Category Archives: Conferences & Seminars

Today's Goodies: Cauthorn Webcast; Parks Retrospective

View the webcast (QuickTime) to discover why my compatriot Bob Cauthorn, founder of and the former vice president of Digital Media at the San Francisco Chronicle, was introduced as “a thorn in the site of the newspaper industry” prior to his lecture last month at the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Cauthorn addresses why today’s local newspapers aren’t really local; why newspapers shouldn’t blog but should work with outside bloggers; how newspapers could better use their readers’ input to focus their news instincts; the value of free newspaper archives online; why newspapers should be open tagging their online content; why Yahoo!’s hiring of reporters is merely a Geraldo Rivera-like stunts and not really journalism; and much more. His speech was part of the New Media Lecture Series sponsored by the Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

Some newspapers are doing brilliant work online. While judging an awards contest, I discovered the Houston Chronicle‘s exceptionally thorough and up-to-date The Fall of Enron special report and also El Resumen 2005 annual retrospective by El País of Madrid. The Chronicle‘s Enron coverage is stellar example of how to comprehensively cover a major local event. And what can I write about El País, which has long been the world’s leader in print and online graphics, as so ably used in their 2005 retrospective.

Meanwhile, recognition of the importance of online editions continue to grow. recMiami Herald Executive Editor Tom Fiedler yesterday issued a memo to his staff declaring:

    … we will make delivering that journalism on and our other media platforms just as high
    a priority as delivering it in The Miami Herald. Let me
    repeat that for emphasis: Just as high.

    We are beyond being satisfied with incremental change and
    giving polite head nods toward other media platforms. We
    are going to execute fundamental restructuring to support
    that pledge. Every job in the newsroom — EVERY JOB — is
    going to be redefined to include a web responsibility and,
    if appropriate, radio. For news gatherers, this means posting
    everything we can as soon as we can. It means using the
    web site to its fullest potential for text, audio and video.
    We’ll come to appreciate that is not an
    appendage of the newsroom; it’s a fundamental product of
    the newsroom.

    No more will some people be strictly newspaper staff and
    others will be strictly on-line or multi-media staff. If
    you produce news, you’ll be expected to produce it as
    effectively for the electronic reader or listener as you
    would for the newspaper reader. If you edit or design for
    the newspaper, you’ll learn to edit and design for the web

Heidi Cohen, in her marketing column for, notes how publishers of printed periodicals are finally getting serious about shifting their business online and what advertisers should do about that.

I’m constantly fascinated by the data compiled by The Tyndall Report about thre three traditional TV news reports (ABC, CBS, and NBC) in the U.S.. For example, take a look at how those networks covered events during 2005 or last week.

I blame TV news for killing the great picture news magazines. The April edition of The Digital Journalist features a great retrospective of the even greater Gordon Parks — filmmaker, composer, artist, writer, and the last of legendary photojournalists of the old LIFE magazine. A true renaissance man.

On a less grand scale, I also like freelance writer Wayne Yang‘s interviews with photographers and writers Nana Chen and Jon Anderson and also Photoshelter CEO Allen Murabayashi on Yang’s Eight Diagram site.

Finally, I’ve installed and am running the beta test of Google Content Blocker, a copy of which I obtained at the 3rd Annual Nigerian E-Mail Conference in Lagos last month. A few years ago, someone on a professional journalism listserv asked where to obtain a list of celebrity e-mail addresses. When I jokingly replied that there is a guy who sells them in Los Angeles at the intersection of Wilshire and Sunset boulevards (which are actually parallel streets), I was amazed to be contacted by reporters from the Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times who wanted my help finding that guy. I do hope those reporters put as much effort into the Google Content Blocker that the Nigerians gave me. ;^)

Today's Goodies: Ifra's E-Book Periodical

My favorite news site designer this side of the Atlantic is Jay Small, He is director of online audience and operations for the newspaper division of E.W. Scripps Co. and also runs his own consulting firm. Jay today reviews‘s new redesign. Jay also recently made downloadable his PowerPoint slides about online audience strategy, from his recent speech at the annual America East/New Media World conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania. His slides are an excellent primer for anyone new to online audience strategy. (By the way, Nico MacDonald is my favorite news site designer on the other side of the Atlantic.)

Brian Hieggelke, founder, editor, and co-publisher of Chicago’s Newcity weekly newspaper, tried to live through March without reading any newspaper. He has some interesting observations about going Cold Wood-Pulp.

From that city, where the Newspaper Association of America annual conference is underway, the outgoing president of NAA, Jay R. Smith, the president of Cox Newspapers Inc., told his fellow publishers to “stop whining” about the woes facing the newspaper industry and to “start winning.” Smith, who apparently didn’t provide a road map toward winning, told his compatriots that, “The world changed a lot, and we changed a little.” Along with his comments, Editor & Publisher reports that one of the complaints levels at the newspaper industry during the conference is that advertisers can’t simultaneously purchase ads online and in print. (Oh, my! A solution to that was something that the New Century Network consortium of American newspaper publishing companies planned to launch during the late 1990s, but the newspaper companies involved in that endeavor screwed the pooch because they couldn’t cooperate with each other. Years later, that pooch has come back to bite them.)

For the past several months, Ifra has been releasing its monthly Newspaper Techniques newsletter for free in a Web-based e-book format. The April issue features comprehensive coverage and analysis of two current events: McClatchy’s purchase of Knight Ridder and subsequent reselling of 12 of the 32 Knight Ridder daily newspapers. And the sale of MAN Roland to the investment firm Allianz Capital Partners. Was the Knight Ridder situation an watershed event in the American newspaper industry? Will an investment firm now owning the world’s largest manufacturer of newspaper presses signify a shift in world newspaper industry’s heavy metal future? Read for better overviews than I’ve read elsewhere. (This is the fourth month in which Ifra has experimented with an e-book version of Newspaper Techniques. I”m sure that Kerry Northrup, who was Ifra’s futurist and is now its director of publications, is the guiding hand. The January issue featured Ifra’s annual ‘Decision-makers’ Guide to Publishing. The February issue examined the business cases for each of the major formats of newspaper. And the March issue examined on the
worldwide trends and results of staff reductions at newspapers. )

Conferences I'm Attending This Spring

This Friday and Saturday, I’ll be in Austin at the University of Texas’ 7th International Symposium on Online Journalism. On Friday, I’ll be speaking on the panel Audience and Business Models: Will the Online News Industry be Able to Finance Quality Journalism? The other panelist will be Gary Meo, Senior Vice President, Print and Internet Services, Scarborough Research. (The entire symposium will be webcast)

On May 16 & 17 in New York City, I’ll be blogging from IDG’s Syndicate conference. I’ll be blogging for Corante, which is a media sponsor of the conference and where I founded and contribute to the Rebuilding Media blog.

Then on May 18 & 19th, I’ll be in Las Vegas at Editor & Publisher and MEDIAWEEK magazines’ Interactive Media & Trade Show. I’ll be speaking on the panel What’s Wrong With Media?. The other panelists will be Bambi Francisco of MarketWatch and Diane Mermigas of The Hollywood Reporter.

From June 28 through July 1, I’ll be at the University of Massaschusetts’ Democracy & Independence: Sharing News & Information in a Connected World summit and conference. It’s part of that school’s Media Giraffe Project. I’ll be co-convening its Future of Journalism roundtable on June 29th.

eMarketer Backs My Paris Speech

On Friday, eMarketer cited my speech last month to the World Association of Newspaper’s Advertising conference and verified what I said:

    eMarketer’s own projections confirm fears that online classified ad spending does not measure up to other, more vibrant online ad spending formats such as rich media and sponsorships. Although total spending on online classified advertising will continue to grow for several years, it is likely to do no more than match the growth in total spending.

I’m glad eMarketer’s figures agree with Borrell Associates‘ figures, which I cited. eMarketer’s report also provided a useful chart (the Borrell research provides many others).

Continue reading eMarketer Backs My Paris Speech

WAN Paris Report: American Newspaper Revenues Online


My speech last week for Borrell Associates to the World Association of Newspapers Advertising Conference in Paris received good play in The Guardian of London, MarketWatch in the U.S.,, and from WAN itself. Yet, most of the news stories focused on a comparison I made between the values of print edition readers and online edition readers.

That was a good ‘take-out’ quote for those stories to use. However, I made that comparison towards the end of my speech just to show the newspaper advertising executives that they must greatly increase their online revenues, particularly if their readerships continue shifting from print to online.

Other points I made were that American newspapers are earning significant revenues online, particularly now that local advertisers are going online. However, newspapers are in danger of losing local online advertising revenues, not to TV or radio stations but to ‘pure-play’ Internet competitors such as Google and Yahoo. And that newspapers must their expand their online advertising focus well beyond just the traditional classified advertising categories of jobs, properties, and automotive, because those three categories account for just a fraction of the monies advertisers are spending online.

So, for the record, here’s the text of that speech:

Continue reading WAN Paris Report: American Newspaper Revenues Online

Conference Season Begins

Conference season, which seems to last ten months every year, is dawning again.

I’ll be in Paris later this month at the 16th World Newspaper Advertising Conference & Expo, which this year is entitled for obvious reasons Revenue Generation 2006. The conference is organized by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and will be held February 23-24 atthe Sofitel Forum Rive Gauche Hotel.

I’ll be speaking in the session, Where’s the money? My topic is ‘On-line revenues are exploding worldwide. A presentation of the trends and the implications for your advertising revenues.’ And I’ll be doing so at the behest of Borrell Associates, who I represent outside North America.

Two other speakers there who might be of interest to online publishers are the always Jim Chisholm, the strategy advisor to WAN, whose advice is always excellent and souond, and Gavin O’Reilly, WAN’s president and the COO of Independent News and Media who recently announced WAN’s endeavor to charge Internet search engines that index newspaper content.

Unfortunately, my schedule won’t permit me to be in Europe the following week when the Online Publishers Association of Europe will hold its Forum for the Future conference in London on March 1-3. It has an interesting list of speakers, although mainly those from traditional companies.

(There’s also an interesting, invitation-only media dinner being held on March 1st in London, hosted by Netimperative and Infospace.)

I won’t be attending the Newspaper Association of America’s CONNECTIONS conference next month for the same reason I didn’t attend it last year, only worse.

I will however be attending Editor & Publisher and MediaWeek magazines’ Interactive Media Conference in Las Vegas, May 18-19. I so far appear to be the only panelist in its What’s Wrong with Media session. Just my luck!

And this Thursday I’ll be at Media Summit New York on a panel entitled Envisioning the Future of Digital Environment — as a Student Curriculu, as a Cultural Protoype, and as a Digital Lifestyle. I’ll be giving the same presentation on that topic that I gave last April at Digital Hollywood in Santa Monica. Joining me on that panel will be Dr. Phillip Long of MIT, Jeff Jarvis of City University of New York, John Tarnoff of Dreamworks Animation, Brett Goldberg of cDigix, and Wendy Dubit of Vergant Media.

If you’re attending one of the conferences that I am, say hello.

Representative Speeches

Speak a lot and you’ll get noticed (or thrown out).

I speak a lot. In each of the past ten years, I given approximately half a dozen speeches at all sorts of media conferences. Yet since 2000, most traditional publishers and broadcasters haven’t liked what I said. That’s because I’m saying that they are wrong; I’m saying that most are steering their media companies towards disasterous shoals in print, broadcast, and online.

Maybe that’s why in recent years I’ve not been invited again to speak in at most publishers’ and broadcasters’ conferences in America (but am in demand at American journalists’ and academics’ conferences plus at publishers’ and broadcasters’ conferences abroad). What little feedback I’ve gotten from traditional publishers and broadcasters is that most think I’m too radical, contrarian, ‘alarmist,’ and too far removed from what they think they need to do to reverse the long declining usage of their media.

That is too bad, because I think many of them are the ones who are too removed from what needs to be done and too far removed from their readers, viewers, and listeners. The data about their declining readership, viewership, and listenership supports what I say. So, if I’m telling them what they don’t want to hear, then I hope they’ll pardon me because it is what needs to be said.

RS_Speech2005.gifAt least people outside the media are taking notice. I’m pleased to be one of 23 Americans chosen for inclusion in the biennial book Representative American Speeches 2004-2005, published as part of H. W. Wilson Company’s The Reference Series.

Alongside my speech, in a section that the book’s editors call Established and New Media, are speeches by Jan Schaffer, the executive director of the University of Maryland’s Institute for Interactive Journalism; b>Alan Nelson, publisher and co-founder of Command Post; and U.S. Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton.

Jan’s excellent speech was her keynote to the annual meeting of the American Association of Sunday and Features Editors (AASFE), in New Orleans on October 1, 2004. Entitled Interactive Journalism: Drawing in Readers with a High-Tech Approach, it challenged the editors to create interactive journalism that makes information meaningful to people’s lives, create online civic participation, and give people a participatory stake in stories.

Alan spoke 15 days later at the Associated Press Managing Editors (APME) annual conference, held in Louisville, Kentucky. Earlier that morning, I’d given a speech there earlier that was later referred to by Columbia Journalism Review, but Alan’s speech was much more interesting. He explained how that he and some other created a group weblog that’s now has more than 7 million registered users who want to know news from the war and occupation of Iraq more directly than from mainstream news media.

Senator Clinton’s speech, on March 8, 2005, in Washington, D.C., was a keynote overview of the Kaiser Family Foundation‘s survey Generation M: Media in the Lives of Kids 8 to 18 about how children and teenagers are using new-media more than traditional media and probably will do so for the rest of their lives.

My speech was to the Broadcast Education Association’s session during the National Association of Broadcasters annual conference, held April 22, 2005, in Las Vegas. NAB is a conference of traditional broadcasters, yet its BEA session is more open to new ideas.

Oddly, mine wasn’t a keynote or even a prepared speech. Instead, my impromptu remarks as the first person speaking on a four-person panel entitled Reinventing the Local TV Station: Ground-Breaking Ideas from Innovative Thinkers were recorded by the BEA and the publishers of Representative American Speeches 2004-2005 apparently transcribed it. (This meant that I had to run their book through Optical Character Recognition software so that I could reproduce my own speech below!)

Other speakers included in the book are Kenneth Beldon, Robert Reich, Peter Sprigg, Evan Wolfson, and U.S. Senator Barack Obama on the what the book’s editors call A Divided America; Ronald Flowers, R. Drew Smith, Nadine Strossen, and Donald Wuerl on Church and State; Mariah Burton Nelson, Peter Orszag, William Spriggs, Mark Warshawsky, and President George W. Bush on Seniors and Social Security; and Stephen Dannhauser, T. R. Reid, U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and President George W. Bush on America and the New Europe.

My congratulations to Jan, Alan, and Senator Clinton on being quoted about the state of media. Under the link below is my speech about the challenge for the TV industry.

Continue reading Representative Speeches

The New York Times: Father and Son

In his keynote address Friday at the Online News Association’s annual conference in New York City, New York Times Publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. admitted that his newspapers’ Jayson Blair and Judith Miller scandals during the past few years were an institutional failure.

I wanted to ask him is why similar journalistic failures haven’t occured at The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, or other major American newspapers. The institution that failed is The New York Times under his reign.

I’ve known both Arthur Ochs Sulzbergers, Senior and Junior, and the key difference between them.

I knew the father from newspaper conferences during the 1970s and 1980s, and from his attempts during the 1960s and 1970s to purchase my family’s daily newspaper in New England. Senior surprised his family during the 1940s by joining the U.S. Marines, undergoing basic training, and serving as a private in the Pacific during World War II.

I’ve known the son from negotiating a Reuters contract across the table from him — a good way to take the measure of someone — during the early 1990s; from working as a new-media consultant to the Times until 1995, when he took the newspaper and its parent company; and from watching ever since. Junior and I also each have decades of experience rock climbing in the Shawangunk cliffs of the Catskill Mountains, though we’ve never climbed together. Unlike his father, Junior never served in the military, although he does talk about his formative experiences as being in Outward Bound.

And therein is the difference between the father and the son: The U.S. Marine Corp. versus Outward Bound. I don’t think the journalistic failures would have occured under the father’s tougher, more rigorous reign.

Sea Change in Online News

The significant thing about Journalism 2010: Who’s leading the way?, the ‘superpanel’ at the close of the Online News Association’s annual conference was that none of the experts who were invited to speak about the future work for traditional media companies. All used to, but don’t anymore. They are Neil Budde of Yahoo!, Robert Cauthorn of CitiTools, Susan DeFife of Backfence, Lockhart Steele of Gawker Media, and moderator Jeff Jarvis.

Ten or even five years ago, CEOs of traditional media companies would probably have been invited to speak about the future, but the world has since changed.

Arthur Sulzberger Jr.'s Pet Plan

“Do you have an online business model to subsidize your 1,200-person newsroom?” — a question from the audience.

“Yes, we’re going to kidnap users’ pets and hold them hostage.” — Keynote speaker New York Times Chairman & Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.‘s tongue-in-cheek response before the Online News Association annual conference this morning.

What Obstacles Exist for Online Journalism?

What obstacles exist for online journalism?

That topic will be on the minds of attendees at the Online News Association‘s annual conference next week in Manhattan.

Unfortunately, the major obstacle for online journalism is the people who practice it — the best of whom will be attending the conference. Most are transplanting into the new medium the failings of the old, mass medium: the failings of traditional journalism and the failings of traditional journalism’s packaging.

Journalists, whether they work in mass or new media, still tend to believe that traditional journalism and its packaging are as correct in a new medium as those once were in the mass medium. It is as an article of faith within their secular trade.

Yet, traditional journalism and its packaging have demonstrably failed in the mass medium, and there’s abundant evidence that that those are failing the new medium, too.

The verdict was handed down long ago in the mass medium. North American viewership of televised news has been plunging for two decades. In most of the world’s industrialized countries except Japan and China, newspaper readership has been plummeting for a third of a century. Radio listenership of news dove even longer ago. And the credibility of the news media, at least in North America, is in tatters.

So, why is most online journalism shovelware from traditional print, traditional video, and traditional radio?

Speak with most of the journalists who will be attending the ONA conference and they’ll give you several excuses: ‘Our website doesn’t have enough staff to do anything but shovelware.’ ‘This type of journalism is what was taught to us in journalism school and is still being taught there.’ ‘If it’s good enough for print or video or audio, it’s good journalism online.’ Etcetera.

Even what little original journalism is being done online is being done along traditional models (Macromedia Flash optional).

Although there are other reasons why viewership, readership, and listenership of news have declined for decades, traditional journalism is certainly a major reason, if not the major reason.

Simply reporting who, what, when, why, and how; quoting both sides’ statements; and expecting the public to decide the issues from such factoids is no longer effectively satisfying the unambiguous needs of viewers, readers, and listeners. Neither does traditional journalism’s story selection and packaging. The numbers were in decades ago.

Delivering that traditional journalism via HTML, CSS, Flash, PDF, streaming media, RSS, or podcasting solves nothing. If anything, it only makes the problem worse.

Ten years into the Internet era, although news publishers and broadcasters now boast of the numbers of people who visit their websites, the sites’ average visitor use those much less frequently and far less thoroughly than the average reader, viewer, or listener of those same publishers’ or broadcasters’ plummeting old media.

Neilsen/Netratings and Comscore Media Metrix agree that the average visitor to an American daily newspaper website visits only three time per month and read less than 20 pages and spends less than 30 minutes there during that month. According to the Readership Institute at Northwestern University, the average reader of a printed newspaper reads it three times per week, and readi more than 20 pages and spends nearly 30 minutes each time. The ratios between American broadcasters’ websites and their TV or radio broadcasts are little better.

Online journalism — if it is ever to be used more than the continuously lessening use of newspapers, news television, and news radio is — must change. Otherwise, shovelware will bury it.

Some online journalists say that ‘citizen journalism’ should be the future of journalism. But that shirks their own relevant roles.

The people attending the Online News Association next week have done yeoman work putting news online and deserve credit for that. However, it has come time for them to stop shoveling traditional journalism online. To stop waiting for their brethren in broadcast or print edition newsrooms to solve the problem of why viewership, readership, and listenership have been declining for decades; to stop hoping to shovel into online whatever that solution is. Judging by their long track record, it is highly unlikely that traditional journalists will ever solve that problem.

Because traditional journalists will never lead that change, it has become incumbent upon online journalists to lead, reinvent, and revitalize journalism for the 21st Century. That time is now. I challenge my fellow Online News Association members. Manhattan beckons.

Continue reading What Obstacles Exist for Online Journalism?

My Thanks to the University of Skopje, Macedonia

University of Skopje videoconference

As a little boy during the World’s Fair of 1963-4 in New York City, I first saw a prototype of what the telephone was supposed to be by the year 2000. It was supposed to be a videophone.

For example, the photo below was what Western Electric Company, which made the telephone handsets for the American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T) monopoly thought that the telephone would look like in 1997 (the silly hat was optional).

For decades thereafter, telephone companies such as AT&T, British Telecom, Deutsche Telecom, and Nippon Telephone & Telegraph (NTT) planned to offer videophotos to consumers and businesses. But the major phone companies failed to anticipate two events during the 1990s:

(1) That the Internet, which had been a private network only for governmental or academic usage, would become open to the public(†);

(2) That the Internet bandwidth available to homes and offices would become sufficient for video once those companies and others laid hundreds of thousands of kilometers of fiber optic cables and provided homes and offices with T-1, DSL, and cable modems during the ‘Internet Boom’.

Those major companies’ videoconferencing plans evaporated, and are now being replaced by inexpensive videoconferencing applications developed by start-up companies or by the wunderkind of start-ups, Steve Jobs.
videophone vision of 1963

I nowadays routinely use the Festoon videoconferencing application for Skype. And today, without leaving my office in Connecticut, I had the please of giving an hour-long talk to the journalism students at University of Skopje in Macedonia, thanks to technology packaged for me by the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism.

Though I’ve lectured in person at Missouri’s campus, I nowadays do so directly from my Connecticut office, thanks to that school’s ‘Mac-in-the-box’ remote lecturing package, the brainchild of that school’s Associate Professor of Journalism Clyde Bentley.

The package consists of an Apple I-Book laptop, Griffin SightLight camera, and an aluminum briefcase for shipping. Rather than incur the travel time and expenses of bringing the lecturer to campus, the school instead ships the ‘Mac-in-the-box’ videoconferencing package to the lecturer. Plug an Internet connection into its Ethernet slot and the laptop automatically connects with the school’s videoconferencing system.

Sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s International Broadcasting Bureau, University of Missouri Assistant Instructor in Convergence Journalism Curt Wohleber this week is teaching at the University of Skopje in Macedonia and invited me to talk with a journalism class there about the business of online news publishing. To do this, Bentley shipped me a ‘Mac-in-the-box’ package (top photo). It worked superbly. I’ll be using it again on Friday when I’ll be talking to one of Missouri’s own journalism classes.

atskopje.jpgLet me thank the University of Skopje class! They are intelligent and enthusiastic. I’m making the point of mentioning that because I haven’t been finding those characteristics very often among American journalism school’s undergraduate students, who all too often see journalism as merely a job and not an quest. Perhaps we Americans don’t value our freedoms as much as the people of the Republic of Macedonia (founded 1991) value theirs?

[† A footnote: Who opened the Internet to public usage? The answer is former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who is speaking today at the Behold the Power of Us online journalism conference in New York. Gore’s critics have lambasted him for boasting, “I took the initiative in creating the Internet.” Of course, Gore didn’t create the Internet; telecommunications scientists Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn did. But what Vice President Gore did do – for which he deserves credit – was order that governmental and academic network be opened to the public in 1992. Though he didn’t create the Internet, Gore did create the opportunity for nearly a billion consumers worldwide now to use it.]


The ironically named BEHOLD THE POWER OF US is a single-day online news industry digerati calvacade, organized by the American Press Institute and held at the headquarters of the Associated Press. I should appeal to the FEW OF THEM in the media WITH THE POWER to afford an event that’s way too expensive to be much good for majority of the American news industry.

The nine-hour symposium in New York City on Wednesday, October 5th, costs $695 to attend.

Its speakers include Current TV Chairman and former Vice President of the United States Al Gore, Criagslist Customer Service Representative & Founder Craig Newmark, Associated Press President & CEO Tom Curley, BBC Global News Division Director Richard Sambrook, CBS News President Andrew Heyward, CBS Digital Media President Larry Kramer, Netform President Karen Stephenson, Wonkette Editor Ana Marie Cox, Bayosphere Founder Dan Gillmor, futurist Watts Wacker, Yahoo! Vice President & General Manager Craig Forman, New York Times Columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, Pop and Politics Editor & Founder Farai Chideya, Editor Jessica Coen, NewsGator Technologies President & CEO J.B. Holston, I Want Media Founder & Editor Patrick Phillips, Union Square Ventures Partner Brad Burnham, Young and Rubicam Brands Chief Insights Officer(yes, that’s actually his job title) John Gerzema, and Micro Persuasion blogger Steve Rubel.

Plus, Edelman PR President & CEO Richard Edelman, Voy Chairman & CEO Fernando Espuelas, MMB Media LLC Principal Merrill Brown, Ogilvy PR Senior Vice President & Creative Director John Bell, Global Voices Co-Founder Rebecca MacKinnon, President & CEO Susan DeFife, PRESSthink Founder Prof. Jay Rosen, Glamor Editor Ellen Kampinsky, Senior Editor, Weblogs Co-Founder & Chairman Jason McCabe Calacanis, BlogAds Founder Henry Copeland, Mobius Venture Capital Managing Director Brad Feld, Wireless Ink Chairman Scott Rafer, 5ive Senior Vice President Susan Mernit, PDX.CN CEO Marcus Xiang, Deutsche Bank Media Analyst Paul Ginocchio, Americans for Informed Democracy Executive Director Seth Green, Majestic Research Co-Founder & Chairman Seth Goldstein, NextNextBigThing Director Dominik von Jan, BIA Financial Executive Vice President Rick Ducey, Greensboro News-Record Lex Citizen Journalism Coordinator Lex Alexander, Mindshare Interactive Campaigns Director Brian Reich, and American Press Institute Media Center Co-Directors Andrew Nachison and Dale Peskin.

That’s a wonderful roster of speakers, probably the best I’ve ever seen for any new media conference! The symposium’s program is aimed at helping American news media thrive in the 21st Century, and will focus on “participatory media.”

So, what a pity that the cost of attending it is more than perhaps 93 percent of America’s daily newspapers, 96 percent of America’s television stations, 99 percent of America’s radio stations, and 99.999 percent of American citizen journalists can afford!

The event is a nice idea. But to whom is the American Press Institute marketing it? It can’t be to the average American daily newspaper, a publicatoin with weekday circulation of approximately 40,000. More than 1,200 of the nation’s daily newspapers have weekday circulations of less than 50,000 and roughly 1,375 have less than 100,000. This event’s registration fee of $695 is far too expensive for those newspapers — particularly when combined with the costs of travel to New York City and an overnight hotel stay in that most expensive of American cities. The total cost of attending will probably run to more than $1,500 per person, not counting taxis and meals. Fat chance of getting the publisher of small or medium-sized newspaper to approve those expenses.

Likewise, an even smaller number of the nation’s 6,000 television and radio stations could afford to send someone to it. And surely few ‘citizen journalists’ will be willing to foot the costs of attending.

I have to ask: How can the organizers of this event hold a participatory media symposium that’s too expensive to attend for the vast majority of citizen journalism participants and for the vast majority of American media interested in participatory journalism?

What’s the effective purpose of this symposium? Is it just a prestige event for the American Press Institute? (‘Hey, we got Al Gore and several CEOs to speak at our event!’) I don’t understand.

If the organizers, hosts, and speakers at this event want it to be effective, they should hold it somewhere less expensive and easier to travel, and make its attendance fee inexpensive enough for most media organizations to afford. The point shouldn’t be to hold a prestige event, but to hold an event that vast majority of its market can attend. Otherwise, it’s just an example of the FEW atop media purportedly helping themselves, while congratulating themselves for purportedly helping the MANY below who work in media but who can’t attend.

Unfortunately, BEHOLD THE POWER OF US will be attended by the few of them in the media who have expense accounts that can easily digest $695 to $1,500 to attend a single-day event about participatory media. That’s not many participants!

So, no thanks! I’ll skip this soireé — and thereby miss seeing the princes of ‘citizen media’.

UPDATE: Two American Press Institute executives reply:

Vin, thank you for your kind words about the quality of the We Media program. But if I may correct some errors…

You say, “The symposium’s program is aimed at helping American news media thrive in the 21st Century, and will focus on ‘participatory media.'”

While we certainly would be happy for that to be an outcome of the event, that is not the program’s purpose. We Media will explore the phenomenon of mass collaboration, with citizen journalism just one part of the agenda. We’ll also be looking at activism and democracy; media gawking; culture, politics and buzz; marketing; and trust networks. The program and perspective is global and presumes a diverse collaborative landscape that certainly includes many more voices than the traditional players you cite.

Also, We Media is being presented by The Media Center, a separately funded division of API with a distinct mission: to help build a better-informed society in a connected world.

The Media Center tries very hard to enable everyone to participate and learn from our activities, even if they can’t be there physically. Here’s how:

1) You can tell our speakers what you want them to think and talk about at We Media here .

2) You can join Watts Wacker and Andrew Heyward and share your thoughts and stories about mass collaboration here .

3) We Media will be live-blogged and podcast. Everyone is invited to follow the proceedings and submit ongoing comments. If they add to the conversation, we will read them aloud and share them with the entire conference. Live blogging and podcasts here .

Vin, we hope to see you online and actively engaged on the morph blog on Oct. 5.
      — Gloria Pan

Vin, the price, the program, how it’s conducted and what comes of it are all legitimate topics for discussion and criticism before and after the conference.

The price may be too high, or the costs of planning and organizing conferences may be greater than you realize. If you’re going to take a shot at the cost barrier you might at least note the fellowships we provided. Rest assured the participant roster will be vastly more diverse in perspectives and experiences than the typical media industry conference you seem to think we should be replicating.

I’m not going to quibble about what U.S. news companies can or can not afford, but I will note that we’ve directed our fellowships to applicants with more compelling cases of poverty.

Your critique is incorrect in one critical respect: you state the conference is intended to help American media thrive in the 21st Century. That’s not the purpose of the conference, or of The Media Center, and I hope you haven’t read anything produced by The Media Center that says otherwise.

The Media Center is indeed a division of the American Press Institute. But The Media Center’s funding is entirely separate, its audience and perspective is global, and its mission is explicitly social and NOT about helping any industry thrive, newspapers or otherwise. The Media Center is a non-profit think tank committed to building a better-informed society in a connected world. We seek to to improve all segments of society through the enlightened use of media and enabling technology.

We Media is for: Individuals and organizations from media, advertising, public relations, marketing, news, entertainment, finance, telecommunications, technology, philanthropy, NGOs, social activism and academia who seek to tap into the shared knowledge and the collective intelligence of the connected society.
      — Andrew Nachison

Speech to the Broadcast Education Association at NAB

Transcript of my speech to the Broadcast Education Association’s session at the National Association of Broadcasters annual conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, Friday, April 22, 2005.

[In his introduction, Max Grubb of Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications provided my newspaper industry credentials, which isn’t surprising because those are what I’d provided to the NAB/BEA months ago.]

Thanks, Max. The beauty of that is those credentials don’t necessarily appy here. Why is a guy with largely newspaper industry credentials here at the world’s largest broadcasting conference?

Because eleven years ago, when I stopped working in the old media and began working full-time in the new medium, print was about all that you could realistically put online. In a world of 300-baud or 1200-baud modems, you couldn’t really deliver video online.

How the world has changed since then! According to the latest figure, 56 percent of the American homes that are online now have broadband connections. Most American corporations already do. Video has become as easy to deliver online as is print.

And what a phenomenal latent market for online video news! According to the Pew Internet Study, 83 percent of Americans say that they get most of their news and information from television. They are going to want that news & information online, too.

During the past decade, more than 600 million consumers — including 167 million Americans — migrated online, even though the Internet really gave them only text and still photos. What if they could have just as easily gotten their favorite medium — video — online?

And video news had better get online. According to the investment bank Veronis Shuler, the ratio of time they spent watching TV against the time spent on the Internet, in households that had both, was 8:1 in 2000 but is 4:1 today. To keep what’s left of its share of Americans’ attention, TV news must be delivered online rather than just on cable or over the airwaves.

The fact is that television, not magazines or newspapers, is the news medium that’s lost the most of consumers’ spare time and attention to the Internet, according to survey of consumer media usage.

The conference program says the title of my speech today is Challenging the News Establishment. Well, this is the challenge: Video news must go online or else.

Indeed, it’s somehow appropriate that this Broadcast Education Association session is held at the end of the NAB conference, when all the exhibits are being torn down. There is a visual metaphor occurring outside: Look outside and you’ll see the broadcast industry being disassembled. That’s what’s actually happening to the broadcast industry.

And I’m glad to be the opening speaker on a panel entitled Reinventing the Local TV Station; Ground-Breaking Ideas from Innovative Thinkers. Why? Because it’s the local stations that will win or lose the future for the broadcast industry.

We’ve heard at NAB what the national networks are doing in the face of the major changes the broadcast industry faced. But they’ve got enough staff and money to do whatever they want (even if they don’t know what they’re doing). The real challenge in the broadcast industry is what can local TV station can do faced the major change in the industry?

And you broadcast journalism educators in the audience have the hardest challenge of all: You’ve got to teach the future, literally teach the future. You’re students are the future, and the future is what you must teach them.

Are there major changes occurring? Of course, there are. Everyone now realizes it. Everybody.

For example, Rupert Murdoch last week gave a speech in which he said about the changes, — as an industry, many of us have been remarkably, unaccountably complacent. Certainly, I didn’t do as much as I should have after all the excitement of the late 1990’s. I suspect many of you in this room did the same, quietly hoping that this thing called the digital revolution would just limp along.

Well it hasn’t — it won’t. And it�s a fast developing reality we should grasp as a huge opportunity to improve our journalism and expand our reach.

And what’s remarkable about that speech isn’t what was said but who said it — Rupert, the wizard of old media. He’s finally got the new medium religion. In media, that’s like the Roman Emperor Justinian converting to Christianity. It’s a baptism. What was subversive has now become the accepted status quo.

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