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Posts Tagged ‘Dean Starkman’

CJR Crunches the Capital New York Paywall Numbers

Shutterstock_CoinsGraphCapital New York’s imminent paywall works out to $16.41… per day. We shared our skepticism about the recent announcement of a $5,990 annual climb for subscribers; this morning, the Columbia Journalism Review‘s Dean Starkman takes a different view:

The secret to Capital New York is that it only has to sell 600 or so subscriptions to break even, and it’s probably going to do better than that because it’s not like apples in at least one important respect…

[Politico Pro's] numbers are about 1,700 organizations and 10,000 readers. Divide the 10,000 readers by the five readers allowed to use it to get to 2,000 subscribers, times $8,000 each, gets to a rough annual revenue $16 million. Politico has more than 100 employees, but not that much more. Let’s pay them at a rate of $100,000 each, including benefits, and we’re at, say, $12 million, and comfortably in the black.

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What Happened to The Wall Street Journal‘s Longform Journalism?

The Wall Street Journal hasn’t won a Pulitzer Prize for its news reporting since 2007. It wasn’t even nominated this year. And a new chart from the Columbia Journalism Review may highlight a reason why.

Since News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch bought the United States’ largest newspaper by circulation six years ago, there has been a steady decline in the long-form journalism that once distinguished the business world’s paper of record.

CJR isn’t the first to notice this. Back in 2011, amid the calamity of News Corp.’s phone-hacking scandal in the U.K., New York Times op-ed columnist Joe Nocera declared the “Fox-ification” of the paper, noting that Murdoch’s Journal was marked by “shorter articles, less depth, an increased emphasis on politics and, weirdly, sometimes surprisingly unsophisticated coverage of business.”

While some of his criticism seems unwarranted — and likely fueled by the chaotic speed with which more and more phone-hacking accusations splashed onto front pages across the English speaking work — the “shorter articles, less depth” argument seems to hold true.

The Journal defended itself with this public statement after CJR‘s Dean Starkman published the chart:

The number of words in an article has never been the barometer by which the quality of a publication or its value to readers should be measured. Every article is reported with unique facts and anecdotes that are needed to best tell the story. We consider those factors, while respecting our readers’ busy lives, when determining the length of an article. Our very strong circulation numbers suggest that readers think we’re doing a good job.

 Read Starkman’s full post (he’s a glorious writer) and The Atlantic‘s Alexis C. Madrigal‘s take, too.

‘Hamsterization’: The Official Term for What the Internet Has Done to Journalism

Matthew Lasar at Ars Technica writes about the fact that the Federal Communications Commission has come up with a term for the “ever growing set of digital duties” that journalists must perform: “hamsterization.” He asks: “Hey there newspaper reporter—has your broadband-powered job got you filing not only conventional stories, but blogging, video blogging, Facebooking, podcasting, picture posting, and Tweeting?”

If you answered yes, you are not alone. The FCC notes in its just released report on The Information Needs of Communities that “these additional responsibilities—and having to learn the new technologies to execute them—are time-consuming, and come at a cost.” Journalists now “typically face rolling deadlines as they post to their newspaper’s website before, and after, writing print stories.”

These “rolling deadlines” is where the hamster wheel metaphor comes in. The observation was first made by Dean Starkman in a Columbia Journalism Review piece titled “The Hamster Wheel.” Lasar writes:

The “Hamster Wheel” isn’t about speed, the report quotes Starkman as saying. “It’s motion for motion’s sake… volume without thought. It is news panic, a lack of discipline, an inability to say no.”

Journalists complain that where newsrooms used to reward in-depth stories, “now incentives skew toward work that can be turned around quickly and generate a bump in Web traffic.”

We have no idea what the FCC plans to do about this. But at the very least,  it’s nice to be acknowledged.

LAT’s Gum Shoe Journalism and the Toyota Recall

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This is a credit where credit is due story. Basically, Ralph Vartabedian and Ken Bensinger wrote a piece for the LAT in November last year titled “Runaway Toyota cases ignored.” They reported that there have been 19 deaths and scores of injuries due to Toyotas seeming to accelerate on their own. After it was published Irv Miller VP of Environmental & Public Affairs for Toyota wrote:

Today the Los Angeles Times published an article that wrongly and unfairly attacks Toyota’s integrity and reputation.

While outraged by the Times’ attack, we were not totally surprised. The tone of the article was foreshadowed by the phrasing of a lengthy list of detailed questions that the Times emailed to us recently. The questions were couched in accusatory terms.

Despite the tone, we answered each of the many questions and sent them to the Times. Needless to say, we were disappointed by the article that appeared today, and in particular by the fact that so little of our response to the questions appeared in the article and much of what was used was distorted.

Toyota has a well-earned reputation for integrity and we will vigorously defend it.

Cringe.

As CJR’s Dean Starkman points out the LAT stuck to their guns under fire. Then as NYTPicker points out, NYT suddenly started paying attention to the scoop, never noting the champion of the story was from the other coast and some other newspaper.

The media gets criticized for when they get it wrong, but rarely when they get it right. There’s no hyperbole in saying this investigative (read: expensive) piece saved lives. Great work Vartabedian and Bensinger.

Also, just because the NYT pretends they’re an island with no counterparts, doesn’t mean its true.

Our thanks to our tipster for this story.

Columbia Panel Examines Business Press Post-Crisis: “They Followed Conventional Wisdom”

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Last night’s panel (from left to right): Ackman, Starkman, Madrick and Morgenson

Last night, we headed up town to Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism for a panel discussing the future of business journalism.

The panel, which was called “Now What? Business Journalism After the Meltdown,” featured New York Times assistant business and financial editor Gretchen Morgenson, investor Bill Ackman, Jeff Madrick, editor of Challenge Magazine, and Dean Starkman, managing editor of The Audit, The Columbia Journalism Review‘s online critique of financial journalism. Starkman also wrote the CJR cover story critiquing the business press before and after the credit crisis and housing meltdown.

Moderator Bill Grueskin, the dean of academic affairs at Columbia J-School, opened the discussion by asking the panel how they thought the business press had fared in its coverage of the recent economic crisis and what lessons they had learned.

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