To Roger Fidler, 1995 represented a sea change in journalism.
For the last three years, Fidler had been directing the Information Design Lab at Knight-Ridder Inc., the nation’s second-largest newspaper chain.
Up until that point, things were looking good. Under the leadership of Jim Batten, a reporter/editor turned chairman, the company was flourishing. It owned about 30 newspapers across the U.S. and was posting millions in profits.
With Batten at the helm, the company was also investing in R&D amid a period of rapid technological change. From the IDL facility in Boulder, Colo., located right next door to an Apple Computer Inc. lab, Fidler led a staff of 10 people who were tinkering with a variety of new media techniques. They worked closely with their next-door neighbors to develop content for the Newton, a PDA predecessor. They had close ties with Japanese electronics firms Toshiba and NEC. Read the rest of this entry »
It's dangerous to go alone! Take this. Photo illustration by Rob Fisher
Vaughn Hagerty is not out to save newspapers.
As the Web development manager for the Star-News in Wilmington, Hagerty hasn’t spent his days proselytizing about the impending death of print or lamenting the vampirism of sites like Google.
What interests Hagerty are good ideas. And he thinks he’s got one.
In mid May, the staff at the Star-News launched MyReporter.com, a site that solicits questions from regular readers and answers them using traditional reporting.
The underlying concept, Hagerty says, is a simple one.
“I think all newspapers are trying to find our place in this new world. ‘What are the jobs that we’re doing?’ is sort of a central theme,” Hagerty said. “One of the things that came up was this help desk concept, like how could we provide this sort of information.”
That initial concept, which stemmed from a formal conversation among the newsroom staff, led to a Q&A format facilitated not by experts, but by journalists whose task it is to answer the question as completely as they would in a traditional news story. Read the rest of this entry »
The Seattle P-I is now online only, the Rocky Mountain News has folded and it seems all those apocalyptic scenarios about the death of the deadtree edition are finally starting to come true — so I know you’re a little irrational right now. But as a friend, I feel like I need to step in and stop you from doing something stupid.
When I worked as the editor of the student newspaper of N.C. State, my adviser once asked a question of my colleagues and I in a survey. It was something along the lines of, “Do you feel it’s the job of the paper to foster school spirit?”
While I don’t remember the question exactly, I do remember wrestling over the answer. The obvious reply, as a member of the independent press, is no. The newspaper is not a cheerleader and is not responsible for promoting the university.
But the Technician was the very definition of a community newspaper — one intensely focused on the group of students, faculty and staff of the university. As a community newspaper, it has a responsibility to help make that community better by equipping its members with the knowledge they need to make responsible decisions about the university’s future.
That meant exposing corruption, making public the debate about tuition and fee increases and criticizing highly paid coaches for failing to perform.
That same idea can be carried over to community news organizations. What’s more, that passion for local coverage has led to amazing success for some community news sites, even amid a recession.
But you wouldn’t know it from reading the work of former editor and technology blogger Mike Elgan.
As most people have already heard, The Rocky Mountain News went the way of the successful Wall Street trader and published its last issue on Friday. The move came after a month-long attempt by owner E.W. Scripps Co. to sell the Colorado tabloid.
Being the cynical, often disinterested guy I am, I didn’t think I’d be affected by the paper’s closure like I was.
It’s not that I didn’t expect it.
I’ve been in a lot of the arguments over the years about whether newspapers and journalism are dying and I try to keep up as best I can with the blackness that is the state of the industry. I read Romenesko religiously, I keep in touch with all my furloughed friends and I watch the increasingly prophetic earnings reports from the major media companies. But like all good journalists who express their feelings through alcohol consumption, I tried not to let the bad news get to me. Read the rest of this entry »