Posts Tagged ‘newspapers’

Ultimate Sequester PR Strategy: the White House as content creator, channel master

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Posted by Tom Gable

Case histories will be written and studied for years on how the Obama White House has found new tools and tactics for connecting at the local level, while marginalizing major national media.

As covered in Politico in a piece called “Obama the puppet master,” the Obama White House has developed its own content creation machine to feed all channels of communication with tightly crafted messages that build the Obama brand. It chooses the channels with surgical precision. Why interview with The New York Times beat reporter who knows the issues and risk facing tough questions, Politico notes, when one can dominate local media through strategically scheduled interviews with friendly anchormen and women who may not be up on the issues?  The cumulative effect can be bigger than scoring a national media hit, as covered in depth by Politico.

The orchestration of coverage of potential economic Armageddon from the automatic budget cuts scheduled for March 1 (called Sequester) is the latest and most complex example of a local-national strategy. From the Secretary of Transportation setting the stage with future delays at major airports because of fewer air traffic controllers, to interviews in local markets with data on the anticipated loss of jobs (e.g. underway Feb. 26 in military towns in Virginia), the PR efforts are carrying consistent messages carefully chosen to appeal to each audience. How does it work?

Politico and a follow up piece by the Poynter Organization (“The dangerous delusions of the White House press corps and the president”) provided details. To summarize the key elements of the Obama White House approach and one that can work for brands, organizations, political candidates, new product introductions, crisis PR and other PR campaigns:

  • Develop a comprehensive, cohesive message strategy with consistent themes and supporting evidence;
  • Be precise in targeting and masterful in scheduling and orchestrating the individual parts of the program;
  • Go for local issues, with local examples;
  • The White House (or any brand) becomes the ultimate publisher (print, broadcast, photography, video, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube and more);
  • Every appearance or event needs to support the brand, to include great photo opportunities with locals for driving local coverage;
  • Control the content and flow through all channels by picking the media carefully;
  • Stage events to focus on the big messages and memorable lines and don’t allow time at the end for random media questions that might delve into negative territory and take the candidate, CEO or other luminary off-message;
  • Go for easy wins at the local level, then build regionally;
  • Ignore the major media unless they are friendly;
  • Produce your own photography and video rather than allow media coverage (local outlets are always looking for free content);
  • Shun those who have produced or written anything that would be considered negative;
  • Pound away at key messages through major pieces with the friendly media and TV personalities and support with social barrages to hit every target relentlessly;
  • Use the classic “weekend document dump” to avoid negative coverage and “minimize attention to embarrassing or messy facts”;
  • And orchestrate all the elements to ramp up for strategically and with surgical precision for maximum impact at a pre-designated date, such as an election or the day before the so-called fiscal cliff.

The latter – strategic planning of all elements for total control – represents the biggest challenge. Many organizations, brands and individuals can master parts of integrated campaigns.  Few would have the budget, the talent, the discipline and the power even close to that of the Obama White House to succeed on all fronts.

The bottom line, according to Politico:

“With more technology, and fewer resources at many media companies, the balance of power between the White House and press has tipped unmistakably toward the government. This is an arguably dangerous development, and one that the Obama White House — fluent in digital media and no fan of the mainstream press — has exploited cleverly and ruthlessly.”

Drawn and Quoted: classic one-liners on PR, writing, editing and literary criticism

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Sir Winston

Posted by Tom Gable

In preparing for a speech or thinking of adding a touch of humor to an article, I used to sit in front of a blank screen (or piece of typewriter paper in bygone days) and rummage through the sometimes dim corners of the attic of my mind in hopes of finding a forgotten gem or two. I started collecting favorites in a file for easier and more accurate recall.

The file has grown to more than 60 pages. I pulled it up over the weekend to stir the senses as I worked on a piece on how to improve PR writing for PRSA Tactics. I’ve pulled out some classics on PR, writing, literary criticism and editing that might stimulate a chuckle or two (or maybe not!).

PR, Advertising, Marketing

There is nothing so futile as having the right ideas and getting no attention. – John Kenneth Galbraith

You cannot bore people into buying your product. You must interest them into buying it. You cannot save souls in an empty church. – David Ogilvy 

I honestly believe that advertising is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. – Jerry Della Femina


I love being a writer. What I hate is the paperwork. – Peter de Vries

Every journalist has a novel in him, which is an excellent place for it. — Russell Lynes

Writing is easy; all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead. – Gene Fowler

Trying to be a first-rate reporter on the average American newspaper is like trying to play Bach’s ‘St. Matthew’s Passion’ on a ukulele. — Bagdikian’s Observation

My father has spent the best years of his life writing his extemporaneous speeches. – Randolph Churchill on Winston Churchill

I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top. – An English Professor, Ohio University

Literary Criticism, Guidance

There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. – W. Somerset Maugham

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force. — Dorothy Parker

From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it. – Groucho Marx

Where facts are few, experts are many. – Donald R. Gannon

There are grammatical errors even in his silence. — Stanislaw J. Lec

The covers of this book are too far apart. – Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary. – William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway

It had only one fault. It was kind of lousy. – James Thurber

Editing Tips

If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times: Resist hyperbole. – Anon

Never use a long word when a diminutive one will suffice. – Anon

Eschew Obfuscation. – Anon

Avoid awkward or affected alliteration. – Anon

Last, but not least, avoid clichés like the plague. – Anon

I wish people who have trouble communicating would just shut up. – Tom Lehrer


The New Newspaper and PR: Relationships Still Crucial

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Posted by Tom Gable

Jeff Light, editor of U-T San Diego (formerly The San Diego Union-Tribune), was telling a packed meeting of the local chapter of PRSA about changes at his paper and other papers around the world.

The local newspaper of record was becoming the digital multimedia content provider of record. Teams now push out news via email, text, audio and video. Papers (and magazines) cover breaking news on their websites as it happens, so in our world of always-on communications there is no need to wait for the evening news on TV to catch up, tuning to CBS News or other radio source during the commute or strolling out early tomorrow to pick up the morning daily from your doorstep or driveway (which is still a fun morning ritual for some!).

Light said the challenge all newspapers face is how to make them relevant and useful beyond the printed version while creating new revenue sources (the No. 1 revenue source of old — fat sections of classified advertising — disappeared into Craigslist). The news organizations have smaller staffs. Reporters are now “content contributors,” which can include writing for the website, recording video and audio and taking photos. Feature stories are scheduled in advance for the print edition. Daily news conferences determine what hot web stories go into the print edition.

Positive for PR

The new model can be positive for PR professionals, providing they understand the reporters and their beats, be honest, be forthright and provide facts and information that make it easier for reporters to tell their stories.

Light said the key to media coverage: it is all about relationships. Whom do the reporters know? Light said the PR professional is in a weak position trying to pitch someone they don’t know. For building successful relationships on the news side, get to know the reporter covering the beat. Build a relationship and reach a level of trust where a reporter will rely on the PR pro as a valuable source. Light was asked about the traits of a bad PR person: rigid, demanding and untruthful.

On organization, Light said the old model was undisciplined, unfocused, and inefficient and it often took a long time to develop a decent story. As people grew up in the profession and gained more skills, they usually pursued fewer, bigger stories. Small but important pieces sat on the sideline. In the new model – Website first, then figure out what might make the print edition – writers have to be more productive. The challenge: be efficient and competent.

Finding Good Stories

Light said the U-T has cut down on the number of things it covers and built a more focused approach to finding good stories across the different news beats. He provided a quick litany of how to build a beat. What is the big story? What really matters? Whom do you have to know to develop the relationships that can lead to the story? Reporters need understanding and access. Big pieces grow from small pieces. PR pros can help.

With fewer editing layers, the U-T does suffer from an increased number of errors, Light acknowledged. He said he was not sure additional layers improve quality. The, for example, has no copy editors and is wildly successful. He wants his teams to “do it once and do it right.”

When asked about the new look of the paper, Light said the rebranding to U-T San Diego had been brewing for some time. Research showed the brand image suffered from many negative perceptions and misconceptions. The executive teams and advisors felt they needed to send a big signal that this was not the old San Diego Union Tribune.

Bye-Bye Local-Local News?

For competition, the hyper-local Patch phenomenon will fail sooner rather than later, Light said. The timing is wrong. The challenge of local-local news is that it is hard to make its scale. A publisher can’t succeed with a big staff and small audiences. You want big audiences with a small staff, he said. The more local you are and the more content creation you do, the smaller the audience.

Bottom line: Papers are being rebranded, refocused, dressed up in new clothes and sent out digitally to connect with readers and, now, viewers. For news junkies, the content is imminently searchable but I wondered if I would ever be comfortable reading my news on a smart phone, clicking on links to get more detail, scrolling to find other links to supporting sidebars or just browsing page to page for fun.

Next: The Copyboy Chronicles (where cut-and-paste came from)



Mastering “The Accidents of Style – How Not to Write Badly”

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Words for the Wise

Posted by Tom Gable

This classic book by Charles Harrington Elster contains 350 of the most-committed errors in writing.  It starts with “every day or everyday” and strides quickly and eloquently through conundrums and confusing choices PR and news people face every day (this is correct!).  A few:

  • A lot or alot
  • Can not or cannot
  • Anyway or any way
  • Their, they’re or there (This includes a sample of the Elster humor that runs through the book: “There is no there there,” wrote Gertrude Stein in a rare moment of lucidity at the end of one of her notoriously incoherent sentences.)
  • Imply or infer
  • All right or alright
  • Be careful with Very
  • Avoid the lazy mechanical use of Basically (when you see an adverb, kill it; good tight writing has no unnecessary words)
  • Misuse of less for fewer
  • Overuse of Impact (The sad thing is that this powerful word, which traditionally connotes considerable force, has lost all its forcefulness through incessant repetition.  The only power impact has retained is the ability to cause a headache.)
  • Penultimate does not mean Ultimate or Final

Elster quotes several of the classic tomes, including “The Elements of Style,” “Simple and Direct,” “The Careful Writer” and the “Dictionary of Troublesome Words.”  He uses turns of the phrase and creative metaphors and analogies to make his points with clarity and humor. The book is highly recommended for anyone (versus any one) interested in honing their wordsmithing skills.


Reuters DC News Editor Provides IPREX Meeting with Newsroom Insights, Tips

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Quest to be First

Posted by Tom Gable

The information-packed IPREX annual meeting in Washington, DC, drew partners from some 35 cities on three contents to learn from experts and share best practices in public relations and public affairs in closed sessions among this global brain trust. One of the early sessions featured Kristin Roberts, Washington news editor and deputy bureau chief for Reuters. The high-energy journalist started by reading a collection of bad news releases received by her bureau just this morning – several embarrassments, including for major PR firms who did go unnamed.

From there, Kristin offered some quick tips for the assembled PR pros, many of whom were ex-journalists:

  • To connect with the news media, don’t go to the bureau chief of editor. Find the person covering the beat. Do some research.
  • Be straightforward. You have news, you have background, or you have a potential resource for future background on a specific topic.
  • Be persistent if it’s a good story and you don’t get immediate responses to your voice mails or emails.
  • The daily email flow is daunting. Editors will always open email from a trusted source. For others, the subject line needs to be compelling.
  • The news cycle churns by the second. Reuters aims to be first and measures itself against Bloomberg and Dow Jones in seconds.
  • A media outlet might have only a 30-second lead in breaking a story. The great ones can sometimes hold up for a day until the other media catch up, as happened with Kristin in breaking news of the Iraq Surge under President Bush.
  • When managing coverage of the killing of Osama bin Laden, she woke correspondents up all over the world before the President’s talk. The lead writer worked from home, away from distractions. She ran to the office in her running shoes, but got called to the White House because their correspondent was solo and needed help. When asked if she went in sneakers, she said no and gave a fashion tip: she had high heels in her gym bag and kept them everywhere (office, car trunk, home).
  • When asked about Twitter: “I hate it. I am too old for Twitter (she is 36).” She said she doesn’t trust it and isn’t comfortable with it. They double check anything and everything from Twitter that might be a relevant news lead. This includes whether the Tweet is real or bogus.
  • PR is important to the news business. She was amazed that the Libyan rebels had a spokesman in one week and were issuing news releases.
  • Reuters aims to be objective in the news. Blogs are different, where it’s not the content that’s important, but the tone. She admitted to being “snarky” in her blogs, but snarky to all. She bragged that no one knows how she votes, not even her husband.

Facebook as the largest news organization ever? LOL!

Friday, April 8th, 2011

News or Not?

Posted by Tom Gable

In journalism, there has always been a tension between getting it first and getting it right.

– Ellen Goodman

The quote from the Pulitzer Prize winning columnist is cited here to establish a framework for a response to a recent Harvard Business Review blog by Joshua Gans that “Facebook is the largest news organization ever.”

He writes:

“News organizations do two major things, commercially speaking: they use news to grab attention and then sell that attention to advertisers.”

Gans says Facebook provides a platform whereby individuals became reporters, editors, and publishers. But a lot of what is being communicated is trivia, such as commuting delays, bad food experiences, hassles with the job and a sick child. People joke, whine and commiserate. They post opinions.

Gans asks the rhetorical question on who would be interested: you and your friends and family. So what? This lures advertisers to Facebook who can target ads to pop up when you, your family and friends are communicating.

I’d argue that Facebook is a powerful platform for communicating in many ways about anything. Some news may exist that appeals to broader audiences, but most of what pops could be called the digital equivalent of the coffee klatch (or an extended version of The View).

If one goes to Anwers.Com or Dictionary.Com


1. New information, especially about recent events and happenings: advice (often used in plural), intelligence, tiding (often used in plural), word. Informal scoop. See knowledge/ignorance, words.

2. Something significant that happens: circumstance, development, episode, event, happening, incident, occasion, occurrence, thing. See happen.

Professional journalism traditionally aims for accuracy, enlightenment and fairness. Some Bloggers and Twits claim to practice citizen journalism, which others dismiss as fluff, hype and churnalism. Legitimate media, including top bloggers, post corrections and updates when stories are wrong. Doing a search for corrections on Twitter doesn’t turn up much. Younger consumers of news and information may have difficulty discerning the difference between professional journalism and faux fast news. The race to be first is having an impact on financial news coverage as well.

Tim Carmody, in a piece titled “Twitter, tech bubbles, and the nostalgia of the technology press” for Nieman Journalism Lab, wrote that the technology press is getting pushed in new directions and helping inflate bubbles, “worrying over them, and watching them burst.”

“ What is new, according to Federated Media’s John Battelle and Thomson Reuters’ Connie Loizos, is how the accelerated news cycle of blogs, Twitter, and other digital media forces the technology press to work at the same speed as the investors they cover — with the same worries about getting in early and beating competitors trumping the real value of the product. In this case, though, the product is their own journalism.”

Carmody quoted an email from Loizos about Twitter and Quora spreading good and bad information equally quickly, and in volume. “The first story out wins.” She notes that journalists no longer compete against one another but “also against savvy investors and entrepreneurs who know they can reach just as broad an audience by delivering their news themselves via Twitter and their blogs.”

Battelle commented that Churnalism is a much bigger problem than just press releases and wire stories. It’s everywhere — and creating an echo chamber unprecedented in its size and reach.

Carmody wrote:

“…blogs and social media offer both entrepreneurs and journalists new modes of engagement with each other and a different kind of conversation with their readers. At the same time, the demands of traditional news formats can actually push us into stories that privilege new forms of manipulation. Reporters seeking a news peg for an analysis-driven story about a popular company can find quotes from blogs, Twitter, or Quora as easily as they can from a company’s press release, putting the same texts and voices into circulation.”

Whom do you trust?

The Seven-Point Litmus Test for Creating Real PR News Stories

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Going for P.1

Posted by Tom Gable

Today’s PR University teleseminar from Bulldog Reporter covered “10 PR Power Writing Tips: How to Create Compelling Copy That People Want to Read and Share.”

The panelists were: Michael Smart, national news director, Brigham Young University, and founder, Michael Smart PR; Nancy Brenner, senior vice president, MS&L Global Corporate, New York; Don Bates, APR, Fellow PRSA; academic director, Graduate School of Political Management, George Washington University; and Tom Gable, APR, Fellow PRSA, CEO, Gable PR. Jon Greer moderated.

I’ll provide more details later on some of the great tips from my fellow panelists in such topics as: be an internal reporter; know your audiences; word choice matters; always be concise; make news when you don’t have any; where’s the wow: rewrite, revise, repeat; and commit yourself to continuous improvement. Within that, yours truly covered the Gable PR seven-point litmus test we use as a starting point for issuing real news stories with topical, relevant information and evocative and provocative quotes. Here is the short course, adapted from an earlier PR University teleseminar and workshops at various PRSA and Counselors Academy conferences:

  1. Is it really newsworthy to anyone other than the company and, perhaps, the CEO’s family and a few friends?
  2. How big is the impact: company, community, region, market niche or category, industry, technology or science breakthrough, nation, hemisphere, humanity?
  3. Has the same or similar story already been told (quick database research will answer the question)?
  4. Can the premise be supported by valid data, third party sources, real case histories and ongoing proof of principle?
  5. Does the company have credible “gurus,” or spokesmen and women who can bring the story to life and become valuable and trusted resources for the media?
  6. Can the company be further differentiated by its people, technology, culture and personality? Or if you lined up all the companies in the space would they all look and sound alike?
  7. Can the story be summarized in a compelling headline, Tweet or one or two-sentence sound bite or elevator pitch? If posted through social media, will it generate interest and action (Re-tweeting, links, etc.)?

This quick test can help create a smart, compelling and interesting story or posting that breaks through the clutter, communicates to key audiences and supports the long-term image and reputation of your client or organization.  For tracking Tweets from the teleseminar use the hash tag: #bulldogpr

Quoting the Greats on PR, Journalism and Creativity

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Creative Seeding

Posted by Tom Gable

I was working on a copy for a workshop for the PRSA Counselors Academy’s annual conference and subsequent articles on improving writing skills for the PR profession and had slid into a creative morass. Having been a journalist, I turned to the proven ploy of using research to find brilliant people I could quote, then benefit from the halo effect. The quest turned up a few gems I may or may not use, but thought I would share them for the good of the order:

I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

– Robert McCloskey, State Department spokesman

It’s not easy getting up there and saying nothing. It takes a lot of preparation.

– White House spokesman Barry Tiov

Trying to be a first-rate reporter on the average American newspaper is like trying to play Bach’s ‘St. Matthew’s Passion’ on a ukulele.

– Bagdikian’s Observation

Every journalist has a novel in him, which is an excellent place for it.

– Russell Lynes

I wish people who have trouble communicating would just shut up.

– Tom Lehrer

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.

– Daniel J. Boorstin

There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

– W. Somerset Maugham

Where facts are few, experts are many.

– Donald R. Gannon

What’s another word for Thesaurus?

– Steven Wright

I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork.

– Peter De Vries

Don’t use a big word where a diminutive one will suffice.

– Anon

If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times: Resist hyperbole.

– Anon

Eschew Obfuscation.

– Anon

Avoid awkward or affected alliteration.

– Anon

Last, but not least, avoid clichés like the plague.

– Anon

Editors panel: Online journalism standards lacking; no guarantees of accuracy, verification, trust

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Daily and Sunday

Posted by Tom Gable

The title of the news panel was “It’s Not Your Grandparents’ Newspaper or Newscast Anymore” and although it occurred in San Diego with local media, one can find several lessons learned with broader implications:

        • - The ability to self-publish on the Internet has created a world where journalistic principles most likely don’t exist and readers now have the burden of determining what is journalism and what is not
        • - Evolving newspaper business models, with 24/7 reporting and fewer copy editors, has resulted in more errors
        • - The competitive nature of the broadcast media can creating feeding frenzies, such as the one experienced when the loon preacher in Florida threatened to burn a copy of the Koran on Sept. 11
        • - Viewers need to distinguish between entertainment shows and news shows
        • - Journalistic standards are lower with online media (or nonexistent)

The panel was held Sept. 17 at a biweekly luncheon meeting of the Catfish Club, founded by the Reverend George Walker Smith in 1970 to spur dialogue and understanding among different segments of the community. More than 70 attended, including community leaders, elected officials, retired Sheriff Bill Kolender and a couple of gadflies.

The moderator was Michael Grant, former columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune and now journalism and media instructor at Grossmont College. He was joined by: Jeff Light, editor of the U-T (; J.W. August, managing editor of KGTV (ABC affiliate, owned by McGraw Hill); Andrew Donohue, editor, Voice of San Diego, 100 percent online newspaper; and Leon Williams, now retired, the first black elected to the San Diego City Council and also the county Board of Supervisors, who has a long history of promoting positive deeds in minority communities.

Grant set the stage by noting that with the evolving world of self-publishing, there are no guarantees online news is journalism – accurate, verified and worthy of trust. He said in pre-Internet days, the news media acted as gateways to screen out the questionable, objectionable, unverifiable and other non-news. Now, with everyone being self published, journalistic principles may simply not exist. (I had one former editor hand back a daily business column written on deadline saying it wasn’t writing, it was typing; glad he was around to make it right.)

Grant, a droll former Texan, said the authors of websites, blogs and other self published information and mostly never been to journalism schools. As a result, it is now up to the citizens to have the burden of determining what is journalism and what is not.

Donohue said he sees “churnalism not journalism” because of the 24/7 news cycle being chased by media with smaller staffs and more pressure. He said if gatekeepers of old had been at work, the preacher who threatened to burn the Koran on Sept. 11 might never have been covered.

August, of Channel 10, said cable beats things to death. He also used the Koran story as an example. The cable news networks picked it up and it turned into a feeding frenzy. If they had just dropped it at the outset, August said, the story would have gone away. He noted the growth of fake news programs and the challenge of confusing real news with entertainment.

Williams said the media has a duty to be accurate. He told the audience that the reporters often ask leading questions (“Don’t you think it’s the end of the earth?”) and complained about reporters twisting things to create conflict. He said the media need to keep their feelings and prejudices out of the news and present the news as fairly and objectively as they know how (in whatever the format).

Light, recruited from the Orange County Register where had driven web-based initiatives, said the new owners of the U-T bought into a losing operation and now wanted to find a way to “improve lives and build a stronger community.” When the new owners arrived, they found an aging, shrinking and dissatisfied audience, Light said. They did research and people were interested in values and improved community coverage. Rather than do incremental changes, the U-T made major changes to give a strong signal to the community. This included a complete design overhaul and making website news coverage the driving force, with section editors later determining what should make the print edition.

On accuracy, Light said the time-honored process within the news business was to have reporters arrive at a different level of trust, based on experience. They would turn in their stories, which would go through the editing process. Does it ring true? Have the facts been checked? Then the story would print. He said news media hear quickly if the are wrong, or if not all sources have been used.

In answers to questions from the audience, he said they have reduced the number of copy editors at the U-T. It was a financial necessity. He said he was given a certain budget for reporting. Under the old news model, 40 percent of the staff covered the news and the rest was infrastructure, including copy editors and editors. Now, they’ve reduced the number of copy editors to increase the number of reporters in the field and improve community coverage.

There will be a spike in errors, he noted, but they will be cosmetic. The reporters are getting closer to each community they serve, which he believes will be well received. He said he likes the online comments to stories because they help the media learn. But he hopes to eliminate anonymous postings.

The panel agreed that online comments are great, but need attribution. Light said the blogs and the various voices with anonymous comments get into demagoguery. Donohue said online platforms can generate ranting. Since the Voice of San Diego changed to eliminate anonymous postings, the quality of the comments has gone up considerably. They also moderate the comments.

Grant noted that with anonymous comments, most of the harangues turn into people ragging the comments of others rather than the story.

Donohue said Voice of San Diego, the online paper, has a tight editing procedure. The reporter prints the first copy of the story and gives to Andrew to edit with a red pencil in the old-fashioned way. The reporter is then challenged to prove the accuracy of the story. As a third step, copy editors conduct fact checking. They also require that reporters to footnote their stories. The footnotes are hidden, but give the editors of the opportunity to research and learn more. On big stories, the material is sent to their lawyers. This diligence hasn’t prevented Voice from breaking some big stories in politics and education and winning awards. Its processes could provide a model for any legitimate media outlet, online or otherwise.

Print Media Rising in 2011 or Gone in 2022?

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Maybe Not

Posted by Tom Gable

Will print media make a comeback starting in 2011 or will newspapers be gone by 2022?

Two recent postings questioned the future of newspapers and print media. Joe Pulizzi, writing in Folio, noted that print can and should play a vital role in an overall content marketing mix. He offered seven reasons why he envisioned good news for print in the coming year (summarized here; see his post for more detail):

1. Getting Attention: There are fewer publications in most niches, so each gets more attention.

2. Print Media Help with Customer Retention

3. No Audience Development Costs; marketers can distribute a magazine to their customers using existing lists.

4. What’s Old Is New Again; marketers are leveraging print in their marketing mix.

5. Customers Still Need to Ask Questions. He noted that you can ask yourself tough questions based on what you read.

6. Print Still Excites People: He talked to a journalist who said it’s harder to get people to agree to an interview for an online story than print; people will reschedule for that.

7. Unplug: Joe opined that people are disconnecting themselves from digital media in increasing numbers. (Recent studies show that digital overload actually hurts cognition).

I agree wholeheartedly on No. 6 on the excitement of print, plus its credibility. Coverage in a real, non-electronic publication with a history of competence and integrity has significantly more value than coverage in most online media and blogs (the latter being, of course, fairly low on the credibility scale). Seeing your story in the print edition of the NYT, WSJ, Economist or even your home town daily paper generates a great sense of accomplishment. PR professionals almost expect coverage to land in on-line media, so the so-called earned media isn’t as dear online as in print. Of course the print media have a website, RSS feed, Twitter feed, etc., so you can have the best of both worlds. And it’s a world I surely want to continue in perpetuity.

On the other side of the debate, Ross Dawson, a futurist, was speaking to Newspaper Publishers’ Association in Australia and predicted that within 10 years, mobile reading devices would allow people to consume news on the run and be the “primary news interface”.

He predicted the costs would fall from the $600 iPad level to under $10. “More sophisticated news readers will be foldable, or rollable, gesture-controlled and fully interactive,” he said.

He predicted journalism would be “increasingly crowdsourced” to “hordes of amateurs overseen by professionals.” (We now have that on the web, mostly with no adult supervision)

He did predict expert journalists would still be employed in Australia. Audiences would be guided to trusted journalists by some form of public reputation measures (probably recorded from electronics sensors implanted in our skins and transmitted wirelessly to the Media Measurement Algorithm Monitor in the sky).

Bottom line: this former printer journalist and long-time PR practitioner believes the printed word will continue to be valued by many, most notably those with a sense of the weight of non-electronic media. I read four papers every morning with breakfast and love to see how the news is played, the relationships of stories, news judgment in context and find new discoveries on every page. Sure, you can get a little serendipity online, but I don’t think the medium works that way. I find the printed variety better for scanning and quickly absorbing the flow of news and trends. I can turn a page and scan it faster for information than I can scrolling through a website screen or agonizing as I view 14 lines of news at a time on my Blackberry.

Joe, thanks for the post. I second the motion: print is rebounding — in 2011 and beyond.