May 2, 2010

The Magic of Magazines

Posted in Media at 5:13 pm by R

Have you seen this ad?

The text reads:

We surf the Internet. We swim in magazines.

The Internet is exhilarating. Magazines are enveloping. The Internet grabs you. Magazines embrace you. The Internet is impulsive. Magazines are immersive. And both media are growing.

Barely noticed amidst the thunderous Internet clamor i s the simple fact that magazine readership has risen over the past five years. Even in the age of the Internet, even among the groups one would assume are most singularly hooked on digital media, the appeal of magazines is growing.

Think of it this way: during the 12-year life of Google, magazine readership actually increased 11 percent.

What it proves, once again, is that a new medium doesn’t necessarily displace and existing one. Just as movies didn’t kill radio. Just as TV didn’t kill movies. An established medium can continue to flourish so long as it continues to offer a unique experience. And, as reader loyalty and growth demonstrate, magazines do.

Which is why people aren’t giving up swimming, just because they also enjoy surfing.

I LOVE this campaign! LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! For a few months I’ve been opening up my magazines and reading this ad with a big smile on my face!

For a couple of years this blog has covered the contracting print industry. And what I have never said is how terribly afraid I was that my beloved magazines would eventually fade away into Internet oblivion.

I love this ad because it’s true. Though I get my headlines from Tweets and e-newsletters, nothing makes me so happy (or my mailman so sad) as MAGAZINE DAY! I can’t wait to dig in and flip through the pages. It’s the smell, the colors, the info! I love swimming in all of it.

Magazines are, as the ad states, a unique experience. The blend of consumable, useful tidbits, paired with rich content in a format that feels comfortable, like a friend.

Just to exemplify how dedicated I am to the magazine experience, let me introduce you to some of my (and my equally devoted husband’s) magazine friends — and by friends I mean subscriptions:

(Note that all these great publications have fantastic websites as well.)

Not only do my husband and I love to read magazines and feel that we are enriched by their presence in our home, but we LOVE to give great magazines as gifts. Honestly, it’s the gift that keeps on giving every month. When a dear friend got engaged, I immediately celebrated her pending nuptials with a subscription to Martha Stewart Weddings. Christmas gifts — easy breezy. Hard-to-buy-for types are easily remedied with a subscription to a magazine related to a personal interest. While Apple iPhone owners chime “There’s an app for that,” when it comes to the holidays I gleefully say “There’s a magazine for that!”

The Internet might give us unlimited monthly access to unlimited amounts of information, but magazines give us the value of a unique, reliable and regular experience.

Might I add, as my hubby and I contemplate doing some remodeling to our home, I’m quickly discovering a whole new world of magazines to swim in as I immerse myself in flooring selections, finishes, faucets, paint ideas and more!

Magazines, in short, are magic.

~R

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December 6, 2009

Small Time

Posted in Media, Uncategorized at 6:27 pm by R

I was visiting my parents for Thanksgiving in rural Southeastern New Mexico and I noticed something…their local news sucks!

No, I’m not talking about lame news stories — those are everywhere (enter reference to Tiger Woods here). I’m talking about bad production, paltry reporting and skimpy information.

Roswell — where my mom and dad are at — doesn’t even have a local news affiliate anymore! That’s what the real issue is, I think. They have no town crier! Even the smallest of towns ought to have a reporter to cover the local interests. That’s what makes journalism a civil service, right? They aren’t even afforded a single reporter who zips footage back to the mother ship…

In a time when news stations have both citizen journalists and affordable resources and technologies which creates the ability to produce coverage in even the most remote of places, why don’t they?

There’s no reason for any small town to be ostracized when it comes to news coverage — not in this day and age where technologies abound.

Because broadcast technologies are changing so much and the media landscape is shifting at a more rapid pace than anyone could possibly have predicted, it’s important keep everyone in the loop. Older generations still rely on the local news and the daily paper. As those mediums are stripped away or shifted online, what will the impact be in the midst of a crisis? How will people who aren’t computer literate get their vital local information if the news affiliates don’t provide it?

I’m a big champion of utilizing new technology and social media to engage people and offer information. But there’s a big ethical question looming out there about how to responsibly provide coverage to people that aren’t well versed in the Web.

What is a TV station’s responsibility to provide a reasonable standard of local news coverage?

I don’t know the answer. But it better not begin and end with the bottom line (yes, I know $ has to figure in there somewhere, just don’t be a total Scrooge about it). There are a lot innovative ways to secure coverage to create broadcasts. Get creative. Don’t continue to be small time.

~R

November 4, 2009

A one horse (read:paper) town

Posted in In the news, Media, Uncategorized at 8:12 pm by R

Phoenix, Arizona is the fifth largest city in the U.S. of A. It is now also a very large metropolitan area served by only one newspaper. As of December 31, 2009 the East Valley Tribune will cease to exist.

I’ve written here about papers closing, but not until today did I understand the impact these closures have on the cities they served.

You see, the East Valley Tribune served a significant niche of the Valley. Phoenix is Phoenix. Then there’s the East Valley. It’s a huge portion of the metro area population. It’s a huge portion of the population which is at risk for being journalistically under served.

And while this concerns me, there’s a bright side. Metro Phoenix is also home to some innovative journalists who have launched various news blogs to fill in the blanks and fill in the gaps like City Circles and the Zonie Report and of course Arizona Notebook.

Perhaps this is simply the way of things to come/it already is: hyper-local news accessible via well-written blogs courtesy of (many times) journalists and reporters given the slough off from failing publications.

And while those sites continue to grow and newspapers figure out what their future is, I guess Phoenix is just a one-horse town, so to speak anyway…

Giddy-up.

~R

September 4, 2009

Don’t try to compare Couric and Sawyer

Posted in Media, Uncategorized at 10:18 am by R

At the close of 2009, Charles Gibson will relinquish his post at the anchor desk on ABC Nightly News. He took over the position after Peter Jennings passed away in 2007. (May he rest in God’s peace)

Filling the famed chair will be Diane Sawyer, which means two of the three network newscasts will be lead by women — CBS with Katie Couric and now ABC with Sawyer.

It’s tempting to draw comparisons between Couric and Sawyer, but other than being successful professional women anchoring the news in the same time slot, there really aren’t many.

Katie Couric

Katie Couric

Couric really cut her teeth in morning television. And let’s face it, she was PERFECT for it. Always bubbly, but with the appropriate news edge, Couric was friendly and even-handed as a journalist. Who didn’t love to watch Katie Couric on the Today Show!? Even her more serious interviews showcased her unrelenting affable personality. It’s the kind of style and ability not all reporters are blessed with.

Diane Sawyer

Diane Sawyer

Sawyer’s background began as a White House aide to the Nixon administration. It was hypothesized at one point that she might be the infamous “Deep Throat.” Her reporting jobs have included  prestigious posts with shows like 60 Minutes, 20/20 and Primetime Live. I think it’s safe to say Sawyer’s reporting style is a little bit harder than Couric’s.

Couric had to learn that tougher reporting style on-air. At the outset of her tenure with CBS Evening News she maintained perhaps too much of her cheerful style…and the ratings tanked. Bless her heart, she was only being who she was. But sometimes the call of duty asks us to go a little outside of ourselves to be really successful. To Couric’s credit, it should also be stated that she was overwhelmingly scrutinized because she was the first woman to fill the anchor desk solo. Sawyer won’t face that same pressure. Couric paved the way on that one.

But Sawyer moving to the evening anchor desk feels a bit like a homecoming. Though she’s proved she has great range in her reporting style after having held down the fort at GMA with Robin Roberts, Sawyer is — at heart — a news hound. She’s delivered hard-hitting and often political stories and mammoth interviews, like Sadaam Hussien, for the bulk of her broadcast career.

Her political past gives her an innate ability to tell tough stories, hold difficult — but not confrontational — interviews and deliver news in a way that has just enough grit.

My respect for both broadcasters runs deep. One more glass ceiling shattered.

While I don’t know what the critics will say after her first broadcast, I think it’s fair to say she’ll escape some of the harsh opinions that were lobbed at Couric during her first weeks. I bet there’ll even be some comparisons to Couric in those first reviews.

All of these changes beg some questions:

  • As the times have changed, do we as news consumers prefer to have the stories of the day delivered to us by women?
  • What is the characteristic that keeps us loyal to a certain anchor?
  • Who do you prefer to watch (past or present)? Any why?

Me? I’m a Brian Williams kind of gal. He reminds me of watching Peter Jennings, that’s who I grew up watching.

~R

July 18, 2009

In Memoriam: The Original Anchorman

Posted in Current Events, In the news, Media at 2:20 pm by R

Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite was known as “the most trusted man in America.” He delivered the news of the day with honest candor and pioneered the standard by which we judge all news anchors today.

I never had the benefit of watching Cronkite deliver the news. No, by the time I was around Dan Rather had filled his post. But the news anchors I grew up watching: Brokaw, Jennings and Rather were direct descendants of the Cronkite philosophy of news.

When a respected reporter goes on to the great newsroom in the sky their peers left here have just the most eloquent and wonderful things to say. The best in the business honor each other, because they know it takes all of their great work to keep telling great stories.

Some journalists I truly admire had touching words for Cronkite:

“Cronkite came to be the sort of personification of his era. He became kind of the media figure of his time. Very few people in history, except maybe political and military leaders, are the embodiment of their time, and Cronkite seemed to be.”  — PBS Correspondent Robert McNeil

“Walter was who I wanted to be when I grew up.” —  CBS “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer

“Walter Cronkite was and always will be the gold standard. His objectivity, his evenhandedness, his news judgment are all great examples.” –ABC News anchor Charles Gibson

“A giant of journalistic craft.” — Dan Rather, former CBS Evening News Anchor

Cronkite’s passion for news was evident long after he left the desk. He was a bellwether for the status of news, critiquing opinion-lead news and always calling for integrity, accurate reporting and subtle compassion.

He loved his craft and respected it. In 2001, shortly after 9/11, Cronkite spoke words, which, if it’s possible, have more meaning now than ever before with the changing face of news:

“…television, the great common denominator, has lifted our common vision as never before.”

Cronkite delivered the news during some very troubled times in our nation, his news style made him trusted among viewers as he delivered the sometimes difficult news of the day including JFK’s assassination, many reports on the Vietnam War and Watergate. He also brought viewers news of the shuttle landing on the moon.

Mr. Cronkite chronicled stories that have become integral to our history. He covered triumph. He retold tragedy. He was an excellent messenger.

And THAT’s the way it is.

~R

July 16, 2009

Bad Times = More Media Consumption

Posted in Current Events, Media at 8:41 pm by R

A study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project  affirms the fact that knowledge is power. It appears that the recession has increased media consumption, especially through electronic means.

People are reaching out for resources that can help them deal with their present situations. (This tells us something about the kind of news we should be pitching right now and the strategy PR practitioners should be leading during these times.) Sixty-nine percent of Americans have used the Internet to help them with a problem related to the economy.

Pew studied two different types of households in this analysis, general population and ‘broadband’ households. ‘Broadband’ households seem to be those receiving larger bandwidth services like cable Internet and TV…I’m guessing, but I think I’m right.

Among those ‘broadband’ households, Internet media resources were the number one source for garnering economic knowledge, dominating over TV and print.

The general population still seems to be going to print as a primary knowledge resource, which surprises me to be honest. The caveat to this appears to be that people are utilizing more than one format of media to understand what’s going on in this wacky economic climate.

Another likely factor, which I suspect contributes to the study’s numbers, is that most younger households are probably in the ‘broadband’ category. So you have lots of Gen Y-ers, such as myself who are really experiencing their first recession and are going to their reference of choice…the Internet. Here we find that people are sharing in our experiences, offering advice and soldiering on…it inspires hope.

Also worth noting is that the amount of time American’s spend watching TV is on the rise. The likely cause of this (in my humble TV-watching opinion) is that people are staying home more and getting their entertainment from what’s on the old tube.

It’s interesting how what’s happening in our world affects how we consume news and how much of it we digest. I  confidently venture to say that a lot of people scrap their news habits entirely when the news is negative i.e. war, terror, natural disasters, etc. We are only programmed to be able to handle so much. It’s self preservation really…

BUT with this recession, we can each do something to improve or have some level of control in our own situations, so the more information we each have, the better equipped we are. Hence, the more news and information we are consuming.

Whether or not our habits will persist as the economic tidal wave subsides remains to be seen. Advertisers certainly hope so, I’ve no doubt of that.

~R

May 6, 2009

Online News Readers Site “Green” As Their Motivation To Drop The Paper Habit

Posted in In the news, Media at 4:03 pm by R

An MSNBC article by Tony Sclafani tackled the issue of people wanting news, but not the paper. His article reveals that people across the US are turning to free on-line versions of their local paper in lieu of the less tree-friendly paper version.

I’m definitely in the on-line category. I’ve never had a paper subscription. It’s just much easier to peruse news sources on-line — no muss, no fuss, no waste. But the article’s closing paragraph does make a good point:

…if newspapers cease publishing hard copy editions, they’ll be leaving elderly readers without a longstanding resource for news.

While news is a for-profit model in many cases, it’s also a public service. To disregard a sizable demographic of the readership would be irresponsible.

So where’s the compromise? Clearly on-line news sources will only continue to expand, but how can papers responsibly phase out their hard-copies?

There are more questions than answers about the fate of newspapers. One thing is for certain though, it’s not a question of IF newspapers will go away…it’s WHEN & HOW.

~R

March 31, 2009

Chicago Sun-Times in the Red

Posted in Current Events, In the news, Media at 4:13 pm by R

Sun-Times Media Group, owner of the Chicago Sun-Times and 58 other papers, has filed for Ch. 11 bankruptcy today. The Sun-Times plans to continue to run its holdings as usual while it restructures  and “stabilizes operations.” See the full CNN article here.

The hits really just keep on coming don’t they!

While the Sun-Times announcement is bothersome, I’m more worried about the fresh cuts announced at both the Washington Post and The New York Times this week. The overall picture is really bleak.

How about a tally, shall we?

  1. Washington Post – budget cuts
  2. New York Times — budget cuts
  3. L.A. Times — holding company in bankruptcy
  4. Chicago Times — holding company in bankruptcy
  5. Chicago Sun-Times — holding company in bankruptcy
  6. Seattle PI — Web only
  7. Christian Science Monitor — Web only
  8. Rocky Mountain News — ciao
  9. Miami Herald — reportedly for sale

That’s disheartening. That’s a lot of talented journalists jobs at risk.

What’s worse is that there’s still no contingency plan. We are still asking “where will journalism go?” The answer seems to be online, but how will this format sustain itself?

Until we have answers, we’ll just have to keep our eyes peeled. Keep tabs at Paper Cuts.

~R

March 23, 2009

Fur-Cation Follow Up

Posted in Media at 12:02 pm by R

Should have waited ten minutes to post that last one. 🙂

Furlough update from Gannet and Arizona Republic.

~R

The age of the “Fur-Cation”

Posted in Media at 11:52 am by R

No. Fur-cation is not some PETA activist event, it’s a new challenge in PR & journalism.

Early in 2009, the Arizona Republic announced it would be instating a mandatory two-week furlough. All staff members of the Republic and local NBC affiliate KPNX are required to take two weeks off between the January initiation of the program and June 2009.

I personally think it’s valiant that Gannet has come up with an alternate solution to lay offs. But it’s a challenge to navigate the newsroom with any number of people gone on any given day. Though, many journalists are vigilant about getting the word out about their absence through email and social media.

Several times  I’ve worked with reporters who worked their fingers to the bone trying to meet deadlines before they depart on “fur-cation.” No doubt this creates stress for journalists, managing already tight deadlines and doubling up on work to cover their forced absence. Talk about high-blood pressure!

Fur-cation is just one more scenario we are all adapting to as we work together to create the news in this shifting media environment.

So. Tips for dealing with fur-cation:

  1. Honor reporters deadlines. Simple. No explanation required. Do this ALWAYS.
  2. Pile on the info. Limit a reporter’s run around by giving them all the resources to do their job easily. That’s really what our job is after all. More than ever, package it all up with a nice tidy bow; from smart short pitches to interviews, photos and other juicy tid-bits.
  3. Be Patient. Generally, we know when we WANT or NEED something to run in the press. But some flexibility is important. Don’t let your sense of urgency over power your sense to help reporters and foster those working relationships. If a story can wait and you know you’ve got the right journalist to tell said story, hold off. Let them know you’ve got a great one for when they return. Better to have a story told the way you want to tell it than having a piece appear at the right time with out the right messaging.
  4. Ask how else you can help. Don’t just serve your own purposes. You are a resource! Check in on the other stories those reporters are working on and try to help out. Help them take a load off where you can.

The moral of of the story is be mindful and be helpful, because folks, this isn’t a vacation…it’s fur-cation.

~R

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