Steve Brill's own words, visualized

Posted: June 3rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , , , | View Comments

Following talk of the clandestine Chicago meeting of the nation’s most powerful newspaper editors, the folks over a the Nieman Journalism Lab got ahold of the presentation from Steve Brill on a new venture called Journalism Online.

In short, it would allow member organizations to charge for their online content through a single system, meaning you won’t have to whip out your credit card to pay for an L.A. Times article and go through the same steps to read a N.Y. Times article 5 minutes later.

Ingenious, even down to the revolutionary name.

Exhausted sarcasm aside, they’re hoping to keep 88 percent of their page views and completely avoid doing anything revolutionary with their content — like make it better, for instance.

I thought it would be interesting to plug the text of the presentation into word cloud generator Wordle (absent a few of the scenario slides). The result is above.

Granted, this presentation was directly pitched to news businessmen. But I think it’s rather telling that words like “publishers” and “revenue” loom so much larger than “readers.” I also like how “staffed” and “invest” are almost nonexistent.

It’s a silly exercise, I know, but interesting nonetheless.

There are, however, a few words and phrases that make me very uncomfortable and don’t appear in the word cloud.

  • “we will restore the value proposition of the print medium by eliminating the fully free online alternative” (creating artificial value by choking alternatives?)
  • “Restoring a Balance of Power” (seriously?)
  • “Think premium CPMs and focusing on most engaged readers” (what happens to the least engaged readers?)
  • “Negotiating power improves with intermediaries through the combination of multiple publishers” (antitrust anyone?)

Something tells me this might be one rocky summer.