April 18, 2011

Al Jazeera's Social Media Experiment "The Stream" Launches Online Today

Gregory Ferenstein:

Al Jazeera's aggressive expansion into cyberspace hopes to empower a new generation of newsmakers, impact the American news market, and capture the attention of young cable cutters.

Fresh off the wild success of Internet-fueled Middle-East revolution stories, Al Jazeera English today is launching the online component to its forthcoming social media-centered news program, The Stream. It's the most aggressive integration of social media into a live news program to date. And Al Jazeera says it wants to capture a new generation of cable "cord cutters," push the limits of so-called "citizen journalism," and inch into American media territory.

A social storytelling service powers the editorially curated content, which is complimented by community commenting before, during, and after the anchored news show. It's scheduled to start airing May 2nd.

Posted by jez at 8:07 PM

April 10, 2011

Facing Default, Publisher Lee Enterprises Sells 'Junk' to Foil Distressed Investors

Matt Wirz:

Newspaper chain Lee Enterprises Inc. is on the verge of saving itself from bankruptcy--and many of its debt holders are livid.

Lee, weighed down by about $1 billion of debt, has long been high on the list of potential bankruptcies. But thanks to the roaring market for debt of risky companies, Lee is preparing to sell junk bonds that would enable it to pay off its obligations and give it a new shot at survival.

But what is good news for the company has thwarted the plans of a flock of "vulture" investors--Monarch Alternative Capital, Alden Global Capital, Marblegate Asset Management and a unit of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.--which have been buying Lee's loans. The group had been betting the company would default, and that they could turn their holdings into an ownership stake, giving them access to the company's assets, which include St. Louis Post Dispatch and the Arizona Daily Star newspapers.


Lee incurred much of its debt in 2005 when it paid top-dollar to buy Pulitzer Inc., a chain of 14 newspapers including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The combined company would have been a particularly valued prize because, unlike many of the other publishers that went bankrupt in recent years, the company generates over $100 million of free cash flow despite its debt load. The publisher's focus--running small and midsize papers and keeping a rein on costs--has insulated it from the worst of the decline in subscriptions and advertising affecting newspapers in metropolitan markets.

Lee owns half of Capital Newspapers, publisher of the Wisconsin State Journal.

Posted by jez at 9:14 PM

January 4, 2011

E-book pioneer sees future of reading as a shared activity

In 1992, virtual eons before the Kindle and the iPad, Bob Stein created software that let a reader flip through an electronic book on a laptop computer.

To demonstrate the program at conferences, Stein would lie down on stage as if reading in bed.

"Publishers would see this and they would think it was cute, but they didn't think it had anything to do with them," he recalls.

Now that the revolution is here, Stein says publishers should embrace what he sees as the inevitable result: the evolution of reading from a solitary pursuit into a communal, electronically networked activity - something he calls social reading and writing.

Posted by jez at 7:43 AM

December 24, 2010

When Analysts Look Over Their Shoulders

Brian Deagan:

Scott Cleland is one tough Google (GOOG) critic.

From his office in McLean, Va., as founder and president of research firm Precursor, Cleland routinely fires off pages of analysis whenever news on Google's market dominance hits the media.

Cleland's words have irked Google, which is engaging in an unusual behind-the-scenes effort to counter Cleland's views. The case is spotlighting the issue of how companies should deal with critics on the public stage.

Posted by jez at 11:02 AM

December 19, 2010

Doyen of Type Design: The most-read man in the world

The Economist:

MATTHEW CARTER, a type designer and the recipient of a MacArthur genius grant, was recently approached in the street near his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A woman greeted him by name. "Have we met?" Mr Carter asked. No, she said, her daughter had pointed him out when they were driving down the street a few days before. "Is your daughter a graphic designer?" he inquired. "She's in sixth grade," came the reply.

Mr Carter sits near the pinnacle of an elite profession. No more than several thousand type designers ply the trade worldwide, only a few hundred earn their keep by it, and only several dozens--most of them dead--have their names on the lips of discerning aficionados. Then, there is Mr Carter. He has never sought recognition, but it found him, and his underappreciated craft, in part thanks to a "New Yorker" profile in 2005. Now, even schoolchildren (albeit discerning ones) seem to know who he is and what he does. However, the reason is probably not so much the beauty and utility of his faces, both of which are almost universally acknowledged. Rather, it is Georgia and Verdana. Mr Carter conjured up both fonts in the 1990s for Microsoft, which released them with its Internet Explorer in the late 1990s and bundled them into Windows, before disseminating them as a free download.

Posted by jez at 2:34 PM

December 1, 2010

Why the iPad should rival the web

John Gapper

Richard Branson and Rupert Murdoch are entrepreneurs with an admirable record of ignoring conventional wisdom, so it is worth watching when they do the same thing at once.

In this case, they are launching iPad-only publications. Sir Richard bowled into New York on Tuesday to unveil a £1.79 or $2.99 monthly magazine called Project, while Mr Murdoch is about to launch a "newspaper" called The Daily, for which he hopes 800,000 people will pay $1 a week. Both will charge readers in an era when most internet publications are free.

The fact that Mr Murdoch will separate his new daily publication from "the open web" by publishing on the iPad has provoked scepticism and hostility in digital media circles. "Murdoch keeps fighting the internet and the internet keeps on winning," wrote Mathew Ingram, of the GigaOm technology blog.

This fits into a bigger debate about whether companies are balkanising the web to gain economic leverage. Tim Berners-Lee, the British scientist who invented the World Wide Web, complained in Scientific American about Facebook's private accumulation of data, and of print publishers' "disturbing" wish to create closed worlds.

Posted by jez at 10:21 PM

November 23, 2010

Rupert Murdoch Does Another Daily

Some of us count sheep, but Rupert Murdoch spends his sleepless nights dreaming up media properties.

It was late May, around 2 a.m., and Murdoch was in his New York penthouse on Fifth Avenue having a tough time falling asleep when a vision came to him: publishing a daily news report that would be exclusively made for the iPad and other tablet devices. There would be no print product.

Murdoch had done his homework, so he already knew that readers spend more time fully immersed with the iPad than they do with the Web. He believes that within a few years, tablet devices will be like cell phones or laptops -- consumers will go into Wal-Mart and buy the things at reasonably cheap prices (far more diminished than the $499 for an iPad now). In his mind, in the not-too-distant future, every member of the family will have one.

Makes perfect sense. Horace Dediu has more.

Posted by jez at 10:03 AM

August 31, 2010

A Conversation with Jay Rosen on "The Problem With News Media in America Today"

The Economist
What is the biggest problem with the news media in America today?

Mr Rosen: The cost of changing settled routines seems too high, but the cost of not changing is, in the long term, even higher. A good example is the predicament of the newspaper press: the print edition provides most of the revenues, but it cannot provide a future. I know of no evidence to show that young people are picking up the print habit. So if the cost of abandoning print is too high, the cost of sticking with it may be even higher, though slower to reveal itself. That's a problem.

Another example is the decline of trust. In the mid-1970s over 70% of Americans told Gallup they had a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the press. Today: 47%. Clearly, something isn't working. But revisions to the code of conduct that has led to this decline would be seen by most journalists as increasing the risk of mistrust. I've tried to argue that the View from Nowhere—also called objectivity—should be replaced by "here's where we're coming from." That strikes most people in the American press as dangerous and unworkable. But the current course is unsustainable: trust continues to decline, with a big acceleration after 2003. When I mention this to journalists, they say: "Trust in all big institutions has declined, Jay." Which is true (except for the military). But is that really an answer? You're supposed to be the watchdogs over dubious actors. Why aren't you an exception?

I could go on, but I think you see the pattern. Change is too expensive; the status quo is unsustainable.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:08 AM

July 28, 2010

On Blog Comments

A More Intelligent Life:

A colleague over at Democracy in America (DiA), The Economist's blog about American politics, has written a very interesting post on the nature of online commenters. While the formality of composing a letter to the editor continues to generate considered and often polite prose by even the most aggrieved readers, the immediacy and anonymity of online commenting seems to encourage a tendency to insult and attack. "Faceless communication leads to disinhibition, whether it's online, in a car or on the phone with a customer-service representative... Psychologists even have a name for the online phenomenon: 'online disinhibition effect'."

Publishers keen on a solution to nasty commenters will follow what happens at the Buffalo News. The paper has just proposed requiring readers to supply accurate identification if they want to weigh in, which is promising. (As one of the 65 commenters on the DiA post wrote, "I used to think anonymity was a good thing... However, over time my view has changed to the opposite. For every unique voice, there are thousands of mindless, thuggish screams.")

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:08 AM

July 4, 2010

Michael Hastings of Rolling Stone on the Story that Brought Down Gen. McChrystal and Exposed Widening Disputes Behind the U.S. Debacle in Afghanistan

Democracy Now:
In a rare extended interview, we speak to Michael Hastings, whose article in Rolling Stone magazine led to the firing of General Stanley McChrystal. Hastings’ piece quoted McChrystal and his aides making disparaging remarks about top administration officials, and exposed long-standing disagreements between civilian and military officials over the conduct of the war. The Senate confirmed General David Petraues as McChrystal’s replacement on Wednesday, one day after McChrystal announced his retirement from the military on Tuesday after a 34-year career.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:18 PM

June 19, 2010

Holland Tunnel

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:22 PM

Incapable of Rational Thought

Ed Wallace:
It started with an email sent to the Chevrolet employees at their Detroit headquarters and warned them not to use the word Chevy in lieu of the far more formal Chevrolet. GM PR people added that there was a plastic jar put into the hallway there so that each time someone heard another use the now "forbidden" word, they would deposit money as a personal penance. This decision, they said, was simply protecting the brand image of Chevrolet, much the way Coke or Apple protected its image. The memo was signed by the President of Chevrolet and GM's Vice President for Marketing.

Apparently at Ed Whitacre's new GM, morons have retaken the institution.

Are they not aware that "Chevy" has been an affectionate nickname for Chevrolet for at least 80 years and is not likely to go away? Did these executives not know that "Coke" is to "Coca-Cola" what "Chevy" is to "Chevrolet"?

People don't call their computers "Apple" -- "Mac" being to "Macintosh" what "Chevy" is to "Chevrolet" -- and certainly nobody calls anything "my Apple iPod."
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:27 PM

February 2, 2010

In the Next Industrial Revolution, Atoms Are the New Bits

Chris Anderson:
The door of a dry-cleaner-size storefront in an industrial park in Wareham, Massachusetts, an hour south of Boston, might not look like a portal to the future of American manufacturing, but it is. This is the headquarters of Local Motors, the first open source car company to reach production. Step inside and the office reveals itself as a mind-blowing example of the power of micro-factories.

In June, Local Motors will officially release the Rally Fighter, a $50,000 off-road (but street-legal) racer. The design was crowdsourced, as was the selection of mostly off-the-shelf components, and the final assembly will be done by the customers themselves in local assembly centers as part of a “build experience.” Several more designs are in the pipeline, and the company says it can take a new vehicle from sketch to market in 18 months, about the time it takes Detroit to change the specs on some door trim. Each design is released under a share-friendly Creative Commons license, and customers are encouraged to enhance the designs and produce their own components that they can sell to their peers.

The Rally Fighter was prototyped in the workshop at the back of the Wareham office, but manufacturing muscle also came from Factory Five Racing, a kit-car company and Local Motors investor located just down the road. Of course, the kit-car business has been around for decades, standing as a proof of concept for how small manufacturing can work in the car industry. Kit cars combine hand-welded steel tube chassis and fiberglass bodies with stock engines and accessories. Amateurs assemble the cars at their homes, which exempts the vehicles from many regulatory restrictions (similar to home-built experimental aircraft). Factory Five has sold about 8,000 kits to date.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:18 AM

December 16, 2009

Crunks 2009: The Year in Media Errors and Corrections

Craig Silverman:
Perhaps that’s not the most polite way of putting it, but fact checking continues to emerge as a favorite practice of the public and certain elements of the press. (Though most of us in the press spend more time calling bullshit on each other than checking our own work.) In a recent column for Columbia Journalism Review, I stated that fact checking “is becoming one of the great American pastimes of the Internet age.”

Everybody loves to call bullshit. Thanks to the Internet, it’s easier than ever before.

The irony is that this trend emerges at a time when professional fact checkers, who traditionally worked at magazines, are being laid off. As a result, it appears as though the future of fact checking is in open, public and participatory systems and organizations, rather than the closed, professional systems traditionally used by large magazines. The Internet has made this shift possible.

Here’s a selection of fact checking-related news from the past year:
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:42 PM

October 5, 2009

"Precious" Print Campaign Recalls Classic Era of Movie Poster Art

Steven Kurutz:

Marketing a film like "Precious," which is being released by Lionsgate on November 6th, would present a challenge to any film studio, regardless of its backing by Oprah and Tyler Perry and the advance buzz the movie is getting.

The film's 26 year-old star, Gabourey Sidibe, is a virtual unknown, while the subject matter is what sales execs would call a downer. Sidibe plays Clareece "Precious" Jones, an obese, illiterate teenager in 1980s Harlem who lives with an abusive mother and has been impregnated by her father, twice.

How do you advertise that plot on a billboard? In fact, the film's print campaign features some of the most visually compelling poster art in recent memory. Despite a supporting role by Mariah Carey, Lionsgate has forsaken the typical "big face" approach of trading on a star's head shot to sell a movie. Instead, the posters use bold color and sophisticated graphics to create an evocative tone.

Posted by jimz at 8:59 AM

October 4, 2009

An Interview with Ted Turner on the Changing Role of the Media

Chrystia Freeland - video.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:19 PM

September 9, 2009


Which brings up an interesting, and not trivial question: why is the U.S. , home of no anti-trust enforcement during the last eight years, home of raw capitalism, supposed home of competition, about to be without a single decent source of unbiased news? And why is Britain, socialist leader among English-speaking peoples, suddenly the Keeper of the Realm when it comes to objective news reporting? Who wouldn’t take the BBC over the U.S.’ National Public Radio? Who wouldn’t take the Financial Times over the WSJ? Or the Guardian over the NYT?

The British have not lost the ability to be “fair and balanced,” the self-mocking theme of Fox TV, although Rupert has certainly taken out a lot of the competition.

Why is it, for instance, that the best programs on U.S. politics, the Kennedy assassination, global warming, and even Israel – South African nuclear cooperation, have all come out of Britain? Why can they tell our news stories better than we can? Mostly, I think, they are just neutral. There is something strong in the British psyche that still believes in telling the truth, that still sees the news as news, and not as advertising conveyor belt. The U.S. has totally lost this view, with the exceptions noted above, and in some small papers, although many of those have gone their own sad, ad-driven route.

Indeed, in a time when owners are pointing to a lack of ads to support their product, I think they are missing the whole point: they are losing subscribers, and the ads are following.

Today, I read the FT religiously, the NYT increasingly, and the WSJ almost not at all. I’m not alone; several friends have recently canceled their WSJ subscriptions, so fed up are they with Murdoch’s machinations. I don’t see how the WSJ can survive, being a Murdoch bauble, even if he sees it as the crown jewel. What he thinks doeesn’t matter, or worse, matteres and is morally wrong, as advertisers on Fox have proven lately by dropping the Beck show like a stone.
The Financial Times is an excellent read (their iPhone app is better than either the Wall Street Journal's or the NY Times). I think the Wall Street Journal and New York Times have interesting articles from time to time. Kudos to the Financial Times for sticking to their knitting, as it were.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:15 AM

July 12, 2009

A New News Media Emerges for Our New World

Fabius Maximums:
Summary: One indicator of the massive changes sweeping America is the destruction of longtime solid business models. This post discussed colleges; today we look at the news media. Tons of ink have been spilled on this, but IMO ignoring some likely outcomes.

The major news media are on a treadmill. Loss of credibility shrinks their audience, hence less revenue, hence reduced funding. Which reduces the quality of their product, hence even less audience. Worse is the loss of advertisers to new media (e.g., Craigslist and Google), which means less revenue, less funding for news collection, and smaller audiences.

This posts speculates about the future, what new models might emerge from this turmoil. Here are some guesses.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:00 PM

July 4, 2009

Independence Day USA

I had the opportunity to recently visit Budapest's House of Terror Museum. The museum is housed in a former security services building and provides a powerful reminder of the forces of tyranny. This photo features victim images above a Soviet era tank.

An appropriate reminder of the price of freedom, today, the Fourth of July, 2009.

An a more pleasant note, Jeff Sullivan posted a gorgeous Yosemite image set here.

It is hard to go wrong at stunning Yosemite! God Bless America.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:23 AM

July 2, 2009

Washington Post Sells Access to Lobbyists

For $25,000 to $250,000, The Washington Post is offering lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to "those powerful few" — Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and the paper’s own reporters and editors.

The astonishing offer is detailed in a flier circulated Wednesday to a health care lobbyist, who provided it to a reporter because the lobbyist said he feels it’s a conflict for the paper to charge for access to, as the flier says, its “health care reporting and editorial staff."

The offer — which essentially turns a news organization into a facilitator for private lobbyist-official encounters — is a new sign of the lengths to which news organizations will go to find revenue at a time when most newspapers are struggling for survival.

And it's a turn of the times that a lobbyist is scolding The Washington Post for its ethical practices.

"Underwriting Opportunity: An evening with the right people can alter the debate," says the one-page flier. "Underwrite and participate in this intimate and exclusive Washington Post Salon, an off-the-record dinner and discussion at the home of CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth. ... Bring your organization’s CEO or executive director literally to the table. Interact with key Obama administration and congressional leaders …

“Spirited? Yes. Confrontational? No. The relaxed setting in the home of Katharine Weymouth assures it. What is guaranteed is a collegial evening, with Obama administration officials, Congress members, business leaders, advocacy leaders and other select minds typically on the guest list of 20 or less. …

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0709/24441.html#ixzz0K6yNKyHp&C
Related: Helen Thomas.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:16 AM

June 20, 2009

The Author as Performer

James Harkin:
Late last year, for one night only, fans of the musical The Lion King were turned away from the Lyceum theatre in London’s West End. If they had been able to peer inside at the stage they would have witnessed not Simba, dancers in multicoloured costumes and “The Circle of Life” but a solitary, slender 45-year-old Canadian with bouffant hair standing behind a lectern. There were no props, apart from the video screen relaying his image around the huge auditorium, but this didn’t bother the youngish crowd who had bought 4,000 tickets at around £20 a piece to listen to one of two consecutive performances.

The speaker was the influential journalist, author and ideas entrepreneur Malcolm Gladwell, in town to promote his latest book, Outliers: The Story of Success. But this wasn’t a book reading or a Q&A session of the kind authors traditionally submit to. Neither was it a slide show, as you might expect to find at a lecture. Instead, the author recounted a single vignette from the book – the tale of why a plane ended up crashing, from the perspective of the pilots and those in the control tower – and burnished it into a narrative with all the chill and pace of a traditional ghost story. Even the lighting was kept deliberately low to create the right atmosphere. The performance lasted precisely an hour and five minutes, and no questions were invited after Gladwell had finished speaking. Rather than a talk about a book, it looked more like a carefully choreographed stage show.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:30 PM

February 26, 2009

Obama Speech TV Audience Lags Clinton (1993) and Bush (2001)

Andrew Malcolm:
For his maiden congressional address, Obama cleaned President Bush's clock in terms of TV viewers willing to watch him speak to a bunch of stuffed congressional suits in the House chamber. Which isn't saying much. But it is something for a new president to cling to, especially when you're otherwise up against the sleuths of "NCIS."

Obama got 52.4 million viewers last night (rounded off for those visiting the bathroom) in 37.2 million homes for a 49 share and 32.5 rating. In his last joint address in 2008 GWB got 37.5 million in 27.7 million homes for a 38 share and 24.7 rating. Bush did top Obama in 2003 with 62 million and a 56 share and we didn't even have the Iraq reality show going then. (But it was coming.)

Bush's first joint session appearance drew nearly 39.8 million and a 42 share.

However, Obama still lags the audience-drawing power of one President Bill Clinton. Sixteen years ago this week, when there were millions fewer Americans, Big Bill drew nearly 15 million more viewers -- 66.9 million for his first congressional speech in 44.2 million homes for a 44.3 rating.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:35 AM

January 25, 2009

When the News Was New

Edward Rothstein:
Look carefully, and it is really the birth of the modern West that we see taking place here: snippets of news and sensation helped define a shared experience of the past and present, as political debates laid the foundations of democratic culture. If the Reformation is often credited with having turned the West toward the Enlightenment, another such force must be the growing taste for news and its multiple retellings. While other cultures were arguing over the interpretations of sacred texts, England’s was arguing over the nature of government in print. We are the beneficiaries.

The exhibition itself could have been much more clear in its chronological and thematic organization, particularly because the knotty politics of 17th-century England — centering on its civil wars — are treated as if they were far more familiar than is the case, but these documents repay the patience of careful reading.

When Sir Walter Raleigh was convicted of treason and executed in 1618, his eloquent speech on the scaffold was reported not by newspapers — which had not yet evolved — but in private written accounts. The real revolution came in the 1620s under the influence of “corantos” imported from Amsterdam, which provided the main news of the week. The corantos (which are still recalled in the names of newspapers, like The Hartford Courant) also inspired opposition from the government over their reports of troop movements during the Thirty Years’ War, leading to censorship and even imprisonment.

But the demand for news — and opinion — increased. Press censorship collapsed with the beginning of the civil wars of the 1640s, but the debates of this era were so intense and so much a part of public consciousness that news publications became instruments in the political battles between monarchists and parliamentarians. Newspapers were counterfeited, imitated, mocked and attacked. Parliament tried to reimpose censorship in 1643, and the poet John Milton wrote his famous speech demanding “Liberty of Unlicenc’d Printing.” But newspapers, complained Sir Roger L’Estrange, an ardent monarchist, make “the multitude too familiar with the actions and counsels of their superiors.” He created The Observator, shown at the Folger — the “pre-eminent Tory journal of its day.”
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:48 PM

January 12, 2009

"Counter Blog"

Noah Shachtman:
Bloggers: If you suddenly find Air Force officers leaving barbed comments after one of your posts, don't be surprised. They're just following the service's new "counter-blogging" flow chart. In a twelve-point plan, put together by the emerging technology division of the Air Force's public affairs arm, airmen are given guidance on how to handle "trolls," "ragers" -- and even well-informed online writers, too. It's all part of an Air Force push to "counter the people out there in the blogosphere who have negative opinions about the U.S. government and the Air Force," Captain David Faggard says.

Over the last couple of years, the armed forces have tried, in fits and starts, to connect more with bloggers. The Army and the Office of the Secretary of Defense now hold regular "bloggers' roundatbles" with generals, colonels, and key civilian leaders. The Navy invited a group of bloggers to embed with them on a humanitarian mission to Central and South America, last summer. Military blogger Michael Yon recently traveled to Afghanistan with Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

In contrast, the Air Force has largely kept the blogosphere at arms' length. Most of the sites are banned from Air Force networks. And the service has mostly stayed away from the Pentagon's blog outreach efforts. Captain Faggard, who's become the Air Force Public Affairs Agency's designated social media guru, has made strides in shifting that attitude. The air service now has a Twitter feed, a blog of its own -- and marching orders, for how to comment on other sites. "We're trying to get people to understand that they can do this," he tells Danger Room.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:45 AM

January 4, 2009

Flight at 100; The Next 100 Years

Flight Global:
Flight's first editor Stanley Spooner had little trouble deciding what story would be the lead in our inaugural issue 100 years ago - "A Second Englishman Flies" was our first headline. But back in those pioneering early days, what would Spooner have predicted for the top aerospace story a century later? Even the most enthusiastic aeronauts and aviators in 1909 would have struggled to believe the way in which powered flight would evolve during the magazine's first 100 years: that the aeroplane would be "going to war" within five years that passengers would be travelling in shirtsleeve comfort across the Atlantic at twice the speed of sound within 70 years or that within 80 years a winged spaceplane would be regularly blasting into orbit and returning to earth as a glider.

Predicting what lies in store over the next 100 years of aviation is just as challenging. The framework for the near term (the next 20 or 30 years) is already in place, with new airliner programmes such as the Airbus A350, A380 and Boeing 787 and military aircraft like the Lockheed Martin F-22, F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and Eurofighter Typhoon set to be with us well into the first half of the century. But surely some of the exciting new technology currently in the minds of the industry's boffins will lead to more imaginative creations appearing in the longer term?

There are some fundamental questions that must be answered when examining likely scenarios 50 to 100 years from now: how much oil will be left and how much will it cost? Will the green lobby - and any increasing evidence of serious climate change - have forced the way we travel by air to have to be reinvented? How will the threats to world security/peace influence military aircraft design? And how much of the space exploration dream will have become a reality?
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:35 PM

December 26, 2008

Milwaukee's Eisner Museum of Advertising & Design


Current exhibits include: "Ads from the past: Coca Cola". This fascinating museum is a gem in Milwaukee's Third Ward, and at $5.00 a bargain as well.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:06 PM

November 5, 2008

Mainstream Media: The Morning After

Listening to NPR this morning, I was somewhat amazed to hear this assertion during the top of the hour news: "stock futures opened lower today, not due to the election, but rather the weak economy". How in the world do they have any idea? Personally, it must be the warmer than usual November Midwest weather :)

The market was up on election day.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:42 AM

September 7, 2008

KAL Illustrations at the Republican Convention

The Economist. Democrat convention illustrations can be found here.

Great stuff.

Posted by jez at 5:57 PM

September 3, 2008

Television will be the first traditional media medium to fall

Duncan Riley:

The move away from traditional, or mainstream media is currently accelerating as more and more people switch to the internet for their information and entertainment. Sales of newspapers are declining, radio advertising is down, and television viewers are switching off in record numbers.

It's popular in the blogopshere to argue that newspapers will eventually fall, and radio is hardly popular. However, given the current marketplace, television will be the first traditional media medium to completely fail, where as radio has some life left in it yet. Newspapers will survive, but the newspaper of tomorrow will be markedly different.

The great Television switch off

The television switch off is real. In the United States, 2.5 million viewers switched off in the spring on 2008 compared to the same time in 2006. Statistically this is only a small percentage of the overall viewing audience, but among those still watching television, the amount of television they watch each day is declining.

The decline in television viewing is stronger among younger statistical groups. In Europe, a 2005 study from the European Interactive Advertising Association found almost half of 15- to 24-year-olds are watching less TV in favor of browsing the web. A study reported in The Guardian in 2007 headlined with "Young networkers turn off TV and log on to the web." The television switch off in the United States among younger people has seen the average age of a TV viewer increase to 50.

Posted by jez at 8:27 PM

August 24, 2008

Five Ways Newspapers Botched the Web


Here's our theory: Daily deadlines did in the newspaper industry. The pressure of getting to press, the long-practiced art of doom-and-gloom headline writing, the flinchiness of easily spooked editors all made it impossible for ink-stained wretches to look farther into the future than the next edition. Speaking of doom and gloom: Online ad revenues at several major newspaper chains actually dropped last quarter. The surprise there is that they ever managed to rise. The newspaper industry has a devastating history of letting the future of media slip from its grasp. Where to start? Perhaps 1995, when several newspaper chains put $9 million into a consortium called New Century Network. "The granddaddy of _______," as one suitably crotchety industry veteran tells us, folded in 1998. Or you can go further back, to '80s adventures in videotext. But each tale ends the same way: A promising start, shuttered amid fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

Posted by jez at 1:58 PM

August 19, 2008

Latest News Audience Survey

Pew Research Center:

The 2008 biennial news consumption survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press was conducted by telephone - including both landline phones and cell phones - from April 30 to June 1 among 3,612 adults nationwide. It finds four distinct segments in today's news audience: Integrators, who comprise 23% of the public; the less populous Net-Newsers (13%); Traditionalists - the oldest (median age: 52) and largest news segment (46% of the public); and the Disengaged (14%) who stand out for their low levels of interest in the news and news consumption.

Net-Newsers are the youngest of the news user segments (median age: 35). They are affluent and even better educated than the News Integrators: More than eight-in-ten have at least attended college. Net-Newsers not only rely primarily on the internet for news, they are leading the way in using new web features and other technologies. Nearly twice as many regularly watch news clips on the internet as regularly watch nightly network news broadcasts (30% vs. 18%).

This web-oriented news segment, perhaps more than the others, underscores the challenges facing traditional news outlets. Fewer than half (47%) watch television news on a typical day. Twice as many read an online newspaper than a printed newspaper on a typical day (17% vs. 8%), while 10% read both.

However, Net-Newsers do rely on some well known traditional media outlets. They are at least as likely as Integrators and Traditionalists to read magazines such as The New Yorker and The Atlantic, and somewhat more likely to get news from the BBC.

Posted by jez at 3:17 PM

May 8, 2008

"Crisis of Confidence in Dane County and Madison Leadership"

Jason Shepard, speaking on UW-Madison graduate Greta Van Susteren's program mentioned that a "crisis of confidence exists in Dane County and Madison Leadership". Jason discussed the growing controversy over murder victim Brittanny Zimmerman's botched 911 call.

Fox News link (will disappear at some point)

40MB MPEG4 download for ipod/iphone/playstion and others. CTRL Click here.

Posted by jez at 9:36 AM

May 1, 2008

A Tip of the Hat to Jason Shepard

Grad student and former NYC teacher Jason Shepard has set the standard for investigative reporting over the past few years. His Isthmus expose of the 911 problems in Zimmerman's recent murder is just the latest in a string of substantive works on the local scene.

Shepard has done an exemplary job diving deep into a number of subjects, particularly our $367,806,712 school district.

A link to many of Jason's articles.

Posted by jez at 9:59 PM

April 22, 2008

McCain's Font

Steven Heller:

Can a typeface truly represent a presidential candidate? It depends on the typeface and the candidate. John McCain’s printed material relies on Optima, a modernistic sans serif designed by the German type designer Hermann Zapf in 1958 that was popular among book and magazine designers during the 1970s.

While it is not the most robust sans serif ever designed, it is not entirely neutral either. It embodies and signifies a certain spirit and attitude. And if a typeface is not just an empty vessel for meaning, but a signifier that underscores personality, then it is useful in understanding what the candidates’ respective typefaces are saying about them and their campaigns.

So, I asked various designers, design curators and critics, who get rather heated when it comes to analyzing type design, to weigh in on two questions regarding Senator McCain’s campaign logo set in a bold version of Optima: What does Optima say about John McCain? And should this, or any, candidate be judged by a typeface?

Posted by jez at 2:22 PM

April 16, 2008

Innovation lessons from Pixar: An interview with Oscar-winning director Brad Bird

Hayagreeva Rao, Robert Sutton, and Allen P. Webb:

If there’s one thing successful innovators have shown over the years, it’s that great ideas come from unexpected places. Who could have predicted that bicycle mechanics would develop the airplane or that the US Department of Defense would give rise to a freewheeling communications platform like the Internet?

Senior executives looking for ideas about how to make their companies more innovative can also seek inspiration in surprising sources. Exhibit One: Brad Bird, Pixar’s two-time Oscar-winning director. Bird’s hands-on approach to fostering creativity among animators holds powerful lessons for any executive hoping to nurture innovation in teams and organizations.

Bird joined Pixar in 2000, when the company was riding high following its release of the world’s first computer-animated feature film, Toy Story, and the subsequent hits A Bug’s Life and Toy Story 2. Concerned about complacency, senior executives Steve Jobs, Ed Catmull, and John Lasseter asked Bird, whose body of work included The Iron Giant and The Simpsons, to join the company and shake things up. The veteran of Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, and FOX delivered—winning Academy Awards (best animated feature) for two groundbreaking movies, The Incredibles and Ratatouille.

Ten days before Ratatouille won its Oscar, we sat down with Bird at the Emeryville, California, campus of Pixar, which is now a subsidiary of Disney.1 Bird discussed the importance, in his work, of pushing teams beyond their comfort zones, encouraging dissent, and building morale. He also explained the value of “black sheep”—restless contributors with unconventional ideas. Although stimulating the creativity of animators might seem very different from developing new product ideas or technology breakthroughs, Bird’s anecdotes should stir the imagination of innovation-minded executives in any industry.

Posted by jez at 1:24 PM

March 31, 2008

Press Coverage & Political Accountability

James Snyder & David Stromberg:

In this paper we estimate the impact of press coverage on citizen knowledge, politicians' actions, and policy. We find that a poor fit between newspaper markets and political districts reduces press coverage of politics. We use variation in this fit due to redistricting to identify the effects of reduced coverage. Exploring the links in the causal chain of media effects -- voter information, politicians' actions and policy -- we find statistically significant and substantively important effects. Voters living in areas with less coverage of their U.S. House representative are less likely to recall their representative's name, and less able to describe and rate them. Congressmen who are less covered by the local press work less for their constituencies: they are less likely to stand witness before congressional hearings, to serve on constituency-oriented committees (perhaps), and to vote against the party line. Finally, this congressional behavior affects policy. Federal spending is lower in areas where there is less press coverage of the local members of congress.
This is an interesting subject. Locally, I've seen very little traditional media coverage of our elected officials actual voting record. Via Tyler Cowen.

Posted by jez at 8:33 AM

How to Disagree: An Attempt at a "Disagreement Hierarchy"

Paul Graham:

The web is turning writing into a conversation. Twenty years ago, writers wrote and readers read. The web lets readers respond, and increasingly they do—in comment threads, on forums, and in their own blog posts.

Many who respond to something disagree with it. That's to be expected. Agreeing tends to motivate people less than disagreeing. And when you agree there's less to say. You could expand on something the author said, but he has probably already explored the most interesting implications. When you disagree you're entering territory he may not have explored.

The result is there's a lot more disagreeing going on, especially measured by the word. That doesn't mean people are getting angrier. The structural change in the way we communicate is enough to account for it. But though it's not anger that's driving the increase in disagreement, there's a danger that the increase in disagreement will make people angrier. Particularly online, where it's easy to say things you'd never say face to face.

If we're all going to be disagreeing more, we should be careful to do it well. What does it mean to disagree well? Most readers can tell the difference between mere name-calling and a carefully reasoned refutation, but I think it would help to put names on the intermediate stages. So here's an attempt at a disagreement hierarchy:

Posted by jez at 7:59 AM

March 25, 2008

The death and life of the American newspaper

Eric Alterman:

The American newspaper has been around for approximately three hundred years. Benjamin Harris’s spirited Publick Occurrences, Both Forreign and Domestick managed just one issue, in 1690, before the Massachusetts authorities closed it down. Harris had suggested a politically incorrect hard line on Indian removal and shocked local sensibilities by reporting that the King of France had been taking liberties with the Prince’s wife.

It really was not until 1721, when the printer James Franklin launched the New England Courant, that any of Britain’s North American colonies saw what we might recognize today as a real newspaper. Franklin, Benjamin’s older brother, refused to adhere to customary licensing arrangements and constantly attacked the ruling powers of New England, thereby achieving both editorial independence and commercial success. He filled his paper with crusades (on everything from pirates to the power of Cotton and Increase Mather), literary essays by Addison and Steele, character sketches, and assorted philosophical ruminations.

Posted by jez at 12:55 PM

March 4, 2008

Newspapers are Dead - At Least in the US

Mark @ SNS:

Tell me your favorite newspaper as a source for independent, objective news. The Wall St. Journal? Not even close. The NY Times? These days, the joke in NYC is seeing how long it will take the Sulzbergers to lose their flagship paper, just as the Bancrofts did with the WSJ. All it takes is a few years of mismanagement, and suddenly - ye gods! - Rupert Murdoch owns you.

This sentence is not proof that the words Murdoch and News can sit comfortably in the same sentence.

It turns out that over half of Americans now turn to foreign newspapers for their news, specifically to the BBC, the Guardian and the Telegraph. I would add the FT to the mix, although it has a US version now, so may be out of the running.

Posted by jez at 9:02 AM

February 28, 2008

Has the Pyramid Inverted?

Jay Deragon:

The term media has many different definitions. Published media is any media made available to the public. Mass media refers to all means of mass communication. Broadcast media refers to communications delivered over mass electronic communication networks.

News media refers to mass media focused on communicating news. Media meshing refers to the act of combining multiple independent pieces of communication media to enrich an information consumer’s experience. New media refers to media that can only be created or used with the aid of modern computer processing power.

The history of “media” has been designed, developed and pushed from a few at the top to the masses at the bottom. This model has been used to influence public opinion about anything, everything and everywhere. The old model was an important factor in driving historical economies.

Posted by jez at 10:32 AM

February 22, 2008

A Font We Can Believe in

Gary @ Helvetica, The Film:

Unless you’ve been avoiding television, newspapers, and all other forms of mass media for the past few months, you’ve probably seen Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s “Change We Can Believe In” and “Stand for Change” banners. The typophiles among you have realized that the “change” font Obama’s campaign uses is Gotham, designed by Hoefler & Frere-Jones, originally as a commission for GQ Magazine.
The film Helvetica is well worth watching.

Posted by jez at 3:11 PM

January 3, 2008

What I learned about network television at Dateline NBC.

John Hockenberry:

The most memorable reporting I've encountered on the conflict in Iraq was delivered in the form of confetti exploding out of a cardboard tube. I had just begun working at the MIT Media Lab in March 2006 when Alyssa Wright, a lab student, got me to participate in a project called "Cherry Blossoms." I strapped on a backpack with a pair of vertical tubes sticking out of the top; they were connected to a detonation device linked to a Global Positioning System receiver. A microprocessor in the backpack contained a program that mapped the coördinates of the city of Baghdad onto those for the city of Cambridge; it also held a database of the locations of all the civilian deaths of 2005. If I went into a part of Cambridge that corresponded to a place in Iraq where civilians had died in a bombing, the detonator was triggered.

When the backpack exploded on a clear, crisp afternoon at the Media Lab, handfuls of confetti shot out of the cardboard tubes into the air, then fell slowly to earth. On each streamer of paper was written the name of an Iraqi civilian casualty. I had reported on the war (although not from Baghdad) since 2003 and was aware of persistent controversy over the numbers of Iraqi civilian dead as reported by the U.S. government and by other sources. But it wasn't until the moment of this fake explosion that the scale and horrible suddenness of the slaughter in Baghdad became vivid and tangible to me. Alyssa described her project as an upgrade to traditional journalism. "The upgrade is empathy," she said, with the severe humility that comes when you suspect you are on to something but are still uncertain you aren't being ridiculous in some way.

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:08 PM

September 27, 2007

On Newspapers: Why a former Publisher Won't Buy a Subscription

Henry Blodget:

I don’t subscribe to the newspaper my family sold to a chain in the mid-1990s. While I miss the New York Times crossword puzzle, I finally stopped my subscription, because I really wasn’t interested in reading the generic news that has replaced the community coverage we used to provide.

In more than 30 years of newspaper management, I experienced the transformation described in your white paper on Media 3.0, as we faced increasing competition from direct mail, segmented cable and the myriad of other choices served to advertisers.

But there is one underlying reason why newspapers will not be able to take advantage of the opportunities so well presented in your paper: They simply lack the intellectual capacity...

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:21 PM

September 25, 2007

Online Auto Reviews vs. Legacy Print Publications

The "Truth About Cars" folks let 'er rip on Car and Driver's objectivity vs their essential advertising sales cash flow requirements:

When I first picked up Car and Driver’s (C&D) fateful December 2006 issue, I was convinced that the splashy, graphics-heavy revamp sounded the death knell for my favorite buff book. But the resulting reader backlash was so loud I felt sure Ann Arbor’s finest would be scared straight. A plaintive apology followed the editor’s arrogant dismissal of the reader revolt. C&D seemed poised for a revival. Nope. The October 2007 issue isn’t just the lowest point in the mag’s inexorable descent; it’s a dive below the limits of acceptability.

The buff books’ decline is inversely proportionate to digital media’s rise. Why fork over good money for a magazine subscription, endure two-month old editorials and wade through dozens of ads when the web provides fresh, instant and less ad-intrusive content for free? For the mags, there's an obvious answer: an upmarket re-imagining of the paper-based genre, like the UK’s elegant, ballsy evo magazine.

Auto magazines are not the only print vertical dealing with decline.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:45 AM

September 21, 2007

Top 10 Car Ads


It's a collection of some of the best, funniest and cheesiest UK car adverts out there. However, it is by no means a definitive list - and this is where you come in. We want to hear about your favourite and we'll update the list below accordingly.

Posted by James Zellmer at 4:48 PM

July 14, 2007

A Decade of Blogs

Tunku Varadarajan:

It's been 10 years since the blog was born. Love them or hate them, they've roiled presidential campaigns and given everyman a global soapbox. Twelve commentators -- including Tom Wolfe, Newt Gingrich, the SEC's Christopher Cox and actress-turned-blogger Mia Farrow -- on what blogs mean to them.

Notwithstanding the words of Tom Wolfe, who puts an elegant boot, below, into the corpus of bloggers, there are many more people today who would read blogs than disparage them.

The consumption of blogs is often avid and occasionally obsessive. But more commonly, it is utterly natural, as if turning to them were no stranger than (dare one say this here?) picking one's way through the morning's newspapers. The daily reading of virtually everyone under 40 -- and a fair few folk over that age -- now includes a blog or two, and this reflects as much the quality of today's bloggers as it does a techno-psychological revolution among readers of news and opinion.

We are approaching a decade since the first blogger -- regarded by many to be Jorn Barger -- began his business of hunting and gathering links to items that tickled his fancy, to which he appended some of his own commentary. On Dec. 23, 1997, on his site, Robot Wisdom, Mr. Barger wrote: "I decided to start my own webpage logging the best stuff I find as I surf, on a daily basis," and the Oxford English Dictionary regards this as the primordial root of the word "weblog."

Posted by James Zellmer at 3:29 PM

June 23, 2007

Interesting Look at Sam Zell's Tax Advantaged Structure of the Chicago Tribune Acquisition

Joe Nocera:

As Zell deals go, this hardly ranks among his biggest; he’s putting up a “mere” $250 million to gain control of a company with $5.5 billion in revenue last year. But what it lacks in economic heft, it more than makes up for in complexity. When the deal closes, probably at the end of the year, the Tribune Company will go from being a public company to a private S corporation, meaning it will pay no corporate taxes. Its sole owner will be an employee stock ownership plan, which is essentially a fund, owned by employees, which owns the company’s stock. ESOPs also pay no taxes, meaning that both the company and its owner will no longer be taxpayers. Mr. Zell, who will become chairman of the company, will immediately recoup his $250 million and then reinvest an additional $315 million (don’t ask). He’ll have an option to buy 40% of the company for another $500 million to $600 million. (If he does so, he will become the one taxpayer in the deal.)

The Tribune Company will be laden with debt, $13 billion in all, which it plans to pay down in part with the extra cash flow that is generated from not having to pay taxes. If the company does well — or even just decently — everyone will make out, starting with the employees whose stock in the ESOP will be worth a lot more than $28 a share, the discounted price the ESOP paid for it. But if it continues to sink — and just this week, the Tribune Company announced that May revenue fell 11.1% — then the company could wind up in default, which would hurt everyone, starting, again, with the employees, who would lose the value of their ESOP shares. ...

What most seemed to excite him was the ESOP itself. And why not? As the Lehman Brothers tax expert Robert Willens said, “He is using it in a way that no one has ever done before.” Mostly, ESOPs are set up when family owners want to cash out of privately held companies and turn them over to their employees. Mr. Zell, by contrast, is using it to buy out the shareholders of a large public corporation —and turn it into a tax-free private company.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:37 PM

June 13, 2007

The 50 Best Business Blogs

Rhys Blakely:

Internet blogs are taking on big corporations and winning. As the bloggerati continue to set the agenda Times Online provides the first full list of the 50 top blogs, corporate and anti-corporate alike. This list is a work in progress - scroll down to let us know your suggestions.

Posted by James Zellmer at 2:23 PM

June 1, 2007

Stephen Colbert Introduces Viacom's CEO at D5


Stephen Colbert’s terrific intro for Viacom President and CEO, Philippe “Dough Man” Dauman.

Earlier, we posted this video, then took it down and then put it back up. Confused?

Our fault and not Viacom’s at all.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:25 AM

D Conference Notes

Scott Rosenberg:

Walt Mossberg asked CBS CEO Les Moonves about Al Gore’s critique of television culture in his new book, The Assault on Reason. “Gore said that TV in general has basically destroyed American democracy. He says the Internet is the hope –”
Moonves interrupted: “That’s because he created it.”

Mossberg grimaced. There was not a single laugh in the room.

It is one sign of hope for the world today that this dead old line — discredited eons ago — now evokes only contempt.

Meanwhile, here is Moonves’s stirring defense of his medium against the complaint that TV caters to too much of our love for celebrity news at the expense of more pressing issues: “I think there are other things that may have hurt the fabric of democracy more than the media.”

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:18 AM

March 17, 2007

How Lobbying Became Washington's Biggest Business

Robert Kaiser:
For Gerald Sylvester Joseph Cassidy, creator and proprietor of the most lucrative lobbying firm in Washington, May 17, 2005, was a day to exult. That bright, clear spring Tuesday marked the 30th birthday of Cassidy & Associates, and an impressive crowd had come to pay tribute to a godfather of the influence business.

Hundreds of guests gathered on the rooftop terrace of a handsome new office building at the foot of Capitol Hill, 13 stories above Constitution Avenue. A vivid orange sun descended gently behind the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial at the western end of the Mall, casting angular beams of light across the assembled throng. The guests' view from the roof was filled by the United States Capitol, which from this startling vantage point could be seen, from end to end, in a single field of vision. The Capitol looked contained and compact, almost a plaything within easy reach.
Great series by the Post.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:24 PM

March 11, 2007

Project Red Stripe

The Economist's Project Red Stripe:
We're a small team set up by The Economist Group, the parent company of the eponymous newspaper. Our mission is to develop truly innovative services online. We already have some ideas, of course. But as champions of free markets, we abhor the concept of a closed system. This is why we would like you to submit your idea (or ideas). Just think big - and we'll do the rest.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:58 PM

March 10, 2007

Not Linking to the Sources?

Jon Udell:
When the inspector general of the US Department of Justice issues a special report, it tends to make news. The latest report, a dissection of the FBI’s use of “national security letters” under the Patriot Act, is no exception. References to this report are everywhere in the news today. But links to the report are less plentiful.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:28 PM

March 8, 2007

Story Bridge.tv

Katy Sai moves to the net.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:16 PM

Big Profits in Small Newspapers

Frank Ahrens:
If there's any good news about the businesses of newspapering these days, it can be found at the industry's littlest papers, which are doing well even as their bigger brothers founder.

Lee Enterprises, based in Davenport, Iowa, for example, owns 56 daily papers and more than 300 small weeklies and other publications. Three of its papers have a circulation of more than 100,000 -- including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch -- but the rest of its dailies are much smaller, averaging about 26,000 each.

Over the past five years, the circulation gains at Lee papers have outpaced the industry average; some of the gains came from acquisitions, but much came from the growth of the group's existing papers. Over the past two decades, the company's stock price has likewise gone in the opposite direction of large-newspaper stock, climbing steadily from less than $10 a share in 1988 to more than $30 a share today.

"We're largely in markets . . . that have pretty good local economies, a strong sense of place and strong newspaper readership," said Mary E. Junck, Lee's chairman and chief executive. Another advantage: "Many of our markets are pretty homogenous and tightknit," she said, making it easier to pin down and target readership.
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:46 PM

February 27, 2007

Johnny Cash

I find it interesting the frequency with which the alt music radio stations around the country play Johnny Cash. Locally, our excellent wsum spins him up now and then, including a tune from his At San Quentin live recording.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:10 AM

February 20, 2007

Fear and Loathing the Cable Company

Jeff Jarvis:
But then, that’s not news. I’ve been trying to get Joost working at home and was cursing it, but I was cursing the wrong party. Joost works fine at work. I can’t wait until Verizon finishes laying fibre on my street so I can get FIOS. Except Verizon hired the worst contractor imaginable to get the job done. They have been at it for more than two months on a street with fewer than 20 homes; they’ve managed to cut our cable and gas line and a neighbor’s electric line and they’re not nearly done. I’m about to go out with a shovel myself just so I can get rid of Cablevision sooner.
At least Jarvis can look forward to fiber to the home, via Verizon. Locally, AT&T is content to spend money on advertising and resell us the copper lines we've paid for over and over and over.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:16 AM

February 19, 2007

Anderson on "We Media"

Chris Anderson correctly analyzes the "we media" bubble. Change is certainly underway in the media world, but it will not, clearly be linear:
First, let's agree that "media" is anything that people want to read, watch or listen to, amateur or professional. The difference between the "old" media and the "new" is that old media packages content and new media atomizes it. Old media is all about building businesses around content. New media is about the content, period. Old media is about platforms. New media is about individual people. (Note: "old" does not mean bad and "new" good--I do, after all, run a very nicely growing magazine/old media business.)

The problem with most of the companies Skrenta lists is that they were/are trying to be a "news aggregators". Just as one size of news doesn't fit all, one size of news aggregator doesn't either.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:08 AM

February 18, 2007

From 0 to 60 to World Domination

Jon Gertner:
When he started, the Big Three completely controlled car sales in the United States. The only foreign company of any prominence was Volkswagen, and as Press recalled, Toyota’s modest sales were lumped with various tiny carmakers as “Other.” Still, soon after he arrived, Press realized he liked the company’s intimacy: he could meet face to face with top managers and exert some influence over marketing decisions. And he liked Toyota’s obsession with customer satisfaction. When he told me about his first trip to Japan, he seemed to be recounting a religious experience. “As a young person, you are searching for this level of comfort, you don’t know what it is, but you’re sort of uncomfortable,” he said. In Japan, as he put it, he found a home, a place where everything from the politeness of the people to the organization of the factories made sense. On that first trip, at a restaurant one evening, he tried a rich corn soup and asked the waitress for the recipe. She checked with the chef, who explained that there was no recipe; it had been handed down from his mother. The next morning, the waitress came to Press’s hotel room: she had found a cookbook with a recipe for the soup. Press, apparently, was still her customer. “That blew me away,” he said.

It can be simplistic, and often a distortion, to accept a corporate executive as the personification of a corporation, especially one as large and varied as Toyota. Yet Press serves as an apt representative, and not merely because his career arc mirrors the company’s ascendancy. Like Toyota, he expresses himself in private with modesty and care, yet in public his speeches are bold, declarative and effervescent. In his office, he has an informal, relaxed presence and exhibits just a hint of an avuncular stoop; yet he loves to race cars and sometimes swims 5,000 meters a day. Press also has a fluency in the company’s arcane systems and history. Toyota is as much a philosophy as a business, a patchwork of traditions, apothegms and precepts that don’t translate easily into the American vernacular. Some have proved incisive (“Build quality into processes”) and some opaque (“Open the window. It’s a big world out there!”). Toyota’s overarching principle, Press told me, is “to enrich society through the building of cars and trucks.” This phrase should be cause for skepticism, especially coming from a company so adept at marketing and public relations. I lost count of how many times Toyota executives, during the course of my reporting, repeated it and how often I had to keep from recoiling at its hollow peculiarity. And yet, the catch phrase — to enrich and serve society — was not intended, at least originally, to function as a P.R. motto. Historically the idea has meant offering car customers reliability and mobility while investing profits in new plants, technologies and employees. It has also captured an obsessive obligation to build better cars, which reflects the Toyota belief in kaizen, or continuous improvement. Finally, the phrase carries with it the responsibility to plan for the long term — financially, technically, imaginatively. “The company thinks in years and decades,” Michael Robinet, a vice president at CSM Worldwide, a consulting firm that focuses on the global auto industry, told me. “They don’t think in months or quarters.”
Fascinating and timely.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:56 PM

February 6, 2007

Advocating DRM-Less Music

Steve Jobs:
With this background, let’s now explore three different alternatives for the future.

The first alternative is to continue on the current course, with each manufacturer competing freely with their own “top to bottom” proprietary systems for selling, playing and protecting music. It is a very competitive market, with major global companies making large investments to develop new music players and online music stores. Apple, Microsoft and Sony all compete with proprietary systems. Music purchased from Microsoft’s Zune store will only play on Zune players; music purchased from Sony’s Connect store will only play on Sony’s players; and music purchased from Apple’s iTunes store will only play on iPods. This is the current state of affairs in the industry, and customers are being well served with a continuing stream of innovative products and a wide variety of choices.

Some have argued that once a consumer purchases a body of music from one of the proprietary music stores, they are forever locked into only using music players from that one company. Or, if they buy a specific player, they are locked into buying music only from that company’s music store. Is this true? Let’s look at the data for iPods and the iTunes store - they are the industry’s most popular products and we have accurate data for them. Through the end of 2006, customers purchased a total of 90 million iPods and 2 billion songs from the iTunes store. On average, that’s 22 songs purchased from the iTunes store for each iPod ever sold.
I hope the Hollywood types listen. Music should be very inexpensive ($0.05/track) and widely, widely used.
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:27 PM

February 4, 2007

TIVO Selling User Data

David Lazarus:
TiVo revealed the other day that it's offering TV networks and ad agencies a chance to receive second-by- second data about which programs the company's 4.5 million subscribers are watching and, more importantly, which commercials people are skipping.

This raises a pair of troubling questions: Is TiVo, which revolutionized TV viewing with its digital video recording technology, now watching what people watch? And is it selling that sensitive info to advertisers and others?

The answers, apparently, are no and no.

"I promise with my hand on a Bible that your data is not being archived and sold," said Todd Juenger, TiVo's vice president and general manager of audience research and measurement.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:59 PM

January 28, 2007

Lucinda Williams' Playlist

Winter Miller:
IMAGINE a time before alternative country. Before Americana and roots rock. Picture a corner office, sometime in the early ’80s, with record executives scratching their heads over how to market a talented singer, songwriter and guitarist from Louisiana named Lucinda Williams. Was she country? Folk? Blues? The answer of course was (and is) all of the above. A three-time Grammy winner, Ms. Williams will release “West,” her eighth studio album, on Feb. 13. A tour is scheduled to begin soon after, including a stop at Radio City Music Hall on March 23. Ms. Williams, 54, shows no signs of getting any less sexy with her lyrics or her taste in music. She recently spoke by phone with Winter Miller about what she’s listening to now.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:43 PM

January 24, 2007


I use and link to Wikipedia from time to time. Dave notes some ongoing controversy regarding the creation and maintenance of Wikipedia data, including Microsoft's offer to pay an Australian blogger to edit pages for them.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:09 AM

January 20, 2007

"Use the Web, Luke" - Presidential Candidates Embrace the Web

Peter Gosselin:
In choosing the Internet to announce she intends to run for the presidency in 2008, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton bowed to the burgeoning political power of the medium and offered a preview of how she hopes to harness it to her purposes.

In declaring "I'm in" the White House race in a video clip on her new campaign website, HillaryClinton.com, the New York Democrat did considerably more than simply appear before the cameras; she invited supporters to join an almost Oprah Winfrey-like session of give and take.

"Let's talk. Let's chat. Let's start a dialogue about your ideas and mine.... " she told viewers."With a little help from modern technology, I'll be holding live online video chats ... starting Monday."

By doing this, Clinton signaled her intention of using the Internet to shore up one of her chief political weak points, what independent analyst Charlie Cook called the caricature of her as "this shrill, raving, partisan, liberal lunatic."
Hilary's video is here. Take a look through the window - I wonder when it was shot? Sam Brownback announced on the web as well.

Charles Franklin looks at the polls.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:33 PM

January 8, 2007

The Death of General Interest Magazines?

David Carr:
Of course, there are those who would argue that in a society that seems to have no general interest (other than, say, Paris Hilton and the Super Bowl) there is no room or need for a general interest magazine. But Mr. Stengel said he will not be imprisoned by the tyranny of big numbers in making changes at Time.

“I think it is a false choice to say that something that is mass has to be dumbed-down.” he said. “We want to be accessible, but we want our readers to know that we understand they are smart.”
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:06 PM

January 3, 2007

A Semi Self Defense of Enron

Malcolm Gladwell:
I also have a minor challenge for aficionados of the Enron case.

Years ago, when I was at the Washington Post, one of my colleagues on the science desk—Bill Booth—called up a dozen or so Nobel Laureates in physics and asked them to explain, in plain language, the nature and significance of the Higgs Boson atomic particle. None of them could. This was at a time, mind you, when the physics community was arguing passionately for the construction of a multi-billion dollar particle accelerator to look for things like the Higgs Boson. So it wasn’t for lack of interest. They were gung-ho for nailing the Higgs Boson. They just couldn’t explain the Higgs Boson.

Can anyone explain—in plain language—what it is Jeff Skilling and Co. did wrong?
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:23 PM

TSA's Latest: Sponsored X-Ray Bins

John Croft:
The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is launching a one-year pilot programme to allow companies to place advertisements in bins at passenger screening checkpoints at “select” US airports in return for equipment donations.

The effort follows a 3-month test programme at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) security checkpoints that started in July.

TSA is looking for commercial advertising companies who will team with an airport to provide divestiture bins (the plastic bins used to transport passenger carry-on items through the X-ray machine); divestiture and composure tables; and bin return carts free-of-charge to the TSA. In return, the companies will be allowed to place airport-approved ads “on the bottom of the inside of the bins,” says a TSA spokeswoman. Airports partnered with ad companies will ultimately be required to screen the materials for “offensive, obtrusive, political or controversial” content, she adds.
Not a bad idea, actually. How about a free bottle of water with the ad?
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:51 PM

December 26, 2006

2006 Foot in Mouth Awards

Tony Long:
Welcome to Wired News' 2006 Foot-in-Mouth Awards program. You, the readers, have sent us your picks for the lamest quotes from or about the world of technology during this eventful year. We have selected the "best" of those and present them to you now.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:12 PM

Frank Stanton Obituary

Holcomb Noble:
ith the 1960 Presidential election approaching, Dr. Stanton persuaded Congress to suspend the “equal time” provision in the Federal Communications Act. That made it possible for the networks to televise debates between the Democratic nominee, Sen. John F. Kennedy, and his Republican rival, Vice President Richard M. Nixon, without including candidates of smaller parties. The debates signaled the arrival of television as a dominant force in presidential politics.

Dr. Stanton bore much of the criticism when Washington objected to CBS News’s coverage of the war in Vietnam, though he denied a frequently told tale that President Johnson had telephoned him at home to curse him for broadcasting a report by Morley Safer showing Marines burning down peasant huts in Cam Ne.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:36 AM

December 19, 2006

Goodbye VHS, Farewell Fair Use

As VHS tapes and VCRs head the way of Betamax and phonographs, commentator Bill Hammack warns that the right to fair use is in danger of disappearing right along with them.

Back in the 1980s, the Supreme Court ruled VCR makers couldn't be held liable for copyright infringement.

That gave consumers the right to make personal copies of TV shows and movies using a VCR.

The new digital media that are erasing the VHS format are also erasing our rights.

A few years ago, a Judge issued a catch-22 ruling: Yes, she said, we can copy commercial DVDs too. But no one can sell the software to do that.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:48 PM

December 12, 2006

NASA Live Video Stream

Copy and Paste this link into either QuickTime or Real Player:
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:34 PM

December 11, 2006

24 Hour US Air Traffic Animation

IAG Blog:
This is a very interesting sight. It depicts flights across the U.S. in time-lapse over a couple of 24 hour periods.

It has already garnered nine awards: #49 - Most Viewed (All Time) - Arts & Animation - All #39 - Most Viewed (All Time) - Arts & Animation - English #87 - Top Rated (All Time) - Arts & Animation - All #37 - Most Discussed (All Time) - Arts & Animation - All #27 - Most Discussed (All Time) - Arts & Animation - English #46 - Top Favorites (All Time) - Arts & Animation - All #39 - Top Favorites (All Time) - Arts & Animation - English #79 - Recently Featured - All #16 - Recently Featured - Arts & Animation - All
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:34 PM

December 4, 2006

Search Wisconsin Political Blogs

WisOpinion. A good idea.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:47 PM

December 3, 2006

A New Goofy Short: "How to Install Your Home Theater"

Charles Solomon:
It is not surprising that Mr. Lasseter is using short films to train and test the artists: he and his fellow Pixar animators spent almost 10 years making shorts, learning how to use computer graphics effectively before they made “Toy Story” and the string of hits that followed. Pixar continues to produce a cartoon short every year, and has won Oscars for the shorts “Tin Toy,” “Geri’s Game” and “For the Birds.”

Four new shorts are in development at Disney: “The Ballad of Nessie,” a stylized account of the origin of the Loch Ness monster; “Golgo’s Guest,” about a meeting between a Russian frontier guard and an extraterrestrial; “Prep and Landing,” in which two inept elves ready a house for Santa’s visit; and “How to Install Your Home Theater,” the return of Goofy’s popular “How to” shorts of the ’40s and ’50s, in which a deadpan narrator explains how to play a sport or execute a task, while Goofy attempts to demonstrate — with disastrous results. The new Goofy short is slated to go into production early next year.
I've long enjoyed short films. Clusty has more.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:35 PM

Books and the Future of Publishing

Michael Maiello and Michael Noer:
Are books in danger?

The conventional wisdom would say yes. After all, more and more media--the Internet, cable television, satellite radio, videogames--compete for our time. And the Web in particular, with its emphasis on textual snippets, skimming and collaborative creation, seems ill-suited to nurture the sustained, authoritative transmission of complex ideas that has been the historical purview of the printed page.

But surprise--the conventional wisdom is wrong. Our special report on books and the future of publishing is brim-full of reasons to be optimistic. People are reading more, not less. The Internet is fueling literacy. Giving books away online increases off-line readership. New forms of expression--wikis, networked books--are blossoming in a digital hothouse.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:22 PM

November 21, 2006

Verizon's Blog

Interesting to see the Big Telco jousting with their competitors. Unfortunately, we Madisonians are a long way away from fiber to the home, something Verizon is installing in many markets.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:17 PM

November 19, 2006

Yahoo's Peanut Butter Manifesto

Henry Blodget:
It will be interesting to see how Terry Semel reacts to Brad Garlinghouse's "peanut butter manifesto," which was essentially open letter accusing Terry of incompetence. Garlinghouse took pains to note that Yahoo's problems come "straight from the top." He also obviously either leaked the memo himself or knew that it would be leaked (little difference). Regardless of what happens, Yahoo shareholders should thank him.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:19 PM

November 9, 2006

Great Example of "Citizen Journalism"

Amazon Patent Reform Timeline and Jeff Bezo's interaction with Tim O'Reilly.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:44 AM

November 3, 2006

A Closer Look at Plunging Circulation

Via a friend; Rick Edmonds:
As was widely reported, the six-month circulation numbers for U.S. newspapers released earlier this week carried plenty of bad news: an industry-wide tumble year-to-year of 2.8% daily and 3.4% on Sunday. There were much deeper losses in big metro markets like Boston, Los Angeles and Miami.

As grim as those numbers are, a deeper look into the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) reports and into some online data released by the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), makes the overall economic picture even a little bleaker.

True to their word, most companies and individual papers continue to burn so-called “junk” circulation, such as the category called “other paid” as well as third-party or bulk sales, all of it of little value to advertisers. That would support the idea that the business is pruning numbers, but improving the quality of its circulation.


Take the six largest papers of Lee Enterprises (Lee owns half of Capitol Newspapers), the best circulation performer among public companies. Together they achieved a highly respectable daily loss of just 0.3%. However those same papers lost 25,000 circulation among those paying 50 percent or greater of the full price of the paper, a drop of 4.1%. At the same time, it added 13,500 in the 25 to 50 percent category, a 43.9% increase. That means the papers had significant losses among subscribers paying a higher percentage of the full price while adding readers who paid more steeply discounted rate
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:24 PM

October 5, 2006

The Daily Show is as Substantive as the "real" news

Eric Bangeman:
The Daily Show is much funnier than traditional newscasts, but a new study from Indiana University says it has the same amount of meat on its bones when it comes to coverage of the news. The brand of news coverage Jon Stewart and the rest of The Daily Show's staff brings to the airwaves is just as substantive as traditional news programs like World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News, according to the study conducted by IU assistant professor of telecommunications Julia R. Fox and a couple of graduate students.

The researchers looked at coverage of the 2004 Democratic and Republican national conventions and the first presidential debate of the fall campaign, all of which were covered by the mainstream broadcast news outlets and The Daily Show. Individual broadcasts of the nightly news and corresponding episodes of The Daily Show were analyzed by the researchers, who found that the "average amounts of video and audio substance in the broadcast network news stories" were no different from The Daily Show. Perhaps more telling, The Daily Show delivered longer stories on the topic.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:59 AM

October 1, 2006

Satellite Radio Answers the Question

i've not thought much about satellite radio (XM, Sirius) until a recent lengthy drive around central Colorado. Prior to satellite radio, if you wanted music while driving, the choices were:
  • an iPod with an fm adaptor, or a cable plugged into the rental car's radio, or
  • Local radio
Hertz, perhaps via a Sirius promotion, included their service in my rental car. I was pleasantly surprised with the depth and breadth of music available (though Lefsetz says that XM is superior in this respect - and in reception quality).

Several of Sirius's songs were a pleasant surprise: Elton John's classic "Funeral for a Friend" and Willie Nelson's acoustic "Crazy", among others.

There were some disappointments, including replays (Coldplay) and the odd playing of the "Fray" in Sirius's "Coffeehouse" program. I have to assume that they are paid to plug the Fray.

I was pleasantly surprised with the Sirius reception while driving in Canyons. The only places we lost reception were I-70's Eisenhower Tunnel and in some deep canyons.

The satellite choices certainly are compelling, particularly given the same old, same old, played over and over on traditional stations.

Finally, I continue to be amazed at the quantity of 30 and 40 year old music played in restaurants, cafe's and bars. Lunching on trout tacos one day, we heard Joan Baez, Steve Miller, The Who, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin among many others. Is there nothing interesting from the 21st Century?
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:04 PM

September 24, 2006

Alt Badger Broadcast

"Bielema is the only undeafeated Big 10 coach in conference play" is the sort of useful commentary one will hear listening to the Badger football squad on WSUM (Student radio) rather than the commercial options. Obviously, Michigan took care of that distinction handily Saturday.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:25 PM

"Emergence of Citizen's Media"

Interesting. A forum addressing "citizens' media" populated with no one actually practicing it.

Sort of like the big steel mill folks ruminating over the mini mills that over time dominated the industry.
A mini-mill is traditionally a secondary steel producer; however, Nucor (one of the world's largest steel producers) uses mini-mills exclusively. Usually it obtains most of its iron from scrap steel, recycled from used automobiles and equipment or byproducts of manufacturing. Direct reduced iron (DRI) is sometimes used with scrap, to help maintain desired chemistry of the steel, though usually DRI is too expensive to use as the primary raw steelmaking material. A typical mini-mill will have an electric arc furnace for scrap melting, a ladle furnace or vacuum furnace for precision control of chemistry, a strip or billet continuous caster for converting molten steel to solid form, a reheat furnace and a rolling mill.

Originally the mini-mill concept was adapted to production of bar products only, such as concrete reinforcing bar, flats, angles, channels, pipe, and light rails. Since the late 1980s, successful introduction of the direct strip casting process has made mini-mill production of strip feasible. Often a mini-mill will be constructed in an area with no other steel production, to take advantage of local resources and lower-cost labour. Mini-mill plants may specialize, for example, making coils of rod for wire-drawing use, or pipe, or in special sections for transportation and agriculture.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:09 PM

September 13, 2006

Broadcast Flag & Indy Media

Kevin Marks raises some great issues in his review of Apple's iTV announcement:
Reading Paul Boutin's coverage of Apple's video announcements today, There are several questions that come to mind (and I know Jobs prefers not to answer questions).


In other words, will it play HD content made by independents cleanly, or will it require broadcast flag handshakes?
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:53 AM

Facebook & Privacy

Danah Boyd:
Facebook implemented a new feature called "News Feeds" that displays every action you take on the site to your friends. You see who added who, who commented where, who removed their relationship status, who joined what group, etc. This is on your front page when you login to Facebook. This upset many Facebook members who responded with outrage. Groups emerged out of protest. Students Against Facebook News Feeds is the largest with over 700,000 members. Facebook issued various press statements that nothing was going to change. On September 5, Mark Zuckerberg (the founder) told everyone to calm down. They didn't. On September 8, he apologized and offered privacy options as an olive branch. Zuckerberg invited everyone to join him live on the Free Flow of Information on the Internet group where hundreds of messages wizzed by in the hour making it hard to follow any thread; the goal was for Facebook to explain its decision. In short, they explained that this is to help people keep tabs on their friends but only their friends and all of this information is public anyhow.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:42 AM

WSUM Continues to Impress

I listen to 91.7 (www.wsum.org streaming online) periodically, including yesterday - catching a pleasant Massive Attack piece.. Their musical depth and breadth continues to impress - in what is largely a sea of sameness, playing the Police and others over and over and over.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:21 AM

September 12, 2006

Incisive Questions

Three recent and often rare examples of reporters asking incisive questions:
  • Cliff Christl:
    What happens if Koren Robinson kills somebody in Wisconsin driving drunk or fleeing the police?

    Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson wore a smile late Monday afternoon as he prepared to meet the media in the Lambeau Field atrium to announce the signing of wide receiver and kick returner Koren Robinson. When that was the first question fired at Thompson following his brief introductory remarks, he turned ashen and somber as he tried to collect himself and provide an answer.

    "Oh, I can't answer anything like that," Thompson said after a two-second pause. "There's issues in his past that obviously he's made some mistakes, but most of those issues are covered under the confidentiality of the NFL and the NFLPA. There's programs set up and that sort of thing, and that's where that lies."
    More on Robinson
  • Bill Lueders:
    I only asked because no one else did. When Kathleen Falk announced her candidacy for attorney general against fellow Democrat Peg Lautenschlager at the City-County Building on Monday, I thought it would be one of first things that came up. But while several reporters quizzed Falk about Lautenschlager's 2004 arrest for drunk driving (Falk deftly evaded the question, saying voters would have to reach their own conclusions), none asked her directly about her own record in this area. And so I raised my hand, waited until Falk called on me, and popped the question.

    Whether or not Falk choose to make an issue of it, I prefaced, the key reason Lautenschlager was seen as vulnerable was this drunk driving arrest, even though this is conduct that most people in Wisconsin have engaged in. And so I asked Falk point-blank: "Can you say whether you have ever in your life gotten behind the wheel of an automobile after consuming alcohol? Have you never done that yourself?"
  • Jason Shephard:
    The State Journal points to studies that suggest its readership is at sky-high levels. “The numbers for Capital Newspapers are absolutely stellar,” boasts an internal memo from the company’s marketing director, Jon Friesch. “In Dane County, 83% of adults read the Sunday Wisconsin State Journal, and 79% read the daily or Saturday edition of The Capital Times or Wisconsin State Journal.”

    But while these numbers come from an independent company, Scarborough Research, they may be misleading, since they include even casual readers. The 83% number, clarifies Friesch, measures respondents who have read the Sunday paper “in the last month”; the 79% number is respondents who have read either of the two dailies “in the past five days.”
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:23 PM

Shephard on the Wisconsin State Journal's Ellen Foley

Jason Shephard has written an excellent piece on Madison's largest daily newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal:
Ellen Foley missed the afternoon news meeting where her deputy editors debated story selection for the next day’s front page. But later, the Wisconsin State Journal editor saw the planned lead story and blurted out, “Who cares?”

The story, which ran earlier this summer, reported that several Madison high schools failed to meet new federal standards. Foley feared her paper’s readers -- starved for time and wanting relevant and engaging writing -- wouldn’t be pulled into the piece. So she directed an assistant editor to repackage it.

“I’m sure he was thinking, ‘Oh boy, the last thing I need tonight is the editor giving me tips on how to do my job,’” recalls Foley, who advised him anyway. She hammered home the importance of “creating context” in the story’s first six paragraphs. She also wanted breakout boxes to list the failing schools and explain the standards.
Jason dug up some interesting data on daily newspaper readership:
One is to shift emphasis from circulation data to readership stats.

“We know people are reading our paper,” says Phil Stoddard, Capital Newspapers’ circulation director. “They’re just not buying it.”

The State Journal points to studies that suggest its readership is at sky-high levels. “The numbers for Capital Newspapers are absolutely stellar,” boasts an internal memo from the company’s marketing director, Jon Friesch. “In Dane County, 83% of adults read the Sunday Wisconsin State Journal, and 79% read the daily or Saturday edition of The Capital Times or Wisconsin State Journal.”

But while these numbers come from an independent company, Scarborough Research, they may be misleading, since they include even casual readers. The 83% number, clarifies Friesch, measures respondents who have read the Sunday paper “in the last month”; the 79% number is respondents who have read either of the two dailies “in the past five days.” bold added

From 1985 to 2005, the State Journal’s daily circulation saw a 20% increase, from 76,903 to 92,081. Sunday circulation also rose, from 138,086 in 1985 to 150,616 last year. But over the last decade, the number has trended downward, from a 1994 high of 166,205. Single-copy Sunday sales have taken the biggest hit, says Stoddard, who calls the Sunday paper the company’s “bread and butter.”

One strategy employed by newspapers is to hike so-called soft circulation. For instance, residents of more than a dozen Madison apartment complexes are eligible for free and discounted subscriptions, with billing included in their monthly rent. Sunday shoppers at Sentry Hilldale are given a free State Journal. Oil-change customers at Valvoline can read a complimentary Cap Times or State Journal while their car is serviced. (Elsewhere in the country, advertisers have filed class-action lawsuits alleging that circulation numbers have been improperly inflated.)
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:00 PM

September 3, 2006

UW's Charles Franklin Launches Pollster.com

Pollster.com is the new home of Mystery Pollster, the blog that has labored to demystify the art and science of political polling for the last two years, but it is also much more. Our Polls feature will take you to pages with complete listings of all the public polls available for the most competitive races for Senate and Governor with an important bonus: Interactive charts that show you how the poll results compare to each other as well as trends over time.

Before you dive into the data pages, let me tell you about the incredible team behind Pollster.com. Regular MP readers will notice a similarity between our charts and the stellar graphics produced by our friend Charles Franklin, professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin and creator of the blog PoliticalArithmetik. Franklin is a central part of the Pollster team and will also provide frequent commentary here on the Pollster blog as well as lead in the development of new ways to visualize results graphically.

By the way, today also marks the debut of our strategic partnership with Slate Magazine. We have worked with Slate to create an Election Scorecard that will track the daily trends in the race to control the U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives and key Governorships in 2006. With the help of Charles Franklin, I will write a daily update for Slate through Election Day on where those races stand. Links to that update will also appear here daily.
RSS Feed.

More about Franklin:
Charles Franklin is the co-developer of Pollster.com. He will provide frequent commentary and lead in the development of new ways to visualze polling results graphically. Franklin is the creator of PoliticalArithmetik ("Where numbers and politics meet") and a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He specializes in the statistical analysis of polling and election results.
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:17 PM

August 24, 2006

Who Killed The Newspaper?

The Economist:
“A GOOD newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself,” mused Arthur Miller in 1961. A decade later, two reporters from the Washington Post wrote a series of articles that brought down President Nixon and the status of print journalism soared. At their best, newspapers hold governments and companies to account. They usually set the news agenda for the rest of the media. But in the rich world newspapers are now an endangered species. The business of selling words to readers and selling readers to advertisers, which has sustained their role in society, is falling apart (see article). Of all the “old” media, newspapers have the most to lose from the internet. Circulation has been falling in America, western Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand for decades (elsewhere, sales are rising). But in the past few years the web has hastened the decline. In his book “The Vanishing Newspaper”, Philip Meyer calculates that the first quarter of 2043 will be the moment when newsprint dies in America as the last exhausted reader tosses aside the last crumpled edition. That sort of extrapolation would have produced a harrumph from a Beaverbrook or a Hearst, but even the most cynical news baron could not dismiss the way that ever more young people are getting their news online. Britons aged between 15 and 24 say they spend almost 30% less time reading national newspapers once they start using the web.
Related: Warren Buffet: "Newspapers are a business in permanent decline." I think the roots of the problem can be found in this post by Brenda Konkel. Daily newspapers, despite generating tremendous margins and cash flow, have in my view, shied away - in general from the more challenging issues. A friend refers to this as "not wanting to offend anyone". At some point, this desire will be fatal to their business models.

Finally, like any organization, with the founders long gone and the remnants simply part of larger corporations it's unlikely that most dailies will do what's necessary in a new media age.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:22 PM

August 22, 2006

Tufte on "Beautiful Evidence"

Jeffrey Freymann-Weyr:
Edward Tufte has been described by The New York Times as "The Leonardo da Vinci of Data." Since 1993, thousands have attended his day-long seminars on Information Design. That might sound like a dry subject, but with Tufte, information becomes art.

Tufte's most recent book, Beautiful Evidence, is filled with hundreds of illustrations from the worlds of art and science. It contains historical maps and diagrams as well as contemporary charts and graphs. In one chapter alone, there's an 18th-century depiction of how to do a cross-section drawing of how a bird's wing works and photos from a 1940s instruction book for skiing.
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:38 PM

August 20, 2006

The New Turbo, actually TURBO

Dan Neil takes spin a or three:
IT'S taken me this long to recognize what I love about a Porsche 911 Turbo. And no, it's not the internal-combustion volcanism — now up to 480 hp in the 2007 model — or the claws-in-the-carpet grip, the carbide-steel stiffness, the perfect steering or land-anchor ceramic brakes.

It's this: The 911 Turbo is the only ultra-performance sports car that's in good taste.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:11 PM

August 10, 2006

The Decline of the Newspapers

Thomas C. Reeves:
Circulation for the nation’s daily newspapers has been declining steadily since 1990. In 2004 and 2005, daily circulation dropped 3.5% and the Sunday circulation declined by 4.6%. In the six months period ending in March, 2006, daily circulation fell 2.5% and the Sunday editions fell 3.1%. Readership declined in almost every demographic group and among people with all levels of education, even those with postgraduate degrees. One study found that baby boomers read newspapers a third less than their parents, and generation Xers read them a third less than the boomers.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:07 PM

August 9, 2006

"The Penalty of Leadership"

Peter DeLorenzo noted that Cadillac is resurrecting a classic ad campaign: "The Penalty of Leadership":
Speaking of Liz's Boyz, prominently displayed in their new "Life. Liberty. And the pursuit." ad campaign for Cadillac is the famous, "The Penalty of Leadership" ad written by Theodore MacManus, which was done for Cadillac back in 1915. Gee, we wonder where they got the idea to use that?
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 PM

August 8, 2006

McKinsey on the Continuing Decline in TV selling Power

Abbey Klaassen:
A study is about to give Madison Avenue a fresh pummeling: McKinsey & Co. is telling a host of major marketers that by 2010, traditional TV advertising will be one-third as effective as it was in 1990.

That shocking statistic, delivered to the company's Fortune 100 clients in a report on media proliferation, assumes a 15% decrease in buying power driving by cost-per-thousand rate increases; a 23% decline in ads viewed due to switching off; a 9% loss of attention to ads due to increased multitasking and a 37% decrease in message impact due to saturation.

"You've also got pronounced changes in consumer behavior while they're consuming media," said Tom French, director at McKinsey. "And ad spending is decreasingly reflecting consumer behavior."
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:46 AM

August 6, 2006

Latest Mainstream Media Statistics:

Chris Anderson:
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:41 AM

August 2, 2006


Living in the "Metroplex" years ago, I enjoyed (and still do) reading Texas Monthly. Senior Executive Editor (where do the titles come from?) now has a useful blog that is worth checking out and subscribing to [RSS].
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:42 AM

July 30, 2006

UW Football PR heats up

Interesting: Both the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the Wisconsin State Journal ran features today on new UW Football coach Bret Bielema.

I recently saw well tanned UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez and Bret (also well tanned) riding around in Barry's two seat convertible on a gorgeous Madison evening. Would have been a great photograph - had I been carrying a camera....
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:37 AM

July 27, 2006

Imagining the Day When the WSJ Print Edition Folds

Scott Donaton:
Wow, they're going to do it. Or at least they're going to think about doing it. That's the first thing that came into my mind on a recent Friday morning when The New York Times reported that the parent company of The Wall Street Journal had created a committee "to reassess the ways it delivers news across all its print and online properties."
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:22 AM

July 17, 2006

Exploding TV

Jeff Jarvis notes an interesting paradox:
At the same time that Nielsen announces that the TV networks had their lowest ratings in recorded history — averaging 20 million viewers at a time — YouTube announces that it’s serving 100 million videos a day. Insert apocalyptic punchline here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:09 PM

July 6, 2006

AOL: "Certain Death or Free Plus Ads"?

Henry Blodget:
The WSJ reports that AOL is considering making online access to its service--including, importantly, email--free. (AOL email users currently have to pay for one of the company's subscription plans, although much of the rest of the company's content is already free.) Per the WSJ, this move would vaporize about one-quarter of the company's revenue, or $2 billion. The company estimates that it would also result in the loss of 8 million paying subscribers.
Blodget also notes that Vonage's recent IPO continues to be black comedy (public at 17, now 8.25 after just a month....
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:47 AM

July 1, 2006

On Lake Michigan, A Global Village

Steve Lohr:
As Racine has changed, so have its politics. Once, a ritual antagonism for business was a sure vote-getter among Democrats. But Mr. Becker was elected three years ago with a pro-development message, pledging to trim jobs from the public payroll to free resources to attract new residents and businesses.

Racine's future, Mr. Becker believes, lies in forging stronger links with the regional economy and global markets. Reinvention can be unnerving, he acknowledges, but he says it is his hometown's best shot at prosperity and progress. "In the past, Racine was a self-contained economy," he said. "But that is not an option anymore."

No local economy truly mirrors the nation. But for Racine and its surrounding suburbs, the last few years have been marked by gradually rising prosperity, in step with the national trend. And the recent history of Racine, like that of the nation as a whole, is also the story of how a community comes to grips with the larger forces of globalization and technological change.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:41 PM

June 29, 2006

North Carolina Daily Paper to Provide Free Local WiFi

I’ve seen a lot of WiFi models lately but this appears to be the first from a local newspaper. (You’ll let me know if I’m wrong, I’m sure.) The Pilot, which covers Pinehurst and several other communities in North Carolina, will provide free WiFi across Moore County. Publisher David Woronoff explains: “The Pilot’s mission is to serve Moore County and we think the technology has advanced to the point that we can help bind the community together in a dynamic and compelling way with The Pilot’s products and Internet service.” They’ve acquired WiFi equipment, hired a GM and will start the rollout with a transmitter on their own building in Southern Pines. This isn’t a value add for print subscribers — it will be accessible to readers and non-readers. The Pilot plans to launch a fee-based WiMax network later this year.
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:13 PM

June 20, 2006

DRM Stifling Innovation?

Fritz Attaway & Wendy Seltzer:
>Consumers now have the ability to buy digital versions of music and movies from a vast (and growing) online catalog. But that convenience has come at a price: Most of the digital content is packaged with technology called digital rights management, or DRM, a sort of copy protection that limits what users can do with the material.

The music and movie industries defend DRM as a means of protecting artists and publishers -- without it, they say, it would be too easy for users to abuse copyrights by illegally swapping files over the Internet. They also argue that without DRM technologies, publishers wouldn't have been willing to distribute their content in online music and video stores, such as Apple's iTunes.

But some consumer advocates argue that DRM often goes too far, treating customers as would-be criminals and putting burdensome restrictions on what they can do with music and movies that were legally purchased. (ITunes, for instance, allows users to burn music to an unlimited number of CDs, but limits the number of computers on which users can play purchased music.)
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:23 PM

June 14, 2006

Fascinating Look at Friedman's War of Words Regarding GM & Toyota

Ed Wallace:
It was a blast across GM’s bow that was unparalleled in its ferocity and malicious intent. For here was Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times decreeing that, for the benefit of our nation and society, General Motors should fold. Friedman argues that GM is almost solely responsible for our country’s extreme gasoline demand, which in turn is why our troops are in the Middle East fighting the War on Terrorism.

Then again, few realize that only 40% of the oil America uses today goes into producing gasoline for the 200 plus million automobiles we drive. What Friedman did not rail against was our airline industry, which accounts for 7% of our petroleum use, or the 24% used by business and industry. I’m surprised he didn’t call out New Englanders, because of their inconsiderate use of heating oil in winter, the reason our troops are in Iraq securing crude supplies.
GM's Brian Akre has much more:
I’ve spent much of the past week trying to get a letter to the editor published in The New York Times in response to the recent Tom Friedman rant (subscription required) against GM (see “Hyperbole and Defamation at The New York Times,” June 1).

I failed. This is my story.

For those of you who haven’t read it already, Mr. Friedman spent 800 words on the Times op/ed page to accuse GM of supporting terrorists, buying votes in Congress and being a corporate “crack dealer” that posed a serious threat to America’s future. He suggested the nation would be better off if Japan’s Toyota took over GM.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:15 PM

June 10, 2006

An Answer in Search of A Question

John Moore:
That’s a picture of the latest brilliant marketing idea – showing television commercials to people pumping gas. Gas Station TV has been testing this marketing idea in Dallas and is expanding the test to more markets with eye towards having 1,000 gas stations in 21 states by next year. Airing on GSTV will be 15-second commercials as well as news/entertainment content from the ABC television network.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:10 PM

May 19, 2006

Study: Only One in Four Teens Can Name Broadcast Networks

Abbey Klaassen:
For the week of the broadcast network upfront presentations, Bolt Media hopes this stat delivers a bullet to TV: Only one in four 12- to 34-year-olds can name all four major broadcast networks: ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox.

The finding comes via an online poll conducted by Bolt Media, a 10-year-old Web site that six weeks ago relaunched itself as a place for users to upload videos and photos. About 400 members responded to the questions, including one that asked how respondents spent their free time.
There certainly are some questions about this, given the source of the poll, however, the media fragmentation trend cannot be denied.
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:25 PM

May 18, 2006

105.5 MMM Payola ?

Rich Albertoni follows the money at Entercomm's local station, 105.5 (NY AG Spitzer filed suit against Entercomm recently). I rarely listen to it - how often must we hear the Police or Sting for that matter?

We're fortunate to have WORT and WSUM along with our public radio stations. Those interested in the nuts and bolts of the music business would likely find the Lefsetz Letter useful "First in Music Analysis".

I also very much enjoy listening to KCRW [LA], WFUV [NYC] and WXPN [PHL] online.

Kristian Knutsen has more.

I wonder if any other local media outlets will pick this up?
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:35 PM

May 2, 2006

TBL on Net Neutrality

Tim Berners-Lee:
This is an international issue. In some countries it is addressed better than others. (In France, for example, I understand that the layers are separated, and my colleague in Paris attributes getting 24Mb/s net, a phone with free international dialing and digital TV for 30euros/month to the resulting competition.) In the US, there have been threats to the concept, and a wide discussion about what to do. That is why, though I have written and spoken on this many times, I blog about it now.

Twenty-seven years ago, the inventors of the Internet[1] designed an architecture[2] which was simple and general. Any computer could send a packet to any other computer. The network did not look inside packets. It is the cleanness of that design, and the strict independence of the layers, which allowed the Internet to grow and be useful. It allowed the hardware and transmission technology supporting the Internet to evolve through a thousandfold increase in speed, yet still run the same applications. It allowed new Internet applications to be introduced and to evolve independently.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:09 PM

Modern Joint Operating Agreements

Dan Gillmor looks at Hearst's deal with MediaNews Group to acquire four newspapers. Madison has had one of these for years - a $120M annual arrangement that has kept the Cap Times going despite its very small circulation. Joint operating agreements were protected by congress years ago, as a way to "preserve daily newspapers". The time has long since arrived to eliminate this relic.

Dave Zweifel passes along his experience at the American Society of Newspaper Editors' convention recently.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:00 AM

April 24, 2006

What if Media 2.0 is Less Profitable than Media 1.0?

Scott Karp:
But what if there’s a fatal flaw in this assumption? What if the transfer of marketing and advertising dollars online is not 1-to-1? What if the Internet has fundamentally lowered the marketing and advertising costs for big companies as it has for small companies? What if large companies can achieve the same sales objectives for a fraction of the cost of traditional mass media advertising?

All marketers know intuitively that mass media advertising is wildly inefficient — there’s the obsessively repeated Wanamaker quote about knowing that half of all advertising is wasted but not knowing which half. But the Internet may be doing more than make advertising more efficient and measureable, i.e. reducing wasted dollars — it may be fundamentally lowering its unit costs.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:22 AM

April 21, 2006

Zyprexa for the Phone Companies

Ben McConnell states the obvious with respect to the yellow pages and monopoly telcos:
unsoundness of mind or lack of understanding as prevents one from having the mental capacity required by law to enter into a particular relationship, status, or transaction or as removes one from criminal or civil responsibility
Which leads me to the phone companies.

Here's an update to last week's post about AT&T's practice of leaving unwanted 8-pound phone directories scattered in doorways around the nation...
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:51 PM

April 19, 2006

Steal this Newspaper

David Carr:
ABOUT a month ago, The Star Tribune in Minneapolis let it be known that, as a cost-cutting effort, free copies of the newspaper would no longer be broadly available around the newsroom.

Instead, the staff was offered an electronic edition of the paper — "an exact digital reproduction of the printed version," no less — that they could access online. Those who insisted on seeing the fruits of the their labors in its physical form were told that they could purchase copies for 25 cents, half the retail cost, from boxes around the office. (This change in policy was first reported by City Pages in Minneapolis.)

So far, so weird. Journalism is not jammed with perks — well, not at most newspapers, anyway — but it was always assumed that you could grab a gratis sports section on the way to lunch.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:29 AM

March 13, 2006

Gillmor on McClatchy's Knight Ridder Deal

Former SJ Merc (a Knight Ridder paper) writer Dan Gillmor:
I hope McClatchy's obviously sound instincts, in business and journalism, continue with the enlarged company. Having met and chatted with some of their senior folks, and admiring the journalists I know there, I'm fairly confident that McClatchy will do well. But it faces the same economic pressures that forced Knight Ridder to cave in to speculators and other investors for whom journalism is an abstraction -- an unfortunate cost of being in business -- and certainly not a priority.

I'm not nostalgic for what many newspapers have become: empty journalistic vessels working mostly for the advertisers and shareholders, only vaguely interested in serving the people of their communities. But when newspapers do their best, they are vital parts of those communities, and we need quality journalism more than ever.
Terry Heaton has more in a related post.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:00 AM

February 26, 2006

Requiem for Don Knotts

Scott Collins:
Knotts first rose to prominence in the late 1950s, joining Louis Nye and other comedy players on "The Steve Allen Show." In 1961, United Artists Records released a comedy album titled "Don Knotts: An Evening with Me," which featured various takeoffs on the "nervous man" routine the comic had made famous on Allen's show. One of the bits, "The Weatherman," concerned a TV forecaster forced to wing it after the meteorology report fails to make it to the studio by air time.

During the mid- to late 1960s, in a largely unsuccessful bid for major film stardom, Knotts made a series of family films that many connoisseurs now say were critically underappreciated at the time. These include "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" (1964), "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" (1966) and "The Reluctant Astronaut" (1967). The latter two were made as part of a five-picture deal with Universal Pictures.
Much more on Don Knotts.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:21 PM

January 31, 2006

Podcasts, blogs and Dave Barry

C.W. Nevius:
"Newspapers," he said right off the bat, "are dead."

Uh, to be honest, I was hoping for something a little funnier. But, the more he talked about it, the clearer it became that it is a worthwhile topic for discussion. And Barry may even be right.

Everyone has heard about cutbacks in the newspaper business, from the big names on the East Coast to the papers in your driveway. And if there is anyone who typifies the rapid pace of change in the business and its effect on how you get your news, it is Barry.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:22 PM

January 29, 2006

Koppel on the Decline of TV News

Ted Koppel:
Now, television news should not become a sort of intellectual broccoli to be jammed down our viewers’ unwilling throats. We are obliged to make our offerings as palatable as possible. But there are too many important things happening in the world today to allow the diet to be determined to such a degree by the popular tastes of a relatively narrow and apparently uninterested demographic.

What is, ultimately, most confusing about the behavior of the big three networks is why they ever allowed themselves to be drawn onto a battlefield that so favors their cable competitors. At almost any time, the audience of a single network news program on just one broadcast network is greater than the combined audiences of CNN, Fox and MSNBC.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:27 PM

January 27, 2006

IBM on the Future of Television

IBM Consulting:
Our analysis indicates that market evolution hinges on two key market drivers: openness of access channels and levels of consumer involvement with media. For the next 5-7 years, there will be change on both fronts — but not uniformly. The industry instead will be stamped by consumer bimodality, a coexistence of two types of users with disparate channel requirements. While one consumer segment remains passive in the living room, the other will force radical change in business models in a search for anytime, anywhere content through multiple channels.
Via Terry Heaton.

Interesting that IBM is chatting about this game. Large changes are underway....
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:07 PM

Reshaping Broadcast TV Revenue

Diane Mermigas:
JPMorgan Chase analyst Spencer Wang says the earliest signs of this fundamental value shift is the sharp contrast between the languishing stock price of traditional media companies (representing an estimated loss of $31 billion in collective market capitalization) and the meteoric rise of so-called new-media stocks (reflecting an aggregate $69 billion gain in market cap).

More directly, evolving new business models are gradually redefining the value of content in the digital age: what distributors and consumers are willing to pay, what it costs to produce and how much revenue and profit is generated as compared to traditional ways of doing business.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:05 PM

Requiem for Core Weekly

Core Weekly, whose "only reason for existing was to make money" according to Bill Lueders, is gone. Local discussion roundup:
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:48 AM

January 24, 2006

What is a Torrent?

Patrick Norton:
Developed by Bram Cohen as a solution to large-file download bottlenecks—not to mention the problem of "leeches," people who download files but then don't share them as uploads—BitTorrent is a very effective tool for distributing big files online. And with good reason: BitTorrent works amazingly well to spread out the burden of creating thousands of copies of a file across the clients, or peers, that are downloading the file. That means there's no large central server to keep running, or massive bandwidth bills to pay for. It also means we can download, say, a 600MB Linux distro in a few short minutes.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:12 AM

January 22, 2006

Blogging the Movies at Sundance

Anil Dash:

Reuters has published a look at the presence of bloggers at Sundance, the popular independent film festival held each year in Park City, Utah.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:52 PM

January 19, 2006

Fascinating Charts

Fascinating charts by Karl Hartig.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:40 PM

January 11, 2006

Makers Mark Marketing

Ben McConnell:
For our latest podcast, we spent some time with Maker's Mark CEO Bill Samuels Jr., who described how one rather influential person helped launched the bourbon manufacturer into the stratosphere of recognition.

He also discusses the rationale and practice of "marketing without fingerprints" and the rapid growth of its ambassador community.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:37 PM

Local "Arful Home" Site Guild.com Raises $7M

Judy Newman reports that Guild has raised another $7M. I am impressed that founder Toni Sikes has created an organization with so many lives - not an easy task. During the dot-com era, Guild raised several million in local funds along with over $30M in Venture Money. Those early investors lost their position when assets were purchased from Ashford (Newman briefly touches on this in her article, but doesn't mention the amounts).

Several years ago, NBC 15 ran a story on Guild. They, too made no mention of the firm's dot com fund raising and sale. I phoned the reporter (whose name escapes me) and asked why she did not describe the firms early investment rounds? She replied that "those people got to keep their (worthless) stock".

In some respects, it is a sign of progress that a firm can have more than one life in Madison.

This type of incomplete cheerleading, unfortunately simply makes it more difficult for other entrepreneurs to startup and raise capital. People within the investment community are well aware of these matters.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:41 AM

January 10, 2006

Fortune 500 Video Podcast - GM

Interesting look to the future - today: GM's video podcast of their Camaro concept car. Not sure about the car, but it's interesting that they are getting the word out using these tools.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:31 PM

January 8, 2006

Kinsley on the Future of Newspapers: Black and White and Dead All Over

Michael Kinsley:
And so, at last, there are two piles of paper: a short one of stuff to read, and a tall one of stuff to throw away. Unfortunately, many people are taking the logic of this process one step further. Instead of buying a paper in order to throw most of it away, they are not buying it in the first place.

No one knows how all this will play out. But it is hard to believe that there will be room in the economy for delivering news by the Rube Goldberg process described above. That doesn't mean newspapers are toast. After all, they've got the brand names. You gotta trust something called the "Post-Intelligencer" more than something called "Yahoo" or "Google," don't you? No, seriously, don't you? Okay, how old did you say you are?
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:22 PM

Video DRM Morass (Digital Restrictions Management)

Tristan Louis nicely summarizes the morass that is proprietary video distribution online.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:25 PM

January 5, 2006

NewsHour Podcasts

The PBS Newshour is podcasting here.

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:55 PM

January 3, 2006

A Year in Madison Blogs - 2005

Kristian Knutsen:
Throughout the state, the emergence of this form of direct communication is mirroring national trends. Political blogs dominate the field, though increasingly more writers focus on contentious topics of other stripes, such as places of eating and merriment. In Madison, locally-oriented blogging is being led by a number of group efforts focused upon education, taverns, and the overall experience of living in town, complemented by a growing host of political writers. Here's my thoughts about the growth of blogging in Madison over 2005.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:44 PM

December 27, 2005

Conyers & Sensenbrenner's World: Sticking it to us

David Berlind nicely summarizes the DRM (Digital Restrictions Morass) that plagues mainstream electronic media supported by big money politics and the likes of our own Jim Sensenbrenner and Michigan's John Conyers.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:39 AM

Internet, Weblogs and Local Politics

Two articles on the rising influence of the net and blogs on local politics:
  • Ron Fournier:
    Frustrated by government and empowered by technology, Americans are filling needs and fighting causes through grass-roots organizations they built themselves - some sophisticated, others quaintly ad hoc. This is the era of people-driven politics.

    People are just beginning to realize how much power they have," said Chris Kofinis, a Democratic consultant who specializes in grass-roots organizing via the Internet.
  • Greg Borowski:
    Now, with Wisconsin on the eve of a major campaign year, state candidates will be confronted for the first time with a growing network of political blogs, many on the feisty side. Even avid bloggers acknowledge that when it comes to reaching voters, particularly undecided ones, their power pales in comparison to newspapers and the rest of the mainstream media (The MSM in bloghand).
I think Borowski overstate's the MSM's influence. One must keep in mind the general population's views of mainstream media (typically, not great, largely, I think due to the often cozy relationship between big media and big politics) and the small number of people who actually vote.

Change will occur, but it will be local and net driven. Perhaps in future decades, the grassroots activism will make a difference on the state and national scene.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:03 AM

December 23, 2005

Advertising & News

Kristian Knutsen nicely rounds up commentary on the recent WIBA/Amcore newsroom sponsorship deal:
his is the third part of an extended look at the deal between Clear Channel Madison and AMCORE Bank to sponsor the WIBA-AM (1310) newsroom. The first part examined the deal and the possibility that similar sponsorships of other Clear Channel newsrooms are in the offing, while part two looked at how the deal could affect WIBA's reputation.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:51 PM

December 21, 2005

John Lasseter at MoMa

Jason Kottke:
MoMA just opened their show about Pixar last week and on Friday, we went to a presentation by John Lasseter, head creative guy at the company. Interesting talk, although I'd heard some of it in various places before, most notably in this interview with him on WNYC. Two quick highlights:
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:20 AM

December 19, 2005

Top Ten 2005 National Geographic News Videos

National Geographic News:
Killer hurricanes, swarming sharks, and wildlife fighting for survival headlined this year's most popular videos from National Geographic News. Replay the year in science, nature, and exploration with 2005's top ten videos.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:02 AM

December 17, 2005

Selling the News: Advertising, WIBA and Local Newspapers

WIBA is receiving some grief from the Capital Times (part of the $120M advertising enterprise that is Capital Newspapers) over the sale of naming rights to its newsroom to Amcore Bank.

Steven Levingston:
The agreements reflect the proliferation of corporate sponsorships in recent years -- think FedEx Field and MCI Center -- and the pressure many newsrooms feel to boost revenue. Close alliances between companies and news enterprises, however, raise a special set of issues related to journalistic integrity, ethicists say.

With journalism still under a cloud from some high-profile scandals, newsrooms must go to the greatest lengths to convince the public of their independence and credibility, said Kelly McBride, a journalism ethics expert at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a journalism training center.

"This undermines all the efforts we're making to protect our credibility," she said. "It creates the perception that the newsroom is for sale to the highest bidder."
An informed society must understand that advertising, sponsorship or underwriting will always include influence. The real solution, from my perspective, is the ongoing disaggregation of media, with many, many more choices and a number of aggregators.

I wonder how sponsorship of a newsroom is any different than wrapping the daily newspaper in a sponsor's first thing visible full page ad? See a local example here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:46 AM

December 13, 2005

Newspapers as Mainframes

Jeff Jarvis and others have been discussing the analogy of newspapers as mainframe computers. In essence, they are analagous: mainframes represented centralized processing, distribution and control. PC's came along and blew that up. Mainframes still exist, but are being replaced by clusters of smaller, generally clustered linux computers. The migration continues to ever smaller network devices.

There is another analogy: Newspapers as legacy media. I recall discussing this last fall with Jay Rosen at Bloggercon. The software business uses the term legacy to describe mothballed code, or something that is no longer updated. Generally, this term is used when a customer is moving from software product/platform a to product/platform b (DOS to Windows, Unix to Linux, terminals to client/server to web services).

There will always be journalism, some great, some not so great. It will simply be delivered many different ways.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:38 AM

December 8, 2005

Air Travel: The Battle over the Wright Amendment

Virginia Postrel nicely summarizes the battle over the Wright Amendment which limits air travel from Dallas's Love field:
Schnurman's tough-minded coverage of the issue demonstrates the great virtues of distant newspaper owners. His paper is owned by Knight Ridder, which isn't entangled in local crony capitalism. The Dallas Morning News by contrast seems terrified to even voice an opinion on the issue. (And I'm not just annoyed that they turned down this piece on the grounds that they'd already run too much on the topic. In fact, I'm delighted. D Magazine paid me twice the DMN's rate, and I like them better anyway.)

Viewed up close, the whole Wright discussion demonstrates the wisdom of my old boss Bob Poole, who has spent at least two decades arguing for airport privatization. Locally, the only thing any politico seems to care about is what's good for DFW Airport and, secondarily, for the airlines. The traveling public doesn't count--either in the political equation (too diffuse) or, apparently, in airport management. Anyone who's had the misfortune of traveling through DFW knows that, with the exception of its new Terminal D, it's hardly a comfortable or accommodating place. Neither does it seem to maximize revenue. No mall developer would use space so pathetically.
The article is also an interesting look at the "devils bargain" that sometimes occurs between politicians and the mainstream media.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:46 PM

November 30, 2005

Commentary on Changes at the LA Times

Pajamas Media has notes and links.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:49 AM

November 20, 2005

Jeff Tweedy Concert Video Clips

Fred Wilson posts two brief video clips and a set list from Jeff Tweedy's (Wilco) visit to the Tribeca Arts Center. Tweedy visited the Orpheum recently.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:39 AM

November 18, 2005

City Spending up 5.5%, Property Taxes to Rise 4.35%

Two interesting perspectives on Wednesday night's Madison City Council Budget votes:

  • Kristian Knutsen (Posted Thursday @ 10:52p.m.):
    Coming from another perspective, Brandon urges a no vote against this budget since it has a 4.35% increase, stating that no cuts were made "This isn't the mayor's budget. The mayor set a clear challenge to us, 4.1," Brandon states. "We are playing into the state government's perception, what they portray about us, is that we are big spenders," he continues. "All we are doing is inviting more levy limits, and at worst, TABOR."

    Konkel says "we could have done this if we really wanted to," referring to the failure of the hotel room tax hike, which she states would have brought the levy down to 4.03, also lamenting the failure of several amendments to provide services to the indigent. "I know how I'm going to vote," Webber says, while Bruer commends the council for the tenor of this year's budget process. "This administration unlike others in the past did more truth in budgeting," he says of the mayors role, continuing by pointing out cost-cutting measures undertaken by city departments in his defense of the budget and its process. "To go through all those hours and all that energy," Bruer says, "I have no problem going out to my constituency and defending this increase" due to its "balance" of attention.

    Knutsen also live-blogged the meetings (which is fabulous)
  • Dean Mosiman (posted 01:10 a.m. 11/18/2005)
    The tax hike, Cieslewicz said, is the third lowest in the past two decades.

    It's now time for the state to back away from tax caps, let cities make budget decisions based on their own values, and for the state to try to fix how it funds municipalities, the mayor said.

    Ald. Zach Brandon, 7th District, who led the group that made the 4.1 percent tax cap pledge, offered the lone harsh words about the budget.

    "Do you know what this is saying to the rest of the state?" he said, adding that Madison will become a "poster child" for its inability to contain spending and taxes."

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:47 AM

November 14, 2005

Drucker on Information Scarcity

Peter Drucker:

WSJ: You also said the scarcity axiom was becoming obsolete. Do you mean the idea that things have value only insofar as they're limited in supply?

Dr. Drucker: What I mean is that the scarcity axiom does not pertain to information. Let me give you two examples, one where they understand this and one where they don't. I will not give company names.

There is the company that gave you the map and driving direction you used to get from the Los Angeles airport to my home; you go to the Internet, and they don't charge a penny. They make their money from advertising, which you have to look at to get these directions. They understand that the scarcity axiom does not apply to information because they can keep giving away information and receive more revenue in another way.

On the other hand, there is a major newspaper, one I am very fond of, which believes in selling subscriptions to the online edition of the paper, which is a total misunderstanding. It should be given away to create a larger subscription base.

This first company understands information, the second one has yet to learn.

via Doc

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:42 AM

November 13, 2005

Seniors Embrace Blogs

There's Dad's Tomato Garden Journal, Dogwalk Musings, and, of course, the Oldest Living Blogger.

"It's too easy to sit in your own cave and let the world go by, eh?" said Ray Sutton, the 73-year-old Oldest Living Blogger and a retired electrician who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. "It keeps the old head working a little bit so you're not just sitting there gawking at TV."
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:00 PM

November 11, 2005


CIVITAS will host 10 monthly luncheon forums focused on local finance, public education services and finances, and an analysis of local government services. (See Forum Calender for schedule of topics). Each luncheon will include presentations by past and current local officials, academic experts and representatives from community, business, professional and civic organizations. Presentations will be followed by questions from a panel of civitas members who have studied the monthly topic and audience questions.

All presentations will be recorded and posted on a civitas web site and media coverage of the information presented in the forums will be encouraged.

Civitas graduates will receive a certificate of attendance and a complete set of the presentations. Appointing authorities will receive an annual list of civitas graduates and will be encouraged to consider these individuals for appointments to boards, commissions and committees.

In addition, any civitas graduate who decides to become a candidate for local public office will be eligible to attend an annual civitas Candidate Training Program and an annual civitas Seminar on the Public Agenda which will examine the results of a county-wide public opinion survey of local issues.
Civitas is a joint undertaking of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and Wood Communications, according to a letter sent to chamber members by chairman Gary Wolter.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:57 PM

November 9, 2005

All the King's Media

William Greider:
Heroic truth-tellers in the Watergate saga, the established media are now in disrepute, scandalized by unreliable "news" and over-intimate attachments to powerful court insiders. The major media stood too close to the throne, deferred too eagerly to the king's twisted version of reality and his lust for war. The institutions of "news" failed democracy on monumental matters. In fact, the contemporary system looks a lot more like the ancien régime than its practitioners realize. Control is top-down and centralized. Information is shaped (and tainted) by the proximity of leading news-gatherers to the royal court and by their great distance from people and ordinary experience.
This is largely why I emailed Tammy Baldwin regarding her vote against free speech. Via Dan
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:34 AM

Knutsen's City Council Coverage

Kristian Knutsen continues to impress with his City Council commentary and live blogging.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:24 AM

November 6, 2005

Newspaper's Utility?

Jeff Jarvis, a blogger and newspaper consultant posted some recent newspaper circulation statistics, in addition to several comments on those numbers:

Half the American population no longer reads newspapers: plainly, they are the clever half. — Gore Vidal

People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news. — A.J. Liebling

It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper. — Jerry Seinfeld

I've been asked a number of times whether I like newspapers, or not. The answer for me, at last comes down to quality and utility.

I've always been a news junkie, often winning 7th grade Milwaukee Journal classroom news contests (my parents have always been avid readers). Like my parents, however, I read mostly online these days, often via my RSS newsreader. Once you get into this groove, purchasing, flipping through and disposing of the paper (and all of the stuff packaged with it) truly is yesterday's news. Like many, I've also become used to obtaining information when and where I want it - not waiting for the print news cycle to deliver the hard copy to me.

The print products I read include The Economist, The New York Times (not for long, perhaps still Sundays...) and locally, the Isthmus. I've always enjoyed the Economist and the NYT for their national and international coverage. However, I think the Washington Post is now doing a much better job on those fronts than the Times. The Post has the confidence to interact with emerging media that most others seem to lack. Jay Rosen has more on that issue. Blogs have also added an interesting element to the discussion, from local issues to global matters. One blogger (I don't recall who), captured what's happening rather nicely: She correctly recalled the perception that Big Steel had of the emerging mini-mills during the 1970's and 80's. The mini-mills were perceived as bottom feeders, living of the scraps of the big mills. The mini-mills had much lower costs, superior processes and in many cases, have convincingly taken over their markets.

I think we'll see a growing amount of original work from emerging media (a Silicon Valley blog broke the rather amazing story of Google's founders purchasing a used 767 for their personal travels). This work will, by its very nature take advantage of the latest technologies.

Getting back to the question of whether I like newspapers or not. The answer, it seems to me is clear. I like those that use their tremendous (TREMENDOUS!!) resources (cash flow) effectively. I don't have time or interest in those that don't. The numbers Jarvis posted and Vidal refers to demonstrate that my views on this matter are not unique.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:52 AM

October 30, 2005

Knutsen's State Street Pepper Spray Halloween Video Clips

Kristian Knutsen, perched at the WSUM studio's, posts video clips of the pepper spray crowd clearing operation. Dane101 has more, along with Channel3000 and the State Journal.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:51 AM

October 28, 2005

Internet Use is Up!

Stephen Ohlemacher:

Internet usage increased with education, income and the presence of school-age children at home, the report found. It was lowest among adults who have not graduated from high school.

School-age children are most likely to use home computers to play games or do school work. Adults are most likely to use home computers for e-mail, to search for information about products and services, and to read news, weather and sports information.

The report is based on data from the bureau's October 2003 Current Population Survey, the country's primary source of labor statistics. It is the bureau's latest information on computer and Internet use, though it is two years old and experts say Americans' computer habits are quickly evolving.

"We actually think the (Internet) penetration in households is higher," said Greg Stuart, president and CEO of the Internet Advertising Bureau, which helps online companies increase revenue.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:04 AM

October 26, 2005

Media "Titans" An Interview with GE/NBC's Bob Wright

John Battelle:

nd he might not even be done yet: In July the New York Post reported that NBC Universal is in talks to acquire DreamWorks SKG, a move that would beef up its movie portfolio.

So far, sticking with content looks like a smart bet. Even as NBC plummeted to fourth place in viewership, cable and film earnings kept the company, which is 80 percent owned by GE (GE) and 20 percent by Vivendi, growing in the double digits. But Wright has more on his mind than a replacement for Friends. Electronic piracy, the bane of the music industry, is starting to hit movies. Google, TiVo, and Yahoo are threatening to upend the video business. Wright still believes he’s made the right bet -- content, he says, will have value, no matter who distributes it. But he openly admits that the Internet is making things "awkward" for him. Business 2.0 met with Wright to find out how he plans to sort things out.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:05 AM

October 19, 2005

CBS's Andrew Heyward: The Era of Omniscience is Over

Jay Rosen:

The President of CBS News says: "On most matters there are multiple points of view out there as opposed to a single, discoverable truth."

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:14 AM

October 18, 2005

1958 Edward R. Murrow Speech

Edward R. Murrow:

Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. I invite your attention to the television schedules of all networks between the hours of 8 and 11 p.m., Eastern Time. Here you will find only fleeting and spasmodic reference to the fact that this nation is in mortal danger. There are, it is true, occasional informative programs presented in that intellectual ghetto on Sunday afternoons. But during the daily peak viewing periods, television in the main insulates us from the realities of the world in which we live. If this state of affairs continues, we may alter an advertising slogan to read: LOOK NOW, PAY LATER.
via Xeni

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:50 AM

October 14, 2005

Bob Iger and Apple Save Network TV?

Mark Cuban:
On the ITunes Store, you can buy the latest episode to Lost and some other shows the day after they air on Network TV. in this case ABC, for $1.99. Sounds simple and reasonable. Not anything earth shattering right ?
I think this is correct - but - I'm not sure about the pricing. Some of it is not worth much, while other shows/documentaries (PBS?) are quite well done.
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:51 AM

October 13, 2005


Bob Garfield:
Why? Because the information society is reversing flow. What began as an experiment among a few software nerds has, thanks to the Internet, expanded into other disciplines, notably media and law. But it won’t stop there. Advertising. Branding. Distribution. Consumer research. Product development. Manufacturing. They will all be turned upside down as the despotism of the executive suite gives way to the will, and wisdom, of the masses in a new commercial and cultural epoch, namely: The Open Source Revolution.

“We’re tired of the 20th-century model of being passive consumers of mass content,” says J.D. Lasica, author of Darknet: Hollywood’s War Against the Digital Generation. “We’re transitioning to a new kind of culture. More participatory, more open, more interactive where the locus of control passes.”

Lasica, who believes for example that by now Mickey Mouse should be in the public domain, doesn’t think he’s demanding anything outlandish.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:22 AM

October 11, 2005

Some Clipping at the Newspapers

Katharine Q. Seeelye:

"The basic newspaper, when you take out the Internet and all the other targeted publications that people are starting, is just not growing," said P. Anthony Ridder, chairman and chief executive of Knight Ridder, which owns The Inquirer. "Newsprint costs are up significantly. Wages and health benefits are up. So you have the cost pressure on the one hand and the lack of revenue growth on the other. That's really the problem, and everyone is having essentially the same problem."

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:03 AM

September 30, 2005

The Power and Politics of Blogs

Daniel Drezner and Henry Farrell (PDF):

Weblogs occupy an increasingly important place in American politics. Their influence presents a puzzle: given the disparity in resources and organization vis-à-vis other actors, how can a collection of decentralized, nonprofit, contrarian, and discordant websites exercise any influence over political and policy outputs? This paper answers that question by focusing on two important aspects of the “blogosphere”: the distribution of readers across the array of blogs, and the interactions between significant blogs and traditional media outlets. Under specific circumstances – when key weblogs focus on a new or neglected issue – blogs can socially construct an agenda or interpretive frame that acts as a focal point for mainstream media, shaping and constraining the larger political debate.
Via Robin Good

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:37 AM

September 20, 2005

Knutsen Raises the Local Media Coverage Bar - Quite a Bit!

Kristian Knutsen Live Blogs tonight's Madison City Council Meeting on Isthmus' The Daily Page:
Tonight's Madison City Council meeting is likely biggest of the season, as they will take up several items regarding the tavern smoking ban that was enacted on July 1. Since that time, various tavern owners and their political and media allies have inveighed against that ordinance, making it into the hottest and most divisive issue in the city at least since the casino referendum last year. In fact, the amount of interest this has generated probably surpasses that, generating more media heat and public interest in any city policy in years. In addition, the city's lobbying regs are on the table as well, an issue that has also been a subject of considerable discussion.
An amazing example of sausage making at its finest.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:46 PM

September 17, 2005

The Changing Value of Shakespeare

Tyler Cowen takes a quick look at William St. Clair's new book: The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period. This book, so interesting on many levels looks at:
During the four centuries when printed paper was the only means by which texts could be carried across time and distance, everyone engaged in politics, education, religion, and literature believed that reading helped to shape the minds, opinions, attitudes, and ultimately the actions, of readers. William St Clair investigates how the national culture can be understood through a quantitative study of the books that were actually read. Centred on the romantic period in the English-speaking world, but ranging across the whole print era, it reaches startling conclusions about the forces that determined how ideas were carried, through print, into wider society. St Clair provides an in-depth investigation of information, made available here for the first time, on prices, print runs, intellectual property, and readerships gathered from over fifty publishing and printing archives. He offers a picture of the past very different from those presented by traditional approaches. Indispensable to students, English literature, book history, and the history of ideas, the study’s conclusions and explanatory models are highly relevant to the issues we face in the age of the internet.
  • The first study of actual reading using quantification and economic analysis
  • Sheds new light on aspects of reading and its effect on the nation
  • An indispensable resource for scholars working on literature, reading, and the history of publishing and printing
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:31 AM

September 9, 2005

Blogs and the New Web

Mark Baker:
Seth Godin has a free ebook that is a quick effective read. He explains blogs, rss and why you should care. It is the most informative and balanced write-up I've seen.

Check it out here or send around the link
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:26 PM

September 6, 2005

Yahoo Helps Put a Chinese Journalist in Jail

Reporters Sans Frontieres:

According to Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders), Information supplied by Yahoo! helped Chinese journalist Shi Tao get 10 years in prison

The text of the verdict in the case of journalist Shi Tao – sentenced in April to 10 years in prison for “divulging state secrets abroad” – shows that Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. provided China’s state security authorities with details that helped to identify and convict him. It reveals that the company provided the Chinese investigating organs with detailed information that apparently enabled them to link Shi’s personal e-mail account (on the Chinese Yahoo! service at yahoo.com.cn) and the specific message containing information treated as a “state secret” to the IP address of his computer. More details from RSF here.

Shi Tao was jailed because he e-mailed sensitive political information to be posted on dissident websites hosted outside China. His case is a cautionary tale to bloggers around the world: If you are publicizing information and views that your government doesn’t want exposed - even if you believe you have the right to do so under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - companies like Yahoo! will not shield you from your government.

Click here for the full text in both Chinese and English of the Shi Tao verdict (PDF document) courtesy of the Dui Hua Foundation, a San Francisco-based non-governmental organization.

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:14 PM

August 31, 2005

Great Doonesbury on Blogging

"Great Concept, making the unreadable illegible". Check it out.
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:40 PM

NPR Podcasts

National Public Radio published a growing list of podcasts.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:20 AM

August 23, 2005

Channel 3000's Podcasts

Channel3000 posted several podcasts (mp3 audio files available via a RSS NewsReader) including an interview with Governor Jim Doyle.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:17 AM

August 15, 2005

Milwaukee Magazine on the Shorewest/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Circulation Fraud Lawsuit

Peter Robertson (PDF file):

Mark Belling, talk show host on WISN-AM (1130), called it "an enourmous crisis," while media insiders say it could be a blockbuster story. Yet nobody involved is talking about it because the legal stakes are so high

Posted by James Zellmer at 4:46 PM

August 13, 2005

Marketers Wrestle with Hard-to-Control Web Content

Kris Oser describes (Subscription - Ad Age) the influence between advertising and media content:
Is it safe to advertise in places on the Internet that are essentially run by consumers and cannot be controlled? How can they protect themselves and their good names when blog and chat-room users are liable to say and post anything? It’s not just pornography or off-color language that worries them. What if consumers got angry about something involving a marketer’s brand, and their remarks got linked to across the Internet? Maybe advertising in such open spaces is not worth the risk.
emphasis added Dave Winer and Doc Searls offer useful comments.
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:12 PM

August 12, 2005

The Decline of Hard News TV

Dave and Doc discuss the decline of CNN as a hard news network. It seems like some of these entities are chasing attention at any cost, rather than developing and sticking to a philosophy. Unfortunately, I think we'll see more of this, rather than less. The hard news is largely going to be online.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:10 AM

July 31, 2005

Posner: Conventional News Media Are Embattled

Richard A. Posner (Federal Judge and blogger):

The charge by mainstream journalists that blogging lacks checks and balances is obtuse. The blogosphere has more checks and balances than the conventional media; only they are different. The model is Friedrich Hayek's classic analysis of how the economic market pools enormous quantities of information efficiently despite its decentralized character, its lack of a master coordinator or regulator, and the very limited knowledge possessed by each of its participants.

In effect, the blogosphere is a collective enterprise - not 12 million separate enterprises, but one enterprise with 12 million reporters, feature writers and editorialists, yet with almost no costs. It's as if The Associated Press or Reuters had millions of reporters, many of them experts, all working with no salary for free newspapers that carried no advertising

Great stuff. More on Richard Posner.

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:12 PM

July 29, 2005

Tufte on the Columbia Shuttle's Evidence

Interesting thread on Edward Tufte's website about the Columbia explosion evidence. Useful timing, given the ongoing space shuttle challenges.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

July 27, 2005

Virgin's Free Daily

Zachary M. Seward:

Richard Branson's ever-expanding Virgin Group is considering a foray into the newspaper business with a free daily publication in New York City, according to an individual familiar with the company's plans.

The newspaper, which would focus on show business and entertainment, is still in the preliminary stages of planning at Virgin, the source said. It would be sponsored by the company's entertainment division, which includes the Virgin Megastores.

Free newspapers have flourished, though not always profited, in major metropolitan areas over the past decade. New York is already home to two such papers, am New York and Metro, though both feature general interest news.

I think we'll see more of this. The daily paper will be free (ad supported), then some will go weekly only.

Posted by James Zellmer at 2:04 PM

July 25, 2005

Milwaukee Talk Show Host Faces Court Date for Weblog Post

Derrick Nunnally:

Barring a late settlement, talk-radio host Charlie Sykes faces a court date as a defendant in a libel suit this week.

The plaintiff, Spanish Journal editor Robert Miranda, sued Sykes in January over a November post on Sykes' Weblog on the WTMJ-AM (620) site that alleged Miranda had helped foment a protest at a 1991 pro-Gulf War event in which several speakers were pelted with small objects. Miranda wasn't in Wisconsin at the time of that protest, which Sykes described in his essay as an "an example of the assaults on free speech on university campuses."

Although Miranda's original requests for a court order mandating Sykes publicly apologize, undergo sensitivity training sessions and make diversity presentations to middle and high school students are no longer in play - a small-claims court doesn't have that authority, it turns out - Miranda said the suit, which now requests the small-claims maximum of $5,000 in damages, will serve as a forum in which Sykes' "journalistic integrity will be questioned," among other matters.

Posted by Erika Frederick at 8:52 PM

July 23, 2005

George Gilder on Hollywood

Scott Kirsner interviews George Gilder about the pending "dissolution of the television and motion picture industries as we know them". MP3 Audio. Meanwhile, our good Senator, Herb Kohl has some decisions to make on whether he supports the future, or the past.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:31 PM

Cap Times on Media Concentration

A Capital Times Editorial on "Breaking up Big Media Concentration":
The consolidation of American media has robbed this country's citizens of the competing journalism, the honest dialogue and the cultural diversity that the founders intended when they wrote a "freedom of the press" protection into the First Amendment to the Constitution.

American media were never perfect, of course.

But the quality and independence of the media have suffered over the past three decades, as Congress and federal regulators rewrote the rules to make it easier for big media companies to buy up more and more of the country's communication outlets. As recently as 1996, a single company could only own a few dozen radio stations nationally. Now, because of the rule changes contained in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, one company, Clear Channel, owns more than 1,200 stations and dominates many local media markets around the country.
Not a word about the increasing concentration of the daily newspaper business, however. The internet is addressing this question, of course.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:03 PM

July 21, 2005

Media Changes SF Chronicle Cutting Jobs

Michael Stoll:

"We understand that they're losing money," he said. "We were trying to be good Samaritans, and we got stabbed in the back."

The paper is in a strong position to seek union concessions because it opened its financial records to a union auditor, who confirmed that the Chronicle lost more than $62 million last year. Ms. Hoyt said that in the last two months the paper has been losing money at a faster rate -- about two million dollars a week* -- though the loss was less earlier this year.

Because Hearst is a privately held company, it is under no obligation to explain its finances to the public. While the union has confirmed the multimillion-dollar losses, it doesn't know all the details, such as the salary and benefits of the publisher. The union said the paper is being mismanaged and has too many managers per employee.

Via Dan Gillmor (I agree that it's hard to believe the Chronicle is losing $1m per week).

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:40 AM

July 19, 2005

Jay Rosen Pieces Together Rove/Plame

Jay Rosen:
Lying to the press—though a serious thing—is what all administrations do. In Washington leaking to damage people’s credibility or wreck their arguments is routine, a bi-partisan game with thousands of knowing participants. I rarely see it mentioned that Joseph Wilson (who is no truthtelling hero) began his crusade by trying to leak his criticisms of the Bush White House. When that didn’t work he went public in an op-ed piece for the New York Times.

But business as usual is not going to explain what happened in the Valerie Plame case, or tell us why its revelations matter. For that we need to enlarge the frame.

My bigger picture starts with George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, Andrew Card, Dan Bartlett, John Ashcroft plus a handful of other strategists and team players in the Bush White House, who have set a new course in press relations. (And Scott McClellan knows his job is to stay on that course, no matter what.) The Bush team’s methods are unlike the handling of the news media under prior presidents because their premises are so different.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:30 AM

July 17, 2005

Madison's Advertising Climate

Sandy Cullen takes an interesting look at local government, and perhaps public education's willingness to support advertising. Advertising is everywhere and will be more so in the future. One of the reasons for this is the ongoing fragmentation of media. The internet provides many, many options for local, regional, national and international news, weather, sports and arts information.

Advertising is simply following eyeballs.

I have some other candidates for advertising:
  • Kenton Peters' Blue Federal Courthouse and the WARF building - advertising can only help these eyesores
  • Camp Randall and the Kohl Center's exteriors. I think we have enough grey, certainly during our winter months
  • The City/County Building, East Berlin architecture, circa 1960's at its best.
Cullen interviewed a number of local advertising firms, but not the largest - her own publisher, Capital Newspapers. Capital (SEC 10-Q) reported six months revenue (through March 31, 2005) of $60,225K and operating income of 14,081K (23%!)
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:25 PM

July 15, 2005

Green Bay Press Gazette (Gannett) Wants Teen Bloggers

In an effort to connect with teenagers, The Gannett owned Green Bay Press Gazette is looking for teen bloggers. I can see the Press-Gazette's benefits (advertising), but what's in it for the teens? Blogging software and domains are extremely cheap, if not free these days. Mark Deuze's paper on Participatory Journalism is surely related. I'm not sure that the cathedral of newpapers is where it will happen, however.
We are using more media than ever before in history, yet this intensive engagement with media does not translate into more attention paid to the stories told by the two archetypical media professions: journalism and advertising"
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:13 AM

July 13, 2005

Madison's Free Weekly Circulation Analysis

Kristian Knutson pens an interesting look at the local newspaper rackspace wars.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

July 12, 2005

Tufte in Madison

Presenting Data and Information: A One-Day Course Taught by Edward Tufte is in Madison August 8, 2005 ($320/person):I attended his course in Chicago last year. Highly recommended. More on Edward Tufte.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:02 AM

July 10, 2005

Jean Feraca's Here on Earth on Podcasting

Wisconsin Public Radio's Jean Feraca hosts a weekly program called Here on Earth. Driving around between events Saturday, I heard a bit of her program on Podcasting. A list of participants can be found here. However and unfortunately, WPR's podcasts, like our dear Airport's WiFi, is non-existent. I did chuckle a bit as both Jean and the BBC's Peter Day speculated about their job security as a result of Podcasting's growth. Times are changing. I would agree that some radio stations have reasons to be concerned. Advertising overkill and the same old same old playlists have pushed more and more listeners away - to ipod's attached to their car radios or ipods and short distance fm transmitters. Wikipedia on podcasting.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

July 8, 2005

Future of News from the Media Center

The Media Center:

It’s mobile, immediate, visual, interactive, participatory and trusted. Make way for a generation of storytellers who totally get it. This briefing summarizes key findings from Media, Technology and Society, a multi-disciplinary research project on the media landscape conducted for professionals engaged in strategies, research, thinking, education, policy and philanthropy related to the future of journalism and media.

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:33 AM

July 7, 2005

A Thursday Morning Look at Local Media

(Click the photo for a larger version)

I walked to the bottom of my driveway early this morning to grab the NY Times (I still get the fishwrap version) and saw that another paper was dropped off (the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the Wisconsin State Journal periodically drop promotional copies around the neighborhood).

The 2nd paper was rather interesting: the first two pages were advertising "Brought to you by Middleton Ford". Perhaps this advertiser bought x number of copies that were dropped around the area? Most interestingly, the advertiser pages completely covered the Wisconsin State Journal. From the advertiser perspective, it is certainly in your face for those who take the paper out of the bag (why not direct mail?). From the State Journal's perspective, however, it is a big dilution of the brand. Promo copies (try us) are one thing, but a promo copy completely wrapped in an ad is another.

This approach is identical to traditional advertiser only publications. Perhaps that's where the daily papers will end up: free to all readers, but with a much larger and more invasive ad presence.

Meanwhile, Joseph T. Hallinan covers McClatchy's circulation woes at the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Finally, I took a look at local coverage/links to today's very unfortunate London events around 7:00a.m. at two popular local news sites, Capital Newspapers' madison.com site and Morgan Murphy Media's channel3000.com. At 6:48a.m., channel3000 had a photo of British PM Tony Blair's press conference along with a story and links. madison.com did not mention this breaking story (they later posted a link to an AP story on the London bombing). (click to view a screen shot of the two sites at 6:48a.m. today). The internet's news cycle is clearly different than the traditional paper's 24 hour process.

Having said all that, I think the local sites are much better off 99% focused on local issues. There was and is no shortage of coverage on the London events around the net.

Posted by James Zellmer at 11:09 AM

July 3, 2005

Wisconsin Press Gives Kohl a Pass?

Joel McNally asks some timely questions about the mainstream media's coverage (or lack thereof) of Senator Kohl (and Feingold, frankly):

It would be remarkable for any local sports owner to be protected by such a shield of invisibility, but it is nothing short of astounding when the owner also happens to be one of the state's top elected officials. It's not as if the press doesn't know where to find the guy. He has a public office in Washington, D.C. And when he's in Milwaukee, he eats breakfast almost every morning at Ma Fischer's restaurant.

It has to be a conscious decision on the part of reporters not to ask Kohl questions about anything he'd rather not talk about.

There are actually a number of important votes that our media should be asking both Senators about.

Why do they run from these stories? McNally raises some very interesting questions. Read the whole thing.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

July 1, 2005

Kohl/Feingold Oppose CAFTA, Local Coverage

The Capital Times covers Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold's opposition to CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement). Perhaps the Wisconsin Media might start asking questions about recent Feingold and Kohl support for:
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:24 PM

An Open Letter to SBC's Ed Whitacre and Yahoo's Terry Semel

I find it ironic that SBC, a regional "Baby Bell" and the dominant telco in Wisconsin, that makes its money on two way voice conversations and a growing data business would invest heavily in legacy one way media (more cable TV). SBC is offering customers bundling deals with satellite tv providers along with their Yahoo DSL service. [Stephanie Mehta's article]:
Whitacre may well be honing his schmoozing skills for his newest—and unlikeliest—role: aspiring media mogul. In a few short months, SBC will unveil what it hopes will be the ultimate weapon in the war between cable and the Bells—a high-tech TV service that Whitacre insists will offer viewers as many channels as they currently receive from regular cable and then some. SBC has anted up $4 billion just to get its network ready to offer the service, known as Internet protocol TV, or IPTV, and it will spend additional hundreds of millions to acquire TV content. But much more is at stake: SBC’s future as a major player.
Ironically, and with perfect timing, it appears that true high speed fiber networks are starting to appear (The US lags well behind other countries on broadband costs and performance).
  • Cablevision is implementing 50Mbps service in NY (slashdot discussion)
  • LaFayette, Louisiana is going to a local referendum to fund a municipal fibre network July 16, 2005
  • Verizon, far more aggressive than SBC in broadband implementation is actually rolling out fiber to the home in some markets.
SBC, in trying to become a TV player when there is little meaningful growth in that market, evidently refuses to spend the money required to upgrade its network (keep in mind that we, the ratepayers, paid for the copper network years ago). Why Yahoo, ironically, a major beneficiary of the two way web, would spend any brand capital on this is a mystery.

SBC, in an effort to keep the cash flowing for these forays, still requires that the purchaser sign up for traditional phone service as a tax on the dsl product. This is a blatant attempt to stifle VOIP service across sbc dsl service.

Meanwhile, IEEE Spectrum says goodbye to AT&T (SBC plans to acquire what's left of AT&T).

Update: Bellsouth plans to accelerate their fibre rollout.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:57 AM

June 29, 2005

Star Tribune Sued over Circulation Fraud

Associated Press:

MINNEAPOLIS - Four advertisers sued the Star Tribune and its parent company on Tuesday, claiming Minnesota's largest newspaper inflated its circulation numbers so it could charge more for ads.

The federal lawsuit seeking class-action status alleges the Star Tribune required distributors to dump unsold papers and failed to report returned papers accurately.

The newspaper denied the allegations in a statement Tuesday.

The lawsuit includes allegations by an unnamed Star Tribune distributor who also works for one of the plaintiffs, Masterson Personnel, Inc. It claims that in December 2003, a Star Tribune circulation worker told the distributor to order an extra 2,500 papers per week, saying the distributor would be reimbursed later for the papers. The distributor bought extra papers for three weeks, for a total of 7,500 papers, the lawsuit alleges.

The extra order was "because circulation numbers for the Star Tribune were down and needed to be increased before the end of December 2003. The representative stated that the distributor could give the extra papers away, sell them, or simply could throw them away," the lawsuit said.

The other plaintiffs are Alternative Staffing, Inc., Vision Staffing Solutions, Inc., and Purchasing Professionals, Inc. All four are employment agencies.

The Star Tribune and its corporate parent, the McClatchy Co., released a statement denying the claims. McClatchy treasurer Elaine Lintecum said the lawsuit was without merit and the company stands by its circulation practices.

"We have complete confidence in our circulation numbers and we believe our reported circulation will stand up to examination," added Keith Moyer, Star Tribune publisher and president.

In May, the Star Tribune reported daily circulation of 378,316 and Sunday circulation of 655,198. It is McClatchy's largest newspaper. The lawsuit did not specify how much plaintiffs believe the Star Tribune overstated circulation.

Allegations of circulation inflation have surfaced at several newspapers. On June 15, three former employees of the newspapers Newsday and Hoy in New York were arrested in circulation probes. A distributor of the papers had been throwing away tens of thousands of papers daily and counting them as sold, prosecutors alleged.

Chicago-based Tribune Co., which owns Newsday and Hoy, has acknowledged that its publishing unit may have misstated Newsday's circulation by as many as 100,000 copies. And last year Belo Corp. admitting overstating circulation at the Dallas Morning News.

Posted by James Zellmer at 11:19 AM

June 27, 2005

We Live In Interesting Times: Intercepting Media

Perhaps with over 2000 reporters covering the Michael Jackson trial, Mark Lasswell's article on local disruptive media techniques makes some sense. These interruptive techniques have been used by many organizations seeking attention, information or both.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

June 16, 2005

Arrests in Tribune Newspaper Circulation Fraud

David Folkenflik on NPR (audio).

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

June 15, 2005

Jarvis on Investigative Journalism

Jeff Jarvis:
But I'll be heretical enough to ask whether investigative journalism is what the public most wants from the press, whether chronic suspicion -- as opposed to skepticism -- can breed chronic cynicism, whether ever-sparer journalistic resources are best put to bringing down the bad guy or to helping us in our daily lives. What is the proper calling of journalism?
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:50 AM

June 14, 2005

Errol Morris Interview

Errol Morris discusses advertising and his recent documentary, the Fog of War in this interview.

HuffPost: But there’s certainly been criticism, especially with McNamara, that you may not have pushed hard enough.

Morris: In truth, I wish I had done something like that when he went on and on about the Gulf of Tonkin incidents. Didn’t we try to provoke them? A number of people have criticized me and the movie for giving a false impression or what they consider to be a false impression of those events.

HuffPost: You and Eric Alterman had a conflict about this issue in the film, about footage that may or may have existed showing McNamara discussing secret intercepts regarding the Gulf of Tonkin.

Morris: Right. Alterman just engaged in hand-waving. It’s sort of, “You’re not a historian so why should I listen to you?” I’m not a big enthusiast of that kind of argument. It’s like in Mr. Death, Fred Leuchter, the Holocaust denier, has a degree from BU in history. Does that mean that his historical views are more valid? No.

I’m always puzzled when people ask if a film is true or false. Fog of War, true or false? Fahrenheit 911, true or false? Sorrow and Pity, true or false? Isn’t what interests us about documentary film, that there is a claim that relates to the world and hence does have truth value? You can think about things that are said by people and think, is this true, is this false, what is this?

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:40 PM

June 3, 2005

Political Math

Mary Lazich comments on the political spin around small changes to the State's UW Budget (the budget is going up, just not quite as much as Governor Doyle wants). Doyle refers to this as a "cut" while Lazich corrects his math:
There are two ways to do simple math. There is the way most everyone does it. And there is the way Governor Jim Doyle does it.

As a member of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee entrusted with crafting the state budget, I voted with the majority to approve a package to give the University of Wisconsin System a slight increase in state aid over the next two years. The increase amounts to $9 million.

Nevertheless, the governor could not resist issuing a news release referring over and over again to “cuts” he called “senseless.” Apparently in the governor’s world of fuzzy math, an increase is considered a cut.

The fact is the Joint Finance Committee gave the UW System more money for the next two years. The UW System is not being shortchanged. It receives close to $1 billion a year. That is billion with a “b.” Funding for the UW System accounts for close to 8% of the entire state budget.
Matt Pommer, writing in the Capital Times also referred to this change as a "cut". He doesn't mention total state support anywhere in the article. We're better off getting our facts right. There's no doubt that education funding at all levels has its challenges, but we do currently spend a great deal of money on education, at all levels. Choices must be made, perhaps there are things the State should not fund, allowing additional cash for education purposes.

Finally, Madison's recent school referenda initiative was also somewhat guilty of this. The questions were often phrased as costing a taxpayer no more than a Latte per day (avoiding any mention of the current, growing school taxes that property owners already pay). Transparency is critical to public support. Our politicians, and some writers, have a ways to go on this matter.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:55 AM

June 2, 2005

AJR on Lee Enterprises, Parent of the Wisconsin State Journal

Lori Robertson:
At the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, Bill Wineke, the books editor and a columnist, recalls a time in the early 1970s--he's been there since '63--when he wrote a column that was distributed to about 15 Lee papers.

After a number of weeks, the State Journal decided to syndicate the column and asked the papers to pay 50 cents each, for postage. Every one of them dropped it.


Ron Seely, science and environment reporter at the Wisconsin State Journal, said in late April that his paper was leaving two key jobs unfilled: a regional reporter position and an assistant city editor job. "That makes it harder on our already small staff," he said. "That's frustrating."
Jason Shephard take a look at the local daily newspaper business in the June 2, 2005 Isthmus - available now. Shephard mentions Lee's 20% profit margins along with a few local reporter's comments.
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:39 PM

May 20, 2005

Madison Commons Project

Kristian Knutson on the UW Madison J School and Capital Newspapers Project (backed by a $12K grant):
The Madison Commons Project looks promising as a media literacy venture, but there are several questions are raised by its structure. These are asked below the fold.
Rarely do new initiatives result from a top down process. Knutson muses on generating "free content" for the newspaper world.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:37 PM

Dane101 on Local Newspapers Credibility

Kristian Knutson:
Two months after community controversy first surfaced over the ethics of Wisconsin State Journal-published Capital Region Business Journal and the advertiser membership of its accompanying advisory board, Madison's largest newspaper is working to maintain its credibility.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:30 PM

May 19, 2005

President Visits Milwaukee Web News Firm

President Bush made an interesting choice during his visit to Milwaukee today, stopping to say hello to the folks at www.onmilwaukee.com. The legacy publication, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel mentioned the visit and the domain!
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:29 PM

May 18, 2005

More Wal-Mart Supercenters?

The Daily Union Editorial Page:
That said, we can’t help but notice that the Daily Union staffers have been receiving more than their fair share of “thank-yous” of late, and particularly since May 3. That was the day we reported that the Jefferson Common Council decided 5-3 to ignore high circulation figures and drop the Daily Union after nearly two decades as the city’s official newspaper. Apparently a lot of our Jefferson readers now want us to know that they, at least, appreciate our efforts. Their pats on the back have felt nice. Conversely, the stabs from five aldermen who perceive our coverage of municipal meetings as biased and erroneous have not. They’ve pointed, in particular, to one discussion on Wal-Mart in which proponents claim we slanted our front-page story against a SuperCenter being built in Jefferson. We’ve also misinterpreted quotes recorded on tape, they say.
While it is no secret that the Daily Union thinks Wal-Mart has gotten too big for its britches and doesn’t need another SuperCenter so close to the one in Watertown, we’ve kept that opinion on the editorial page … that same page we’ve opened for all views, both pro and con. As to being able to read the minds of city officials whose words don’t always coincide with their intended meaning, we can’t. Despite what some might think, we’re not omnipotent. And regarding editing stories so they’re biased toward our own viewpoints, we don’t. We don’t have the time, the ego or, most importantly, the desire to slant the news in any direction other than down the center. No, we’re just sitting here doing our job … thanks or no thanks, official city paper or not. And rest assured, Jefferson, we’ll be doing that for many, many years to come.
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:05 PM

May 17, 2005

New York Times to charge for some Online Articles

I agree with Dave on this (NYT charging to access OP-ED and columnists). This is a bit late. I don't think the legacy media can pull off charging online any longer. There are generally too many alternatives.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:05 AM

May 12, 2005

The Capital Times Holds a Town Meeting

Click to view a larger version of this photo
The Capital Times held a Town meeting at Ancora Coffee on Monroe St. this evening. While the crowd was thin (total of 25 or so people, a number from the paper) this event is a useful idea.

The way we all obtain information has changed so dramatically, and continues to do so, it's difficult for me to see the daily newspaper surviving, given the current economics. Weekly and Sunday publications have a better shot, I think - maybe. The trick for the Cap Times is to figure out how to migrate their local coverage into the internet era AND change the way they publish. I'm not sure that their current approach to the internet makes any sense - simply repurposing newspaper content online.
Having said all that, there will always be a market for excellent reporting. My youngest attended the town meeting and wrote up an article, for publication here :)
A Meeting at Ancora

On Thursday, May 12th at Ancora, a meeting about the Capital Times was held. The meeting was held so that the Capital Times could hear what the people had to say. With a cookie and my shuffle, I was content. But, little did I know that I could be content without my cookie or my shuffle.

One of the first issues of the evening was that people wanted more national and international coverage (I don't think that will help the Cap Times - ed).

In the meeting, there were put-ups and put-downs. A topic that I was interested in was talk about micro chips (RFID). People are thinking in ten years, that we will start putting little micro chips in everything, like books. Putting them in books is a great idea. Like, if the books get lost, you can find them, but then I heard that people micro chips in children's clothes.

Sure, the parents will know where the kids are, but anyone can get to this information and then.... I don't want to talk about it.

People have their opinions and their opinions aren't mine, but if you want to know what I like? I like the Capital Times.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:45 PM

May 11, 2005

Keillor on the Decline of Radio

Garrison Keillor:

The deregulation of radio was tough on good-neighbor radio because Clear Channel and other conglomerates were anxious to vacuum up every station in sight for fabulous sums of cash and turn them into robot repeaters. I dropped in to a broadcasting school last fall and saw kids being trained for radio careers as if radio were a branch of computer processing. They had no conception of the possibility of talking into a microphone to an audience that wants to hear what you have to say. I tried to suggest what a cheat this was, but the instructor was standing next to me. Clear Channel's brand of robotics is not the future of broadcasting. With a whole generation turning to iPod and another generation discovering satellite radio and Internet radio, the robotic formatted-music station looks like a very marginal operation indeed. Training kids to do that is like teaching typewriter repair.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

May 5, 2005

Mossberg: Guide to using RSS

Walt Mossberg provides a useful overview of RSS (Really Simple Syndication), a method to scan sites quickly. (I use a wonderful OS X RSS newsreader called NetNewsWire). Local sites that provide RSS feeds include:Apple's latest OS, 10.4 has a handy built in RSS subscription feature.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:43 AM

May 3, 2005

Media Change: Rosen Connects the dots

Jay Rosen does quite a job connecting the advertising, authority/credibility and newspaper circulation dots between LA, Northern Virginia, Milwaukee and Dallas. Hugh Hewitt's speech on circulation and advertising is well worth reading. Check it out.

Here's a copy of the actual complaint (32K PDF)

Somewhat related, the Wisconsin State Journal (AP & WSJ Staff), while covering the Milwaukee Journal circulation lawsuit, mentions that "March 31, 2004, indicates that "other paid sales" accounted for 4.3 percent of the papers' combined daily circulation and 1.5 percent of Sunday circulation."

We live in interesting times.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:23 AM

Wood on UW Madison J-School Centennial Celebration

Nicholas Wood:

Scant mention of their current utility allowed for a more in-depth discussion of the future of blogs. All agreed -- including UW alum and Denver-based professional freelance writer and communications consultant Kerby Meyers -- that these blogs would only increase in importance, with the most interesting comment coming from Anderson. At one point, he succinctly summed up the current power and immense potential of blogs.

"In our coverage you would have a first day story and then a second story,'' Anderson said during Saturday's discussion.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

More on the Circulation Lawsuit Against the Journal-Sentinel

Mark Belling's TV Show discussed the recent circulation lawsuit & the implications on the media conglomerate (The Journal Company owns a TV Station, Radio Station and a telocommunications firm). Via Jay

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

April 28, 2005

Newspapers & The Tipping Point: Memories of My Paper Route Days

I remember the first day of my Milwaukee Sentinel paper route. It was March, 5:00A.M. The 32 papers were dropped on a corner near my home. I drove my bike, picked up and counted the papers, placed them in my paper "bag" and slid up the hill while it was snowing that cold morning years ago.

I delivered them, biked home and enjoyed a warm breakfast.

I also remember my dad driving me around once each week (early!) with the extra large Sunday edition packed high in our station wagon's back seat. 132 copies on Sunday.

I also learned about selling newspaper subscriptions and collecting money. The subscription game was, in hindsight rather classic. Give some young kids a prize ("whomever sells the most at tonight's sales rally, gets a football"). The memory of that evening is clear. I won the football. I had to sell rather hard to get that last sale - the local sales manager drove me to a friend of my grandparents to make that last sale. It's interesting to think about these things today, 30 years later, in 2005, the internet era.

At the time, I did not grasp the far reaching implications of that last minute sale that gave me a football. Paid circulation was everything. The football was a cheap bonus to motivate the kids in the field. Today, the newspapers offer deals via direct mail, if at all. They've lost the family ties (I don't know how to get it back and I don't think it's coming back).

Years later, it seems that few young kids are delivering papers any longer. That income earning opportunity may have left years ago, gone to those old enough to drive cars (and cover a larger area faster than a kid on a bike). I wonder if this loss of a classic early job with its family/community ties (Sunday's heavy paper required a parent's support via a car) was one of the many 1000 cuts that is laying the newspaper gently down to die, as Jay Rosen says.
Paper Route links at clusty. Paper Boy Blues The Tipping Point

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

April 27, 2005

This is a tipping point

Shorewest sues Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel over circulation inflation.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:18 AM

April 24, 2005

Alliant Energy's Erroll Davis on Humility in the NYT

as told to Eve Tahmincioglu:
Enron made me very angry. We are all paying a tremendous price for the screw-up.

These are powerful positions we executives hold. I have $8 billion at my disposal. We don't have that many checks and balances on us. You can lose perspective and start to think you're royalty. I think of these guys with their $10,000 shower curtains and I say to myself: "I could understand how they could do that." But I also understand why you shouldn't.

If you lose track of where you came from - and surprisingly, a lot of these people came from humble beginnings - you lose track of your moral compass, what work means to the average employee.
Davis's Wisconsin based Alliant Energy has been in some hot water over investments in Brazil and a Mexican resort. Interesting to see this in the NY Times. I wonder if this piece was "placed" by a pr firm?
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:51 PM

April 23, 2005

Unread & Unsubscribing

George Will:
The circulation of daily U.S. newspapers is 55.2 million, down from 62.3 million in 1990. The percentages of adults who say they read a paper "yesterday" are ominous:
  • 65 and older -- 60 percent.
  • 50-64 -- 52 percent.
  • 30-49 -- 39 percent.
  • 18-29 -- 23 percent
Americans ages 8 to 18 spend an average of 6 hours and 21 minutes a day with media of all sorts but just 43 minutes with print media.

The combined viewership of the network evening newscasts is 28.8 million, down from 52.1 million in 1980. The median age of viewers is 60. Hence the sponsorship of news programming by Metamucil and Fixodent. Perhaps we are entering what David T.Z. Mindich, formerly of CNN, calls "a post-journalism age."
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:39 PM

Weinberger Dumps a Mainstream Media TV Gig

David Weinberger (activist blogger):
It's an interesting experience: You get to hone a topic to 90 seconds, memorize it, and talk into a camera in an isolated room. Plus, they send a limo for you. (It's possible they pay, but I forgot to ask.) They're nice people and were happy with the two pieces I did for them. But...

They want reports on what moderate left and right wing bloggers — "Nothing out of the mainstream," the producer told me yesterday — say about a "major" topic. What the hell does that have to do with blogging? And when two of the producers yesterday independently suggested that I report on the blogosphere's reaction to a Vietnam veteran spitting on Jane Fonda, I blurted out — because the flu had lowered my normal Walls of Timidity — that this wasn't a job I'm comfortable with.
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:16 PM

April 22, 2005

Pressthink: All Regimes are Founded on Opinion

Jay Rosen has a very useful post over at PressThink:
He says, "As a pastor I have a very real sense of the importance of local dailies and even crappy ol' free weeklies to build community, or foment division if that's what clarity brings. Some regular platform for cueing the 20 percent of any town, village, or city that actually get things done as to what needs doing, or stopping, is incredibly important. I can't figure out what that would look like in Midwestern communities without a newspaper, but I'm afraid that folks who are concerned about big-C Community had better start imagining, fast."
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:53 AM

Murdoch: The End of Newspapers as We Know Them

The Economist:

I BELIEVE too many of us editors and reporters are out of touch with our readers, Rupert Murdoch, the boss of News Corporation, one of the world's largest media companies, told the American Society of Newspaper Editors last week. No wonder that people, and in particular the young, are ditching their newspapers. Today's teens, twenty- and thirty-somethings don't want to rely on a god-like figure from above to tell them what's important, Mr Murdoch said, and they certainly don't want news presented as gospel. And yet, he went on, as an industry, many of us have been remarkably, unaccountably, complacent.
Download Murdoch's speech for free from audible.com

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

April 14, 2005

Election Lessons from the Mainstream Media...

Stewart Rieckman:
Lesson No. 2 from Election ’05: Yes, whether I like it or not, chat rooms and community Web sites will be a factor in politics and may even set the agenda. But it will always be the mainstream press that will be the unbiased fact checker. [emphasis added]
We certainly have no shortage of fact checking examples from the mainstream media. My view is that the true fact checkers are an engaged public working in combination with writers, whether internet only or from the legacy media.
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:09 PM

March 31, 2005

John Nichols on Local Endorsements

John Nichols comments on local endorsements from the Wisconsin State Journal:
As such, they've set up an interesting choice for Madisonians. If voters think that George Bush is a great president and that Tammy Baldwin is a rotten member of Congress, they will definitely want to back the State Journal's slate of candidates.
This is a very interesting time....
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:01 PM

March 30, 2005

Profit Margins Growing Faster Than Sales.... Newspapers

Or - "Harvesting a market position":
Jay Rosen: Laying The Newspaper Gently Down to Die:
The Project for Excellence in Journalism, in its invaluable report on the state of the news media today, puts it this way: "If older media sectors focus on profit-taking and stock price, they may do so at the expense of building the new technologies that are vital to the future. There are signs that that may be occurring."

Newspapers in 2004, for instance, increased their profits at double the rate (8%) that their revenues grew (less than 4%), according to the Newspaper Association of America, a distinct sign of profit-taking. The industry remains highly profitable. Margins averaged 22.9% in 2004, according to the analyst Lauren Fine, and are expected to rise in 2005. The investment in online publications, though, where the size of the profits is still fairly modest, remains by most evidence cautious.
Perhaps this local example is related?
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:50 AM

March 29, 2005

Saving TV....

Only you can save television. Well worth reading.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:04 AM

March 27, 2005

Deader Trees: RIP for Newspapers?

Michael Malone:
In any other industry, a product that lost 1 percent of market share for two decades — only to then double or triple that rate of decline — would be declared dead. The manufacturer would discontinue it and rush out a replacement product more in line with the desires of the marketplace. So, let's finally come out and say: Newspapers are dead. They will never come back. By the end of this decade, the newspaper industry will suffer the same death rate — 90-plus percent — that every other industry experiences when run over by a technology revolution.
The transition will surely be interesting....
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:00 PM

March 24, 2005

Local Media: State Journal Selling Access?

Bill Novak:
Community activists upset with the Wisconsin State Journal for including a seat on an advisory panel with a $25,000 sponsorship package for a new business journal took their protest to the newspaper offices this morning.

State Journal Publisher Jim Hopson and Editor Ellen Foley met with a half-dozen activists from nonprofit organizations. Both emphatically denied that access to the State Journal is for sale.

"We do not sell access to the State Journal," Hopson said. "We give it away freely."
Interesting to see this surface in the State Journal's sister publication, the Capital Times. Both own and operate Capital Newspapers, a joint operating company where its monopoly is protected by the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970. Background on the 1970 Act: Clusty. Somewhat related, Jay Rosen is calling for the de-certification of the press. The Economist (paid link) also jumps in:
Behind all this lies a shift in the balance of power in the news business. Power is moving away from old-fashioned networks and newspapers; it is swinging towards, on the one hand, smaller news providers (in the case of blogs, towards individuals) and, on the other, to the institutions of government, which have got into the business of providing news more or less directly. Eventually, perhaps, the new world of blogs will provide as much public scrutiny as newspapers and broadcasters once did. But for the moment the shifting balance of power is helping the government behemoth.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:53 AM

March 20, 2005

Literary Collaboration: The King James Bible

A Palm Sunday Link: Dan Gillmor notes that David Bollier draws a parallel between today's internet collaboration & the King James Bible.
We high-tech moderns like to think we have little connection to the past, but as I pondered the new online collaborations, I couldn’t help thinking that we could benefit from considering one of the greatest literary collaborations in history, the King James Bible.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:53 PM

Government Video News Releases

I find the conversation about Government video news releases much ado about nothing. How is this different than a media organization reprinting a press release - which happens all the time? The problem is not completely with the government, rather, it's publishers who don't bother to look into these releases and determine if there is another angle, or even a story worth spending time on, rather than just hitting the "print" button, as it were.

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:52 AM

March 19, 2005

Traditional Media Changes

Tim Oren: trust, transactions, and the risks to MSM bundling as a business model. Interesting reading. Alan Mutter on the qualitative implications of newspaper profits growing at a faster rate than revenue growth (something is being squeezed).

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:45 AM

March 15, 2005

State of the Blogosphere, 2005

Dave Sifry:

Technorati is now tracking over 7.8 million weblogs, and 937 million links. That's just about double the number of weblogs tracked in October 2004. In fact, the blogosphere is doubling in size about once every 5 months. It has already done so at this pace four times, which means that in the last 20 months, the blogosphere has increased in size by over 16 times.
Related: Katherine Seelye: Can Papers end the Free Ride Online?

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

March 7, 2005

Tom Fenton: Networks no longer in the news gathering business

Diane Rehm show: former CBS correspondent Tom Fenton says that the networks are no longer in the news gathering business. Via Dave.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:43 AM

What's Missing from News is News

Frank Rich nails it:

What's missing from News is the news. On ABC, Peter Jennings devotes two hours of prime time to playing peek-a-boo with U.F.O. fanatics, a whorish stunt crafted to deliver ratings, not information. On NBC, Brian Williams is busy as all get-out, as every promo reminds us, "Reporting America's Story." That story just happens to be the relentless branding of Brian Williams as America's anchorman - a guy just too in love with Folks Like Us to waste his time looking closely at, say, anything happening in Washington.
Even NPR. I woke up the other morning at 6 and Morning Edition's lead story was Martha Stewart (not Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq, the dollar's ongoing meltdown, or any of a number of domestic issues).

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

February 20, 2005

Daily Newspapers face a Kodak Moment?

Frank Ahrens takes a look at the plight of daily newspapers in the internet era (Here's a great chart on the changes):
Frank A. Blethen, publisher of the Seattle Times, said his industry has some breathing room left. But not much.

"The baby boomers are going to continue to drive print [sales] for some time," he said. "The problem we have are the . . . 18- to 35-year-olds. They're not replacing the baby boomers."

Others are more blunt, if hyperbolic.

"Print is dead," Sports Illustrated President John Squires told a room full of newspaper and magazine circulation executives at a conference in Toronto in November. His advice? "Get over it," meaning publishers should stop trying to save their ink-on-paper product and focus on electronic delivery of their journalism.

I believe the changes in the newspaper industry mirror Kodak's plight: the sharp, ongoing drop in formerly very high margin film sales. People are still taking pictures, in fact, more than ever. Kodak is just not capturing the kind of dollars they did in the past.

Newspapers face a similar issue. Their high margin, very high overhead business model will likely not survive (this will take some time), BUT citizens still want information, in fact, due to the internet, we're foraging for information at much higher rates than before.

I also think newspapers have not adjusted to their reader's changing expectations regarding news accessibility, depth and content in the internet era. The traditional text article, designed for print no longer cuts it. Thus the rise of the blogs....

Watch the conversation (technorati).
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:45 AM

Jon Stewart on the Bloggers

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart on the growing number of bloggers. Quicktime video

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

January 19, 2005

Charter Cable's CEO resigns

Local Cable Monopoly Charter Communication's CEO Carl Vogel resigned yesterday amid a decline in subscribers and an accounting probe. Charter's stock closed yesterday at $1.92/share, a 52 week low. I think the cable folks have pushed the envelope with respect to pricing and "product". I can't imagine much growth is left in that business. The action is certainly shifting to the internet. Former Microsoft exec Paul Allen is Chairman of Charter. Allen went on a cable acquisition spree years ago, which loaded up charter with $19billion in debt (quite a bit, even for a billionaire).
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:46 AM

January 17, 2005

Saturday Night Live has its way with Dan Rather & Rathergate

SNL lampoons Dan Rather's document problems (transcript & video).
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

January 11, 2005

Newspaper Circulation Fun & Games: Third Party Sales

Jacques Steinberg & Tom Torok:

Across the country each week, more than 1.6 million people who are not on newspaper subscriber rolls are being delivered copies that did not cost them a cent - but they are still being classified as paying customers, an analysis by The New York Times has found. The papers, which are typically paid for by advertisers, are delivered by small and large dailies across the country, including The Miami Herald, The Wall Street Journal, The San Jose Mercury News and The Boston Globe.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

December 6, 2004

iPods and personal mixes cut into radio time

iPods, personal mixes and to a lesser degree satellite radio are evidently cutting into traditional radio listeners time tuned in. I actually think that most radio stations have become ad vehicles rather than creative outlets. For example, I used to listen to 105.5 (triple m in Madison) rather frequently. However, the past two years, I listen to our fine student station 91.7, WSUM and my iPod. 105.5 has no shortage of commercials and a reasonably predictable playlist (they do offer up new music periodically).

The best station, hands down is Fordhams WFUV, available via mp3 stream.

Michael Booth says that Denver stations are trying to change.....

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

December 1, 2004

Virginia Postrel on Life in a Declining Industry

She writes:

This long American Journalism Review article on troubles at the LA Times made me think about the question media critics consistently dodge: What strategies are realistically available when you're caught in a declining industry, which the metropolitan daily newspaper most assuredly is? How do you sell localism--local news, local advertising, locally produced articles on national subjects--in a market saturated with cheap substitutes whose quality has been tested in national competition? What niche can you fill?
Frank Ahrens has more on the recent circulation scandals.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

November 23, 2004

The Persuaders

Frontline (watch it online):

Americans are swimming in a sea of messages.

Each year, legions of ad people, copywriters, market researchers, pollsters, consultants, and even linguistsmost of whom work for one of six giant companiesspend billions of dollars and millions of man-hours trying to determine how to persuade consumers what to buy, whom to trust, and what to think. Increasingly, these techniques are migrating to the high-stakes arena of politics, shaping policy and influencing how Americans choose their leaders.

This is an interesting example: I recently posted a few comments on Pepsi Spice It looks to me like Pepsi's ad agencies are attempting to run a viral marketing campaign using search engines. I could be wrong but find it hard to believe that customers are flocking to search engines looking for Pepsi Spice information....

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

November 16, 2004

The Declinging Value & Utility of 30 Second TV ads

The 30-second commercial is dying, according to In-Stat/MDR (http://www.instat.com). And while its death is not imminent, the high-tech market research firm believes that both broadcast networks and the advertising community are faced with the stark reality of a future without it, or at least a world where its effectiveness is continually diminishing.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

November 15, 2004

NPR IRS 990 Filing

Michael Petrelis takes an interesting look at NPR's latest IRS 990 filing, which discloses revenues ($120M) and some of their journalist's salaries.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:04 AM

November 13, 2004

Newspaper Monopolies

Tim Worstall looks at the long term economic changes facing newspapers.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

November 12, 2004

Big Media & Authority

Daniel Henninger on big media's declining authority:

Authority can be a function of raw power, but among free people it is sustained by esteem and trust. Should esteem and trust falter, the public will start to contest an institution's authority. It happens all the time to political figures. It happened here to the American Catholic Church and to the legal profession, thanks to plaintiff-bar abuse. And now the public is beginning to contest the decades-old authority of the mainstream media.

Two months ago, Gallup reported that public belief in the media's ability to report news accurately and fairly had fallen to 44%--what Gallup called a significant drop from 54% just a year ago.

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:41 PM

TV on your cell phone?

This is one of those "products" that seems to be an answer in search of a question. Here come the mopisodes - one minute episodes targetted at cell phone users. Via Slashdot.

Posted by James Zellmer at 11:17 AM

November 10, 2004

Wildstrom responds

Stephen Wildstrom emailed me his comments regarding my post on electronic music distribution formats and proprietary digital rights management tools (ie, limiting our fair use rights):

Actually, WMA/Janus is no more or less proprietary than AAC/FairPlay, except that Microsoft owns both the format and the DRM, while with AAC, Dolby owns the format and Apple owns the DRM. WMA and AAC are both freely licensable, the former from Microsoft, the latter through the MPEG-4 patent pool.

I don't want to rescue anyone from FairPlay. It's a perfectly fine DRM as DRMs go. I just think Apple has to open it, in the sense of licensing to all comers, if they really want to compete.

In writing the piece, I had no intention of getting into the virtues of DRM. Mostly that was because I just didn't have space, but partly it's because if we want digital content that is, like the overwhelming bulk of stuff that people seem to want, controlled by movie studios and record companies, we're going to have to put up with DRM. With all respect to Prof. Lessig, his view of fair use seems to be based more on wishful thinking than law. And while there is some attraction to Creative Commons as a concept, I haven't seen a rush of artists--at least not those who expect to get paid--to it.

INDUCE, by the way, did not pass and is dead for this year. I think it will be a lot tougher next year because the tech industry, which bizarrely let Microsoft take a leadership position on the bill, has woken up. Microsoft claimed that it had the backing of all the companies in the business software alliance, but they seem to have avoided asking Intel, which is staunchly opposed. Even within Microsoft, the company's backing for INDUCE, which seems to be driven by the legal department, is very controversial. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft joins a flock of tech companies that are filing amicus briefs opposing the MPAA's petition for a write of certiorari in the Grokster case.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:59 PM

Stephen Wildstrom: Microsoft to the Rescue???

Stephen Wildstrom argues, incorrectly - that Microsoft will ride to the rescue and "save us" from incompatible music formats (Apple uses a format called Fairplay, Microsoft uses a proprietary format called Janus, while RealPlayer's is Helix and Sony's is known as ATRAC). All of these formats include DRM (digital restrictions management): software techniques to limit our fair use rights.The very last thing we need is for Microsoft to own the electronic music distribution format. Who can forget their famous statement vis a vis Netscape "Cut off their air supply". A Microsoft controlled music format means no more MP3's which are playable on a very wide variety of devices.

Wildstrom should listen to and understand Larry Lessig's recent Bloggercon session. Microsoft worked with Orrin Hatch (a formerly hostile senator) to push the absurd Induce Act through congress, further eroding our rights (but for, as Lessig says, the right to hire a lawyer). Anyone with a clear understanding of Microsoft's history with proprietary formats and API's would not support their controlling electronic music distribution. Make no mistake, there's a real battle going on and presently Apple is winning (the iPod still plays MP3's....)

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

November 5, 2004

Reynolds on MSM and the Election

Glenn Reynolds on the legacy media's record in the latest election (and the rising role of new media).

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:04 AM

October 29, 2004

Bear Creek's Bill Lorge on Campaign & Media Reform

Bill Lorge (LorgeforSenate@aol.com) email his list of Political & Media Reforms (a very useful list it is):

  • Campaign Reforms
    • $100 Limit
    • Eliminate $1 Check-Off
    • Matching Grant Money
    • State Contractors Cannot Donate
    • Eliminate PAC's
    • Ballots mailed out with Tax Forms (timing challenge, I think)
    • Online Voting (more challenges)
    • Term Limits
    • High School Seniors can vote
    • Eliminate the State Elections Board
  • Media Reform
    • Balanced Print Media Reporting (! - I like this: "A better solution would be to have the State put legal ads on the Internet and avoid putting them in the papers altogether. This would save a ton of taxpayer money and lower our local property taxes; As one Town Board Chair once told me his biggest expense is paying the local weekly paper for legal ads.)"
    • We (the public) own the airwaves and should be free to use it.
I'm not sure my synopsis did justice to Lorge's document. Print and read it yourself here: 155K PDF. Or read it by clicking below...

News for Immediate Release Friday, October 29, 2004

Bill Lorge outlines needed Reforms
Campaign, Election and Media Reforms needed now!

Bear Creek, WI - Just in time for the November 2nd Elections, 14th State
Senate Candidate Bill Lorge has outlined the most comprehensive and workable
Campaign, Election and Media Reforms for Wisconsin in over a century.

"We really need drastic reforms in our American Democratic system, especially
in Wisconsin which needs to get back and be a leader on this issue. We no
longer have one person - one vote. How can we export Democracy all over the
World when we don't even do it right here at home? I put together the needed
changes that must be passed into law, and after this election the first thing I
will do as the new State Senator from the 14th District will be to pass these
reforms into Wisconsin Law," says Lorge

Bill Lorge challenges all candidates for office to support these needed
reforms. Lorge outlines some of his reforms in three categories, saying that all
three need to become law for the reforms to work. "The goal of these Reform
measures is to bring back one person - one vote, to make our election system
work, to have our campaigns become more fair and truthful, and to finally hold
the media accountable for their gross malfeasances in our election process,"
Lorge concluded.

Needed Wisconsin Reforms - by Bill Lorge

Campaign Reform:

$100 Limit:
The main change needed and the most monumental in it's positive effect, even
though it is so easy, is to change the law to lower the maximum allowable
donation to $100 per year per person per candidate per campaign in Wisconsin.
This alone will be the most effective and successful change to guarantee one
person - one vote. This is the main point, and is non-negotiable. How many
average citizens do you know who will write out a check for $10,000.00 to a
Politician? Not even 99% of the people in Wisconsin would consider it, but that is
the current limit for our most important elected offices in Wisconsin. The
people who donate this amount of money are usually people who do business with
our Government and are people who get their investments back a thousand times
over, and always at the expense of us taxpayers. This simple $100 limit will
bring back the one vote per person goal of our U.S. Constitution, as it is clear
that the millionaires who finance the big money that win their campaigns are
buying our votes right out from under us all. Most of this big money is used
to brainwash us voters with TV ads, and it's so effective, the big money
donors are able to change voters' minds to vote their way within seconds. An
effective TV ad will make us vote for or against a candidate in a way that we
voters would not normally do so had we not been exposed and thus contaminated with
those advertising campaigns. Wisconsin was once known as the "Clean
Government State", but not anymore, not by a long shot. The big special interest money
and the clear obedience from our elected officials to these big donors have
caused Wisconsin to now be known as the Chicago of the north. This single $100
limit campaign reform change will bring us back to that clean government

Get rid of $1 check off:
Our income tax returns should not be questionnaires that force us to decide
the important problems our elected official fail to get done themselves. That
is why we elected them. We need to put the ball back in their courts and end
this foolish failed attempt to appear democratic by getting rid of the $1
check-off that is on the ballot. It doesn't work anyway, and it never will.
Increasing it to $2 wont put the needed money into public financing either, it
will actually lower the amount collected in the end, because increasing the
amount to $2 from $1 will just kill the program altogether. I have never checked
that box and I never will, just like 99% of the rest of the taxpayers who don't
check it.

Instead, we need to fully finance the public grant program for candidates:
The public-grant system must be geared towards rewarding candidates who
follow simple guidelines that will make them accountable only to the voters and
taxpayers, not to big donors. The system needs to be fully funded and provide
enough incentive that even the Speaker of the Assembly will apply for it. A
matching-grant system must be set up where a candidate who gets a $20 donation
from a voter in the District where they are running, will get $20 or more from
the State in return, if they follow certain ethical guidelines and fair rules
in their campaign. Even if this reform costs a billion dollars, it is cheap
compared to the alternative, where our elected officials are bought and paid for
by corrupt special interests who get many billions more of our tax revenues.
The special interests are first in line in getting our tax dollars, and the
people are last in line. This reform will guarantee that the special interests
are totally taken out of the tax revenue line and that the people are the
only ones who will be standing in line for our tax revenues. This is worth more
than billions of dollars, but wont even cost a fraction of that. No matter
what the cost is to fully finance this system, it will be the best investment
our government makes. We need to fully fund the public grant system with
general-purpose revenue.

Matching grant money:
Only donations from inside the District where the Candidates seek office are
going to be counted towards the Matching Grant money provided by the State.

Incumbents not allowed to raise money until June 1st:
Incumbents always have a huge advantage over their challengers in raising
money. Always. This is because incumbents use their influence to get that
money, and most get the majority of their campaign donations before the election
even gets started, before they even have an opponent, and before their opponent
even registers to run. Wisconsin needs to prohibit any fundraising by
incumbents until the election season starts on June 1st. Discussion has been going
on for years to limit fundraising during the budget process, which proves that
this reform is needed, but limiting it just during the budget process is
foolish, as incumbents will make up for this once the budget is passed. To level
the playing field and to make our election process more fair, we need to hold
incumbents accountable in a major way, they need to wait until June 1st to
start their fundraising.

Funding the Public-Grants:
The Legislature must commit to full funding so that all candidates who apply
and receive the grant money will get every penny. Many sources are also
available to help fund this program. Any money left over in a Candidates account
after the election year is over could be put into the public-grant program.
Also, candidates who do not participate in the public-grant program should be
charged a certain % fee on the money they spend that will go to help fund the
public-grant program. Also, Candidates who self fund their own campaigns over
the $100 individual limit would also pay a % fee to help fund the public-grant
program. Freedom of speech will be preserved in these reforms, where a Herb
Kohl would still be able to buy a seat in the U. S. Senate, it would just cost
him a bit more, and in doing so, he would help fund the system that will allow
us to have a majority of our elected officials only accountable to the

State Contractors are prohibited from donating:
This is the most appalling abuse going on in Government today. The Law needs
to be changed to prohibit anyone who bids on Government Contracts from dona
ting to any Candidates who would be associated in any way with their business
contracting. A classic example of this is the road builders, who are known for
being the largest donators to the Governor and Legislative Leaders, and who
receive millions of dollars in contracts when they do business with our State.
This must end. It may be unconstitutional to also prevent their family
members from donating, as we all know that this will be a way to get around the law,
so a penalty needs to be added to prevent money filtering to family members
or employees.

Prohibit PAC money:
Political Action Committee money should be prohibited period. Enough said.

Election Reform:

Ballots mailed out with Tax forms:
Voters should get several months, instead of 15 seconds, to decide whom to
vote for. Again, we export Democracy now days, so we have to get it right here.
No more slacking off and condoning a system where voters enter polling
booths, stare at 90% of the names on their ballot that they have no clue who they
are, and then in a few seconds take guesses and vote for people based on poor
judgments rather than serious deep thought. Mailing out ballots along with the
income tax forms will do many things, lower taxes is one by holding our
elected officials more accountable, but this will also allow voters plenty of time
to review, study, learn, inquire, and vote for the best candidates that they
believe in. People can turn in their ballot on Election Day at the polling
places, or they can mail them in early, such as they do with absentee ballots.
This reform will give every taxpayer and registered voter in Wisconsin their
ballot earlier.

Computer Voting:
Online Computer voting would be the easiest and most cost efficient way to
allow people to vote. Our Election process is slow and cautious in this area,
which is fine, but the technology is already here to allow each citizen to vote
safely and securely online. This reform will get it going by the 2006
elections. We can sign people up to vote using the same database as our Department
of Revenue who collects our tax returns. Voters will use a username and
password to vote, just like they do with everything else online.

Term Limits:
I used to oppose Term Limits, because there are a lot of good reasons to keep
seasoned people in office, but I realize later, that if they are real good,
they can always come back after a rest period. Being a private citizen again
will make them better elected officials anyway. I now fully support and
advocate term limits. Any term limits are better than none. To get the debate
going, I propose the following: The Governor and all State Constitutional
Officers limited to 2 four year terms; Legislators: State Senators limited to 2
consecutive four year terms; State Representatives limited to 3 consecutive two
year terms; Congress Members limited to 3 consecutive two year terms; US
Senators limited to 2 consecutive six year terms. Wisconsin would also provide
incentives for local units of government to limit their terms as well.

High School Seniors allowed to Vote:
In an effort to start people voting earlier, this reform will allow any
Wisconsin High School Senior to vote in school as part of their government or civic
courses. Our younger voters have the lowest turnout on Election Day. That
is because we fear the unknown, and our young people who have never voted
before wont start until they have to. If we get them started in our High Schools,
they will continue this good habit and vote in every election for the rest of
their lives. We all know the Teachers Union will love this reform, but I'm
proposing it because I have been speaking out on this for decades, and I have
always received a very positive response from everyone. My goal is to increase
voter turn out. So, if a High School Senior is 17, 18 or even 19 years old,
they will be voting in all our elections in every High School in Wisconsin, and
their vote will count.

Get rid of the State Elections Board:
Historically the Wisconsin State Elections Board was created to assist voters
and candidates. Today they do the opposite. The State Elections board is
known for removing people from the ballots, stopping people from voting, and
fining candidates and voters when they try to exercise their Constitutional
rights in our Democratic system. Less people are running for office all the time,
thanks to the incompetence and lack of dedication of this lost agency. The
politically appointed members of the State Elections Board are the most corrupt
and unaccountable pawns in our State Government. We need to totally gut this
agency and eliminate it, and to restore this legal need back to the elected
Secretary of State to handle Election assistance, and give our County Clerks
back the power to run their elections. Wisconsin has the worst Election's Board
in the Country and to try to fix this would be a waste of time. We need to
totally wipe it out and start over.

Media Reform:

Let's face it. Our media companies control our elections. It gets worse
every year. I ran for Governor of Wisconsin in 2002, and a major Wisconsin
television station was so afraid of my Candidacy, that the first time they
mentioned my name was at 8:02 PM after the polls closed. They refused to cover my
race, they refused to report on the news of my campaign, and when they did refer
to me in the race, my name was always: "Token Opposition", or "Republican
Opponent", but on Election night at 8:02 PM, for the first time, this TV station
referred to me as, "Former State Representative Bill Lorge". I have seen
numerous abuses from the local weekly newspaper all the way up to the corrupt and
very biased Wisconsin Broadcasters Association. Major reform is needed here,
and our elected officials need to be tough and take on the media. You can't
have election or campaign reforms without reforming the media.

Printed Media:
Freedom of speech will be respected and even strengthened with these reforms
I propose. I agree we can't make Playboy stop printing pornography, and we
can't edit the Bible. The printed media must remain sacred in this reform to
protect freedom of speech. My proposal is simple. If a printed news
publication receives any taxpayer funds for legal ads, or any other government related
funds, then they must follow this simple and fair reform measure: They must
report the news from candidates, they must stop favoring one candidate over
another, they must cover all candidates who are in a race, they must provide free
space in their July, August, September, and October publications to all
candidates who are running in their publication area. This is a good thing, and is
drastically needed. If a printed news publication such as a Daily newspaper
fails to do this, including editorializing to endorse a candidate, they will
lose their right to do business with the taxpayers/voters. (A side note: -
Legal ads should be put out for bids by all printed news publications anyway, not
just newspapers. Shoppers Guides should also be able to bid on legal ads;
this increased competition would lower the costs and save taxpayers money. A
better solution would be to have the State put legal ads on the Internet and
avoid putting them in the papers altogether. This would save a ton of taxpayer
money and lower our local property taxes; As one Town Board Chair once told me
his biggest expense is paying the local weekly paper for legal ads.)

Broadcast Media:
The airwaves are owned by the public. The broadcast media is not protected
in the Constitutional Freedom of Speech area like the printed media is. We own
the airwaves, and this reform measure will do what is long overdue; Let the
public take back our airwaves. Free airtime must be provided to all candidates
on the ballot, period. Part of the problem with the big money that corrupts
our campaigns is that it takes millions of dollars to run for Statewide office
in Wisconsin mostly because of the broadcast mediums. To take the big
corrupting money out of the process is easier if we mandate that our candidates
receive fair and equal airtime on all the airwaves broadcast stations that the
public owns. Many broadcast stations do a great job of giving candidates free
and fair airtime today, but too many also abuse their power and are such a large
part of the problems in American Democracy. State law needs to be changed to
reform this entire medium to more fairly inform the public of who is running,
so the voters can make better choices when they vote for one candidate over

# # #

(Paid by Lorge Campaign Fund)

Bill Lorge
"Write-In" Candidate, 14th State Senate District
PO Box 47
Bear Creek, WI 54929
608-698-0300 Bill's Cell Phone

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:16 PM

October 18, 2004

Daily Show's Jon Stewart rips CNN's Crossfire on the MSM's political coverage (mp3)

Useful 5MB mp3, thanks to Russell Beattie. Transcript Jeff Jarvis says this is the "single best piece of media criticism I have seen in years".

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:10 AM

October 10, 2004

A Pravda View of Guild.com

Jason Stein points to Madison's Guild.com as an example of how "critical that [venture capital] funding can be":

In the late 1990s, Sikes dreamed of turning her Madison art catalog and publishing business into an Internet site that could sell pieces of art directly to the public. With millions in venture money to strengthen it, Guild.com survived the dot.com bust and now has 35 employees.

"Venture capital helped build this company to what it is today," Sikes said. "The reason most start-up businesses fail is because they're undercapitalized. There is an enormous need in Wisconsin for more venture capital."

Fred Schwarzer, managing director of Charter Life Sciences in Palo Alto, Calif., said most venture capitalists stay relatively close to their East and West Coast offices and don't get a chance to discover Madison companies like Guild.com.

Rather than drinking the kool aid and simply printing Guild CEO Toni Sike's statements, Stein should have dug in a bit and run a quick Google search and found that:
  • Local investors lost millions during Guild's chase for west coast VC money

  • Guild was bought back from Ashford for less than pennies on the dollar
Holding up guild.com as a local vc success story would be like the folks in Silicon Valley point to their substantial VC investments in massive failure webvan as an example of why they need more venture funding. Local NBC affiliate channel 15 (now a friend of Capital Newspapers madison.com site (!)) ran a brief story on Guild a few years ago. No mention was made of their financial history. I phoned the reporter after the segment aired and asked why this was omitted. She said: "well, the local investors got to keep their [worthless] stock".

I'm not sure we can point to any successful VC backed firm here. Rather, we can look to those firms that have built businesses brick by brick, such as Epic systems. This lack of big numbers points to the real problem, too few folks are willing to take risks.... (Sikes took some, for sure, but let's tell the whole story).

Unfortunately, this type of hype is quickly dismissed by anyone doing their homework, which the serious VC's will do.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:38 AM

October 6, 2004

Political Jihad and the American Blog - Jay Rosen

Jay Rosen takes a useful look at Journalism & Big Media (or MSM - Main Stream Media to some). I like this:

  • The real job of journalism is to help make the public lfe of the nation work well.
  • For journalists, the rise of citizen comment on the Internet should be something to celebrate and learn from.
  • The bias discourse has descended into meaninglessness, which doesn't meant the press isn't trapped by its own preconceptions.
  • The survival of Big Media is not critical, the survival of journalism is. There's a big difference between those two.
  • Bloggers "who care about facts and ideas," and there are many of those, should be wary of the Orwellians on their own side, who are themselves engaged in propaganda-- the charge they are most likely to hurl at others.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:15 AM

September 23, 2004

Jayson Blair on Rathergate

Jayson Blair, who brought down the NY Times Howell Raines comments on Rathergate:

Its really sad to see whats happening to Dan Rather and CBS, and no one knows like me what its like to lose their credibility. I would give anything to have it back. If I could turn back time, I would.
The fact that no members of the Main Stream Media (MSM) contacted Blair for comments speaks volumes.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:31 AM

September 15, 2004

Legacy Media & Dan Rather

There's been no shortage of discussion regarding the apparent forged documents that 60 minutes used last week on a Bush National Guard Story. Jay Rosen has written a "stark message" for legacy media here.

I lived in San Francisco during the 1989 "pretty big one", the Loma Prieta earthquake. I remember reading about this, and frankly feeling repulsed at the image of a Rather in a limo next to the flattened I-880 expressway stating this:

Some time after dark, a long white stretch limo pulled up beside the remaining structure in West Oakland. The back door opened and Dan Rather got out. He pulled down his tie, rolled up his sleeves, mussed his hair a bit so it might look as if hed actually been somewhere doing something, looked into the camera and said, Were here in San Francisco, where the freeway
When, in fact, he was in Oakland....

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:51 PM

September 10, 2004

OODA Loop Round and Round Old Media - Amazing!

Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action - John Boyd's OODA Loop applies to military as well as business and now media issues. Yesterday, the Minneapolis based powerlineblog used the power of the net to raise questions about a Wednesday CBS News/60 Minutes story. By the end of the day Thursday, the basis of CBS's story was in doubt, as John Podhoretz explains.

This is truly a new day for citizen information (likely resulting in a variety of outcomes). Years ago, the only "check" on old media would have been a letter to the editor. Today, web writers (for better or worse) operate at a much higher cycle rate than the MSM (Main Stream Media) or old media types. This is the real change: the OODA loop is light years faster than the pre-internet days. Lileks and instapundit have more.

Counterpoint: The Daily Kos. This is funny....

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:41 AM

September 3, 2004

Reporting from the Edge

Lara Logan demonstrates the risks of a true journalist: reporting with special forces in Afghanistan on the killing of the Taliban's "Billy the Kid".

Interesting interview.

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:46 PM

August 31, 2004

Old Media Empires Strike Back

Scott Woolley on Broadcast Bullies:

For decades the radio industry has crushed incipient competitors by wielding raw political muscle and arguments that are at once apocalyptic and apocryphal. Radio station owners, who formed the National Association of Broadcasters in 1923, have won laws and regulations that have banned, crippled or massively delayed every major new competitive technology since the first threat emerged in 1934: FM radio.
Speaking of Old Media Empires, J.D. Lasica interviews Jack I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone. Valenti

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

August 30, 2004

Eating away media's credibility

Mary Schmich is spot on, as she eats away:

Should the media covering the Republican National Convention attend a million-dollar party thrown by the city of New York and TimeWarner in a spectacular shopping center in Columbus Circle?

Should we chow down on endless free food from some of New York's priciest restaurants?

Should we gobble up the free Republican National Committee Media Welcome gift booklet--the one that gives us discounts at Borders, Bose and Tumi, and complimentary espresso in the cigar lounge at Davidoff and a free traditional shave with shaving cream purchase at the Art of Shaving?

Should we accept freebies that on ordinary days we would understand were as forbidden as plagiarism?

Should we do this even though we report mockingly on the luxury partying of the political parties?

Should we shrug off our own conspicuous consumption, paid for by someone else, as part of doing business?

Well, it doesn't matter what you think. It's done.

Thousands of media types, swirling free martinis and chattering up a cyclone, swarmed through the shops of the towering new TimeWarner Center Saturday night.

Oh, look, there's Wolf Blitzer. And some CEO of something. And that woman--isn't she somebody?

This seems to be related (via instapundit)

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:29 PM

August 25, 2004

Plus ca change

Alex Tabarrok takes us back to the future, via 1900:

There is a widespread prejudice against the newspapers, based on the belief that they cannot be trusted to report truly the current events in the world's life on account of incompetence or venality. But in spite of this distrust we are almost altogether dependent on them for our knowledge of widely interesting events....The function of the newspaper in a well-ordered society is to control the state through the authority of facts, not to drive nations and social classes headlong into war through the power of passion and prejudice.

The source? The American Newspaper: A Study in Social Psychology (JSTOR) by one Delos Wilcox writing in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.... July 1900.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:54 PM

August 22, 2004

The Emporer Has No Clothes

There's been a fascinating discussion online regarding John Kerry's Vietnam war record statements vis a vis the media's attention to President Bush's Vietnam era National Guard service (Note: I'm no fan of either one). The story illustrates, however, the terrible condition of many major media organizations.

I always thought the purpose of news organizations was to inform (perhaps that's an idealistic approach) the thinking public. Thank God for the internet, and our ability to route around these outages (the first blogger, Dave Winer, started largely because the tech press infrequently got things right).

  • Instapundit - where the story started. Reynolds follows up with a useful strategy for Kerry.
  • Investor's Business Daily Editorial
    "The bias is pervasive. As the Media Research Center, a media watchdog, pointed out, ABC, CBS and NBC did 75 stories on charges Bush was "AWOL" from the National Guard. They did nine on claims Kerry fibbed about his war record. Biased might be too kind a description."
  • Powerline, on the Minneapolis Star Tribune Editorial Process
  • Jon Lauck, on the largest South Dakota Newspaper's approach.
  • Newspaper circulation problems
  • Michael Barone
Ed Cone pens a timely column on our deteriorating level of political discourse.

Another useful perspective: Jason Zengerle on the state of the George W. Bush joke.

UPDATE: This link has been passed around a bit. It's interesting to see who is having a look.

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:31 PM

August 21, 2004

No Olympic Blogging!

The Olympic absurdity continues. Athletes are prohibited from blogging. Support your rights. Support the EFF.

Wired covers this issue as well.

JoongAng Daily on the wrestling match between the old media and blogs at the Olympics. Via Scripting News.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:38 AM

August 19, 2004

the 4th Estate & Newspaper Circulation Scams - Slate

Officials from several newspapers have recently confessed to fudging their circulation numbers. Slate editor-at-large Jack Shafer talks to NPR's Noah Adams about why media officials would do such a thing, and what it could mean for public trust of the press.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:34 PM

August 16, 2004

Old Media Reform - Dakota Blog Alliance

Interesting South Dakota blog platform on monopoly media reform.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

August 15, 2004

Craigslist Founder Interview

A useful interview with Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:17 AM

NBC's Olympic Armageddon

I haven't watched much of NBC's Olympic coverage, but the few minutes I've seen have been awful:

  • Opening Ceremony sophmoric dialogue between Katie Couric and Bob Costas (this discussion, in a nutshell, tells us all what the old media types think about the general public). The BBC provides some useful photos of the ceremony here. Russell Beattie responds to Costas/Couric's antics (very rough language, but some useful comments/links on this blog post)
  • Sunday morning, rather than broadcasting events (Wimbledon is broadcast live on weekend mornings), NBC is talking about feta on their Sunday Today show. Truly embarrasing.
  • Here are some useful sites: BBC | France2
I left a voice mail for NBC Chairman Bob Wright on Friday expressing my substantial disappointment in their Olympic coverage plans (including a complete devoid of thought internet strategy). NBC is owned by conglomerate GE.

Joshua Brauer offers up some suggestions for NBC.... (via scripting news)

UPDATE: Ann Harrison on the futility of NBC's internet censorship (live internet video streams are available in other countries).

"Ultimately it will fail," said Len Sassaman, a privacy-technology researcher. Once the American Internet viewing public realizes that U.K. Web surfers are watching better Olympic coverage than they are allowed to see after forking over their credit card, said Sassaman, they will look for better ways to access those images. "Bandwidth has gotten a lot cheaper over the years, so it is not so far-fetched to think that someone will set up proxy servers in Britain that would do this."

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:53 AM

August 10, 2004

Cable TV - Charter loses subscribers

Local Cable TV monopoly, Charter Communications reported higher-than-expected subscriber losses for the second quarter, according to Peter Grant.

I recently thought about adding direct tv or charter cable to our home - largely for the Olympics (we don't watch a whole lot of TV). I found the direct tv customer service folks to be excellent, while my charter interactions were not great (lots of rather hard upselling). I really only wanted local channels, espn and msnbc. They don't evidently unbundle. Bummer that unlike other parts of the world, we won't be watching live Olympic internet streams.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:28 AM

August 9, 2004

Google AdSense - the small print

Verne Kopytoff summarizes recent disclosures regarding google's popular adsense advertising program:

Google is among the Internet's biggest destinations for advertisers. The company had nearly $1.5 billion in revenue last year, 95 percent of which came from advertising.

Targeting the pitches
Underpinning Google's business is AdWords, a program that allows advertisers to make targeted sales pitches alongside search results. For example, a shampoo company could choose to advertise for queries that only include the words "hair," "dandruff" or "split ends."

Google also runs the ads on partner Web sites including America Online, Ask Jeeves and Earthlink.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:11 AM

August 7, 2004

Media Monopoly & Democracy

Jon Lauck spoke recently to the Souix Falls Rotary Club about media monopolies and the implications to the democratic process.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:32 PM

July 30, 2004

More on Old Media Changes

The Chicago Sun-Times cut its single-copy circulation numbers by 23%, more than a month after disclosing that it had inflated figures according to this AP article. Times are changing. Advertisers should completely understand what they are getting for their money.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:08 AM

July 29, 2004

More on Media - ad rates & circulation

Tribune owned Newsday is evidently offering reduced ad rates and a guaranteed circulation minimum ("rate base"). Any business/organization that is not evaluating/changing ad spending is operating at a competitive disadvantage.

Kevin Delaney writes that new media is increasingly challenging "old media" for effective ad dollars:

When executives at DaimlerChrysler AG's Jeep division wanted to promote an extra-rugged version of their Wrangler brand last year, they commissioned a videogame that allowed players to drive a Wrangler Rubicon up steep inclines and across rivers. The game -- "Jeep 4x4: Trail Of Life" -- was relatively inexpensive to produce and the company gave it away online.

Within six months, 250,000 consumers had downloaded it and handed over their names and e-mail addresses to Jeep. Nearly 40% of them said they were considering buying one of its vehicles.

Another bit of evidence that things are indeed changing. I've subscribed to the New York Times fishwrap version since my days at the UW in the early 1980's. This week, I cancelled my print subscription (I no longer subscribe to any print newspapers). I've found that the internet is far more useful and interesting from an international, national and increasingly local perspective.

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:47 AM

July 25, 2004

Unusual Newspaper Funding Disclosure

Jason Stein's article on Brazil's growing soybean export business (and the financial implications for Wisconsin Soybean farmers; Brazil's costs are lower and they are clearing forests to grow beans) follows a number of articles in other publications on Brazil's agricultural prowess, including The Star Tribune and the NY Times. Stein's article is certainly useful and informative (I'm glad they are covering these issues!), however, the article includes a disclaimer that:

Reporting in Brazil was made possible through a grant from the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Department at UW-Madison.

I find this amazing. Capital Newspapers is a $112M+ (2003 revenues) very profitable business. I can't think of one good reason why University funds (direct or indirect) should subsidize this private enterprise. A trip to Brazil, including lodging, food and transportation planned somewhat in advance should cost no more than $3 to $5K. I'd rather see them fund some students, we'd likely get a more for our money.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:36 AM

July 24, 2004

Ted Turner - My Beef with Big Media

Captain Courageous, or Outrageous, depending on your POV, Ted Turner takes some shots at media consolidation in this Washington Monthly article:

Today, media companies are more concentrated than at any time over the past 40 years, thanks to a continual loosening of ownership rules by Washington. The media giants now own not only broadcast networks and local stations; they also own the cable companies that pipe in the signals of their competitors and the studios that produce most of the programming. To get a flavor of how consolidated the industry has become, consider this: In 1990, the major broadcast networks--ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox--fully or partially owned just 12.5 percent of the new series they aired. By 2000, it was 56.3 percent. Just two years later, it had surged to 77.5 percent.
Ironically, on the day I read this, Gannett announced that they purchased a rival Green Bay, WI newspaper, the News-Chronicle (along with a number of regional and weekly publications). Frank Wood owned the News Chronicle, which in 1989 published a long series of articles critical of Gannett and its business practices. Richard McCord, the writer of these articles went on to publish a book - the Chain Gang.

Jon Lauck references this book in his disection of the newspaper monopoly situation in South Dakota.

Posted by James Zellmer at 2:29 AM

July 23, 2004

More on Local Media Monopolies - from South Dakota

Jon Lauck summarizes a number of recent posts on the implications of local media monopolies, particularily on our democracy.

Corporate earnings pressure is certainly one thing, but I believe there are other factors at play such as:

  • Insulated environment: The Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970 sanctioned newspaper monopolies. Competition is a good thing, however in this case, the Act has simply created a general malaise.
  • Lowered expectations: Rather than informing readers with depth, many newspaper's have adopted the USA Today "McPaper" approach. This flies against internet users demands: lots of information quickly and deep information (google and others) when I want it.
  • Hiring: The sports page often has more depth than others.
  • Failure to take advantage of new tools & media.
Money is not the only issue, in fact, I don't believe it's the issue. Leadership is.

Posted by James Zellmer at 3:06 AM

July 20, 2004

Weblogs & Journalism - Where's the money going?

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.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:37 AM

July 17, 2004

Local Sports Site wishoops.net makes a splash

Jason Kiley of wishoops.net reported Friday that Madison Memorial basketball player Wesley Matthews will attend Marquette. This is interesting in several ways:

  • Local TV Station Channel 3 credited this site as the source for their Friday evening report
  • Jon Masson, Wisconsin State Journal Sports columnist referred only to a "A state basketball Web site" in his article on the subject. If the subject is worth an article, it is certainly right to link to the site!
  • The site provides a substantial amount of content, far more than the old media types. I wish them well!
  • Interestingly, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is silent on the matter this Saturday morning.
This article, and the old media's handling is a great example of what Jeff Jarvis refers to as the disintermediation of authority. Advertising revenues will follow over time. The Economist covered this recently (subscription required).

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:15 AM

July 11, 2004

Impressive Internet Radio Site

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.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:24 AM

July 10, 2004

Maytag Skybox Blog

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.

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:23 AM

July 8, 2004

Microsoft Monopoly Tactics in the Newspaper Business ("Old Media"?)

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.

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:55 AM

July 5, 2004

NBA View from Dallas

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.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:59 PM

July 4, 2004

Why Young People Don't Watch Local News

"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).

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:34 PM

June 30, 2004

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Dean campaign architect Joe Trippi's new book discusses the power of the internet and how individuals and organizations can benefit.

Posted by James Zellmer at 2:22 PM

A Marine's View of the Major Media in Iraq

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 Posts 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.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:00 AM

June 25, 2004

The Decline of "Old Media"

James Cramer writes about Old Media Giant Viacom's difficulties:

Viacom SOS. No, to find out why Viacoms 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.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:16 AM

June 14, 2004

Journalism vs Advertising at the LA Times

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): Lee publishes the local Wisconsin State Journal and co-owns the federally sanctioned monopoly (newspaper joint operating agreement: whereby overhead and advertising are shared among two or more "competitors"): Capitol Newspapers.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:46 PM

May 24, 2004

Big Media & Politics

OnPoint's Tom Ashbrook interviewed NBC's Tim Russert last Wednesday. I listened to a bit of this interview while running errands.

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.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:13 AM

May 21, 2004

Tuning out the Media

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.

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?

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds who correctly states: "They're churning out Granadas and Chevettes and telling us that we're idiots for complaining."

Posted by James Zellmer at 3:23 AM

April 17, 2004

Battle of Information & Ideas

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.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:37 PM

April 12, 2004

Who Owns What?

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.

Posted by James Zellmer at 2:17 PM