In the midst of the formation of a new business model for journalism, Rupert Murdoch and Steve Jobs are adding a new approach to the discussion. The Daily will be appearing on tablet-styled computers near you early next year. Print publications have been trying to figure out how to make enough money since craigslist took classifieds out of newspapers. Web publications are trying to figure out how to make money without a print edition. Print publications with websites are considering whether or not to use paywalls to boost sales. Murdoch and Jobs have created the only app-only news edition, which if successful can avoid all of these issues.

According to the article on guardian.co.uk, “Murdoch believes the iPad is going to be a “game changer” and he has seen projections that there will be 40 million iPads in circulation by the end of 2011.” He thinks that there will be an iPad in every home in the near future and they will become many American’s main avenue for news and information. If this turns out to be true, Murdoch and Jobs may be the first to tap the untapped information keg. Apparently, the Daily will only cost 99 cents a week to produce, due to the lack of printing and distribution costs. I find this number to be fairly farfetched, considering they’re going to have to pay some people to create the content provided on the application. I guess not if they’re going to regurgitate information from Murdoch’s other news outlets such as the NY Post, Wall Street Journal and everyone’s favorite propaganda pusher FoxNews. If that’s the case, then they are hardly creating a tablet only news edition. For arguments sake, I’ll assume they are telling the truth about the exclusivity of the project, so I think it is safe to say they will spend more than 99 cents a week.

I have to give them credit for being the first to approach this idea, but there is the simple fact that it’s fairly simple for these two billionaires to risk failure when they have so many other sources of income. Murdoch is the most successful media mogul today and Jobs is almost always exposing the world to new user-based digital technology such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad (not exactly first, but he took it to a new level). If two individuals have a chance at making this idea successful, it’s definitely these two gentlemen (this term is used loosely). The success of the iPad and the quality of the content on the Daily are going to weigh heavily on the amount of exposure this “newspaper” will receive.

If this concept does prove to be a success, you can be sure other media members will attempt to follow the work of Murdoch and Jobs. With the way the media is shaped these days, there may be conservative, liberal, independent, objective, radical, and tabloid editions plaguing the iPad in just a few years. Why not? That’s what happened to newspapers, television, and the internet. There’s no reason iPads and Kindles would be protected from the menagerie that is the media today.

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The ideal goal of professional journalism has always been to provide objective news and information to the masses to ensure they are informed enough to make intelligent decisions. This goal has become tougher and tougher as technology has flooded the world of media with misinformation. Resisting bias for a journalist can be the hardest part of the occupation. Everyone possesses their own opinions and thoughts; the challenge for a professional is to curb those biases in their writings. The blogosphere has made that a near impossibility for most people since they can spew their ideas all over the world from the safe confines of their own home. But, for an employed journalist, they must prevent their beliefs from spilling out onto their keyboards to preserve the integrity of their hard-earned credibility. So, the question at the forefront of the journalism world in this day and age is: Is there still hope for objective journalism?

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller doesn’t believe so, according to this article from thehill.com. He believes the watchdog has dissipated into a 24-hour “barkfest” that has plagued our televisions with rumors and a lack of concern for the facts. He couldn’t be more right; in certain situations. Sure, it’s widely known that FoxNews and MSNBC have political agendas which drive their opinionated time slots. But, we live in an age where sitting on your couch and watching television should not be the only way a person consumes news and information. The internet is readily available almost anywhere and it provides vast amounts of truthful information for people to see. Wait, there is probably just as much bullshit on the net, if not more than television. We can’t forget about good ole fashioned print journalism. It may be dying, but it’s not dead yet folks. Surely, we can rely on the faithful newspapers that have been around since Gutenberg (And no, not Steve Guttenberg from 80s film classics such as Police Academy and Short Circuit). But, alas, there is still an incredible amount of incredibility in the world of newspapers. So, what is a hopelessly romantic journalist to do with the present state of the media?

Work harder and harder to make reliable journalism available to the public. Perhaps, objectivity is an utopian ideal that many perfectionists would find a hard time achieving. Then again, nobody is perfect. If objectivity is the supreme goal, falling just short of that could be sufficient enough. Is it not good enough reporting to provide all the facts necessary to a story in order to involve all the truth available, with just a slight pinch of subjective material? People want their opinions and ideas heard and with the popularity of talking heads, apparently people want to hear others opinions as well. Regardless of whether they want to hear arguments that support their beliefs, if a writer can smack them in the face with the truth and they still don’t believe it, the writer can’t be held accountable for the readers misbeliefs.

Now, being the student journalist I am, all I know of the field is to aim at being objective. On the other hand, being the human being that I am, I have strong opinions that I struggle to bottle up inside. So, being the blue-hearted American I’ve grown into I could probably sit and banter about the evils of NewsCorp and the utter disgust I have for Sarah Palin, but today I will take the upper roadway and offer the only solution I have to this forever evolving issue.

There is no clear cut way to eliminate subjective journalism, but I have perhaps a foolish faith in objective journalism as well. In my first semester at Stony Brook University, I took probably the most useful and all-around beneficial course to all Americans, News Literacy (No, this is not a shameful plug for Dean Schneider’s course). This course can teach anybody how to become an intelligent news consumer and learn how to accurately decipher the crap that bombards us everyday. This course should be mandatory for all freshman in all colleges across the country. How is a young adult going to know what to trust in a world filled with such deceit? This course gives us the ammo we need to defend ourselves. I’d even go as far as to say it could be installed in high schools as well. I do see a problem with a lack of interest since most high school students are simply looking forward to what they’re going to do over the weekend and not who they’re going to vote for in the next election.

Truth is, I really don’t know if an unbiased media will survive in the future. I really hope so, cause if an occupation as necessary as journalism loses it’s supreme goal, there’s not much hope for our youth. Everyone needs goals in life. Sometimes the long term goals don’t always pan out, but if you can manage to achieve a whole bunch of short term goals along the way, you didn’t do too bad. That objective goal has been around for a long time, but it seems to be getting further and further away. Hopefully, journalism doesn’t ever give up on it though. For now, I’ll keep my faith objectively optimistic.

Newsweek Getting Beasted

Posted: November 18, 2010 in Journalism


With the sale of Newsweek for $1 to the Daily Beast, the future of the publication couldn’t have been too optimistic. Now, the Beast is considering dropping the online site altogether. Due to the changing trend in journalism, which is focusing on an online interactive approach to news, the Beast has a better chance at succeeding in the long run.

Newsweek does have a more credible brand name than the Daily Beast and also receives more visitors per month, according to gigaom.com article by Mathew Ingram. However, Beast newsers tend to visit more often and view the site for longer periods of time while looking at more articles. This is more in tune with what advertisers are looking for when choosing sites to display their ads. If a single person visits newsweek.com and only looks at two articles and that same person visits thedailybeast.com and views five articles, the advertising space is more valuable with the latter. For a website that doesn’t have a paywall, advertising is king. I agree with the idea to maintain what is already archived on the site and forward viewers to new content on the Beast. If the journalists working on Newsweek’s website move over to the Beast, the same quality of reporting can be done under a different name. It would also be more economically feasible to put all expenses towards running one site as opposed to two.

Newsweek’s fate hasn’t been sealed yet, but its well-known reputation seems to be the main factor keeping the site alive. The Beast’s audience is growing, so providing more articles from respected journalists from Newsweek.com will only help improve its reputation. By combining the efforts of the two sites, it could bring the viewers from Newsweek over to the Beast instead of eliminating the popular following altogether. The merger can be reaped for all its benefits whether newsweek.com survives the overhaul or not.

Before the internet and 24-hour news networks, broadcast news was a major source of information for millions of Americans. Morning newspapers provided people with news from the previous day and the 6 o’clock news programs caught them up on what happened while everyone was at work. In the 21st century, many Americans maintain jobs that don’t allow them to watch shows such as NBC’s “Nightly News”, ABC’s “World News” or the “CBS Evening News.” Fortunately, present day technology allows viewers to record television with ease, eliminating the immediacy past generations dealt with.

Despite the availability of news at all hours of the day, millions of viewers still follow local news programs regardless of their daily habits. The success of digital video recorders(DVRs) has helped nightly news programs maintain their audience and according to the New York Times article, shows such as NBC’s “Nightly News” are finally starting to acknowledge the help DVRs provide. The several hundred thousand viewers that record these programs are exhibiting more effort to consistently watch than viewers that happen to be watching TV while the show is aired. This current capability available to news viewers may be one of the main reasons network evening news programs still have such a larger audience than cable news. With a rapid decline in broadcast primetime news and a gradual incline in cable primetime news, broadcast still has 82 percent more viewers than cable does. A majority of their audience is adults over 50 that have been watching the evening news for most of their life. Younger viewers are getting in the habit of recording and watching broadcast news as well, which could help continue the culture that has kept these programs in the forefront of television news.

Technology has allowed television to stand still and be timeless all at the same time. Americans can never be too busy to catch a newscast as long as they set their DVR. Now that broadcast programs are accepting the opportunities that are available because of this technology, producers can begin to gear advertisements towards these specific viewers and embrace the new possibilities that today offers.

MSNBC Follows CNN and NPR

Posted: November 8, 2010 in Cable News, Journalism

In the wake of Rupert Murdoch’s contribution to the GOP, MSNBC made an example out of Keith Olbermann. The cable news host was suspended for two days after refusing to confess on-camera that he contributed money to the Democratic campaign. Apparently, MSNBC hasn’t come to terms with their left-leaning approach to news as easily as Fox has. Despite Fox’s stance on being fair and unbalanced, they know where they stand on politics. After Murdoch’s contribution they did run a short (very short) ad admitting the support the owner of the news organization gave to the Republican party. Just as David Carr said in his New York Times article, if MSNBC wanted to be objective, they wouldn’t have used such a subjective figure as Olbermann to host their election coverage.

In a time where providing impartial cable news is dwindling, the major players are struggling to find or admit their identity. Any intelligent newser could tell that FoxNews is for the conservatives, MSNBC is for the liberals and CNN is somewhere in between. Juan Williams suffered the consequences of NPR’s stance to remain objective. Then Fox picked him up to add to their highly opinionated staff. Rick Sanchez started the trend when CNN fired him for making his bigoted claims about John Stewart. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the next to get signed by FOX. But, in FOX’s defense, at least they don’t punish their employees for towing the company line. They only seem to lie to their viewership with their infamous slogan, but stay true to their staff. FoxNews knows what sells, and that’s why they’re benefiting in the ratings. MSNBC suffers from a liberal viewership that branches out to various outlets to receive news. They’re not seeing the same results that FoxNews is.

MSNBC may not be publicly jumping on board with the current state of cable news, but they are following the trend their competitors at CNN and NPR began by punishing opinion or support. The suspension Olbermann was handed was short and nowhere near as severe has what Williams and Sanchez faced, but the message was just the same. An objective journalist is the ideal picture, but the present, realistic picture is someone that says and does what the viewers/listeners want.

The Price of Pay Walls

Posted: November 4, 2010 in Pay Walls


Print newspaper’s websites are moving in the direction of enforcing pay walls to reap the benefits from a previously untapped source. Several sites have resorted to this method: The Wall Street Journal since its online inception and Newsday.com a little over a year ago. The New York Times also plans to put up its pay wall in early 2011. This past summer the London Times installed their own pay passes for daily or monthly usage.

In the article by Chris Rovzar for nymag.com, the results of the pay wall that were revealed weren’t too impressive. The Times website used to have 20 million monthly viewers, but since it began requiring people to pay for content, only 105,000 passes have been sold. “Parent company News Corp is touting this as a victory for pay walls,” said Rovzar. “But British skeptics aren’t so sure.”

I tend to agree with the skeptics considering how much viewership has decreased. Advertising revenue is based on how many people view the website, therefore the drop in eyeballs could eventually lead to a decrease in ads. On the other hand, the pay wall is providing a profit in an area where it was previously non-existent. However, the minimal profits the Times is seeing could end up being a deficit if advertisers decide to pull their ads off the website. The pay wall also eliminates the possibility of other sites linking to its articles and adding exposure to the useful information the site could present.

Newsday.com has seen a similar disappointment in revenue caused by its pay wall. There are several possible reasons for its lack of subscriptions according to the fishbowlNY article, such as its lack of national context, high price tag or the free access Cablevision subscribers are privy to. There is still a lot of debate over the future existence of the pay wall.

The Wall Street Journal website has maintained a pay wall for its entire history and has remained successful. The Journal offers financial information that can’t be found in many other places. This is most likely the reason it has lasted as long as it has and can make a profit off of its online content. Viewers are also not used to paying for the site since it has always been that way.

These are some of the models the New York Times has to look at while preparing for its transition towards requiring users to pay for online content. The Times does hold itself to a different standard than other publications. As far as daily print editions go, the Times is the most credible source for news in the country according to this google blog. Readers and viewers rely on the Times for more reliable, accountable breaking news than most other publications. This may be the saving grace that could allow nytimes.com to successfully begin a pay wall service that others have struggled with.

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the Washington D.C. mall in front of the capitol building on October 30, 2010. John Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear received an incredible amount of followers that traveled to unite days before the midterm elections. For such an interesting time in the journalism field where the internet seems to be taking over, two comedians on television have proven to be innovators that are appreciated by many.

Television became the main source of news for many people for many years due to families gathering around the television to watch the nightly news. America has watched so many important events throughout history such as the Kennedy/Nixon debate, the moon landing, the Kennedy assassination and the war in Vietnam. Today, many people tune into The Daily Show or the Colbert Report to receive their daily news intake. Despite the fact that Stewart and Colbert are comedians that provide more “infotainment” as opposed to being journalists, Americans appreciate their satirical approach at the government and media companies. They are appreciated so much that an estimated 215,000 people made the trip into Washington D.C. Among the costumed attendees for Halloween there were countless amounts of signs expressing distaste for Fox News and the Tea Party. There was even a Dick Cheney look alike standing above the masses on Jefferson Drive flipping off the crowd for a perfect photo opportunity. On Tuesday November 2nd, voters will hit the booths and a majority of the crowd at the rally wanted to express their opinion that the Republicans can’t be put back in control of the Senate or House so soon after what they did up until two years ago.

Although the organizers of the rally didn’t preach for one specific political agenda, most of the crowd was aligned with a particular side. Many showed to support their view that America does need help, but it’s not by an extreme point of view. Americans want the truth and Stewart and Colbert help viewers by pointing out the erroneous statements politicians and journalists can make at times. They don’t break news or present objective stories, but they do provide what many people enjoy; humorous opinions backed by extensive research. They may not be journalists but they do analyze the hypocrisy of the media and government. They may not be a watchdog for the government but they are watching over what political figures say. Lying officials and news fabricators beware; there are millions of Americans that are watching Comedy Central from 11 pm to 12 pm and over two hundred thousand of them showed up to Washington last Saturday to prove how much they care.