Category Archives: Newspapers

Printed newspapers amount to nothing if they don’t reach their readers

In the newspaper business, it all comes down to one little kid on a bicyle (these days, actually, it’s more likely to be his grandpa or grandma). Unfortunately, newspaper execs are so exhausted after putting their ailing OM products to bed, that trafficking copies once they leave the building too often appears to be beyond their abilities. Too bad and so sad. Yet another nail in the coffin.

Shoe circa 1982_____________________
This Shoe cartoon is from around 1982.

When being a newsboy wasn’t kid’s play: From Time, 1931

Newsboys numbered 570,000: From Time, 1934

Newsboys no more: From Time, Feb 2011

Gersh eats dog food

What can I say? He’s pushing for another award.

For Brooklyn Paper editor Gersh Kuntzman and Courier-Life editor Vince DiMiceli (seated behind Gersh in the video) the news is born to be hyped. Here’s the Gersh-flavored promo copy that accompanies today’s weekly roundup at BrooklynPaper.com:

The Brooklyn Paper — a garden of earthly delights

Think about what we do for you — we send reporters into movie theaters in hopes that they get bitten by bedbugs; we have columnists who eat dog food; we break news stories like convicts break rocks in the big yard; we fill the pages of our weekly print edition with spirited copy and pictures that will brighten your water-cooler conversations; we report so you can decide. And what do we ask in return? Just click the headline above and start downloading our full print edition — and keep hustlin’, Brooklyn!
Yeah, that’s right. Keep hustlin’ everyone.
• • •
UPDATE 2/18: Gersh disciple Ben Muessig wrote about Gersh’s latest adventure this morning on AOL — “Eating Dog Food: The Future of Journalism?”

Newspaper war in Brooklyn

Who says newspapers are dead?

An old-fashioned newspaper war is expected to get underway any day now in Brooklyn, NY. I’d be remiss in not reporting on it, since I know more than a little about the turf and about the players, having published The Brooklyn Paper (one of the dogs in this fight) for 30 years before selling it to a division of NewsCorp.; some of my crew — including Vince DiMiceli and Gersh Kuntzman — are still at The Paper; my wife Celia is the publisher.

Between 2006 and 2009, Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp, which publishes the daily NY Post in Manhattan, acquired a significant number of “outer borough” weeklies.

In Brooklyn, NewsCorp grabbed pretty much everything, leaving only the Home-Reporter/Brooklyn Spectator group and standalones in Brooklyn Heights, Canarsie and Greenpoint.

In the Bronx, NewsCorp took the gritty Bronx Times tabloids (no relation to The Bronx Times online) and left the prestigious Riverdale Press broadsheet for acquisition by Long Island’s Richner brothers (who recently picked up a chain of Philadelphia area weeklies from the ailing Philadelphia Inquirer).

In Queens, NewsCorp scooped up the quality group — Steve Blank’s Times-Ledger — at the same time that it bought the biggest chain in Brooklyn, Cliff Luster’s Courier-Life. But it also left four consequential newspaper groups on the table — Queens Ledger, Queens Courier, Queens Chronicle and Queens Tribune — as well as some standalones like the Wave of Rockaway and Times NewsWeekly of Ridgewood.

Yesterday, the Queens Courier, co-published by the feisty Victoria Schneps and her able son Josh, announced that it bought The Home-Reporter/Brooklyn Spectator. These are legacy titles — the Spector goes back 82 years — that have seen better days (they don’t have a Website of any sort) but are still breathing. The Queens Courier newspapers and Website are very much alive.

The Schneps selected Ken Brown as their Brooklyn editor, and this may add an accelerant to the war’s flames. Ken was the editor at Courier-Life before and after the NewsCorp acquisition; he had worked there for 28 years when he was deposed last year and replaced by Vince and Gersh. Grudge match anyone?

Gersh Kuntzman and the future of journalism

Gersh Kuntzman, a standout community editor, was running with a Flip before Al Gore invented the internet (I exaggerate, but so does Gersh — usually to good effect). Any reporter who completes the Graduate School of Journalism that he runs at The Brooklyn Paper can swim with confidence in the uncharted waters of New Media.

Gersh knows that media in the future will not mirror media’s past, and that journalists must adapt or die.

He was my editor when I sold The Brooklyn Paper to a division of NewsCorp in 2009, and he’s continued under the new management to good effect.

Here’s a double scoop sampler, fresh this week, of video a la Gersh

Want more? Here’s Gersh taking a dump for a storycovering snow on a budget; riding a new bike lane, and immodestly accepting the SNA’s Editor of the Year award (start video around 1:17).

Meanwhile, video is just one part of Gersh’s exposition. He’ll rarely pass up an opportunity to personalize a news story (for example, inserting caffeine suppositories; reporting each of the many times his bicycles were stolen, and covering the night he posed nude for an art class of hipsters).

• • •

Gersh would not suggest that he has all of the solutions to Old Media’s woes, and it’s not clear that his formula will pay off in the long run.

But the old prescriptions will no longer work: Readers won’t take the medicine old-line editors would like to continuing doling out, and staff-short newspapers will be unable to fill them in any event.

If newspapers are going to survive in print or online, they’ll need to adapt to the kind playful experimentation that Gersh can’t suppress.

UPDATE: Click to link to followup.

UPDATE: 2 stars leave Village Voice

UPDATE: NY Times, in Wednesday report on Village Voice changes, has VV editor Tony Ortega blaming the economy for the firing of Wayne Barrett:

“By now I think we expected the economy to be doing a little better. So I’m a little disappointed we haven’t grown. But we’re holding our own.”

• • •

From NY Times: Wayne Barrett and Tom Robbins, two muckraking fixtures of the New York City press corps, are leaving The Village Voice. Mr. Barrett was let go; Mr. Robbins quit in protest.

In his last VV column, posted today, Barrett says: “I have written, by my own inexact calculation, more column inches than anyone in the history of the Voice. These will be my last. I am 65 and a half now, and it is time for something new. If I didn’t see that, others did.”

 

 

Groupon, iPad and Twitter: Not so fast!

Alan Mutter has an excellent post in which he seeks to moderate some of the wild projections surrounding Groupon, the iPad and Twitter.

Newspapers and the iPad: Publishers are pleased that the iPad is beloved by “exactly the sort of wealthy, middle-aged men who read newspapers,” says Mutter. Unfortunately, “58% of iPad users think the device is such a good substitute for print that they are ‘very likely’ to cancel their print subscriptions in the next six months… [Meanwhile] newspapers have yet to find a way to extract as much advertising revenue from the digital media as they can from the print product.” Mutter concludes: “An alternative to porting the daily paper to the iPad is to use the platform to develop new and differentiated products to serve new audiences and advertisers.”

Groupon’s problem: “Instead of attracting new long-term customers for merchants, Groupon is bringing in one-time bargain hunters who take the deals and run… Some consumers feel ripped off, too, when they are unable to redeem the prepaid certificates they bought for massages, dinners, classes and other goods and services. In an online survey at HubPages.Com, 44% of consumers called Groupon a ‘scam’ and 28% thought it was ‘very good’. The balance of respondents were neutral.”

Twitter: “Although Twitter will tell you that it has 175 million registered users and investors reportedly deem it to be worth $3.7 billion, fewer than 20 million American adults actually use the service [and while a] quarter of users avidly check for the latest tweets several times each day … a fifth of the registered users never use their accounts after they open them. This indicates that Twitter, at best, may be effective in reaching only the limited cohort of consumers who crave a steady diet of 140-character News McNuggets.”

Read Mutter’s entire post at http://newsosaur.blogspot.com/search?q=Groupon%2C+iPad+and+Twitter%3A+2+much+2+hope+4%3F

So, you want to be a journalist!

By Brooklyn Lee at xtranormal

Video via Dana Rubinstein. Thanks, Dana.