Arizona State University journalism professor and former Minneapolis Star Tribune editor Tim McGuire recently wrote an essay titled “This I believe about journalism, newspapers and the future of media” for ASU colleague Len Downie. “We have been discussing a book and I wanted to organize my thoughts,” he writes. “I share it, not because I think it is an earthshaking pronouncement, but rather because it might allow other folks to engage in the same exercise.”
Here are some of the best points from the 62-year-old journalist’s piece:
– We all waste our time when we look for culprits in the demise of mainstream media.
– Mainstream media need new blood from other more entrepreneurial fields as well as a massive infusion of youth.
– Government funding is a very bad idea. We have to be capable of more creativity than that.
– Most media organizations still too often act as if they are in control.
– Traditional newspapers are profoundly troubled, but not necessarily doomed.
– Those who view an unorganized world full of citizen journalists as idyllic are smoking something.
– Those who believe the loss of corporate media will be a good thing are terrifically naïve. Right now news media ownership alternatives are not all that pretty.
– Social media and the power of citizen conversation is not fleeting and we need to respect and appreciate that our society has been deeply changed by that power.
– The goal of finding new revenues should not be to return to the Golden Days of 30+ percent profits.
– The future of the news is good because the tools of our age give us more opportunity than destruction.
if Michael Bloomberg reads eight newspapers a day, then I read the entire Internet every day
— Mathew Ingram (@mathewi) May 31, 2012
Michael Bloomberg said at the All Things D conference:
I have not gone to read everything on the Internet. I still read eight newspapers a day. What I found was I was 4 and 5 weeks behind when it was on my tablet. On the other hand, if it’s piled up beside my bed, the tyranny of that pile has forced me (to read).
Examiner.com, owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz, isn’t saying how many employees — including senior staff — were let go this morning. A spokesman tells Westword’s Michael Roberts: “As we’ve developed our systems and our work flow, we’ve developed some pretty dynamic technology that allows us to operate at a high degree of efficiency. We’re focusing more on automation and platform functionality, and that resulted in this restructuring of the company.”
Letter to Romenesko
From A REUTERS JOURNALIST who asks not to be named: Reuters management has launched a push to supposedly help selected reporters improve their job performance through a legalistic process known as a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). Reporters who are deemed to be laggards are handed a document that warns they could face termination if they don’t up their game, and given 30 days to turn things around.
So far, the process has forced out two respected journalists, and we fear more are on their way out the door. 29 reporters (out of a US Guild-represented pool of 460) in all have been targeted.
There are several problems with this:
1. It violates our contract, which says that the annual review process can’t be used for disciplinary purposes. Reporters who have gotten subpar performance reviews have been targeted with these PIPs.
2. It’s setting reporters up for failure. One correspondent was told that he doesn’t use enough pronouns in his writing when they couldn’t find anything else wrong with him. Another completed a requested feature, but editors have sat on it since mid-April. Other examples follow.
3. It’s creating a climate of fear and driving away good reporters. Glenn Somerville, our senior Treasury Department correspondent, announced he was leaving the company last week due to the PIP process. That prompted an outpouring of support from reporters in the Washington bureau, overseas bureaus, and from former Treasury officials like Tony Fratto (spox under George W. Bush) and colleagues at rival news organizations.
4. It’s overwhelmingly targeted older journalists, raising questions of age discrimination.
We in the Newspaper Guild are fighting this process as best we can, and we’ve filed legal actions on all known cases. I’ve enclosed a recent Newspaper Guild communique [below] that includes other examples of harassment and intimidation.
Guild ‘PIPs’ Thomson Reuters editors after wave of discipline
Thomson Reuters Editorial management recently issued a wave of PIPs (Performance Improvement Plans) – 29 and counting – to Guild-represented journalists. In our review, we found that it is actually the performance of some of the front-line supervisors who issued the PIPs that needs improving.
This memo details the offenses, but not the offenders. We’re saving that information for the many arbitration hearings that lie ahead.
Date: May 30, 2012
To: Individual Editorial Managers (you know who you are; we are withholding the names for now on the off-chance you discover some shred of common sense, integrity and honesty)
CC: Rob Doherty, General Manager, Karen Hamilton HR Business Partner
From: The Newspaper Guild of New York
Re: Poor Implementation of Management Performance
This is to notify you that your performance as an Editorial manager is not meeting expectations. Your own qualifications as a manager, as evidenced by your less than stellar supervision of the journalists who report to you, are dubious. It is plain you don’t understand the work our members do, nor what Thomson Reuters clients require./CONTINUES Read More
* Five points about Politico’s “hatchet job” on NYT and WaPo. (GQ.com)
* Ken Doctor: Reader revenue expected to surpass ad revenue as the main support of many news companies. (Nieman Journalism Lab)
* Magazines’ digital readership is making gains, but not enough to offset a decline in print readership. (Adweek.com)
* How Seattle Times is using Facebook as a crowdsourcing tool. (10,000 Words)
* Shirky: What ails WaPo isn’t just a loss of income, but a loss of imagination. (CJR.org)
* “This graph is disastrous for print and great for Facebook — or the opposite!” (The Atlantic)
* Political blogger in New Mexico scales back as he’s forced to take a second job. (SFReporter.com)
* Former New York Times journalist Dudley Clendinen dies at 67 after chronicling his struggles with ALS. (Baltimore Sun)
* Diagnosed with ALS last year, Susan Spencer-Wendel is now covering the story of her life — and death. (WSJ.com)
* Hoping to get work done on the train using Amtrak’s Wi-Fi? Good luck! (New York Times)
USA Today publisher Larry Kramer tells Staci Kramer: “They’ve had a lot of success at Gannett. But there is a hunger to move now, to regain some of the mojo they had when they started USA Today.”
University of Tampa journalism professor and college media blogger Dan Reimold has five reasons, including “Professionals don’t know any better than professors.” He writes:
We are all lost in a swirl of journalism topsy-turvydom. No one – not I, [Henry] Blodget, [Tom] Foremski, [Tony] Rogers, Jay Rosen, Jill Abramson or anyone else– knows how it is all going to turn out. The best we can do– all of us who love, work, and live for journalism– is innovate, experiment, question, and assess where we stand, where we think we might be heading, and how we can do things better along the way.
Austin Man Magazine calls Texas Tribune editor-in-chief Evan Smith “the very incarnation of the mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan media outlet” — a guy with no secret life, no dark underbelly, and no tortured soul within.
Smith tells the magazine:
I’m not a lonely person, but I am anti-social. Those are two different things. Over the years, I’ve become very anti-social. I do not like being out among a lot of people . I feel uncomfortable in a crowd. I don’t like being with people particularly, and yet the job and life I’ve chosen are completely counter to that.