Friday, March 02, 2007

Man bites dog: Newspapers are alive!

Dan Kennedy reports on a new newspaper/blog concept called BostonNOW. The idea: Bloggers sign up with this new newspaper-based and online journal authorizing them to reprint/republish the blogs. They sell ads. You get a cut of their profits.

Is this good news for newspapers, which have seen declining circulation? It seems to suggest that these folks think there remains a market for paper-in-the-hand media. But, like a no-frills airline that figures out how to reduce labor costs, there is little room in this new business for paid, trained reporters.

I guess this is a logical extension of the convergence between traditional and new media.

Hmm, I'd better sign up and see if they will direct my share of the profit to my hospital . . .

7 comments:

Paul Levy said...

A thoughtful (!) and intriguing (!) comment I just posted on Dan's blog:

Now, let's think this through. What's to keep the Globe from creating a similar product? Imagine if they likewise solicited bloggers for a special section of the newspaper, and if they also offered to share advertising revenues from those pages. Meanwhile, expanded versions of those postings could also be put on their own blog.

Given the Globe's base of a dramatically larger readership, they would be able to compete with BostonNOW -- and maybe they could also attract back to the paper the thousands of younger readers who no longer buy it.

Question, would the reporters' union at the Globe block this move? On the one hand, it would seem to be cannibalizing their business and undermining their professional standing. On the other hand, it might make it possible for them to have jobs and write their own columns at the Globe for a longer time.

Star said...

Oh, please--don't encourage these parasites who want free content for their adv-containing sites. We used to call this writing, not content. And it used to be worth money to the creative person who originated it.

Paul Levy said...

Excuse me, star, but did you drop your buggy whip?

Just kidding! But the world is changing fast. Best to recognize it and develop counter-strategies.

Star said...

Seriously---would you trust these people to tell you what your share is? They are writers who have decided to ask people to work for free or risk-share with no rationale for doing so.

Paul Levy said...

Oh, not so: They have a rationale . . .

:))

Anonymous said...

There's something important in this announcement that was missed in Paul's comments.

Certainly BostonNow is interested in advertising revenue generation. But they've also, although they may not recognize it yet, dropped a hammer down on the "mainstream media" .v. blogger issues as to a blogger's "credibility".

Print publishing, given its permanence, demands a more thorough factual screening, so one would expect to see the material take on a quality commensurate with this fact. The bar raises a bit when getting into print.

Frankly, mainstream news corporations have an interest in maintaining good relations with bloggers. I have many good contacts in the large media outlets and am sought out occasionally for my unique comment style. Bloggers also represent good news stream sources and, these days, make as much news as they seem to gather.

Yet whenever the opportunity has arisen - when discussions as to the differences between these media and the "professionals" who are "accredited" take place - the mainstream folks make certain that the differences are maintained. Bloggers are still very muck at arm's length. Discussions as to "accreditation" and providing special "reporter shield" laws to cover basic first amendment activities seem to leave bloggers at the wayside and my guess is that this is the way the mainstream folks would like to keep it.

There's clearly an interest in the established media corporations to keep a special first amendment status. I say this tongue-in-cheek, because it's really the degree of first amendment activity that's the issue. Bloggers, ironically, tend to push this envelope severely, yet they are also the most vulnerable because, rather than have a phalanx of attorneys and all manner of political back room contacts, they have (maybe) their car, house, and if fortunate enough some savings.

The first amendment is only as good as the cash and lawyers you have to back you up when the chips are down.

As a blogger myself, I certainly hope this new idea dissolves the argument and affords the citizenry their basic rights that news media has, by their pursuit of "accreditation", somewhat hoarded for themselves.

Consider that the State Police (and most states do this) have a registration program that provides journalists with a special ID. Without this, access to news events is often restricted. See how far you go in getting one of these filling out under employer name "Self".

Not to sound paranoid, but name one "accredited" journalist who has been arrested and thrown to the ground for photographing police officers on the job?

There are plenty of stories where citizen-journalists have been treated as criminals in this regard.

Here's just one:

http://www.category305.com/magic-city/miami-police-arrest-journalist-2.php

What, tell me, might be the difference between a "accredited journalist" taking a photo, and a "citizen-journalist"? Perhaps this will be discovered in a court of law, if this case ever mercifully gets there.

Paul Levy said...

Check this: http://masspurgation.com/2007/03/12/thoughts-on-boston-now.aspx