Abandoning the News: Forty-four percent of Americans 18-34 claim to go to a news portal at least once a day for news. Only 19 percent of this age group read a newspaper daily. (Carnegie Study)
Some Papers Lose Big in Today's New Circulation Numbers (Editor & Publisher): Even the nation's best newspapers, like The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, The Chicago Tribune, The Rocky Mountain News, The Denver Post, The Miami Herald, The Arizona Republic, The Houston Chronicle, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The San Diego Union Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Sacramento Bee are losing circulation.
Unless something dramatic happens to reverse this trend, I predict that within 10 to 20 years, many daily newspapers will cease daily publication. Any publication that can't afford to lose half of its print circulation over the next 20 years will probably die. They might salvage themselves by becoming freebies, shoppers, weeklies or twice weeklies. But most of their readership will be online.
As an avid reader of newspapers, I find this trend sad. A newspaper is still a superior technology in presenting a wide diversity of news compared to a computer screen, IMHO. Is there any hope for convincing more people to subscribe to a daily newspaper for the long-term?
Newspapers have to think "new product development...The industry has to make big bets a la Dow Jones Marketwatch, or smaller bets like what's going on in Greensboro. That's got to be the culture of the industry, or the result is going to be really, truly fatal," said Merrill Brown, study author, according to Editor & Publisher.
These values are taught by every good journalism instructor. They were values hammered home by Professor Richard Cole at the University of North Carolina's School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He was one of the best teachers I ever had. After 26 years as dean, Dr. Cole is stepping down. As newspaper circulation declines and all sorts of new technologies create upheaval in the communications industry, it's important to remember these core values.
Roy Park Jr., chairman of the Triad Foundation, which funds several programs at the j-school, calls Dr. Cole "an entrepreneur" in the way he built the school into one of the nation's best. At a dinner in his honor, he quoted the Entrepreneur's Credo: "I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon, if I can." He also quoted a Chinese proverb: "If you want one year of prosperity, plant grain. If you want 10 years of prosperity, plant trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, educate students." That's what Dean Cole has done at UNC. An anonymous donor has given $3 million to endow a professorship in honor of Dr. Cole. In addition, Cole was presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine on behalf of Gov. Mike Easley for his extraordinary service to the state of North Carolina.
Touching piece in the Fayetteville (NC) Observer-Times today by Laura Arenschield about the usually forgotten rural poor who live in unsafe housing. It's good to see that the NC government is doing at least something for a few people in these situations.
"Raeford, NC -- Step into Essie Hines' home, but step carefully - the wooden crate that bridges her sinking porch is a little shaky. She keeps the house neat, but no amount of tidying can hide the crumbling ceiling or the holes in her walls. The house is falling apart, but Hines has lived in it almost half of her 63 years. She's never had much money for repairs, and she's learned to be thankful for the roof over her head. Even if that roof sometimes leaks. Her house has no running water, except for a spigot in the kitchen that she uses to wash her dishes and take sponge baths. She doesn't even have a toilet, relying instead on a portable seat and a bucket. After each use, Hines takes the bucket outside and buries its contents in her yard.
"Hines married at 15 and separated at 30. Her jobs processing turkeys and washing eggs never paid enough to give her 10 children many extras. Now a grandmother, Hines lives on Social Security and Supplemental Security Income checks. After a lifetime of poverty, she's accustomed to doing without."
Over 2.5 million households with children live in substandard housing, the Children's Defense Fund reports, "770,000 of which live in severely substandard housing."
One-third of housing that farm workers live in is substandard, according to HAC.
Predatory lending is commonplace against the rural poor, HAC reports.
Habitat for Humanity International, a private, volunteer organization, does fantastic work in the U.S. and internationally to provide decent, affordable housing. But the need is so great that Habitat just makes a small dent in the problem. Government assistance is essential.
Outrageously, the Bush administration is seeking to drastically shrink rural housing and anti-poverty programs, according to The Washington Post. Essentially, Bush, who calls himself a "compassionate conservative," and speaks frequently about the importance of his religious faith, casts a blind eye to people like Essie Hines, and instead seeks tax cuts to people who need help far less than she does.
Number of Working Families Spending More Than Half Their Income on Housing Grows 76 Percent, to 4.2 million, Study Shows.
Having worked in both public relations and journalism, I find this piece by Paul Graham insightful. The PR industry "lurks like a huge, quiet submarine beneath the news," working under the surface to project and protect the interests of the businesses they work for. Journalists actually depend a great deal on public relations firms.
"Of the stories you read in traditional media that aren't about politics, crimes, or disasters, more than half probably come from PR firms," he writes. PR firms invisibly guide and manipulate journalists -- far more than journalists like to admit. Graham writes:
PR is not dishonest. Not quite. In fact, the reason the best PR firms are so effective is precisely that they aren't dishonest. They give reporters genuinely valuable information. A good PR firm won't bug reporters just because the client tells them to; they've worked hard to build their credibility with reporters, and they don't want to destroy it by feeding them mere propaganda.
If anyone is dishonest, it's the reporters. The main reason PR firms exist is that reporters are lazy. Or, to put it more nicely, overworked. Really they ought to be out there digging up stories for themselves. But it's so tempting to sit in their offices and let PR firms bring the stories to them. After all, they know good PR firms won't lie to them. A good flatterer doesn't lie, but tells his victim selective truths (what a nice color your eyes are). Good PR firms use the same strategy: they give reporters stories that are true, but whose truth favors their clients.
Google, the Internet's most popular search engine, has reported a nearly sixfold leap in profit, far exceeding Wall Street expectations. "Increased user traffic, new advertisers and more relevant ads significantly boosted business, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "Google said its first-quarter profit was $369 million ($1.29 per share), compared with the $64 million (24 cents) it made a year ago.... Google's revenue nearly doubled to $1.26 billion, up from $652 million in the first quarter of 2004. Subtracting payments to partner Web sites, Google's revenue would have been $794 million."
Yahoo!, the web portal with the largest traffic on the Internet -- 372 million users in the first quarter of this year -- is also going great guns. Yahoo asserts it had 372 million users in the first quarter of this year, and posted a net profit of $204.6 million on revenue of $821 million.
In the last two years, advertising on Google and Yahoo has exploded. Nearly 90% of Yahoo's revenue comes from display ads — such as banners and streaming video — or text ads delivered alongside search results, according to the Los Angeles Times. Half of Yahoo’s overall revenue comes from advertising on its search site. "Marketing-services revenue, the bulk of which is advertising, jumped 50 percent from the same quarter a year earlier to $671.8 million, after subtracting commissions." Online advertising is at an "inflection point'' that "finally pushes Internet marketing into the mainstream and sets the stage for robust growth, expansion and market share gains,'' analysts say, according to the San Jose Mercury News and AP. Advertisers increasingly are seeking to distinguish themselves with animation and video.
How Yahoo defines or distinguishes between the 372 million traffickers (surfers? those who stumble on Yahoo's site? Hmmm -- I think these people are counted more than once), the 116 million (purposeful?) visitors, "active users" (176 million) and fee-paying users (8.9 million) seems a bit vague.
Nevertheless, Yahoo traffic topped Time Warner Inc. with 112 million visitors, Microsoft Corp.'s MSN with 111 million and Google with 75 million," according to Bloomberg News. For its part, Google's first quarter profits soared, according to AP.
"Google makes virtually all of its money from the text-based ads that are tied to online search requests.The company gets paid each time one of the links are clicked on Google's home page or hundreds of other sites that display the ads. The text-based ads, which are priced using an online auction system, are becoming more expensive. Advertisers bid an average of $1.75 per click in March, a 6 percent increase from February, according to Fathom Online, a research firm. "
And Google can brag that it processes far more search requests than Yahoo: "2.06 billion search requests in March compared with 907 million for Yahoo," AP reports. AP asserts (spins?) that Google is far more profitable than Yahoo, and has far more market share, but that's debatable and hard to measure, since Yahoo has far more revenue, far more overall traffic, offers far more services and has paid users.
Yahoo asserts that 13 percent of time spent online is spent on its search, e-mail and other services. Yet only 13 percent of Yahoo's revenue comes from subscription fees.
The stratagies of Google and Yahoo to first, grow the number of users, and then, create more value for them that they'll be willing to pay for, seems to be working.
Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we're kids? If you're less than 10 years old, you're so excited about aging that you think in fractions." How old are you?" "I'm four and a half!" You're never thirty-six and a half. You're four and a half, going on five!