There is life after a newspaper’s death; sometimes a better one

John Temple, last editor of the Rocky Mountain News takes a look in a piece in Atlantic magazine at what has happened to his former staff two years after the closing of the newspaper. Temple wrote:

A survey I just conducted of the 194 members of the paper’s editorial
staff on its last day found that the blow of losing a job doesn’t mean
life is going to be worse down the road. My survey wasn’t scientific.
It’s possible that those who didn’t respond are struggling personally or
financially more than those who did. But the 146, or 75 percent, who
did respond have lessons for journalists and others who fear the
instability of their jobs or who may have suffered a similar fate.

(Hat tip to Michael Apuan)

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Editors armed with iPhones and notebooks invade Kennedy Space Center

Last week, E.W. Scripps editors, website managers, and corporate interactive folks (among others) took a break from strategic planning in a windowless hotel conference room in Orlando to tour the Kennedy Space Center.

It was part of the work being done for the launch of a new space site, which officially debuts Thursday. It’s live now, however, with a lot of work still going on.

As part of the site launch, there will be lots of live coverage on the site of the Discovery shuttle launch, set for 4:50 p.m., including live streaming of the liftoff and a live chat. It’s the last space flight of the Discovery.

The video above, mostly shot with the camera in the iPhone, is from the tour.

Give the site a look. It’s and if you have suggestions, let me know. I will pass them on. Part of the purpose of the site is to give a place to try out a few new things.

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Clark Gilbert and the ‘Inscrutable Dilemma’

Clark GilbertClark Gilbert, speaking to newspaper industry executives earlier today at the Multimedia Key Executives Conference said:

“A complete transformation is necessary to move forward and to
be competitive” with new businesses entering the marketplace, adding that he believed the industry has a three-year window
to make the necessary changes.

“The industry is forever broken. It will bounce
again, but three years from now will be the permanent reality.”

Gilbert, a former Havard University business professor, is president and CEO of the Deseret News Publishing Co. and Deseret Digital Media in Salt lake City, publisher of the Deseret News and the oldest business in Utah.

He also has been a consultant and a founding partner of the Boston-based consultancy Innosight, which works with media companies among others.  Much of his academic work centers around innovation, entrepreneurship and media companies.

Innosight also includes Gilbert’s friend and mentor, Harvard professor Clayton Christensen, whose “Innovator’s Dilemma” book, published in 1997, cogently makes the case of the difficulty of successful companies have in adapting to new disruptive technologies and innovations. In fact, they almost never do.

In a Salt Lake Tribune article on Gilbert, he is quoted as saying:

“The survival rate of [companies] overcoming a disruptive innovation is
about 9 percent. But of the 9 percent that made it through, 100 percent
set up a separate group to focus on the digital innovation.”

One of his key moves has been spinning digital operations into a separate group, Deseret Digital Media, run by “digital natives.” He also laid off 43 percent of the Deseret News’ workforce as part of the remaking of the business.

Despite Christensen’s book of 13 years ago, a body of research from Gilbert and other’s on newspapers and the disruptive technology of first the Internet and now mobile, the many speeches to media groups, consulting to newspaper chains and the radical changes Gilbert has made in Utah, few media companies are following heeding his advice of fully separating newspaper digital and print operations. The trend has been quite the opposite: more fully integrating print and digital responsibilities.

And, in what might be called the “Inscrutable Dilemma,” he’s among the most influential thinkers in the industry, bending the ear of almost every top newspaper executive at one time or another.

The Multimedia Key Executives Conference is being held at the Poynter Institute by the Inland Press
Association, the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and
Suburban Newspapers of America.

(Photo from Deseret Digital Media)

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Explore increasing news sources #JCarn

I participated in the February Carnival of Journalism. Lots of good ideas/observations in these posts. David Cohn, who organized the Carnival writes:

We have almost 40+ responses to the broad question: “What can I do to increase the number of news sources?” Many of your sentiments overlapped, but each person brought a unique perspective to the mix. Several agreed that increasing news sources is a bad idea, and others championed it. That’s what this carnival is for — to dialogue and engage one another and the community at large.

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Why I’m curating news and why you should too

David Cohn, our host for the 2011 Renewal Tour of the Carnival of Journalism asks this month:

Considering your unique circumstances what steps can be taken to increase the number of news sources?

This wording is not chosen lightly. The question is how to increase the sources of news. This does not necessarily mean how do we increase the number of news organizations, although that can be an answer. Being a source of news and being a news organization are distinct. An individual posting a twitpic of a car crash with the hashtag #yourcity is a source of news even though he/she is not a news organization.

He’s not asking what newspapers should do or what do-gooder foundations should do or even what journalists in general should do. I could opine on what others should do easily.

No, he’s asking what I can do. That involves that personal accountability thing.

My circumstance, unique or not, are that I work at a daily newspaper, one that I hope will survive and thrive for many years to come.

One thing I have tried to do and one thing I think that large local media organizations should be doing is curating local news sources and amplifying views, opinions and “reporting” from the “people formerly known as the audience.”

What are “local news sources?” I define that broadly. It could be other media, either local competitors or traditional media from elsewhere who are covering a local issue. It could be local bloggers or grassroots news sites. It could be posts on social media networks like Facebook or Twitter. It could be content posted on media sharing sites like flickr or Youtube.

Selecting, organizing and presenting these myriad views is a powerfully effective way or introducing additional voices to a news topic, issue or story. Curation pieces are often among the most popular stories of the day at my newspaper’s websites.

Readers are reacting to what they see as news and if you are doing your job, they are engaging with your news stories, photos, videos (coverage in general).

There are a number of tools to do this ranging from just doing in you’re your story to ones that make curation much easier to do. I’ve used Publish2 and Storify, but really there is no technology tool barrier to doing effective human-powered curation.

This is an easy strategy for any news organization, but one I really don’t see being used near enough. Jay Rosen came up with the blog post “The People Formerly Known as the Audience” five years ago. Yes, five years ago.

So my challenge to myself and to others in my “unique circumstances” is to use curation more often and more effectively to add community voices to news coverage.

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Who started science fairs might surprise you

I stumbled across this the other day. If I knew it earlier, I had totally forgotten.

Newspaper mogul E.W. Scripps is generally considered the father of science fairs in the United States.

The origins of the science fairs in the United States began almost
thirty years before the first National Science Fair in Philadelphia in
1950. Its beginnings can be traced back to newspaper mogul E.W. Scripps
in 1921. He fathered the Science Service, now known as Society for Science & the Public, in collaboration with The American Association for the Advancement of Science,
the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Research Council.
Scripps created the Science Service as a nonprofit organization to
popularize science by explaining technical scientific findings in a
jargon-free manner to the American public. Under the watchful editorial
eyes of Edwin Slosson and Watson Davis, the original weekly mimeographed
Science News Bulletin evolved by the end of 1920s into the Scientific
News Letter, a weekly magazine.


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