Thursday, August 21, 2008

I’m back! I’d taken a year off for reflection.

After concluding that no daily newspaper executive in North America knows where their industry is headed, I went back to school approximately this time last year. I’d hoped that news media academics might have the answers. What I found was that, with the exception of some folks at the Media Management and Transformation Centre at Jönköping International Business School in Sweden, the academics don’t. In fact, most media academics are even further behind than the industry executives. (Except, of course, for academics who might be reading this.)

Meanwhile, the university to whose media school I was consulting, asked me to teach in its graduate school. I discovered that I like teaching, even thought I had to create the syllabus and course materials myself. During the Spring, I taught two classes: New Media Business (for news, advertising, and public relations practioners) and a Content Lab in experimental online media. During the Summer, I taught a post-graduate executive education course about Social Media for public relations practitioners. Starting Wednesday, I’ll again be teaching New Media Business to graduate students, plus some upperclassmen this time. (I’ve also agreed to teach a shorter version of this course at a foreign university during Summer 2009.) Nevertheless, my teaching schedule is now only one day per week (down from three in the Spring). So, I now again will have time to write and blog, in addition to consult and teach.

Yesterday, I posted the first part of an essay I actually wrote last year at this time (I did update its data). I’d withheld publishing it then because I wanted to what the academia knew. I now know that I could have published it last year.

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Iif you are in the news business and have heard about Moore’s Law — the principle that approximately every two years the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit doubles and the cost of that computer power halves — then it’s time you also knew its antithesis, what I call Zell’s Law:

Approximately every two years the staffing and budget levels halve and the difficulties of publishing daily a newspaper double.

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My congratulations to three online news veterans who’ve new positions, Rob Curley, Chris Jennewein, and Jonathan Dube. Curley has been named president and executive editor and Jennewein named senior vice president and publisher of Greenspun Media Group’s interactive division in Las Vegas (where the Las Vegas Sun is Greenspun’s flagship publication).

Curley’s move to Las Vegas has been no secret, but news that Jennewein was joining him was made public this week. Curley had been vice president of product development at WashingtonPost.Newsweek Interactive, director of new media and development at the Naples (Fla.) Daily News, chief of Interactive operations at the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World and the Topeka (Kans.) Capital-Journal. Jenneweinwas vice president of Internet operations at The San Diego Union-Tribune and has had a long career in online news operations at Cox Newspapers and Knight Ridder, including as part of the team that put the world’s first newspaper onto the Web. I was amazed when earlier this year San Diego Union-Tribune Editor Karin Winner, not exactly a visionary, jettisoned Jennewein (and his interactive editor Ron James). I’m glad to see that he’s wound up somewhere better.

Jon Dube has been named Vice President of ABCNEWS.com, where he worked before joining the CBC News (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) as director of digital media and before joining MSNBC.com as a technology editor, senior producer, and managing producer. Dube is also president of the international Online News Association.

Congratulations to all three!

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Editor & Publisher magazine reported yesterday that Nielsen figures indicate that the amount of time that the average user spend on nearly half of the Top 30 U.S. newspaper Web sites declined during July. What I find inexplicable about that isn’t the declines but that the E&P doesn’t mention that this is at least the fifth straight month those overall declines have occurred. None of E&P’s stories during each of the past many months has reported the trend (for example); each monthly story has been about the declines during just the previous month. Doesn’t E&P notice the trend? Are these stories’ omissions of the trend intentional or is their oversight just lousy journalism?

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