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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Daily Archives: March 18, 2007
Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? Before answering the question, go read this post from Guy Kawasaki.
Now go read this post I did earlier that touches journalists thinking that just because they provide a valuable civic service, that’s enough reason for their businesses to thrive.
Do you have a fixed mindset about journalism, or a growth mindset? Continue reading
As I get ready to leave for Keley’s Drilling Down on Local conference, these are the things on my mind.
- Craigslist is not the problem. A lot of people in newspapers still fixate on Craigslist. Craigslist is more emblematic than it is the major threat. Craigslist has its own problems (I’ll cover some of this in a future post dealing with some of my own recent experiences with Craigslist). I don’t believe there is yet the definitive online classifieds model. There is still room and opportunity here for newspapers. Ebay is part of the clue, as is craiglist, as is Google, but I believe newspapers, with their local advantage, can still develop the right online classified model.
- IYP. A big opportunity for newspapers, but as yet inchoate. In this space, along with video, newspapers have their best opportunity for replacing lost print revenue.
- Hyperlocal journalism. This involves lots of databases as well as distributed media tools. Rob Curley has come the closest to getting this right, but most newspapers are still struggling to get beyond shovelware online. Unlike classifieds or IYP, the path here is clear and has been since 1995. The big problem is newspapers have been unwilling to make the necessary investments. That’s starting to change.
- Video. Video is always on my mind. It will win us audience and make us money. It is an opportunity in each of the three previous thoughts.
UPDATE: The other thing I wanted to mention — in commodity products such as IYP or classifieds, can one model or one brand really win the day in a distributed media environment? Continue reading
So, you want to be a rock and roll star?
I saw the following headline and expected some treatise on why newspapers are still going strong and have nothing to fear but fear itself, something along the lines of Mark Twain’s famous line, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
But J. McGuire never quite gets around to assuring us that newspapers won’t die eventually. He notes some positive signs and some negative trends, but draws no real conclusion.
His main point seems to be that if newspapers die, you’ll get more celebrity gossip in your media.
If you are disgusted about the obsession with Anna Nicole and Britney, reflect for a minute on how much coverage of those two stories you saw in The Arizona Republic, the East Valley Tribune and the New York Times. The answer is not much.
No matter how much you enjoy beating up the print media, and no matter how many times the newspaper industry shoots itself in the foot with plagiarism, fabrication and conflict-of-interest scandals, for the past 50 years, American newspapers have been our newsgathering stalwarts.
No reasonable person is arguing that newspapers are unimportant to society. But some of the best newspapers in the country are being hammered by circulation slides and declining revenue. So if people no longer feel compelled to pick up newspapers, what do we do to protect newspaper-style journalism?
One answer might be to build better newspaper web sites, so we can increase audience enough to generate enough revenue so we can keep the whole thing going.
If we collectively put more effort into the web, I see these potential outcomes:
- We figure out a way to make enough money (currently, no newspaper.com does) online to pay for our current news operations and then those news operations have a safe place to land once the print product dies;
- The print product never dies, though maybe declines, but our robust and money-generating web operations help offset print loses, even to the point of boosting overall revenue, making investors (and all for-profit papers have investors) happy and providing for additional news-operations resources;
- We’re doomed. Because of the efficiencies of web advertising, downward price pressure continues to suck the life out of ad-based revenue models and we can never generate enough revenue, in which case newspapers will die with or without robust web operations.
So, two out of three ain’t bad. In other words, we have nothing to lose by building innovative, aggressive, locally-focused web operations, and everything to gain.
I hope a lot of newsroom people read this, because it’s on your shoulders, too. You need to be part of the solution, not a member of the complainers’ choir. Continue reading
Bill Blevins has been consumed with an interesting side project the past week or so. He’s been making the ultimate Little League team web page for the Carolina Tigers (his sister’s family).
Apparently, all the teams in the league are having a bit of a competition over who can develop the best web site. Here’s the rest.
Outside of Lawrence, where does this kind of hyperlocal journalism exist in the newspaper world? Not many places, I don’t think. So the question is, will more and more community members do it for themselves because newspapers aren’t doing it for them, or if newspapers did it (no matter how well), would people still want to do it for themselves — the inevitable result of egalitarian digital tools. If they’re doing it because newspapers aren’t, then only newspapers have themselves to blame for the missed opportunity. If they would do it anyway, then we’re in a lot more trouble than we think.
Disclosure for those who don’t know: Bill’s my boss. Continue reading
Mindy McAdams found this quote from Clay Shirky and it’s well worth repeat, even if you’ve already read it.
Shirky describes this generational shift in terms of pidgin versus Creole. â€œDo you know that distinction? Pidgin is what gets spoken when people patch things together from different languages, so it serves well enough to communicate. But Creole is what the children speak, the children of pidgin speakers. They impose rules and structure, which makes the Creole language completely coherent and expressive, on par with any language. What we are witnessing is the Creolization of media.â€?
This post from Rafat Ali is important on at least two levels.
- It was shot with a camera phone. It is camera phone journalism. The audio is clear and the picture clear enough. It gets the job done. If reporters aren’t carrying point & shoot cameras, shouldn’t they carry a device like this? Why would any reporter today not want to be always armed with a video capture device of any kind? And why would a news ite publisher not want to post it?
- In it, you get to hear Martin Neisenholtz reveal just how little he understands blogs, and how trapped he remains in Big-J thinking about what blogging is and its role in the mediascape. It’s a little surprising that a major media leader would still hold those views. Martin seems fully invested in the false dichotomy that there is a bloggers vs. journalist competition, rather than seeing the ecosystem as it exists. The telling point is his comment to Jeff Jarvis that “there is absolutely no check on you.” At least Carolyn Little gets it. “Bloggers help keep us honest,” she says. And the message Neisenholtz needs to hear from that is that bloggers keep each other honest, too. In distributed media, there is no us and them; it’s all we.
This is about the coolest thing I’ve heard about from a newspaper site in a long time: The Morning Call has a content database that can be shared, meaning anybody can copy the widget code and drop it on a web page (Danny Sanchez post).
Newspaper sites need to embrace sharing and find more ways to make their content and applications shareable. Continue reading
The online world is all atwitter about twitter (sorry, obvious turn of phrase that is probably already a cliche though I haven’t seen it used elsewhere).
The question is, is twitter (somehow, I can’t bring myself to capitalize it as a proper noun) is just a fad or an online cultural shift that both reflects and feeds the ADD nature of digital, distributed, self-focused media?
Personally, I’m not sure I want you to know where I am and what I’m doing at any given moment, even if I were vain enough to think you would care. I certainly don’t have time to consume the minutia of your day. But like Scott, I squatted my name. Continue reading