Newspaper paywalls by the numbers


The American Press Institute has published a new report on paywalls at U.S. newspapers that finds that “everybody”s doing it.”

It’s a good picture of the landscape if you need the stats, but here’s the short version:

The potential revenue generated by digital subscriptions is still murky at best. It is not clear whether digital subscriptions were mostly a “one-time” cash infusion that simply capitalized on the most loyal digital readers who were always willing to pay or if newspapers will be able to consistently persuade more people to sign up in years to come. Newspaper executives are hesitant to disclose financial details about digital subscriptions.

View from the executive suite: 20-somethings will turn to newspapers

Chicago Tribune

These are trends I’ve never seen.

For a man leading a digital revolution, Tribune Publishing CEO Jack Griffin is surprisingly sanguine about the enduring value of newspapers.

He believes they’re still likely to exist in 10 years, and that 20-somethings will keep picking up the newspaper-reading habit, he said in an interview this week.

Crains Chicago Business

Tribune’s PR folks “clarified” his comments a bit to the Vox Media site re/code.

(Photo by Spacedust2019/

Let’s replay that

ICD-UX533Still like a voice recorder for capturing interviews instead of a smartphone?

But don’t know what to buy?

The Wirecutter may have done the evaluation for you. This week, the site recommended the Sony ICD-UX533 as its pick for “best voice recorder” (just $78 from B&H Photo) The site’s criteria was the voice recorder had to cost under a $100.

They trimmed a pool of dozens of recorders down to eight that were looked at closely. Of those, the Sony model was the pick.

Take a look at what it said and how it tested.

Here’s the SLAM ToolKit for journalists


Do you have a “SLAM ToolKit?”

I presented what I call the SLAM ToolKit for journalists this afternoon to the Tennessee Press Association meeting in Knoxville.

SLAM stands for:

  • Simple
  • Lean
  • Affordable
  • Mobile

Yeah, it’s corny, but, hopefully, memorable.

You can see the deck here. In many categories, there may be better picks (and if there are, I’d like to know about them), but the first choices reflect apps I have used, at least a bit.

More mobile tools and resources for journalists.

Periscope is the buzz currently. If you are interested in using the streaming video app in news coverage, here are some general best practices and tips:

State of the First Amendment 2015

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment Center put out its annual State of the First Amendment report on Thursday.

Some highlights:

* Only 19 percent of Americans think the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees — the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition, a big shift from last year when 38 percent said the First Amendment went too far.

* 70 percent said the media is biased, 15 points higher than last year, but not as high as in 2011 when it reach 76 percent.

* Cameras Always On Dept.: 88 percent believe citizens should be able to record police activity, and 83 percent believe that any footage from police “body cams” should be part of the public record.

See full report (PDF).


10 keys to newsroom transformation

Digital Leads: 10 keys to newsroom transformationSteve Buttry, a longtime digital pioneer, agent provocateur for newsroom change and currently the Lamar Family Visiting Scholar at Louisiana State University, has done a series of blog posts over the past week on the “Four Platform Newsroom” effort of the former Scripps newspapers.

Working with the Knight Digital Media Center at the University of Southern California at Annenberg, the “Four Platform” program set out to “transform” the newsrooms of the 13 newspapers then owned by E.W. Scripps and now known as the “Baker’s Dozen Newspapers” of  the Journal Media Group.

The effort, underway since 2012 and led by Mizell Stewart III, includes the Knoxville News Sentinel, where I work. A report on the initiative was issued this past Tuesday: Digital Leads: 10 keys to newsroom transformation.

Here’s Buttry’s coverage:

Scripps’ ‘Digital Leads’: a strategy and process for newsroom transformation

Editors explain Four Platform Newsroom details

Silas Lyons explains the Four Platform Newsroom approach in Redding, Calif.

Michelle Rogers shares links showing newsroom transformation

Snapshot of presidential photographers


Interesting project!

University of Tennessee news release:

KNOXVILLE–As President’s Day approaches, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Journalism Professor Michael Martinez is busy studying U.S. commanders-in-chief through the lens of the White House photographers.

Since John F. Kennedy started the tradition of hiring a White House photographer, these cameramen have given the public a close, sometimes intimate, look at America’s first family. Martinez is working on a book looking at the public’s memory of U.S. presidents as portrayed through these photographs.

Martinez, who spent years as a photojournalist, graphics editor and web producer, is particularly interested in Gerald Ford’s photographer, David Hume Kennerly. He received a grant from the Ford Library to research the relationship between Ford and Kennerly, and he hopes to interview Kennerly soon.

“There are two main things I’m very curious about,” Martinez said. “Ford knew Kennerly for only about a week before he offered him a job. Why Kennerly instead of, say, one of the press corps photographers? And also, what does Kennerly think his influence was on the president?”

Martinez said Kennerly was given more access than any other presidential photographer. He was free to walk into most any meeting. He enjoyed cocktails with the president at the end of the day. He took photos of Betty Ford as she recuperated from breast cancer surgery. He was friends with the Ford children–and even conspired with them to convince their parents the family needed a dog.

Ford reaching down to pet his golden retriever, Liberty, while working at his desk in the Oval Office in November 1974 is one of Martinez’s favorite shots.

“It kind of epitomizes the humanness,” Martinez said.

Records also hint that Kennerly had the president’s ear.

Once a war correspondent, Kennerly convinced Ford to let him travel with a general sent to Vietnam to evaluate the war situation.

“He wanted to show President Ford his version of Vietnam as opposed to the military version,” Martinez said. “He showed him refugees and the suffering. I want to ask him how he thinks that affected Ford’s policy on Vietnam.”

Studying papers in the Ford Library, Martinez also found evidence that Kennerly spoke up during at least one high-level cabinet meeting, expressing his thoughts on how the U.S. should respond to the Mayaguez seizure by Cambodia.

While Kennerly’s work is central to Martinez’s research, he’s looking at other presidential photographers, too. Aside from Kennerly, there are four who are still living: David Valdez, who worked for George H.W. Bush; Bob McNeely, who worked for Bill Clinton; Eric Draper, who worked for George W. Bush; and Pete Souza, who works for Barack Obama.

He has another grant from the American Journalism Historians Association to do some research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas, this summer. He’s planning to make it a road trip, stopping along the way at Bill Clinton’s library in Little Rock, Arkansas, George H. W. Bush’s library in College Station, Texas, and George W. Bush’s library in Dallas.

The relationship between the president and his photographer often reveals something about the man in the Oval Office, Martinez said.

Media-wise presidents, like Kennedy and Reagan, gave their photographers more leeway, while presidents who struggled with their public personas, like Johnson, Nixon and Carter, were more cautious about having their lives documented on film.

“Because he’d taken such a beating in the presidential debates, Nixon was very concerned about his image. Nixon very much stage-managed everything,” Martinez said.

Yet, interestingly, the most requested presidential photo from the Library of Congress is White House photographer Ollie Atkin’s portrait of Nixon with Elvis Presley. “It’s OK, but it’s not a dynamic photograph,” Martinez said.

Jimmy Carter didn’t have an official White House photographer.

“Carter was confrontational with the media sometimes. I don’t think he was as media savvy.”

Despite the differences between the photographers and their access to the presidents, there is a common thread. “They are passionate about their work,” Martinez said. “They see their role as documenting the presidency for posterity.”

Martinez worked at the Associated Press in New York, the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Detroit News, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He covered presidential and vice presidential debates, a political convention, four Super Bowls, the Timothy McVeigh trial and two Olympics–Lillehammer 1994 and Atlanta 1996. He also worked for four Olympic organizing committees: Sydney 2000, Salt Lake City 2002, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

CUTLINE: President Gerald Ford and his golden retriever Liberty in the Oval Office. Photographed by David Hume Kennerly on Nov. 7, 1974. Photo courtesy Gerald R. Ford Library.

CUTLINE: Elvis Presley meets with President Richard M. Nixon at the White House. Photographed by Ollie Atkins on Dec. 21, 1970. Photo from the National Archives and Records Administration.

Kennerly photo 1.jpg