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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Germany: Praise for local journalists

Thanks to journalist Robert Domes for this article:

"Local journalists are grassroots workers of democracy." Those were the words Bernhard Vogel, chairman of the German foundation Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, used to praise the profession of local journalists. For 25 years the Adenauer-Stiftung has been awarding a prize for local journalists. Nowadays the award is considered the "Oscar of the writing guild" among German journalists. To celebrate its 25. anniversary, 450 representatives of newspapers from all over Germany met in Berlin last week, among them winners of the past 25 years as well as editors-in-chief and publishers. They all appreciated the role of local journalists. Dieter Golombek, spokesman of the jury, called it "the largest celebration ever given to the German local journalism". Bernhard Vogel said: "You benefit all of us with your work."

Former Prime Minister Lothar Spaeth appreciated the journalists, saying they helped to connect people with their local community. Sp?th appealed to the local journalists: "Let us try to mobilize citizens and again give them the feeling of being at home."

A Symposium titled "The local editor in its best roles" in the academy of the Adenauer-Stiftung Berlin tried to improve self-confidence of local editors and emphasized the importance of the local newspapers? work.

Hans Josef Vogel, mayor of German town Arnsberg said: "The local journalist in its role as moderator, who accompanies the development and organization of its city, will become ever more important in the next years." Arnd Brummer, editor-in-chief of "Chrismon", a German evangelic magazine, pointed to the importance of quality in newspapers and the personality of authors: "It's a mistake to think that readers do not want a high quality paper." He emphasized: "Without writer personalities there are no newspaper personalities. And if so, newspapers will soon be displaced by the Internet." In his view it's necessary to bring together form and content as well as ethics and aesthetics. Brummer: "Personality survives, and personality ties." Christoph Stoelzl, vice president of the Berlin House of Representatives, requested the editors to be aware of all social incidents and changes in the local community: "Indifference is the key to disaster. Every action that prevents and displaces indifference is therefore highly moral and deeply human."

Also Ernst Elitz, director of Deutschlandradio, a German public radio station, emphasized the journalist's role as citizen representative and watchdog of democracy. Elitz is sure that all social problems can be recognized in local communities. He said: "Watchdogs must be precise and careful workers as well as good criminal investigators, they must be writers and translators."

Source: Article by journalist Robert Domes

Posted by Anna-Maria Mende on August 31, 2005 at 05:53 PM in l. Conferences and awards | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Germany: Europe's editors meet in Potsdam

Editors of about 100 European print media will meet for the "M100 Sanssouci Colloquium" in Potsdam, Germany, this weekend, reports Der Standard. The conference will focus on the development of Europe, on "the questions and problems of the relationship between the USA and Europe; culture as key to a European self-image; Europe as an economic area and, of course, the state of the European media." Among the participants are Mathias Döpfner, Chief Executive of publisher Axel Springer, and Frank Schirrmacher, editor of "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung", reports Der Standard.

The aim of M100 Sanssouci Colloquium is to build a European media platform: "Our thinking behind the idea of an annual forum in Potsdam to promote discussion of European affairs was to create - for the first time - a pan-European platform for leading opinion formers and media personalities from the whole of Europe."

During this years' conference the Prize of the European Media will be awarded for the first time.

Source: Der Standard, M100 Sanssouci Colloquium

Posted by Anna-Maria Mende on August 31, 2005 at 05:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

UK: Mail on Sunday changes strategy and wants to attract more men

The Mail on Sunday, traditionally 'female focused and conservative' (54% of the readership are women), is relaunching its supplement Night & Day to attract more male readers, reports MediaWeek. The relaunched Night & Day will include male-orientated interviews as well as news and features on music, films, gadgets, cars etc.

The Mail on Sunday has been successful with its female-friendly features, but has also lost readers recently. The new strategy is an attempt to boost readership and advertising. And the paper is serious about the change. MediaWeek states: "Yet, given that the supplement is backed by an £8m investment, The MoS is clearly serious about going after the testosterone-fuelled pound." Dominic Williams, press director at Carat, believes in the new strategy. He said on MediaWeek: "It gives me another platform to think about from a strategic point of view, and gives planners and buyers another option in the marketplace. Rather than just think it's female, it is now male and female." However, it will not be easy to convince men to buy a paper with a 'female' history. MediaWeek concludes that "much will depend on the quality of the supplement and the expected marketing campaign that will accompany its arrival."

Meanwhile The Times is relaunching its supplement T2 as Times2 to attract more women (see previous posting).

Source: MediaWeek

Posted by Anna-Maria Mende on August 31, 2005 at 02:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Egypt: Blogs as "freedom of press opportunity"?

Egyptian bloggers are using their freedom to criticize the government. One example is that photos of police men beating protesters were posted. "In a country where most major newspapers are state-owned or affiliated to a party, the Internet is offering an unprecedented freedom and platform for an increasingly bold opposition to the regime", states AFP (through Yahoo!).

In an article in the Online Journalism Review, Mark Glaser describes the situation of Egyptian bloggers. He states that blog readership remains limited due to basic literacy (only about 58% of the population is said to be literate), the expense of owing a computer, and the language barrier for English-language blogs. Similary, Joshua Stacker, an American political researcher in Cairo, said to AFP : "They (the bloggers) disguise their identities and it gives them a platform to say things they can't say in public. If the state wanted to go after them they could, but it's only the elite who reads them."

However, bloggers will soon have the possibility to play another role in politics. Mohamed M., an Egyptian blogger, is cited in the Online Journalism Review saying that blogs "might become 'citizen monitors' for the September 7 elections, reporting on what they see at polling places and taking photos of any harassment or election-rigging. That's the kind of first-hand reporting that can help bloggers serve in a watchdog role while other media are held back."

But Glaser also states in his article that "bloggers wonder what will happen once the election is over and Mubarak has won in a landslide - which almost everyone expects to happen. Will bloggers continue to have the freedom to organize protests and attack Mubarak and his policies?"

Sources: AFP through Yahoo!, Online Journalism Review

However, bloggers will soon have the possibility to play another role in politics. Mohamed M., an Egyptian blogger, is cited in the Online Journalism Review saying that blogs "might become 'citizen monitors' for the September 7 elections, reporting on what they see at polling places and taking photos of any harassment or election-rigging. That's the kind of first-hand reporting that can help bloggers serve in a watchdog role while other media are held back."

But Glaser also states in his article that "bloggers wonder what will happen once the election is over and Mubarak has won in a landslide - which almost everyone expects to happen. Will bloggers continue to have the freedom to organize protests and attack Mubarak and his policies?"

Sources: AFP through Mediachannel, Online Journalism Review

Posted by Anna-Maria Mende on August 31, 2005 at 11:46 AM in a. Citizen journalism, o. Ethics and Press Freedom | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

US: Publishers do not see threat in citizen journalism site

According to paidContent.org publishers do not see a threat to suburban newspapers in the citizen journalism site YourHub.com. The Denver Business Journal had interviewed some suburban publishers and they all "didn't view YourHub.com as a competitor in their markets, but Harrison Cochran at the Aurora Sentinel called the publication the "boldest experiment" he's seen."

YourHub.com is a community web site of Colorado neighborhoods for people to share their stories, give opinions about local issues, learn about local events happening in their community, post team scores, upload pictures and find local shopping deals. (see previous posting) The site belongs to the Denver Newspaper Agency, publisher of Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post. A weekly print edition, that consists of several postings, is delivered to subscribers of The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News.

However, The Denver Business Journal reports hat "area newspaper publishers call it bad for journalism and a vehicle for free advertising. Some say it's just plain bad." Bob Sweeney, owner of the Villager in Greenwood Village and recent past president of the National Newspaper Association said in The Denver Business Journal: "It's the biggest joke I've ever seen. It's the worst piece of journalism. I'd be embarrassed to publish it."

John Temple, publisher of Rocky Mountain News, sees YourHub as "virtual town square", where citizens can tell their stories. But, as The Denver Business Journal reports, recently "readers found "news" items promoting car wash services, a networking event and a college investment service." The Denver Newspaper Agency states on the YourHub site that it can't be held responsible as it is not monitoring all posted content. Content for the weekly print edition, however, is edited. As The Denver Business Journal reports Temple "tells detractors that the beauty of YourHub is that everyone is welcome to post anything as long as it isn't obscene or violent. 'I believe advertising is a form of free speech,' he said. But other publishers claim that "the Web sites and their print counterparts are being misused by public relations agencies looking to plug their clients."

Source: The Denver Business Journal, paidContent.org, YourHub.com

Posted by Anna-Maria Mende on August 30, 2005 at 03:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

US: Professional and citizen photographs

At most news sites professional and citizen photographs are still seperated, writes Steve Outing on Poynter. He came to this conclusion while looking for photos of the Hurricane Katrina. He cites Nola.com as an typical example for this separation.

He suggest that a combination of the best photos from both, citizen and professionals, would do better: "From the perspective of the Web reader/viewer: I'd like to see a single gallery of the best images from the storm, whether they be from staff photojournalists, wire-service photojournalists, or citizen photographers. In a story like this, there will be citizen photos that are more powerful than what the pros come up with. So why not mix them up to produce a hurricane-image gallery made up of the best photographs, period? ... Staff photos are labeled as such, and citizen submissions are clearly labeled as coming from an eyewitness amateur photographer ... I would not want to rely on citizen photos alone to understand the breadth and depth of Katrina's impact, but they can add to the pros' body of work to give the viewer a better overall picture ... my expectation is that professional photojournalism plus the best of citizen news photography will best serve the public."

Source: Poynter

Posted by Anna-Maria Mende on August 30, 2005 at 12:06 PM in a. Citizen journalism, g. Photojournalism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

US: Newspaper returns to seperate sections

In June, the San Jose Mercury News eliminated the traditional local, national, and international news print sections and combined them into one (see previous posting). The change was controversial and many readers did not like it. A big problem was: it was now much harder for couples to share the morning paper.

Now the paper responds to readers' feedback: "OK, we hear you. Beginning Tuesday, Aug. 30, we'll go back to having two news sections: The first section will focus on national and international news, the second on local and state news. Page One will continue to offer an average of 75 percent locally written stories and the watchdog reports you find only in the Mercury News", wrote MercuryNews.com on August 21. The paper keeps, however, some changes that readers liked, such as news highlights on Page One, international pages clearly labeled by region, Monday's Calendar, Friday's new Interactive Arts + Entertainment section etc.

Source: MercuryNews.com

Posted by Anna-Maria Mende on August 30, 2005 at 11:17 AM in m. Improving editorial quality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, August 29, 2005

Algeria: Courageous newspaper obliged to dissapear

Sad news from Algeria: one of the most courageous newspaper is obliged to disappear. Le Matin, the daily newspaper in French, will no longer appear. According to Le Quotidien d'Oran (in French) shareholders decided to dissolve SARL Le Matin and put it into liquidation. The decision was made at the general assembly on August 10 in the absence of manager and editor Mohamed Benchicou. Benchicou is still in jail for a violation concerning control of capital exchanges within the paper and for publishing a pamphlet attacking the president (see former posting).

The move came after one year of non-appearance and is probably due to the paper's huge debts. "The debts are huge. There are close to 8bn centimes (1.1m US dollars) in debts for printing in the central part of the country and close to 6bn (844,600 US dollars) in tax debts due to the bankruptcy to which Le Matin was subjected. In all that remain the debts due to the printing companies of the east and west as well as those that Le Matin owes to Algerie Presse Service (APS), the amount of which is not yet known," reports Le Quotidien d'Oran (in French). A little sign of hope is, however, that some of Le Matin's seven associates have decided to found a new newspaper.

Source: Le Quotidien d'Oran (in French)

Posted by Anna-Maria Mende on August 29, 2005 at 03:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Shadow ads - a threat to editorial integrity

As newspapers are not doing very well in terms of ad revenue (see previous posting), some think of new ways to attract advertisers. One such way is to accept shadow ads. 'Shadow ads', or 'watermark ads', are "shadowy images of corporate logos, movie characters, or other images" that turned up on stock tables, movie listings and sports data pages in newspapers (see Editor & Publisher from June). "News content is superimposed on images including corporate logos", writes The Philadelphia Inquirer. Shadow ads are not directly new and have been in sporadic use over the past years. In 2001, for example, Universal Studios had shadow-like ads in 15 newspapers in the US to promote its film "Jurassic Park II". "The images of flying dinosaurs appeared on tables of agate, or data, such as stock tables", reports Editor & Publisher . Such advertisements are, however, highly controversial with some editors being afraid that the line between editorial and advertising might be crossed.

John Morton, longtime newspaper industry analyst and president of Morton Research Inc., a US media consulting firm, said on Editor & Publisher in June that using shadow ads "cheapens newspapers to the extent they get into it... (Newspaper) are not doing as well as in past economic recoveries, and they're looking for new ways to generate revenues. And this is one unfortunate direction they are taking." Recently he added in The Philadelphia Inquirer that shadow ads "are harmful to the credibility of newspapers... What's supposed to be neutral is sponsored by somebody."

"Proponents of shadow ads, however, say they are little different from the pop-up ads that appear on many websites these days, though many find such advertising irritating", report Press Gazette.

Don Wycliff, public editor of Chicago Tribune said on The Philadelphia Inquirer: "Shadow ads blur the line between advertising and editorial content, and are unwise." He does not agree with his publisher Tribune Co. which allows shadow ads. According to Editor & Publisher the company has outlined "a companywide set of guidelines that specifies when and how shadow ads can be sold. The policy also covers other new types of newspaper advertising, including ads with unusual shapes or positions on the page."

It seems that newspapers are more open to new forms of advertising these days. Joe Natoli, chairman and publisher of The Inquirer said in The Philadelphia Inquirer: "We can't say we won't change. We have to try to be open-minded, but we have to be very careful as well." The Inquirer, which so far has no shadow ads in the paper, would allow them but only behind certain content, such as stock listings and movie timetables.

After all, newspapers should be very careful with shadow ads as the strict distinction between advertising and editorial is essential to every newspaper.

Sources: The Philadelphia Inquirer, Editor & Publisher , Press Gazette

Posted by Anna-Maria Mende on August 29, 2005 at 02:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

US: "Newspaper sector is stuck in the mud"

According to a report released by Goldman Sachs last week, "the newspaper sector is stuck in the mud", reports Editor & Publisher. Ad revenues for July were up 2.9% with August expected to be about the same. Retail was up 3% and "national has improved slightly (against easy comps). But what's worrisome is that classified ad growth is slowing", states Editor & Publisher.

The help wanted category continues to suffer from 'the burden with growth in the mid-teens' in online and print. The real estate category has slowed modestly and the automotive category is "exceptionally weak." And circulation revenues continue to decrease and were down 2.6% year-to-date. However, ad spending on newspapers' websites increased double-digit in recent quarters, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

"Taking all this into account, total industry revenue growth is about 2%, year-to-date, 'the industry's weakest performance since the 2001-2001 recession' ", states Editor & Publisher.

Sources: Editor & Publisher, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Posted by Anna-Maria Mende on August 29, 2005 at 12:24 PM in r. Revenues and business models | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack