Social media skips the news, solves a crime

Posted: December 4th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , | View Comments

timecopNews editors love the mug shot.

This simple perp-on-gray image has been the visual bread and butter of crime stories for a long time. The St. Petersburg Times even has a whole Web site dedicated to them.

But they’re also valuable to the police, especially when they’re using the photos to help catch suspects or persons of interest in a crime. Sending a photo to news organizations means exposing it to thousands of eyeballs that can help detectives do their jobs.

But if it’s not a high-profile crime, they’re likely out of luck.

That was the case this week when the librarians at N.C. State were fed up after the brazen theft of a large $700 clock from their facility. They had security camera footage, but what news organization would have the space to print or air such a story?

As it turns out, librarians are pretty clever — they skipped traditional media altogether. Read the rest of this entry »


Why e-editions are so 2001

Posted: April 15th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | View Comments
notamagotchi

Other products under development at The News & Observer: The Newsboy Tamagotchi!

To be honest, I thought it was an April Fools joke.

On a day rife with bad spoof articles and terrible gags, I figured when blogger Ginny Skalski tweeted that Raleigh’s metro daily, The News & Observer, was going to begin distribution of an electronic edition, it was just another one of those things that would go away when the clock struck midnight and the pranksters hung it up for another year.

I was wrong. In an e-mail sent out Tuesday, The News & Observer was “proud” to hawk it’s newest product, the N&O e-edition.

Aside from the fact that the hip name already includes abbreviations, which is sure to draw the texting crowd (r u srs?), the paper’s marketing team also highlighted some of the other features of its “newest newspaper product.”

The e-edition is a digital replica of the print newspaper, available on your computer 7 days a week.  It’s visually pleasing and reads like the real thing – perfect for the traveler, youngster or mover and shaker in your family.

I would love more than anything to join the managers at the N&O in a hearty laugh and a hard drink and congratulate them on a prank well pulled.

But they’re not smiling. Read the rest of this entry »


When the Observers fall silent

Posted: March 24th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | View Comments

twotowersIf I was a gambling person, or had any luck, or any money, I’d start making my bets now on when The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer will close their doors for good.

The fatal blows at the newspapers have already begun. Like a bully hastily overcompensating for his own inadequacies by demanding milk money from the nerdy kids, parent company McClatchy has put the squeeze on both organizations, forcing 160 people out of the job. Almost 60 of those layoffs come from the newsrooms of the N&O and The Charlotte Observer.

All of this, of course, is in an attempt to defy a continuing recession and make up for McClatchy’s $2 billion of debt by cleaving into the bone of these two still profitable newspapers.

It’s an effort to become a leaner organization, according to McClatchy Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt. In his words, the cuts will “realign our workforce and make our operations more efficient.”

That’s funny, since it didn’t seem like McClatchy was too interested in efficiency when it bought Knight-Ridder Inc. (and The Charlotte Observer) in 2006, weighing the company down with another 20 papers — oh, and that $2 billion in debt it’s now so eager to pay down at the expense of its employees’ livelihood.

But the other effect of the buy was more foreboding for the future of North Carolina.

The purchase consolidated the state’s two largest and most powerful watchdogs under one company.  Success — the unlikely scenario in an age of declining readership and ad revenues — would mean great things. Failure would mean the collapse of the Two Towers of North Carolina journalism.

In that single irresponsible act — committed apparently while Pruitt twirled his thin mustache with a dastardly grin –  the McClatchy Co. doomed North Carolina to a crippled ability to hold its government accountable. Read the rest of this entry »