News Media Overviews
The End of News?
The New York Review of Books media critic Michael Massing turns his attention to the press's own troubles, including attacks on the "mainstream media" from conservatives and blogs and the troubles at the Los Angeles Times. (Dec. 1, 2005)
Foreign News Coverage: The U.S. Media's Undervalued Asset
In this 2006 study from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, journalist Jill Carroll, famous for her months in captivity in Iraq, describes how news organizations are downsizing their foreign bureaus, even as audiences continue to demand overseas coverage. "But in this time of financial uncertainty in the media industry," she writes, "cutting quality foreign reporting will only further weaken the ability to turn a profit." Carroll contends that because foreign desks provide "fundamental assets" to a news outlet's reputation among audiences, they are an important but overlooked source of revenue that can and should be inexpensively maintained. [Note: This is a pdf file; Adobe Acrobat Required]
Nieman Reports, Winter 2006: "Goodbye, Gutenberg"
Harvard University's quarterly publication on journalism features journalists' articles on their own experiences with how newspapers are transitioning into the online world and what they think the future holds. The issue includes an article by Craig Newmark addressing online communities and the reliability of information found online.
Billionaires and Broadsheets
This February 2007 Vanity Fair story by Michael Wolff critically examines the trend of billionaires expressing interest in buying some of the nation's largest newspapers. Wolff characterizes the men as "egomaniacs" who don't understand the industry they want to rescue, but he also suggests that "the billionaire option" may be the best one available to newspapers.
False Profits: When Bad Financial News for Newspapers Is Good News for Journalism
Slate's Press Box writer, Jack Shafer, breaks down the recent collapse in values of newspapers such as McClatchy's Minneapolis Star Tribune and the New York Times-owned Boston Globe and sees a silver lining for the future of the newsgathering: "It pops the bubble that had carried newspaper valuation beyond the Van Allen Belt. And by doing so, it presents publishers -- and Wall Street -- with more rational expectations about what sort of profits the newspaper industry can make without destroying itself."
The Web and the Future of the Los Angeles Times
A leaked internal report of the Los Angeles Times' Spring Street Project, convened by former Editor Dean Baquet "to come up with proposals for increasing the readership and revenue of the newspaper and its Web site," offers a scathing assessment of the newspaper's Web presence, or lack thereof: "The Web site's own research demonstrates that latimes.com is virtually invisible in greater Los Angeles." The report cites a lack of staffing and friction with the paper's parent, the Tribune Company, as reasons for the site's poor performance, and it reviews the more successful Web sites of The Washington Post and The New York Times. Opinion L.A., an LA Times blog, has collected some of the reaction to the report.
Columbia Journalism Dean Nicholas Lemann surveys the blogosphere in the Aug. 7, 2006, issue of the New Yorker and finds reason to be skeptical about "citizen journalism's" track record to date: "It ought to raise suspicion that we so often hear the same menu of examples in support of its achievements: bloggers took down the 2004 '60 Minutes' report on President Bush's National Guard service and, with it, Dan Rather's career; bloggers put Trent Lott's remarks in apparent praise of the Jim Crow era front and center, and thereby deposed him as Senate majority leader." [See FRONTLINE's interview with Lemann about the highly critical reaction to his piece.]
Talk of the Town
BuzzMachine's Jeff Jarvis responds to Lemann's New Yorker article: "His strawman king: that bloggers believe they will replace journalists. I don't know a single blogger who says that with a straight face. But that is what professional journalists -- fewer and fewer of them, actually -- think they hear bloggers say and so they snipe back with very straight and sometimes red faces: 'Yeah, you and who else?'" At the end of his post, Jarvis collects other reactions to Lemann's article from the blogosphere.
Media writer Paul Farhi profiles the Amanda Congdon-era Rocketboom and other video blogs of its ilk for the June/July 2006 issue of the American Journalism Review. "Rocketboom could be a harbinger," he writes. "What blogs have done to newspapers, vlogs may someday do to the nightly news -- that is, offer a competing source of commentary and information, fulfill a lively watchdog role and, not incidentally, steal viewers and advertisers from traditional newscasts."
The brain-child of NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen, NewAssignment.net is an attempt to apply open-source principles to the reporting, editing and financing of online journalism. Now in its "test phase," the site is currently blogging about developments in the field; the project aims to launch in April 2007.
Center For Citizen Media
A joint project of UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for the Internet & Society and directed by journalist and blogger Dan Gillmor, the center conducts research and outreach about citizen journalism and offers legal education and advice to online reporters.
A news aggregator akin to Digg.com or Google News, Daylife soft-launched in January 2007. Its supporters and consultants include blogger Jeff Jarvis and craigslist founder Craig Newmark. Daylife tracks top news stories and gives statistics on where they have been picked up online.
2007: The Battle For Local Supremacy
This essay is part of a series called "TV News in a Postmodern World." Media consultant and former broadcast news director Terry Heaton argues that "2007 will be THE turning point year" for the survival of local television outlets. Pointing to the growing dominance of user-driven media and the availability of video online, Heaton asserts the clock is ticking for local stations to fully develop their online presence or risk becoming "nothing more than content creators" for online media aggregators.
Sign-Off: The Long and Complicated Career of Dan Rather
Written shortly before Rather's final broadcast, this March 2005 profile by The New Yorker's Ken Auletta follows Rather's rise from a college radio sportscaster to Walter Cronkite's successor as CBS anchor, and through the flawed story on President Bush's National Guard service that prompted his early retirement. Auletta shadows Rather through a day's work and speaks with colleagues and friends to flesh out the praise and criticism that have marked this career.
Radar.com's 2006 profile of PervertedJustice.com founder Xavier Von Erck is also an examination of his partnership with Dateline NBC for the "endlessly watchable and deeply nauseating" series "To Catch a Predator." In documenting Von Erck's methods and his financial stake in "Predator," the story highlights the ethical questions that have surrounded the series. (Note: This story contains strong language and graphic sexual descriptions.)