As if women journalists didn’t have enough trouble in a traditionally male-dominate field, now there’s Journalism Barbie. It’s the newest Barbie, available for Christmas. She’s dressed in pink and has a microphone and camera and, of course, black stilettos adorned with tiny bows. And every blonde hair is in place.
The recession that has impacted rural employment throughout the nation has left most Texas counties untouched. In fact, employment in Texas is actually up. The Rural Blog from the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky has an article about this trend that you should look at. You’ll get great ideas for a story about employment in your county. The blog links to a study (second URL) that includes a map and a data rundown in tables that show where jobs have been lost and gained. Maverick County in Texas, for instance, was No. 4 in the nation in jobs gained over the past three years. Texas was one of five states that gained jobs. The dailyyonder.com site gives the name of the organization at Mississippi State University that compiled the numbers, in case you want to call for quotes. If you localize this story, send the Center a link so we can share it with other Texas papers.
The good news for newspaper advertising is that it just experienced its smallest drop in any one quarter since 2007. Spending for print ads was down 7.6 percent. It shows you how bad things have been overall that we consider that figure hopeful. But online spending was actually up by 13.9 percent. – giving us a total drop of 5.5 percent. Here’s the official glass-is-half-full interpretation from John F. Sturm, president and CEO of NAA: “The steady transformation of the newspaper industry is clearly evident in these latest revenue figures. Despite a highly competitive environment, online advertising growth rebounded back into double digits, while declines in traditional revenue categories continue to moderate as the general advertising recovery progresses. The fact that online now represents nearly 12 percent of overall newspaper advertising revenues bodes well for our medium’s future in an increasingly digital environment. Even as the economy is slow to rebound, there is heightened optimism within the industry – a confidence reflected in second quarter earnings reports from public newspaper companies. New business models are taking hold, with publishers continuing to invest in platforms that deepen audience engagement in print and online. In a world where trusted, high-quality content is in demand, newspaper companies are uniquely positioned to benefit from the advertising recovery.” Or, if you’re a half-empty type, try this observation, from Alan Mutter: “Following a historic pattern that shows newspapers take in roughly 47 percent of their ad revenue in the first half of the year, it is possible to project that full-year sales for the industry will drop some $2 billion this year to finish at approximately $26.5 billion. Assuming no major positive or negative changes in the economy between now and the end of the year, this will put newspaper ad sales back to the lowest level they have seen since 1985.”
TCU student Andrew Young shares what it’s like to spend a day at the Hood County News. His photo story probably has some familiar faces in it if you’ve been to many state press association events, so check it out.
English King Canute once took his throne to the seashore and commanded the tide not to come in. Of course, his feet got wet. Don’t judge him; newspapers are still erecting paywalls and expecting people to pay their newspaper for what they can get for free. To be fair, there are some specialized situations — niche publications and some community papers that hold a near-monopoly on news — that have experienced some success with paywalls. But if you’re still wrestling with this issue, take time to read blogger Alan Mutter’s latest posting. His thesis is that a growing number of free local news sites are driving another nail in the coffin of paywalls. An example from his blog: “While newspaper executives have agonized for the better part of two years about whether and how to charge for their costly-to-produce content, every indication is that the portals, local broadcasters and other media companies have no intention of asking anyone to pay for access to the increasingly ambitious local sites they are building. With a fast-proliferating number of respectable local sites giving away news to build traffic for their ad-supported ventures, newspapers simply won’t be able to charge for access – especially when their own stories are likely to become freely available within minutes at any number of competing sites.” And as frequently happens with well-thought-out blogs like Mutter’s, some of the comments from readers are as interesting as the blog itself. Here’s an example from one reader: “The only way newspapers can make the transition to online is to radically cut costs. We’re talking 80 to 90 percent cuts in personnel. An online news business needs to be built from the ground up, not have a legacy news module imposed on it. This is why I continue to believe the newspapers original sin wasn’t a failure to charge for content, but a failure to create completely separate online companies.” So add this posting to your consideration as you consider your paywall options.