobra Kai in the same year!.)
65. Not only did the porn industry shift completely to video, but Traci Lords, Christy Canyon AND Ginger Lynn made their X-rated debuts in ’84….

Pop Culture and Other Stuff

72. …this was the year of “What’s my beef?” — both the Wendy’s commercial and Leno’s bit on Letterman’s show.
75. The Supreme Court made it legal to tape shows with a VCR.
82. By the way, the final list of “People and things in their absolute primes in ’84″: Bird, Bernard, Montana, McEnroe, Gretzky, Sam Malone, Hulk Hogan, Letterman, Sonny Crockett, Jason Bateman, Springsteen, Prince, U2, Murphy, Schwarzenegger, Michael Jackson, Morrissey, Robert Smith, Kathleen Turner, Shannon Tweed, Billy Zabka, Traci Lords, Ginger Lynn, Christy Canyon, Ronald Reagan, Heather Thomas, Heather Locklear, Paulina Porizkova, the Cold War.
83. Rolling Stone was offered the chance to buy MTV, and Sports Illustrated was offered the chance to buy ESPN. Both magazines decided against it.

So there you have it. What year compares?

1984 Was a Good Year for a Lot of Things