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Daily Archives: December 2, 2011

University of Kansas journalism professor Scott Reinardy surveyed more than 2,000 “layoff survivors” at newspapers for his study published in the Atlantic Journal of Communication. He found that many who survived rounds of cuts “trust the decision makers are making the right choices because they were spared.” Journalists who took on new responsibilities “tended to have the highest morale and showed commitment to their organizations,” says a release about the study. “Not all viewed such changes favorably.”

He found two camps: those who view the additional duties, smaller workforce and technological changes as an “exciting new world” and those who view it simply as more work. The mean score for respondents in terms of job satisfaction was 15.2 on a scale of 21. There was no significant difference between men and women’s job satisfaction. Trust, perception of job quality and commitment to the job had significant correlations to job satisfaction, while morale proved even more important. Professional experience, number of years at a newspaper, age and hours worked per week also had positive correlations.

“In essence, older journalists with more professional experience, more years at their newspaper, who worked longer hours at larger newspapers reported slightly more job satisfaction than journalists who were younger, less experienced, working fewer hours at smaller newspapers,” Reinardy wrote.

The full release is after the jump. Read More

A Huffington Post internship sold on CharityBuzz.com for $5,200 this week, reports Jeff Bercovici.

In an auction held last spring, a three-month internship netted a massive $14,400. Last year, one sold for $9,000, and in 2009 the winning bid was $13,000. That price history makes $5,200 look like a serious bargain, and that’s even before you factor in the free soda and the nap rooms.

This post reminded me of an excellent discussion of internships on my site in 2000, with posts from Micki Maynard, Sid Holt, Bruce Bartlett, Doree Shafrir, Keith J. Kelly and many others. (Note: The Wayback Machine pauses for a few seconds before jumping to my old site.)

* May 2010: Media-intern auction winners pay for chance to work for free

“Without proactive change there is no future for newspaper companies in a Digital age.”

That’s how MediaNews Group, Journal Register and Digital First Media CEO John Paton (right) begins his memo

John Paton

announcing “operational changes, initiatives and management appointments that will put the right leaders in the right structure to effectively implement our Digital First strategy.” He also says the company is extending Journal Register Company’s ideaLab to include MediaNews Group employees.

To start, we are going to equip 25 MediaNews Group employees with the latest tools and give them the time and money to experiment with them. Each member of the ideaLab will be equipped, initially, with a Smartphone, tablet and laptop.

The Company will carve out 10 hours a week from their regular jobs to allow them time to experiment with these tools and report back on how we can change our business for the better. And we will add an extra $500 per month to their pay. Other than that – there are no rules.

How do you become a member of the ideaLab?

In about 200 words or less, what would you do with the tools and time to improve our business? Email me at jpaton@digitalfirstmedia.com or post on my blog.

The full memo is after the jump. Read More

Award-winning poet CA Conrad was so upset about Philadelphia magazine putting the Mummers on its list of “10 Things We Need to Get Rid Of” that he wrote numerous all-caps comments on the publication’s Facebook page, then showed up at magazine’s office after he being blocked from further posting. Editor Tom McGrath writes:

Mr. Conrad informed our receptionist that he wouldn’t leave. When that message made it to me, I passed along my business card and again asked that he call or email to set up an appointment.

Again, he refused to leave. At which point, well, we called building security, who apparently escorted the Noted Poet from the building.

CA Conrad

Conrad wrote his own version of what happened at the magazine offices:

They gloated over my removal from the office on Face Book. Oh, and while I was being escorted OUT, one of the magazine’s enforcers said that I was to be arrested if I ever stepped foot inside the building again. NICE!

Have you ever been confronted by an angry reader or viewer at your office? Tell us about it in comments.

Duff Wilson

I emailed investigative reporter Duff Wilson last night after seeing a tweet about his move. He responded:

I’m thrilled to be joining the new investigative team at Thomson Reuters. They have huge talents on board and worldwide esteem. It’s an exciting time for new ways of doing and distributing investigative journalism.

Wilson joined the Times in 2004, after working for the Seattle Times, Post-Intelligencer and the Associated Press.

“Segway will be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy.” — Dean Kamen, quoted in Time on December 2, 2001

“If enough people see the machine you won’t have to convince them to architect cities around it. It’ll just happen.” — Steve Jobs, quoted in a book proposal

“I’m quite optimistic about Ginger.” — Jason Kottke, writing on his blog

George W. Bush falls off a Segway in 2003

On December 3, 2001, the scooter code-named Ginger and IT was officially unveiled by creator Dean Kamen under its official name — the Segway Personal Transporter.

The invention had been “the subject of continuous fevered speculation since provocative clues and predictions surfaced in media reports,” Amy Harmon wrote in a 66-paragraph New York Times story ten years ago.

It was a Jan. 9, 2001, Inside.com story that started it all, reporting a book proposal’s prediction that IT “will change the world, and is so extraordinary that it has drawn the attention of technology visionaries Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs and the investment dollars of pre-eminent Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr, among others.”

“It’ll be a sort of cross between something out of the Jetsons and a sort of model of the planet Saturn that you stand on and ride,” Dave Hurley predicted months before the Segway was unveiled.

Inside continued digging. A March 6, 2001 press release reported that investigative journalist and Inside contributor Adam Penenberg “has unearthed revealing new information including trademark and patent filings, domain registrations, financial transactions, factory blueprints, and a hitherto unknown company linked to ‘Ginger’ inventor Dean Kamen, among other evidence.”

Penenberg’s lengthy Inside cover story ended with this observation: “Instead of becoming the next Bill Gates or Henry Ford, Kamen might find himself ending up like another great American inventor, Preston Tucker, who in the 1940s built the Tucker, a car too far ahead of its time.”

We all know what happened to the Segway: It bombed. (Read “From hype to disaster: Segway’s timeline” and “Segway CEO Jimi Heselden dies in Segway crash.”)

I did an email Q-and-A with Penenberg, who is now an NYU prof:

When you wrote about “IT” for Inside, did you think this could truly be a revolutionary mode of transportation, or did you smell hype?

While I was confident I was right about the invention code named “Ginger” indeed being a scooter, Dean Kamen offered clues that led me to believe “It” would be powered by a small, powerful and efficient mini-Stirling engine. His company had registered domains like stirlingscooter.com, etc., and he had applied for variances to install huge propane tanks on his property–propane is a fairly efficient method for creating large hydrogen.

Adam Penenberg

While a scooter on its own didn’t seem that exciting, the hydrogen-powered Stirling would have been an astounding accomplishment. Taken together, I believe it could have been a transformative invention, and the Stirling-hydrogen power source could have been retrofitted for just about anything. Think about it: an almost unlimited, clean and efficient power source. Alas, I guess Kamen was never able to make it work.

Do you ever see people using them? (I’ve yet to see anyone in Evanston on one. I’ve only seen one person — other than cops — on a Segway in downtown Chicago.)

Yes. I’ve occasionally seen geeky-looking dweebs riding Segways in New York. I’ve even seen cops on Segways. But Segway sightings are a rarity.

What do you think went wrong?

I think Kamen, who was, at the time, mortgaged to the hilt, rushed the Segway into production. And he priced them so high that who would buy it except for those with money to burn? But it is a great feat of engineering, and I wonder why he hasn’t tried to license the technology. I also hope one day he’ll succeed in perfecting the Stirling engine he was working on. Now that would be a game changer.

As for me, I’m still amused that eight months before Kamen unveiled his top-secret invention on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, we published a picture we created from patents and my research that was virtually identical. (It’s on my website.) it led to a media frenzy, covered on hundreds of new outlets, and i ended up on the Today Show, interviewed by Katie Couric. And all that over a tricked-out scooter.

Penenberg also tells me he’s never been on a Segway.

Steve Kemper, whose book proposal started the frenzy in January 2001, also answered my questions:

Did you think a decade ago that the Segway could become a revolutionary mode of transportation?

Yes, because a lot of people who are a lot smarter than I am were convinced of it.

Why did it not take off?

I don’t think there’s any one cause or any simple explanation. I suspect it’s a mixture of price, marketing, management, public expectations, and city regulations

When was the last time you were on a Segway? How many have you seen used in the last five years?

I think the last time I was on one was at Harvard Business School a few years ago, because they were using my book as the basis for a case study in a class on entrepreneurialism. It’s wonderful fun to ride one. I see Segways pretty often in malls and airports, and on city streets, ridden by cops or tour groups.

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