In my past three and a half years at Chico State I have heard over and over that print journalism is dying, readership is declining and that the end is near. However, there has remained a tinge of doubt in the back of my mind, that print journalism could ever cease to exist, that it would remain in fact, eternal.

All things evolve and adapt, or they become extinct. Isn’t it possible that rather than dying per say, that print journalism is resisting evolution, refusing to adapt to the capabilities offered by new technology such as the Internet? If print journalism does not adapt to attract niches in the market than it will likely become extinct. It is absolutely crucial that at this point in time, media guru’s and print journalists join together and brainstorm what they can offer to become more appealing to the consumer.

Print media is still the favored form of local advertising and distribution of local news. Print media is still favored by many educational institutions. Print media is easier to read. Print media is tangible. Print media is huge in the history of the United States. It very well may reduce in size, however, small towns rely on the advertising in newspapers. Small towns rely on their local paper for relevant news that major newspapers and websites do not care about.

In order to remain eternal, print journalism must prioritize, identify their profitable markets and evolve to better serve them. The clock is ticking for print journalism, evolution or extinction?

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Deception Knows No Boundaries

November 20, 2009

Credibility is of the utmost value, online, in journalism and in day-to-day life. However, credibility is also at stake at all times, an innocent misunderstanding, simple miscommunication or vicious act can all have the same resulting effect of deception.

It may seem easier to deceive or be deceived online, that point is debatable. Social networking sites such as Myspace and Facebook have been violated by hackers posing fake pages to collect users log in information. Even banks such as Washington Mutual, know owned by Chase, have been the target of these crimes through phishing scams in email. However the question of credibility is in no way limited to the web, print hoaxes have been around for years, deceiving people through investment-fraud schemes foreign lotteries and more.

On the Internet, in person and in print it is important to pay attention to the tiny details, sometimes even fact checking. On the Internet you can do this by watching the URL. The United States Postal Service advises postal customers to be skeptical of items that seem “to good to be true”.

As you can see the question of credibility is in no way bound to the Internet. It is very important to pay attention to where you click, what you type, what and who you respond to.

A Precious Gift

November 5, 2009

As college students we often dread or blow-off our assigned readings, we’d rather check our facebook, some would rather tweet and we quickly forget how fortunate we are, with our precious gift of literacy. We choose not to read, when others unfortunately do not have the choice.

Literacy is the ability to read, write, compute and use technology at a level that enables the person to reach their full potential as a parent, employee an community member.

A new movie Precious, starring Mariah Carey and Mo’Nique, following the tragic life of a sixteen year old that can neither read nor write. 

60 minutes correspondent and Emmy award-winning journalist, Byron Pitts, recently spoke out about his own struggles with literacy in his new book “Step Out on Nothing:How Faith and Family Helped Me Conquer Life’s Challenges.”
Unfortunately it is often movies such as this that are necessary to shed light on issues such as illiteracy, that seem so distant from our own lives, so encompassed by literacy. An estimated 32 million adults in the United States have such low literacy skills that they cannot fill out a job application.

Illiteracy can be linked to extreme unemployment, poor health and poverty. Organizations such as ProLiteracy, Second Start Adult Literacy Program in Oakland and Caliteracy are all dedicated to literacy education.

Reading is so yester-year…

October 30, 2009

Books are for reading as the Internet is for scanning, however the majority of online news organizations have yet to figure this out. After spending a solid 45 minutes looking for an example of a user friendly, scannable online article I was still empty handed.

Whether it is the resolution, the lighting or the size of the screen users do not want to read on the Internet. The user wants their info quick, easy and scan-able. Los Angeles PR says concise, clear writing is crucial and will improve search engine optimization. Bullets, bold words, videos and links can improve and contribute to an article online, by guiding the scanner’s eyes, directing them to the info they are looking for and adding to the story.

However many news organizations are still shoveling their lengthy print material on to the web, which is often frustrating to the reader. 

Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience at Google, points out that online users are not sitting down at the computer to read a paper, they are sitting down to scan an article. If news organizations, as competitive as ever, want to hold a user’s attention they need to provide user friendly material and then tell the user what to do next; comment, visit related articles, watch a video or look at pictures.

The news organizations need to adapt and cater to this audience or they too will be left in yester-year.

Trust and Communities

October 22, 2009

 

Personalization, user-generated content, community and anonymity are only some of the practices traditional media can take from the Internet. Sites such as  iGoogle  allow users to customize their welcome pages with specified news, games and appearance. YouTube  and Wikipedia  rely on user-generated content.

Bloggers have become more innovative and creative than most traditional journalists, publishing their unpolished thoughts, engaging the public in conversation. However traditional media still has one huge benefit over bloggers, which is credibility. Peter Shankman, founder of Help a Reporter Out, says bloggers need to appreciate the value of trust.

The most valuable change that traditional media should make in order to retain current customers and gain new audiences is to follow bloggers lead in portraying news as a conversation, rather than a lecture. By encouraging contribution, people will begin to share their opinions, values and passions, vesting time and effort into their “voice” as they are with CNN. As contributions grow, communities, which entail relationships, will develop.

These contributions should be available and recognized in both print and online so that both have’s and have not’s have access Neo-Luddites and early adopters alike will be able to have conversations. This will build a bridge across the digital divide.

     From my experience, communities vary in size, shape, color, motive and more. I detested my physical community in high school. As soon as I turned 16 I connected online with friends from travel softball and mutual friends online (Myspace) and shifted my social efforts into communities outside of the small town I lived in.

      After my sister’s first week at college she called to tell me she had met a furry. I     had no idea what a furry was and she was more than excited to enlighten her big sister. In class we briefly spoke of online furry communities, which led me to the following realization. In the online world, you get to choose your community. Some may argue that you can choose your community in the physical world, however you are limited to what is physically accessible and what those communities choose to expose. For example, I don’t think you will find a furry community in a newspaper or phonebook especially in a small conservative town, whereas after a quick search for “furry location” this map comes up as well as blogs and conventions for those who are active or looking to join this community.

      In the online world, communities are not without judgement however they are seemingly endless. Some follow hobbies and fetishes. Some communities are built around a product, brand or politician. The most beneficial aspect of the online communities is that people have options. An unlimited opportunity to find somewhere they belong.

            How many times have you sat down at your computer to be productive but promptly been sucked in to the endless abundance? The New York Times published an article that compares the distractions of the web in your modern day office to the chaos in a Las Vegas casino. I in many ways agree with this analogy. If I had a dollar for every time I sat at my computer to be productive and realized hours later that I had spent the entirety of my time on Facebook, Myspace, Gmail, Nordstrom’s, etc. I’d be a rich woman.

            However, The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on free tools that are available online to help prevent users from stumbling aimlessly on the internet, tracking all of their time online and where they are spending it.

            Though there have been many times that the web and its endless abundance have overwhelmed me, I much prefer the abundance of raw personal views to the thought of Big Brother Authorities controlling everything that is made available to me.

I much prefer the opportunity to make educated decisions on what sites to view and what sites to avoid. I love that I can search for my peer’s views online, unedited and unfiltered.

     Changing technology has clearly shifted a substantial amount of print readership to the “free” web. Print media has been challenged to say the least…it’s time to get those creative juices flowing! Brainstorming, innovation and excitement will change print media, all of which is necessary to compete with the free web. This is not to say that online and print media must be adversaries, rather that print media must differentiate itself to maintain and  add value. 

     Some publications are using these changes in technology to their advantage. CBS Corp is including thousands of screens in publications of Entertainment Weekly that play more than 30 minutes of show clips. Though CBS is not the first to incorporate sound or flashing light into a publication, their creativity and innovation are commendable. Will their attempt be effective? 

What I found disappointing is that these chips will only be included in subscriber copies of Entertainment Weekly. I understand the importance of holding onto those customers, however in order to grow, why not include 500 of these video clad magazines in news stands? Create a buzz! Collectors and intrigued consumers may have stormed the news stands in droves. 

CBS did something similar in 2005 by including a sound chip in People Magazine to promote its  biography on Elvis. The Washington Post viewed the promo as a belly flop.

Will the video clip create a buzz? Would it have been a better idea to aim for new customers?

I think CBS is on the right track. The creative juices are flowing.