Howard Owens is a digital media pioneer. He started publishing local news online in 1995 when very few local news outlets had web sites. The header image on the site depicts the film camera he used early in his career and the press pass from his year on the staff of the Carlsbad Journal. For more on Howard's professional background, read his LinkedIn profile.
HowardOwens.com is the personal web site of Howard Owens and covers his range of interests -- political localism and libertarianism, music and personal interests, as well as his professional interests.
Howard is currently publisher of The Batavian and lives in Batavia, N.Y.
- Bob Netherton on Why I’m rooting for Vance Albitz
- seagazer101 on ‘Lede’ vs. ‘Lead’
- Pamela Lagahid on IFRA launches second vertical search engine for media
- kapiyo on My new Nikon F4
- bradleyplunk on Chris Tolles brings some stats to the anonymous vs. registration debate
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Monthly Archives: August 2006
For inserts and coupons, newspapers are still doing well. This NYT article speculates that print coupons are doomed, even though they still remain popular with consumers today.
“The paper coupon is the single most inefficient marketing tool you could imagine,” said Peter Sealey, a former chief marketing officer at Coca-Cola who is a marketing consultant in Sausalito, Calif. “The traditional paper coupon is going to die. It can’t survive in the Internet world.”
But I’m not sure anybody has come up with a better digital alternaive yet, especially for manufacturer’s coupons. Printing out coupons isn’t necessarily more efficient than clipping them, and when you print them, they still generally need to be clipped. Mobile devices offer some potential, but the solution will need to seem simple and intuitive to consumers.
There are some potential options for online newspapers to leverage their local relationships, and even reach new advertisers who can’t afford print, but this might be an area where a national disruptive play might find it hard to get traction — at least until small business owners become more Net savvy.
I always said a good job would fall into my lap. Here it is: director of Internet publishing with Gatehouse Media.
You may never have heard of Gatehouse. It’s essentially a new company, but its leadership ( Mike Reed is CEO and Bill Blevins is Internet VP), is rock solid. I’m impressed with both Mike and Bill, and both are respected people within our industry.
Gatehouse operates 450 small dailies, weeklies and shoppers in 15 states.
The job seems a perfect fit for my biggest strengths, best-honed skills and diverse experience. It is clear that I will be treated well and fairly.
I start on Tuesday.
Once the house in Bakersfield sells, we’ll be moving to some small town to the east of Rochester, NY. I was in Rochester a few days ago. I like it.
Housing prices are insanely low. Of course, taxes are insanely high. It’s not quite a wash, but it’s close. The music scene is vibrant. The winters are cold. The public gardens abundant. The towns sparsely populated, but closely packed. It’s wine country. There is lots of water (such as Lake Ontario) My first impression of the people: friendly. It is as close to baseball heaven as you can get: At least five major league parks are within half-a-day’s drive, with an International League team right in Rochester, and other minor league teams close by, and Cooperstown is a mere 3.5 hours down the road.
The whole thing is bittersweet for my family. They are happy for me, but this wasn’t we expected 12 months ago. On the other hand, I’ll actually be in better off with Gatehouse.
Don’t worry, Bakersfield, Ventura, Los Angeles and San Diego buddies, there will be plenty of time for goodbyes over the next couple of months while I work to get out of this house. If you can, buy it, so I can move on.
If you’re not keeping up with YouTube, you’re not keeping up with our culture. Watch all The Daily Show and Colbert Report you want, but you’re not keeping up. And if you’re one the the lackluster souls stuck on Leno, Letterman and SNL or the nightly news casts, you might as well be watching Ed Sullivan and Milton Berle.
YouTube is taking over.
I am becoming increasingly aware that YouTube is so vast, that it really contains multiple tribes/cultures, from video bloggers, viral videos, highlights from pop culture video and aspiring filmmakers, YouTube is documenting and expanding culture at a rate no other site can match. It’s just just a matter of uploading MSM video clips or out-of-focus home movies. More and more people are creating content — and some of it quite good — just for YouTube.
There are new stars being born and often these people have no other ambition other than to be heard. YouTube is on the verge of doing to MSM video what craigslist is doing to print classifieds: replacing paid, well-packaged content with amateur, peer-to-peer content.
Between YouTube and other video online, we might soon find our television sets nearly superfluous.
As for the Funtwo phenomena, I’ve stumbled across a few instructional type of guitar videos, some videos of people performing their own guitar instrumentals, but until I read the Times piece (hat tip to my wife), I didn’t realize that a whole community has sprung up around teaching each other guitar and critiquing each other’s work.
When I popped on YouTube this morning, I found this featured video — no kid, but an old man with an old guitar doing some Travis picking that is certainly worthy of study and emulation. Watch it and you’ll find links to to others.
Personally, I’ve enjoyed YouTube for its long tail of old rockabilly videos (I need to get back to posting some of those again soon). But I’ve also randomly checked out the homemade videos, the video bloggers, and the stupid, silly, unartistic things people upload for no redeeming reason whatsoever. But it’s clear that for those who completely immerse themselves in YouTube, there is a wealth of entertaining, educational and socially significant content being posted every day. It’s a content cavern so vast that no MSM outlet can match it — and the site isn’t even a year old yet.
If I were a musician or a music label, I wouldn’t dream of releasing a song without an accompanying video to place on YouTube.
If I were an aspiring filmmaker, I would create videos just for YouTube, such as this one by the son of one of my former professors (If you’re not Nazarene, you may not appreciate all the humor of Nazbo Rap, but it’s a well done piece and reasonably popular on YouTube).
There isn’t much caution in my pronouncements about the ascendancy of YouTube, but I think all the trends are in its favor: Expanding broadband capabilities, greater acceptance by people to creating their own content, the growing availability of inexpensive and easy to use production tools, and a market domination that isn’t likely to be challenged any time soon. I think we’re a long way from seeing YouTube crest in its popularity.
UPDATE: More evidence of YouTube’s cultural significance:
Jon Fine of Business Week spends
an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out who Lonelygirl15 is.
In writing about the Web 2.0 bubble and the current media environment, Jeff Jarvis makes this salient point:
Some of the owners and employees try to blame all this on the public marketplace. But that’s crap. All the marketplace wants is rational business. And private owners can be rogues, too. See the Santa Barbara News Press, where the rich owner is now trying to get $500,000 out of the former editor for daring to stand up on principle. See also rich man Mark Cuban and how he’s trying to redefine journalism. No, those hoping to find knights on shining gold piles are just looking for a means to put off for a little longer — perhaps until their retirement — the inevitable pressure of the market.
Whether public or private, you still have to make sound business decisions that lead to revenue growth and profit. I see no inherent advantage to either public or private ownership. As Jarvis says, it’s still all about responding to the marketplace. I disagree with Jarvis’s favorite untested hypothesis that public newspaper companies appear to be getting everything wrong. There are multiple business models being followed throughout the newspaper industry. Some appear to be clear losers, but some show potential. It’s still too early to say that they’re all wrong.
Here’s a story worth watching: Forbes.com may have been over reporting its traffic data.
Web site traffic data remains an imperfect science. There are multiple data points that do not always intersect. An over reliance on one data source for site usage metrics is a dangerous thing.
Pitchfork is one of those sites that I know it’s there, but I’ve never paid it much attention (so many links, so little time), but Wired says its become the most influential (especially among indie bands) music criticism site on the Web.
One aspect of interest — while many reviewers are paid, they are not necessarily professional. They are not necessarily good writers.
I think there is a lesson there for all media companies: People gravitate toward what they consider authentic voices. The best and most popular bloggers do not necessarily write in a polished, journalistic style. They make no pretense to objectivity. They are honest, or at least perceived as credible by their fans. User-generated, fan-based content is overtaking professionally derived content all over the Web. Pay heed.
For those who missed the announcement earlier, check out this fine piece of Bakersfield real estate.
- Visit the Bakersfield Museum
- Go to a Blaze game
- Visit the Wasco Rose Garden
- Do some sightseeing in the Ridgecrest area
- Drive Route 66 out to Needles, then come back through Palm Springs and visit the nature garden there
- Visit Mono Lake
- Take my wife to see the Grand Canyon
- Visit a couple of life-long friends
- Eat one more meal at KC Steakhouse
- See one more Padres game
We’ve been selling some stuff on Ebay recently with some success. The best sellers so far has been poker books. CDs did OK. Baseball cards, not so much, though I did get $46 for my Roger Clemens rookie card.
Now we’re into clothing, clothing accessories and collectibles.
Right now, we have 19 items on Ebay, with more TK. If you like vintage clothing, my wife is still some great pieces.
The current surprise of the moment is this belt buckle, which is approaching $32 in bids with a bit more than a day left in the auction.
This old leather jacket my dad gave me when I was a kid has five people watching it, has generated two questions (including somebody offering $45 for immediate purchase), but no bids yet. One day left of this one.
I’m also selling the Padres windbreaker I’ve had since I was about 11 or 12.
I just listed this very cool cowgirl duster from my wife’s collection.
In the music-death category are these items related to John Lennon, Curt Cobain and Country Dick Montana. The CDM items are of particular interest to me simply because its so closely tied to my personal history. I knew Dan McLain (Country Dick) in high school, was friends with co-founder of the Beat Farmers Buddy Blue, and wrote an award-winning obit about Country Dick in 1995.
Don’t ask me why I saved all this crap. I don’t know.
If you’re interested, bookmark my Ebay page … we’ll try to add stuff every day for the next couple of weeks. And if you live in Bakersfield, watch this blog for an announcement of our upcoming garage sale, where we’ll sell off even more stuff we don’t need that TBC paid for us to haul over here from Ventura (and that doesn’t count the three garbage cans of stuff I’ve thrown out in the last week).