Glenn Reynolds, Jay Rosen and Jon Lauck discuss monopoly newspapers, reduced reporter counts and journalism quality. The Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970 and the general monopoly position of most papers has not done much, as far as I can see, other than insulated entrenched organizations from the market. Perhaps atrophy is starting to take its course.
I summarized my thoughts on Madison's local newspaper monopoly here (along with some of the unintended consequences). There are some parallels to Microsoft's tactics.
http://www.publicradiofan.com/ provides a very useful schedule of public radio streams around the country (and schedules). Some are in friendly mp3 format, while others lock up the audio streams in proprietary formats such as real and windows media (not very public). Via Doc Searls.
Maytag recently introduced a "personal beverage vendor"! Thinking ahead, they have a business blog devoted to the product. (the product is not for me, and has been slammed as a "product for people who can't get off their ______ and get a cold drink in the kitchen".
This is another example of the changing advertising and customer relationship game.
Local print media monopoly, Capital Newspapers (prints and generates advertising for the Wisconsin State Journal and the Capital Times) has announced a new weekly publication that targets long time, successful weekly Isthmus. Capital Newspapers, protected by a federally sanctioned joint operating agreement (Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970: the JOA allows two newspapers to "share" advertising, overhead and printing costs) is using those monopoly derived funds to compete with a traditional, non protected business - Isthmus publishing.
This is similar to a tactic that Microsoft used, illegally, to squish Netscape. See Lee Enterprise's (owns 50% of Capital Newspaper) 2003 10-K (286K PDF) for a look at the Capital Newspapers (formerly known as Madison Newspapers Inc) local revenues (112M!) and net income of $16M (14%!).
Perhaps this is simply a negotiating/acquisition tactic? Capital Newspapers would likely enjoy acquiring Isthmus Publishing and thereby solidify control of the local print advertising business. This tactic has been used before, with a local business weekly and a children's (Dane County Kids) publication.
What to do? Vince and Linda and the Isthmus have done a superb job for the community. Send a note to our representatives (Representative Tammy Baldwin | Senator Russ Feingold | Senator Herb Kohl) telling them that the time is long past to repeal the Joint Operating Agreement Statute. And cancel your subscription (if you have one) to the State Journal or Cap Times.
UPDATE - the act is certainly not helping quality, as Glenn Reynolds points out.
UPDATE2 - Perhaps this is the natural manifestation of the Clear Channel effect in Radio - played out in the newsprint business. Madison is fortunate to have two dailies - BUT - they should compete like anyone else, which would change things, significantly.
Dallas Maverick Billionaire owner Mark Cuban maintains a blog here. Interesting reading, including recent stories on their decision not to re-sign Steve Nash and make the way for UW's Devin Harris. Cuban more or less communicates with the traditional media via his blog. This blog is certainly an example of where we're we're heading.
"Postmodernism is a change-or-be-changed world. The word is out: Reinvent yourself for the 21st century or die! Some would rather die than change." Leonard Sweet, cultural historian.
A rather colorful (watch the language) email to a local TV station ripping them apart on the poor quality of their news (and therefore why the number of viewers continues to decline).
Dean campaign architect Joe Trippi's new book discusses the power of the internet and how individuals and organizations can benefit.
Interesting article by writer Eric M. Johnson, a Marine Corps Reservist on the Washington Post's Iraq coverage (if it can be called that).
Don't take my word for it that the Post’s reporting is substandard and superficial. Take the word of Philip Bennett, the Post's assistant managing editor for foreign news. In a surprisingly candid June 6 piece, he admits that "the threat of violence has distanced us from Iraqis." Further, "we have relied on Iraqi stringers filing by telephone to our correspondents in Baghdad, and on embedding with the military. The stringers are not professional journalists, and their reports are heavy on the simplest direct observation." Translation: we are reprinting things from people we barely know, from a safe location dozens of miles away from the fighting.UPDATE: The article was also published in the NY Post on Saturday, 7.3.2004.
James Cramer writes about Old Media Giant Viacom's difficulties:
Viacom SOS. No, to find out why Viacom’s stock sank to the 52-week-low list, all you need to do is look to the 52-week-high list, where the winners are: video games, satellite radio, video-on-demand, and Internet search engines. Those are the companies with the better models, the better technology that has, in an incredibly short period of time, stolen massive amounts of the fuel that powered Battleship Viacom: the viewers themselves.
Tribune owned LA Times recently announced layoffs, just after winning a couple of Pulitzer prizes according to this story by Jacques Steinberg.
"Look at USA Today; how many Pulitzers have they won?" Mr. Janedis added, singling out the flagship of the Gannett chain, which has yet to win one. "But they sell a lot of advertising and get good rate increases."The article also compares major publisher cashflow margins (from Banc of America Investment Securities):newspaper joint operating agreement: whereby overhead and advertising are shared among two or more "competitors"): Capitol Newspapers.
One segment, stuck: Russert described a recent Oval Office visit where the President hosted some baseball greats, and invited Russert and his son to participate. Ashbrook correctly asked Russert if this was an example of a cozy insider relationship (I'm paraphrasing) and therefore, can one be objective in covering politicians. Russert insisted that he of course, can......
This is a great example of a major problem today: the cozy relationships between major media and the political establishment. There's also this: Meeting the press and surviving it; which describes Russert's recent interview with Colin Powell. Powell's press aide pulled the camera away when Russert evidently broke the interview's ground rules.
Dot Com era Billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on why we're tuning out the media...
We are now in an era where media searches for stories that will generate media coverage of the story. Stories are written not for the value they bring the readers, viewers or listeners, but rather the volume of coverage they will bring.Thanks to Glenn Reynolds who correctly states: "They're churning out Granadas and Chevettes and telling us that we're idiots for complaining."
The question I had then, is the same question I have now? What is the goal of these media outlets? How do they define what is “newsworthy.” It sure appears to me that the newsmedia has evolved from “all the news that is fit to print” to “How much free publicity can we get from this story?”
Verlyn Klinkenborg nicely summarizes recent news in the recording industry's battle against file sharing:
But this isn't just a legal battle, of course. It's a battle of information and ideas. A new book from Lawrence Lessig called "Free Culture" makes a forceful, cogent defense of many forms of file sharing. And — perhaps worst of all from the industry's perspective — a new academic study prepared by professors at Harvard and the University of North Carolina concludes, "Downloads have an effect on sales which is statistically indistinguishable from zero." This directly counters recording industry claims that place nearly all the blame for declining CD sales on illegal file sharing.
Columbia Journalism Review has a very useful tool: Who Owns What? Locally, Wisconsin State Journal owner, Lee Enterprises, owns a myriad of small regional publications, including 50% of Capital Newspapers, an entity shielded from monopoly concerns by the no longer necessary Newspaper Preservation act of 1970.