Today's Congratulations and Boos

Congratulations to Adrian Holovaty, editor of editorial innovations at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, and Matt Thompson, deputy editor of interactive media at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, for being named by the Boston Phoenix among the ‘Future 10’ list of journalists who could make a difference in the news industry. Each is only 24 years old.

Also in the news is the introduction of Neal Goldman and David Oddi‘s Inform Technologies, a startup venture attempt to offer consumers news customized from all online sources. The New York Times and ClickZ each have articles about it. The two Penn Statue alumni have very successful backgrounds: Neal launched Capital IQ in 2000, brought it up to 1,000 clients and 900 employees, and sold it to Standard & Poor’s last year for a handsome sum. David spent a decade as a partner in the mid-stage venture capital firm Saunders Karp & Megrue. Congratulations to them on the launch of Inform! [Disclosure: I consulted to them last year during the early stages on the project.]

Boos to the U.S. newspaper industry for blaming staff reductions on, among other things, newsprint price increases. “Newsprint costs are up significantly. Wages and health benefits are up. So you have the cost pressure on the one hand and the lack of revenue growth on the other. That’s really the problem, and everyone is having essentially the same problem,” Knight Ridder Chairman and Chief Executive P. Anthony Ridder told The New York Times.

Media General Corporation President and CEO Marshall N. Morton announced,”Publishing’s profit decline principally reflects higher expenses for newsprint, employee benefits and energy.”

The Wall Street Journal plans to shrink it’s size this year to, “achieve significant cost savings, mainly in reduced usage of newsprint, that will further improve Journal profitability,” Publisher Karen Elliott House told Reuters.

Yet Jack Shafer at Slate points out that newsprint prices, when adjusted for inflations, costs the same as it did in 1997 and that’s only 68 percent of its 20-year high, which came in early 1988. “Far from being victims of high newsprint costs, newspapers have been coasting on cheap newsprint for much of the past two decades.”

And boos to FIFA, the sport of soccer’s world governing body. It’s banning digital images of its next World Cup from appearing on newspaper websites and other electronic media until one hour after the matches finish.

“This is a severe curb on the freedom of editors to inform their readers,” said Timothy Balding, head of the Paris-based World Association of Newspapers (WAN), which represents 18,000 newspapers.

FIFA hasn’t given a reason for the ban, but many analysts are speculating that FIFA worries that digital images (which can include video) sent to video-equipped mobile phones or streamed from websites, might interfer with FIFA’s lucrative sale of traditional broadcast rights to its matches. The ban doesn’t effect mobile networks or online operations that have bought broadcast rights from FIFA. Soccer is the world’s most popular sport and more people on the planet now have mobile phones than have television sets.

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