The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Coming Attraction?

Is This the Fate of the Springfield Newspapers?

Many local media mavens have been closely watching what is happening to the Ann Arbor News in Michigan. Why should Valley people give a damn about a Michigan newspaper that is going out of business? Because it is owned by the same outfit that does Masslive for the Springfield Republican. Many suspect that what is being done in Ann Arbor is a forerunner of what will become of the Springfield Newspapers.

Ann Arbor News is not going completely out of print, it will still have a newspaper version twice a week. The new online version has hired many of the old employees, although at reduced salaries. Rumors are that the print reporters were paid an average of around 50 thousand a year, while they are being rehired online for around 35 thousand. Since online reporting requires more frequent updates and shorter deadlines, for many of these reporters it translates into more work for less pay.

Yet it is through projects like this that experiments can be conducted to determine what works online and what doesn't and how to convert a newspaper into an internet news portal. You can check out how the Ann Arbor project looks by clicking here. Media guru Jeff Jarvis had this to say: launched on Friday. I think it’s a bigger deal than it seems at first glance. Advance folded the Ann Arbor News the day before and closed that company. On the next day, it launched as a new service, based online and in the community, structured very differently from a newspaper: smaller and more collaborative. As folks have noticed on Twitter, the home page looks nothing like a newspaper site of yore. It’s a blog and it’s intensely local.

Note also that the advertising is different. Rather than banners and buttons, offers local deals that are interspersed in the content and also listed in a directory. It happens that these deals are published as blog posts and they read that way. We need to try new and more appropriate means of serving local marketers.

The new company will still print two days a week, and that’s probably why people don’t notice just how much of a change this represents. There’s still money in distributing coupons and circulars and in some print advertising, so the company will continue to grab that, at least in the transition. But this company is focused online and in the community.

I think it could use a little bit of jazzing up in the graphics department, but the basic format seems solid - lots of news and mostly local. In any case Ann is worth following, if only to get an idea of how the Pioneer Valley may soon get its news should their sister company the Springfield Newspapers follow a similar path.

Seeking Senator Kennedy

There's an essential article to read in the Washington Post today about how then candidate Barack Obama got Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy to endorse him for president. It is the kind of story the Boston Globe should have (and would have done) were the paper not on its death bed.

The process is portrayed as neither pretty nor necessarily policy based, with personal feelings playing a key role. For example:

In late December, a 2003 tape recording of Obama made while he was still in the Illinois Senate became public. It was a comment on Kennedy's efforts to pass a prescription drug bill. Obama had described Kennedy as "getting old and getting tired" and said the backers of a strong drug measure should get after him. Obama called Kennedy to make amends.

"Well," Kennedy said when he picked up the phone, "you start the conversation."

Obama began to grovel, but Kennedy stopped him. He would let Obama off the hook, he said gently, because he had once mangled Obama's name, in a speech at the National Press Club the month Obama was sworn in as a senator, calling him "Osama bin Laden" before stammering out his correct name.

So it turns out that ego and status mattered. Well what else is new? To read the whole piece click here.

My Morning

When I got into downtown Northampton this morning I saw this bumpersticker on a bike.

Then I had time for a quick cup of coffee sitting across from the mirror at the Haymarket Cafe.

While waiting at the bus stop by the Academy of Music I finally saw how they change the sign.

When I arrived in downtown Amherst I saw that the sign over the closed Ben & Jerry's has been removed, revealing part of the old Wootton's Books banner.

I miss Wooton's, it was the kind of charming old independent bookstore of a sort that because of the internet we will never see again.

Emily Dickinson's house is at 280 Main Street.

My friend Damon lives just a short distance from Miss Emily's place, at 410 Main Street.

410 is not in the best shape inside, but the beautiful antique staircase is still intact.

Led Zeppelin can be heard from time to time.

Damon's room is filled with music and books.

Next door to Damon's house is the Wunderarts Gallery.

Stop in sometime, it has some cool stuff.

Today's Video

The past is gone.

1 comment:

Bill Dusty said...

I dunno about that site. Looks an awful lot like those "independent media" (blog) experiments that have been flunking out the past five or six years. On the bright side, if the company still keeps up two print editions a week (which will help promote the online entity), that should be enough to keep it above water for a while - although as one commenter mentioned on Jarvis's blog, what is the deal with over 50 staffers???
I'm assuming the vast majority are freebies. But that'll probably amount to a lot of fluff.