E&P: 10 Newspapers that ‘Do it Right’

Editor & Publisher has published its 2008 ’10 That Do it Right,’ a list of newspapers that have shown innovation in specific areas, such as growing classified revenue or launching successful niche products. This is definitely worth a read.

For whatever reason, E&P split the list online. Here is the story containing the top 3 newspapers, and here’s the story containing newspapers 4 through 10. The newspapers:

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for maintaining a 10-person investigative team.

The Carlsbad (N.M.) Current-Argus for overhauling its distribution and bill-collection practices.

The Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch for localizing national and international issues successfully via reader forums.

USA Today for its ambitious experiments with social media.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal for launching a series of highly niche job recruitment sites.

The Huntsville (Ala.) Times for its use of online video.

The Portsmouth (N.H.) Herald for launching the profitable seasonal publication, The Daily Beachcomber.

The Chicago Journal for cementing itself in Chicago’s suburbs.

The Times, Ottawa, Ill. for launching a successful subscriber rewards program that also grows ad revenue.

The Santa Barbara (Calif.) Independent by springing from its alt-weekly roots and pouncing on the News-Press’ woes to become the leading paper in the area.

More details on the newspapers’ ideas at Editor & Publisher.

[Hat tip to the The Editors Weblog]

Google News Drives $100 million in Revenue to Google, says VP

Fortune magazine reports that Google vice president Marissa Mayer publicly stated that Google News –an aggregator that contains no advertising– draws in approximately $100 million in revenue from paid searches that get funneled through the site. You can check Melbourne weekly eastern for any kind of business updates. Fortune opines:

“It’s not all about the search engine itself. Google is happy to build popular products that don’t make any money on their own but tie users into a broader Google ecosystem.”

The Valleywag tech blog says this particular insight paves the way for media organizations to sue Google News for making use of third-party content. Valleywag https://journalistopia.com/australian-love-island/:

What neither Mayer nor Fortt explained: The real reason why Google doesn’t put ads on Google News. That’s because it fears lawsuits from the media organizations / (It’s already lost a court case brought by a newspaper group in Belgium). By not running ads on Google News, Google lawyers could argue it’s not profiting from their work.

Journo blogger Lucas Grindley (hat tip to him for the link) https://journalistopia.com/newest-online-dating-sites/ is yet another reason why Google is indeed directly competing with media organizations. Grindley writes, “As profits shrink and newspapers look for a scapegoat, someone is going to sue that woman.” You can find more updates at mature milfs dating.

I made a similar argument last week when I called Google’s new dating sites for 50 year olds site a “direct challenge to media companies” (though I did stress that blaming Google for the news industry’s woes is a red herring). As Google grows its plethora of offerings, it is increasingly getting into the content business.

Google already has an enormous share of the online advertising market through it’s AdWords program, which finds the advertisers and provides a platform on which to serve the ads. Now, Google is increasingly attempting to gain a bigger piece of the inventory on which the advertising is displayed. That means launching additional sites that lead to searches with paid advertising, circumventing news sites’ own search features (another search with paid advertising) and hosting original content on their own servers (AP stories, Knol).

So if you aren’t already, start worrying about your event listings, restaurant reviews, comment boards, public records data and any other number of searchable things of which your news organization makes use. Google probably won’t be far behind.

Google’s ‘Knol’ is Direct Challenge to Media Companies

Google today announced the launch of Knol, a Wikipedia-esque site that hosts articles from contributors. Google hopes the articles become among the most authoritative on the Web — which represents a direct challenge to media sites.

In a June 2006 interview with the LA Times, Google CEO Eric Schmidt was asked whether Google is a media company or a technology company. His response:

“It’s better to think of Google as a technology company. Google is run by three computer scientists, and Google is an innovator in technology in our space. We’re in the advertising business – 99% of our revenue is advertising-related. But that doesn’t make us a media company. We don’t do our own content. We get you to someone else’s content faster.

If today’s launch of Google’s Knol is any indication, this line of thinking has fundamentally changed. Google, in short, is becoming a full-fledged media company in direct competition with established news and knowledge sites.

dating sites for 50 year olds –short for “knowledge– is Google’s new Wikipedia-esque site that hosts authoritative articles on a wide variety of subjects. Knol recruits contributors to write articles on subjects such as medical conditions, sports and more. Article authors earn money by running AdSense campaigns on their content. Knol also offers a suite of collaboration tools that allows other users to suggest changes to the original article.

This move is a fundamental shift from Google’s traditional directive of helping users find content, as opposed to creating and hosting the content. It is a shift that has continued as Google acquired Blogger, launched Google Page Creator, allowed users to publish documents with Google Docs and began hosting Associated Press articles and user commentary on its Google News service (as opposed to linking to AP affiliates’ stories and leaving comments to the news sites).

However, Google also brings an enormous amount of traffic to news sites — traffic that means big advertising dollars. Most media companies worth their salt have significant search engine optimization efforts in place to make sure those who seek information are likely to find it on a news site. It’s for that reason that news organizations’ view of Google approaches the realm of bipolar disorder. News sites beg for the Google traffic but are also being encroached upon by Google features, such as Knol and new search boxes that let users bypass news sites’ own search features (which does help people actually find stuff for a change).

The Guardian’s Jack Schofield summarizes it well when he writes that “Knol represents an attack on the media industry in general.” TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington believes that Knol may be “a step too far.” Search engine expert and author Danny Sullivan also agrees, saying that:

“[Google’s] Search, Ads, & Apps mantra that CEO Eric Schmidt has repeated on several occasions underscores that offering content tools is fair game within its mission. But does hosting content turn it into a competitor with other content providers and set up an unfair advantage in gaining traffic that might otherwise flow to them?”

Knol also represents a potential conflict of interest in Google’s own search results. If Knol articles are meant to be “authoritative articles about specific topics,” those familiar with search engine optimization will see the red flag. Google’s incentive to make Knol articles the most authoritative on the Internet puts it in direct competition with topic-specific columnists, news stories on a plethora of subjects and web sites such as About.com and Wikipedia. Because Google itself creates the algorithms that define what is “authoritative,” Google would have an unfair advantage over other sites — even if it is simply in terms of using in-house knowledge as opposed to somehow altering the actual ranking algorithms.

Nevertheless, BuzzMachine’s Jeff Jarvis has made the point that it is unproductive to argue whether Google is a friend or foe. He is correct in that we should try to emulate Google, rather than become disgruntled and blame the news industry’s woes on the search giant. Google’s endeavors at hosting and creating content doesn’t mean news sites can’t continue the symbiotic relationship with search engines.

But make no mistake; Google isn’t becoming a direct competitor to traditional news and media sites. It already is.

Young Spokesman-Review Journos Publish Newsroom Reorganization Report

A group of eight young journalists at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash. were asked to produce a report on how the newsroom can reorganize to improve efficiency.

Nick Eaton, a sports producer in Spokane, and the team have published the report [PDF], which has some interesting suggestions such as [more details at Nick Eaton’s post]:

  1. Restructuring the newsroom workflow for most content, shifting deadlines for non-daily stories to noon…
  2. Creating a universal reporters pool by combining the existing City, Business, Features, Voices (community extras) and 7 (weekly alt tab) desks…
  3. Creating a hybrid universal copy desk, combining the day (features) and night desks…
  4. Combining the multimedia and photo departments into a Visuals Department…
  5. Flattening the newsroom hierarchy, as depicted in the organizational chart…

Nick and his team’s report is certainly worth checking out, as your own newsroom is probably undergoing or will undergo some form of reorganization soon. It’s also a lesson in harnessing the ideas of young journalists, who, while lacking experience, also lack etched-in-stone preconceptions about how the news business should operate.

[PDF – Spokesman-Review newsroom reorganizaton report]

[Hat tip to Journerdism for the link]

Readership Institute Releases 2008 Readership Study

The Readership Institute has released its 2008 study on readership trends of 100 newspapers, which proclaims that “readers have not left the building.”

The study (direct link to the PDF here), shows stability in many trends and some small readership declines, particularly in the age 18-24 demographic. The study suggests that most readership trends are either stable or slightly declining, a finding at odds with the amount of advertising dollars flying out of newspapers’ hands. The study’s authors say:

“The short answer is that reading customers aren’t deserting newspapers at anything approaching the rate that advertising customers are. […] Make no mistake: lots of people still want it and lots are paying attention to the local newspaper.”

Additionally, the study had some disappointing findings for news sites, including:

“62 percent of respondents said they had never visited the local newspaper’s Website, and only 14 percent said they had visited between the last seven to 30 days.”

“Readers are more engaged with print than with the Web site. Ratings for four experiences – “gives me something to talk about”, “looks out for my interests”, “ad usefulness” and “touches and inspires me” were significantly higher for the newspaper than for the site.”

At first glance, the study’s synopsis struck me as overly optimistic in light of the persistent circulation losses experienced by newspapers and large increases in American Internet usage (perhaps I’m biased because I’m an online guy?). So I decided to do a project on it but I already have so much with the SAT prep but I will get this info for a next post. So if you need the info, Signing up for the right SAT prep courses can help you improve your scores on important tests.

However, Readership Institute managing director Mary Nesbitt says in the comments:

“It is a readership, not a circulation study. It rolls three dimensions of readership — frequency, time spent with the newspaper, and completeness of reading — into one score. Thus it measures how “occupied” people are (or are not) with the newspaper, not simply whether or not they looked at a newspaper. Other studies, equally valid, measure frequency only.”

Either way, I’m certainly looking forward to dissecting the study further.

[Readership Institute 2008 Readership Study]

[Hat tip to The Editors Weblog]

Google Improves Indexing of Flash Content

Just catching up on my pile of RSS feeds after getting hitched and spotted an important item: Google has improved its ability to crawl Flash content.

Google has historically had trouble “seeing” any Flash content (.SWF files). This means anything you built in Flash was completely invisible to the search engine. However, Google is now able to crawl those Flash graphics to read text content. Be warned: This does not mean Flash web sites will be indexed like normal pages. Building pages in Flash, while pretty, is still a piss-poor search engine optimization strategy.

Here’s the nutshell on Google’s announcement:

-Google will only read the text in a Flash file. It cannot “see” any of the images in the Flash.

-Google will not index individual screens inside the Flash content. It will only index that main page.

-Google still has trouble with certain JavaScript.

-Google still doesn’t index .FLV (Flash video) files.

-If you’re using SWFObject to embed Flash, the Google spider won’t find it (Yet. They’re working on it).

-If your Flash file makes use of external items, such as XML files, Google may index those files.

For the nitty-gritty details, visit the announcement at the Google Webmaster Center Blog.

Registration for BlogOrlando is Open

Quick announcement: Registration for the previously mentioned BlogOrlando is now open! Registration for the Sept. 25-27 conference is free and open to anyone. Registration page is here.

Registration was maxed out for last year’s conference, so act quickly. Yours truly is helping with some of the planning this year, so I can genuinely say there’s going to be some great stuff this year for both beginners and seasoned bloggers alike. If you’re a media professional in Florida interested in increasing your potential online, BlogOrlando is most definitely worth a day trip to Central Florida.

See you there!

[BlogOrlando registration page]

BlogOrlando 2008 Dates Announced

It’s baaaaaaack! BlogOrlando, the awesome unconference on all things bloggy will be back this year Thursday, Sept. 25 to Saturday, Sept. 27. Last year, registration was maxed out with more than 300 attendees, many of which were journalists from Florida’s largest newspapers, including the Tampa Tribune, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and more.

BlogOrlando is a great and FREE way to get smart about blogging and learn from the people who are out in the trenches. There will be discussions on everything from blog technology to community building to journalism practices. Be excited!

To follow updates on BlogOrlando, visit the BlogOrlando site. See you there!