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.
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Daily Archives: November 3, 2006
Via Romenesko, we learn that Rick Edmonds at the Project for Excellence in Journalism takes a closer look at newspaper circulation drops and find the news is worse than widely reported. Newspapers are boosting circ with a lot of discounted offers.
Then he turns his attention to claims by the NAA that online readership is refilling the bucket:
According to Nielsen/Net Ratings research numbers, 58 million people visited newspaper web sites in September and that led to a total audience increase of 8 percent over the previous year. The Nielsen study also estimates that the average visitor spent 41 minutes at newspaper websitesâ€”that is all sites, not those of a single local newspaper.
A closer look at those numbers, however, underscores the difficulty of the industryâ€™s current business dilemma. If you divide that monthly total into a daily one, there were roughly 1.9 million people visiting newspaper web sites each day in September. By the same calculation, the average time spent online would be about 1.4 minutes per day. (A recent NAA/Scarborough study estimated that the typical reader spends a little less than 30 minutes with the daily edition of the printed newspaper and more than 45 minutes on Sunday.)
I’m no fan of the “visited in the past 30 days” metric. It’s a meaningless stat. But Rick’s math is no better. You can’t just simply take the “visited in September” number and divide it by 30. Site visitation is not that evenly distributed. Hidden within that 30-day number are people who visit every day (or multiple times per day), and people who visit once per week, and everything in between. I also wonder if it accounts for people consuming RSS feeds, or mobile audience?
Right now, there is no established metric for a newspaper.com to measure loyal, consistent audience. I believe it should be a number I call “audience market share,” which is the number of wired adults in a DMA divided by the number of local unique visitors on a daily basis. Generally, newspapers do about 2 to 4 percent of AMS, from what I can glean from available data and spot checking (a very unscientific method). I believe the goal should be between 12 and 15 percent. Continue reading
A week or so ago, I discovered this Web log by business writers about business writing, so I added it to the blog roll and started consuming its RSS feed.
This morning, I’m a little disappointed in it. The Talking Biz News response to a CEO’s complaint about a local paper misusing the word “fired” in a headline is fairly shocking.Â Here’s Talking Biz News’ conclusion:
No matter how a company lets go of its workers, whether they are part of an â€œeliminationâ€? or a â€œreduction in forceâ€? or a â€œrightsizingâ€? or a â€œdownsizingâ€? or any of the other euphemisms and corporate speak that companies use to make what theyâ€™ve done sound better, itâ€™s still a firing or a â€œtermination.â€?
A newspaperâ€™s job is not to sugarcoat but to tell the truth. Get over it.
When an employee is fired, it is for a specific reason related to that employee’s work or the employer’s belief that said employee’s work is not up to standards. An employee is fired for cause (whether real or imagined). When positions are eliminated, it is a layoff and the presumption is the employees lost their jobs through no fault of their own.
This is just basic stuff, I’m surprised it needs to be explained to business writers — to any journalists, for that matter.
The headline in question was not only wrong, it was libelous. The Racine Journal Times should count itself lucky if the worst that happens is a polite op-ed from the CEO who eliminated the jobs.
The headline is also poor journalism because it misleads the public about what is going on in the local job market. The employees were not “fired” because they screwed up, and therefore will be replaced. The jobs were eliminated and now there are 50 fewer jobs in the local employment market, and 50 neighbors looking for new careers.
[tags]business, journalism, ethics, accuracy[/tags]
Here’s a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while: YouTube needs to go mobile.
I first thought of it during my last East Coast trip when I discovered how cool it was to have mobile video on my Treo. The available video was cool, but I really wanted my YouTube.
Now GigaOm reports, YouTube mobile is coming.
Much of YouTube is perfect for mobile — short and to the point clips.
The biggest drawback might be is that if unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, you might have to wade through a lot of crap to get to the good stuff. This isn’t a big deal when you’re on a desktop or laptop with broadband and a full screen, but on the tiny screen at slower speeds … could get frustrating. Continue reading
Well, that didn’t take long — Black Dog’s abandoned blog has already been cybersquated by a black hat SEO/SEM outfit looking to leech of his link backs.
If you’re linking to the old blog, do the world a favor and stop. This will help knock the old URL out of Google.
Terry Heaton writes about Media 2.0, which is increasingly about local media with lots of pure-play entrants. He warns that they will disrupt local broadcasters (Heaton focuses on television).
Everywhere I look, I see new businesses springing up that are built to appeal to people at the local level, and this is a very dangerous proposition for incumbent local media players — many of whom think we have time to sort all of this out. We don’t.
Heaton notes that sites like Outside.In have a lot of ground to make up to establish themselves.
However, the aggregate of all these players could siphon local ad dollars. Of course, they will also create new markets, which creates new opportunities for incumbents.
Heaton’s right that the time to act is now.
And keep in mind, Heaton is writing for station owners. On the Web there is no such thing as broadcast and print. It’s all digital. So however big the local dollar pie might be, TV, radio, newspapers and the start ups are all going after the same market. Where broadcast used to compete in a complimentary way (some advertising works better in print, other in broadcast), now local media companies either need to realize it’s a vicious competition with little room for mariginal success, or find ways to cooperate. Co-existence may be hard in the long run. Continue reading
In a previous post, I suggested that Alan Jacobson talk about how circ is doing at newspapers he’s redesigned. In concert with that post, I wrote to E&P reporter Jennifer Saba and suggested she acquire the full Fas-Fax report, or at least the top 150 markets, and publish it. Her response: Request the report yourself. She referred me to the Fas-Fax Web site.
Interestingly, the ABC will only release the report to “accredited press,” whatever that means. And by that, I mean, there is no agency that credentials members of the press (unless you count local law enforcement, which hardly seems relevant to an ABC report).
I’ve only assumed so far, and maybe it’s a false assumption, that a blogger working independently would not rise to the level of credentialed in the eyes of ABC.
I have no idea why E&P wouldn’t want to request the entire report, but it bugs me that they won’t. Maybe there is some logical explanation.
Meanwhile, E&P has posted a story about small papers with circulation gains — it seems to be a largely self-reporting effort (newspapers telling E&P of their own circulation gains). Still, it’s an interesting list — circ is looking good at many small papers.
I’d like to know more. I’d like to see the Fax-Fax for at least the top 150 markets.
UPDATE: Ms. Saba sends this e-mail:
I think there’s a misunderstanding regarding my response. I *have* the full FAS-FAX report which includes 770 dailies. The report is organized alphabetically, by paper. It does not rank the papers in any order. ABC provided a separate list ranking the top 25 papers based on the FAS-FAX.
I get requests for lots of reports — circulation and otherwise — and I cannot pass them along. Reporters receive reports because of that caveat. I’m happy to send people directly to the source, which I did when you requested.
My question back, then, is why hasn’t she published the 770 dailies numbers?
UPDATE II: Newsdesigner.com obtained some of the numbers I couldn’t (maybe I didn’t try hard enough, but it just seems reasonable to me that E&P would publish this data — or have done the redesign story itself (and maybe it has by this point, but I haven’t seen it)).
[tags]newspapers, redeisgn, circulation, abc[/tags] Continue reading
A quick review: Yahoo!’s site is smart and well executed product. They’ve aggregated lots of content from several sources, have some original content and packaged it in an attractive design with good navigation (I love the “buzz” nav under the main tabs). They’ve also included restaurants — here’s the Bakersfield page.
Why hasn’t a local newspaper done a food vertical like this?
[tags]food, dining, local, yahoo, newspapers[/tags] Continue reading