Blog on hiatus

I’m not teaching Journalism 61 this semester, so this blog is currently on hiatus. However, I am scheduled to teach this online class again in the spring.

In the meantime, feel free to use this blog’s resources. Please note, however, that links to most assignments and some resources no longer work because of recent changes to the JMC web server where they used to reside. I will be updating these links over winter break.


Newsweek goes niche

I hear some people saying that the print media’s much publicized financial/circulation problems only affect the nation’s big dailies, that smaller newspapers and magazines are doing just fine. But I guess that doesn’t apply to newsmagazines.

Newsweek has announced that it is undertaking a major overhaul of its publication, including its content, design and target audience. Newsweek editors appear to be hoping that the magazine/cable TV model of narrow-casting — targeting a niche audience — will work for them.

Read the NYT article about it: Newsweek Plans Makeover to Fit a Smaller Audience –

It was a very good year … for buzzwords

“Picking out political buzzwords from 2008 is like shooting moose in a pigpen,” say Mark Leibovich and Grant Barrett, authors of The Buzzwords of 2008.

They note, for example, that “the lifespan of Hillary Clinton’s campaign ‘meta-narrative’ could be charted entirely in buzzwords and catch-phrases — ‘inevitability’ to ‘Clinton fatigue’ to ‘Obamamania’ to ‘he can’t win’ to ‘team of rivals.’

What really makes this New York Times piece work are the illustrations — the font and graphics created by Jessica Hische. They’re fabulous.

My favorites: Greyjing, recessionista, edupunk, Plutoid and TBTF (“Too Big To Fail,” replete with cracks). Which ones do you like best?

Tags: nytimes, buzzwords, graphics, typeface, design, slang

Posted from Diigo, and cross-posted on my McCunications blog. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Trying out a new business model?

  • “It’s official: The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News, will become the first major U.S. newspapers to cease seven-day home delivery.”

    • Hello to three-day delivery: The JOA will instead focus on Thursday and Friday delivery of both papers and Sunday delivery of the Free Press only. Those days are the most lucrative for advertising and have often been considered in the newspaper world as the “money” days for both sales and circulation.
    • Clearly one of the biggest design challenges is to try to continue serving current single copy readers and perhaps even improve their experiences, while also appealing to long-time home delivery customers and trying to serve their needs.
    • “We’ll have to look at ways to maximize reader connections through all existing and newly developing channels (ex: Kindle, iPhone, etc and whatever comes next). That is definitely part of our planning.”
    • Some critics have panned the process with IDEO, worrying that the design firm does not completely understand how to work with the news media.
    • The influential designer Juan Antonio Giner of Innovation called it “the way to death” in a posting last week, and the Gannett Blog has been buzzing with rumors about IDEO’s role. But the leaders of the transformation defend the IDEO process.

tags: future of newspapers, future of news, online

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Magazine project resource

I just ran across an online slide show that might be helpful to you as you work on your magazine project, particularly as you think about developing a short-form info box or graphic to accompany your magazine piece.

It’s a slide show on Data Visualization by Mindy McAdams, who teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in online journalism at the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida.

McAdams also writes the Teaching Online Journalism blog, where she recently posted a short history of breaking online news, which was subsequently turned into a timeline of milestones in online journalism. Check ’em out!

More bad news

The bad news for the newspaper industry just keeps coming:

A recent article in Advertising Age points to one big reason for these layoffs:

Newspaper ad revenue fell almost $2 billion in the third quarter for a record 18.1% decline, according to new statistics from the Newspaper Association of America. What’s worse, newspapers’ online ad revenue fell for the second quarter in a row.

The historic drop resulted from a worsening economy that sharply exacerbated long-term challenges already confronting the newspaper industry, and it affected all kinds of newspaper ads. National ad sales fell 18.4%, classifieds sank 30.9%, and the biggest category, retail, slid 11.7%. Newspapers’ online ad sales, where everyone is hoping some part of the future business model resides, accelerated their decline with a 3% drop. Online ad sales slipped 2.4% in the second quarter.

This fall’s financial collapse affected only some part of the latest results. However, the rest of the year is likely to look even worse.

The bad news for newspapers has been accompanied by bad news for broadcasters as well. A recent New York Times article, A Generation of Local TV Anchors Is Signing Off, noted:

Across the country, longtime local TV anchors are a dying breed. Facing an economic slump and a severe advertising downturn, many stations have cut costs drastically in the last year, and veteran anchors, with their expensive contracts, seem to be shouldering a disproportionate share of the cutbacks. When station managers are forced to make cuts, hefty anchor salaries are a tempting target.

A drop in advertising revenues is also behind these cuts. The NYT article also notes:

Advertising is falling sharply, partly because of cutbacks in spending by automakers and car dealerships, which represent the single largest category of advertiser for broadcasters.

Of course, someone has to replace those veteran news anchors who are being laid off. As second-tier anchors move up the chain and leave open slots behind them, this may create some openings for more recent grads.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

First, the bad news

As newspaper layoffs continue, and as some newspapers shut down or convert to web-only publication (like the Christian Science Monitor), lots of folks are scrambling to figure out a new business model for the news biz.


For example, the American Press Institute recently held a summit on saving the newspaper industry. They reached no conclusions, but decided to get back together again in six months.

Others are questioning whether newspapers even have six months, and some are saying it’s time for a “Manhattan project” for the newspaper industry.

In the meantime, some newspapers are exploring content sharing. Some journalists are forming non-profit news organizations to do investigative reporting in their communities, like

The upshot is this: If you’re hoping for a career as a journalist, you need to start thinking outside the box.

In a recent post on the PBS MediaShift blog, media consultant Amy Gahran offers some suggestions on that out-of-the-box thinking in Swimming Lessons for Journalists. She writes:

So where will today’s journos find tomorrow’s jobs? Here’s my take: Not in news organizations. At least, not in news orgs as we’ve grown accustomed to them over the last century. That ship is quite obviously sinking. While traditional news orgs probably won’t disappear entirely as a species, they’re getting rarer and smaller by the minute. They’re a lousy career bet — especially for established professionals with higher salary requirements and increasingly commoditized skills.

In my opinion, journalists need to start leaping en masse from the sinking ship of the newsroom and start working for search engines, nonprofits, think tanks, collaboratives, and other kinds of businesses and organizations. In fact, it might even be a good idea to trade in the label “journalist” for the more inclusive “person with journalism skills”

You can find additional articles, blog posts and commentary on the future of journalism and the news media on my Diigo online bookmarking site at I’d call this bedtime reading for aspiring journalists…except it’s more likely to keep you awake at night.

It’s not all bad news, though. Journalist and media consultant Steve Yelvington recently suggested that “maybe these are the best days for journalism.”