links for 2009-08-17

  • "So if journalism isn't the business of a newspaper, what is? Pull back the lens. At their peak, local newspapers did two things: They created community. And they provided the local marketplace for goods and services. These services were so profitable, that they subsidized the civic good of journalism.

    "The reason newspapers are in trouble today is because they have lost their dominant position on both of these fronts. When it came to community, the sum of news and information in a newspaper created a shared base of knowledge, set the conversations about civic life, and provided a bond that created a sense of place. Today, as newspapers have shrunk, and as the audience has splintered, the newspaper no longer serves as community hub. Having lost all of these things, all that is left is the journalism. And on its own, we're discovering this is not something people will pay for."

  • "The disastrous error that newspapers made early in our digital lives was treating online advertising as a throw-in or upsell for their print advertisers. Helping businesses connect with customers was always our business. We were facing new technology and new opportunities and we did next to nothing to explore how we might use this new technology to help businesses connect with customers.

    "We just offered businesses the same old solutions that we offered in print, but pop-up ads and web banners somehow didn’t work as well as display ads. Which was just as well, because we told our business customers the ads weren’t worth much by the way we treated them."

  • "Studies like this one by Pear Analytics drive me batty. They concluded that 40.55% of the tweets they coded are pointless babble; 37.55% are conversational; 8.7% have "pass along value"; 5.85% are self-promotional; 3.75% are spam; and ::gasp:: only 3.6% are news.

    "I challenge each and every one of you to record every utterance that comes out of your mouth (and that of everyone you interact with) for an entire day. And then record every facial expression and gesture. You will most likely find what communications scholars found long ago – people are social creatures and a whole lot of what they express is phatic communication. (Phatic expressions do social work rather than conveying information… think "Hi" or "Thank you".)

    "Now, turn all of your utterances over to an analytics firm so that they can code everything that you've said. I think that you'll be lucky if only 40% of what you say constitutes "pointless babble" to a third party ear."

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