A Face on the News

A Poynter Institute commentary offers some interesting do’s and don’ts on the topic of choosing images in Web design: for instance, use images related to the article rather than stock images. A second commentary talked about how to get readers engaged in Web pieces. Harder to pluck out a single lesson — unless it’s that “media organizations aren’t taking enough risks” — but still worth the read.

Are Newspapers Yesterdays News? A Wharton School aticle asks that question and answers not necessarily. In paper form they may be toast says marketing professor Peter S. Fader: “They have no archive value. I’m not going to add a newspaper to my collection. They are a nuisance to deal with, especially since we don’t wrap fish anymore.”

But this is not an industry circling the drain. The Wharton article plucks some statistics from the The State of the News Media 2006 report:

“Thirteen publicly traded newspaper companies saw their margins drop an average of 1.5 percentage points, to just below 20% … (but) the average pre-tax operating margin for these companies “was still higher than the high-flying pharmaceutical or oil industries” according to the report.”

The Wharton piece observes some telling changes: “younger commuters … on the train each morning prefer to listen to iPods on their way to work rather than peruse the” newspaper. Another commentator notes that newspapers have to become story-telling rather than news-dispensing organs:

“Newspapers will never win the time race … By the time readers get their papers, they pretty much know the news, and newspapers have already been beaten by TV, radio and bloggers. As a result, newspapers “have to provide news more in-depth or somehow [make it] more appealing. Readership studies have shown that people are interested in reading localized stories or human-interest stories. So newspapers have begun to featurize the news.”

Wharton’s takeaway message: “Daily newspapers also must find a way to increase the quantity and quality of local coverage … What newspapers have done and have to continue to do is offer more local coverage. That’s the way dailies try to stay relevant.”

Goodbye papers, hello news? I’m not sure I agree, but this Slate article that says:

“Whatever you do, don’t mistake the decline of newspapers with the decline of journalism. Much of what we’re witnessing is the delayed right-sizing of newspapers and newspaper publisher and editor egos in the multimedia age. Many papers, the Los Angeles Times in particular, are still paying for expanding their circulation areas too far beyond their geographic cores. The closures of foreign bureaus and downsizing of Washington offices by newspapers are much lamented by journalists, but how essential are they in an age when any reader can call up on his screen free coverage by the top U.S. dailies and the foreign press?”