Sunday, September 14, 2008

Expert at estimating and forecasting the amount of unexpected chores my clients might face when completing tasks, I can woefully underestimate and overlook the unexpected when I’m trying to complete my own. I’m now more than two weeks past when I promised to post the third part of my four part essay Transforming American Newspapers. I didn’t expect the reaction the first two parts received.

I expected negative reactions and disputes from newspaper executives and media academics. The contretemps I received instead were requests from American and European journals to write derivatives of the essay. I’ve written those articles (choosing to write for those trade journals that would pay for the work), but doing so had consumed almost all my free time during the past two weeks, when at Syracuse University I’d simultaneously begun teaching my graduate school class in New Media Business for news organizations, a full-time job in itself.

So, please pardon my delay. Part Three of the essay is written (most of it was written a year ago) and I hope to post it midweek, once I have time to review and edit it one last time. Meanwhile, I has class lectures, slides, and presentations to prepare by Wednesday, and that paid academic work takes precedence over providing free consulting advice online.

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Speaking of academia, I was writing categorically, not personally, when last month I wrote that:

“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…the academics don’t. In fact, most media academics are even further behind than the industry executives.”

I know dozen of media academics who are very savvy about the problems facing American daily newspapers. So if you’re an academic, you’re probably one of them. Don’t take my criticism of all academics personally.

My criticism of media academics distills to this: In the fields of engineering, medicine, law, science, and computer science, the academics conceive the new theories and solutions, which those industries follow and adopt. But in the field of media, it is the academics who follow the industry. At this time when the media industry is lost and desperately needs new theories and solutions, where is the media academy?

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Did you know that one-third of all the journalists imprisoned worldwide are online journalists? Or that more online journalists are imprisoned than broadcast journalists? Those facts shouldn’t be surprising when you realize that objective journalists who live or report in repressive regimes cannot get broadcast licenses, so they report via online.

I’m formulating a graduate school course next Spring about Using New Media to Circumvent Censorship. I’m hoping to draw upon case studies and experiences from the Media Development Loan Fund, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans Frontières), the World Press Freedom Committee>/a>, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Albert Einstein Institute, and other organizations devoted to the free press in repressive regimes. If you happen to know of a case worth study, please let me know.

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Entering an Apple Computers store to purchase a copy of Microsoft Office 2008 for one of my Macintoshes (I use both Macs and PCs), I was surprised to see there are still long lines to purchase iPhones. I wonder how they’ll feel later this year when the first of the gPhones appear in competing stores? The first ‘Google phones’ will be on sale as early as next month.
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