Monday, March 14, 2011

Two Things Before An Exile

On the one hand, Montreal's La Presse -- the former spokesman for French North America, which used to have readers in New Hampshire and Maine -- says, give us three to five years, it'll all be tablets -- we'll just have some rump press run of 75,000. The story doesn't say, but I'm assuming that that's La Presse's circulation in metropolitan Montreal that would be saved and the rest is all over French North America where it no longer pays to run trucks to every village and town in Quebec. Just guessing. La Presse threatened closure during union negotiations a while back, so I'm guessing this is another hope that a Hail-Mary pass -- a Je vous salue, Marie pass, perhaps -- will save a threatened property.

On the other hand, -- how Newhouse was going to lead Ann Arbor into a newsprint-less future, killing the daily News and replacing it with a website and a twice-weekly publication -- lays off a bunch of people, accompanied by the usual platitudes about how this will lead to better local news. What is the success rate in football for Hail Mary passes, anyway?

With the exception of the Christian Science Monitor -- not a business in the usual sense -- which has benefited from dropping daily publication, who actually is doing well at this? I tried looking for current statistics, financial or readership, on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, but couldn't find any; I doubt I'd be able to read them for Jornal do Brasil. Great for the Monitor, hoping it's great for the PI, but this is starting to seem like the Peter Palazzo redesign of the Chicago Daily News -- great product, but you were already dead.

On yet another hand, Journal Register -- the former bottomest feeder of the bottom feeders -- gives out bonuses. It cites its digital efforts, but one notices it is still publishing print newspapers.

On yet another hand, the Project for Excellence in Journalism says online has surpassed newspapers as a source of news. (As always, we have to assume people mean "online" vs. "print," but we're never sure, since newspapers are online.) But it notes that the money is still not there. On yet another hand, Damon Kiesow notes that much of the use of mobile is people looking for weather and traffic reports. I've already read criticism of the project's report along this line -- that people aren't looking for journalism, but for the weather. But some people bought print newspapers just for the weather report.

What does it all mean? It seems like the answer is the same as five years ago: No one really knows.

Well, so much for pondering the imponderable. It's time for the American Copy Editors Society's annual conference. Hope to see you in Phoenix.

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