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Posts Tagged ‘Ken Doctor’

Latest California Watch Story Cost Half A Mil To Produce

California Watch’s three-part series “On Shaky Ground,” produced over 20 months and including maps, databases, an iPhone app, and a hashtag, cost $550,000 to produce, says Ken Doctor at Nieman Lab.

Most of that was in staff time. But it’s still half a million dollars. “That’s now a huge sum of money to a newsroom, even a metro-sized one. Ask a publisher whether he or she is willing to spend a half a million on a story, and you know the answer you’ll usually get,” he says.

That’s kind of depressing. But it’s also somewhat encouraging, because six major daily papers, two radio stations, a TV station, and 125 Patch sites picked up California Watch’s story and distributed it to their readers. Each of those outlets had either paid a subscription fee to CW or paid an ala carte payment to CW for the use of this one story. Each client pays between $3,000 and $15,000 for a subscription or $300 to $1,000 for an individual article, or less than 1 percent of what CW spent. (That’s an attractive option for newsrooms that need “space-filling, audience-interesting content,” and CW could probably raise its rates if it keeps coming out with stories like this.)

Syndication is still a secondary support to California Watch’s $2.7 million budget but it’s an “important building block of the evolving business model,” Doctor writes.

By the way, CW pays 14 journalists on about 70 percent of its budget. Go journalism!

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2011 Media Predictions From The Pros

With 2010 really, really wrapping up (yeah, we’ve said this before, but now we really mean it), we thought it pertinent to gather together industry opinions on how media will change in 2011.

Pete Blackshaw writes in AdAge to keep an eye on:

  • Defensive Branding. “While 2010 kicked off with high levels of almost irrational exuberance over social media, this month’s Twitter-powered Wikileaks attack on MasterCard, Visa and other major brands primed 2011 for higher doses of brand and corporate paranoia.”
  • All the World’s a Service Desk. “Get ready for anywhere/anytime customer service, from the usual suspect brand stands –Twitter and Facebook — to vastly improved online communities and real-time chat. Aided by better measurements, brands will come to appreciate that efficiently answering questions and solving problems for consumers not only pays out, but also leaves a viral media annuity.”
  • The End of Resumes. “Resumes will become increasingly irrelevant to the job-recruitment process. With or without formal policies, more recruiters and employees will lean on the web as a primary form of candidate due diligence.”

Meanwhile, Keith Trivitt blogging at PRSAY compiled PRSA members’ thoughts on the big trends of 2011. Included: location-based apps like Foursquare and Gowalla, “more opportunities and RFPs coming to public relations firms,” and, again, reputation management.

And then Ken Doctor takes on the journalism myths of 2010 that may or may not be busted in 2011:

  • “Readers won’t pay for non-business content…Exhibit A will be the New York Times, with its new metered payment system to launch early in the year. If the Times can claim one to two percent of 30 million or so uniques (its internal count) — or 300,000 to 600,000 paying customers — that’ll be a major milestone.”
  • “Tablets are just another device. There’s a we’ve-seen-it-all-before-sense here for some content producers. Aren’t tablets just another device, like phones, which cost a lot of money to format for, but don’t produce game-changing revenue results? My sense: the tablet is the post-print reading device. Any publisher who doesn’t plan for tablets to hasten the print to tablet demise will be left out of the future.”
  • “Public Media is different from Private Media. Yes, and no….The old labels won’t stick.”

For more media predictions, follow the links to the original posts…and then tell us what you think.

Get Ready For ‘Replacement Journalism’

Journalism hiring is picking up. Anyone can see that. But the hiring that’s going on isn’t for jobs that are the same as the ones lost.

Ken Doctor examines this phenomenon in his weekly column for Nieman Lab. It is, as always, a very good read.

The main question: “Are we beginning to see significant, tangible news coverage in this new, mainly digital world?”

Doctor examines a number of metrics with some very good estimates. For example, are the hirings at ProPublica and elsewhere making up for the investigative jobs cut at newspapers? Doctor calculates that the investigative print world lost “in the high hundreds” of jobs while investigative hiring has been “in the low hundreds.”

In the capitol, the loss has been significant but a number of organizations including Bloomberg Government and National Journal have stepped up to fill the void. The question here is whether the reporting will be for the public or hidden behind a paywall.

Hyperlocal, thanks mainly to Patch which is adding sites faster than we can keep track of them, is “one of the most promising areas in replacement journalism,” says Doctor.

This is a very optimistic picture of journalism—not just media but real hard-hitting reporting—but we can’t find any quibble with Doctor’s figures. Perhaps we’re not all as doomed as we thought.

Does it Make Sense To Hire A Star?


Why are so many news organizations, most of which are strapped for cash, hiring “stars”? Wouldn’t the money be better spent on talented but less well-known reporters?

Ken Doctor of Newsonomics tackles that question at Nieman Journalism Lab.

“The intangibles are how many new unique visitors the Zakarias, Finemans, and Grosses bring with them from their old haunts,” he says. “How many of those new customers become regular customers of the outlet? That gets you to some annual and/or lifetime value metrics. As metrics are collected and tested, we’ll see some more science brought to what is now a star-search art form.”

And the hiring of a big-name journalist lends legitimacy to a startup. “They are magnets to other, lesser-known talent, signaling, “it’s okay to come here.’”

At the same time, he says, legacy companies are going in the opposite direction. So as the Huffington Posts and AOLs of the world snap up legacy journalists, Forbes, National Journal, and more are hiring cheaper, non-name-brand talent.

The upshot? “The likely result of these moves? By 2015, news companies will pay top dollar, and pound, euro and yen, for top-end talent, and they’ll pay as little as possible for good-enough newsy content that fills many topical and local niches.”

2015 is not that far away. If Doctor’s right, anyone who wants to make a living in journalism will need a brand and a following by then or risk being shut out.

Photo: visualpanic

Ken Doctor: Patch Reporters’ Stories Lack ‘Depth, Background, Nuance’

This morning we came across a post from Ken Doctor saying that while it’s cool that hundreds of journalists are getting jobs with the AOL-owned hyperlocal news startup, the stories aren’t quite as good as the competition.

“On Thursday, San Ramon saw a big breaking news story, of a 24-year-old menacing police outside a 7-11. They shot and killed him, after a standoff. Take a look at the coverage and you can see that the Contra Costa Times’ story has more depth, background and nuance. Patch’s story is straightforward, but lacking in those same qualities. That quick comparison may be typical for how a newspaper responds to the big, breaking story …”

Of course, Patch’s story has more comments and better SEO. So obviously the scrappy guys are doing something right.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin To Shed 150 Jobs

star_bulletin.jpgIn a filing with Hawaii’s Department of Labor, the owner of The Honolulu Star-Bulletin said the paper will be laying off half of its 300 employees as it pursues its takeover of the Honolulu Advertiser, the Advertiser reports. Oahu Publications said it would cut those 150 jobs whether or not the Bulletin is sold off or merged with the Advertiser.

Oahu Publications, owner of the Bulletin, is buying rival Honolulu Advertiser from Gannett. Gannett has already sent out layoff notices to all 600 Advertiser employees but it’s unclear how many of those employees would be rehired when the sale completes.

The Advertiser employees’ union contracts don’t transfer to the buyer, so they’re much less likely to be retained than people currently working at the Star-Bulletin.

“I think you are going to see a fairly tight paper and a newsroom staff that does not grow and may well shrink,” news industry analyst Ken Doctor told the Advertiser. “He’ll be as lean as he can be.”

Journalism professor Gerald Kato added that Oahu Publications owner David Black is skilled at running community papers, with small staffs and tight budgets.