Got a problem, ask a librarian

When people need answers, most turn to the Internet, but don’t turn out the lights at the public library. Eighteen to 29-year-olds, known of Gen Y’ers, are the heaviest users of libraries for problem solving information, says a new Pew Internet and American Life study released Sunday.

I hadn’t really thought of the library as a youth haunt, but Gen Y respondents were startlingly far more likely to go to a library to solve a problem than the next group up, Gen Xers, those who are 30 to 41 years old.

Course, they could be going for free access to computers.- about 70 percent said they used a computer at the library.

We’re not talking the homeless or just people on the slow end of the digital divide. The study says::

While libraries have worked to become the place to go for those who cannot afford a computer or an internet connection, people with high access are equally likely to turn to libraries for government information as those with low access. Instead of the internet making libraries less relevant, internet use seems to create an information hunger that libraries help satisfy.

The study surveyed people about 10 problems they might have had in the past two years and how they gathered information about those problems.

The problems were:

  1. dealing with a serious illness or health concern;
  2. making a decision about school enrollment, financingschool, or upgrading work skills;
  3. dealing with a tax matter;
  4. changing a job or starting a business;
  5. getting information about Medicare, Medicaid, or food stamps;
  6. getting information about Social Security or military benefits;
  7. getting information about voter registration or a government policy;
  8. seeking helping on a local government matter such as a traffic problem or schools;
  9. becoming involved in a legal matter; and
  10. becoming a citizen or helping another person with an immigration matter.

The study was funded with a grant from a federal agency that supports libraries.

Somewhere, Ben Franklin is smiling.

Your writing’s pretty good; how’s your CPM?

Career columnist Penelope Trunk blogs her firing from Yahoo!.

There’s a tremendous outpouring in the comments as well as some catty ones there and on Valleywag..

She says she was fired because her column commanded low advertising rates. So reporters and writers out there: How’s your CPM doing?

Print media writers look askance at how ratings affect TV news, but in the digital economy, they face the prospect of eventually being tied to their advertising generating power, the almighty CPM,  or advertising cost per thousand impressions.

I’ve done some rough calculating on my newspaper’s Web site and I don’t see any writers generating their salary in ad revenues from online. I think others are making similar calculations. On the other side, the same forces are seeing sports cherry-picked from newspapers for six figure salaries by ESPN.

Penelope Trunk; she’ll do fine. For hundreds of other journalists, the value placed on their work will be a bleak reality.

(One of my favorite blog posts by her is about the origin of her name, a “brand me” classic. Her Wikipedia entry, however, is over the top caustic, describing her as an “American idiot,” at least at the time of this writing.)

(via Sparkwood and 21)

A personal walk through 41 years of newspapering

Paul Steiger’s been in journalism a wee bit longer than I have and his reflections on how newspapers have changed in 41 years is a fascinating read. Steiger is stepping down as managing editor of the Wall Street Journal.
His history of the last four decades of the newspaper industry might be summed up by this paragraph:

In some ways, what’s happening to the newspaper industry is a return to its past. Less than 50 years ago, American newspapers were in the main relatively small, narrowly profitable, family-owned, locally focused and hotly competitive.

 … Or at least the locally focused and hotly competitive part.
He also says newspapers misplayed their online strategies:

A bigger problem was that newspapers often sought to copy fairly closely on the Web what they did in print, rather than offer new products taking full advantage of digitization. The most creative new products came mainly from enterprises with little connection to newspapers. And soon, if you named almost any bit of data you used to rely on papers for — sports scores, weather, stocks, movie times — there were Web sites offering more information faster, and free.

 Pretty apt. Applying the precepts of one business to another is seldom a winning gambit, but that’s a fallacy we’ve yet to recognize in day-to-day practice.

(via Romenesko)