Wick Communications

Posts Tagged ‘Blogs’

The end of verticals?

In Online media on 6 Jul 2017 at 3:37 pm

I have always been impressed when I see general interest publications like our newspapers spin off niche products. These are sometimes known as “verticals” in business parlance, because they cater to a specific customer base with a well-targeted product.

Until recently, the Wall Street Journal had a bunch of verticals. The Law Blog, China Real Time, Off Duty Daily — these were blogs, essentially, that catered to specific components of the WSJ readership.

Well, no more. The Journal recently joined the New York Times in scaling back on blogs like these. The stated reason is that webmasters want to put what they’ve learned from those verticals into the main app and core publications. It’s also a cost-saving move and probably a nod to the fact that some of these niches never bore much monetary fruit, even if they had a loyal readership.

Perhaps the learned folks who run the Journal have simply learned lessons I don’t know. But I’m still a proponent of these kinds of things. (Ahem, the Kicker is a vertical itself… one that hasn’t earned a penny for the company so far.) I think they serve customers who benefit from the experts newspapers provide. And I think it’s a potentially lucrative thing. You can’t tell me that advertisers wouldn’t want to reach the well-paid attorneys who regularly read The Law Blog. What do you suppose the household income is for the average reader of The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog? You couldn’t find a sponsor for that?

Two years ago, I spoke with Wick editors and publishers about verticals that could, potentially, be profitable and interesting in our specific communities. For example, the folks at the Eastern Arizona Courier envisioned a wine publication or tab on their website that would service those interested in the burgeoning wine industry in that part of Arizona. It could, perhaps include blogs for each winery, maps, videos, etc. I know it’s a difficult undertaking, but I can envision it working. … Read the rest of this entry »


Goodbye, City Room

In Innovation on 3 Dec 2015 at 2:48 pm

Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 11.15.36 AM

Recently, the New York Times announced it was discontinuing its City Room blog. The blog was a creature of the newspaper’s Metro department and a place for tidbits that might not otherwise make the newspaper. All that color made it feel very different from the gray lady of American publishing. It may feel a bit of a dinosaur today, but the blog represented a big step forward in the digital space when it debuted in 2007.

It’s funny and a bit daunting to think of the speed at which things come and go these days. A blog that was launched eight years ago simply ran its course, but in so doing, it taught a legacy media organization an awful lot about the tone, speed and quirkiness of successful publishing online.

“If it were 100 years ago, this would have lasted for 50 years, but the way technology changes and the way reader nature changes every five years now, its lifespan was just so much shorter,” New York Times metro editor Wendell Jamieson told Joseph Lichterman in a provocative piece written for Nieman Labs. (The piece itself is very interesting because it is presented as a sort of oral history of the project from the perspective of many players in City Room. You should check it out for its format if nothing else.)

I was really struck by two things. First, many of the early adopters at the Times have gone on to really interesting things both in legacy media and in other forms of publishing. Take Jennifer 8 Lee. She was one of the best-known young voices at The Times until relatively recently and she was a contributor to City Room. Today, she is CEO of Plympton, which is an online book-publishing platform that sends serialized fiction to digital devices, among other things. Here’s what she says in Lichterman’s piece. … Read the rest of this entry »

Imagine a better way

In Business on 16 Jan 2014 at 12:43 pm
Edmund Phelps

Edmund Phelps, courtesy Columbia University

Have you ever heard of “hatereading?” I hadn’t either, but I sure knew what it was the minute I read the definition.

It is outlined in a long but deeply interesting blog post by Caroline O’Donovan for the Nieman Journalism Lab. O’Donovan reveals the interesting tale of Rusty Foster, a webizen who turned his snarky blog of links into gold by selling it to Newsweek.

It’s interesting on its face. The truth is that we seem to be drawn to two kinds of speech on the Internet. There is that stuff with which we wholeheartedly agree (political posts that conform to our point of view and cat videos, apparently). But we also love to read stuff that sets us off … hence the term hatereading.

I also wanted to make another comment about the Rusty Fosters of the world. You can’t call what they do journalism, but you have to credit them with innovative thinking. We could use more of that. … Read the rest of this entry »

Making blogs better

In Online media on 16 Aug 2012 at 2:39 pm

Last week, the Tucson Weekly got word that it had won an award for Best Blog Initiative for weekly newspapers. The award was presented by the Local Media Association, which you may know by its former name, Suburban Newspapers of America.

The award recognized the “The Range,” a collection of short ditties that are attractively aggregated on the Weekly’s homepage. Editor Jimmy Boegle said that his staffers and contributors all contribute to the blog – daily. Or almost every day. And that’s one big reason why it works.

On Aug. 10, for example, there were five separate posts – about a photographer who chronicled a movement, about how to have fun Googling your state name, about a restaurant that was temporarily closed, etc.

Another reason it works is that The Range is focused on local things. It doesn’t seem to be the place for staffers to rant about Mitt Romney or Olympic water polo. It’s of Tucson. And posts seem to be scheduled so they roll out over the course of the day.

Lastly, and judges specifically noticed this in their comments, the blog doesn’t take itself so danged seriously. Posts carry tags like “weird stuff” and “booze.” The tone is in keeping with the publication as a whole.

How many of us take as much care to keep our blogs fresh and interesting? It doesn’t just happen. Jimmy said the blog had to become a priority for the staff, not an extra chore.

(By the way, the Half Moon Bay Review also won an award from the Local Media Association. Ours was for Best Multimedia Innovation, and I already bragged about that initiative here.)


Blogs worth watching

In Education on 19 Jul 2012 at 10:30 am

I know it will come as a shock to dedicated readers of The Kicker, but this is not the only blog dedicated to things journalistic. Not by a long shot.

If you are like me, you have a few go-to sites for industry news and tips. The Poynter Institute’s MediaWire may be the single-most watched blog in the industry. Jim Romenesko used to be the star of that outfit before venturing out on his own with this blog.

Earlier this week, Online Education Database issued a list of “the 40 best blogs for journalism students.” Sadly, The Kicker didn’t make the list. But I’m willing to overlook that slight and suggest you take a look at the full list. There is bound to be something here for you.

From this list, I look at 10,000 Words regularly as well as Newspaper Death Watch (morbid, it’s true), the Nieman Journalism Lab and Reflections of a Newsasaur. And I’ll be bookmarking others from this list now that I see them.

I’d be interested in hearing about the journalism blogs you find useful. Go ahead and comment with your additions.


Down but not out

In Ideas on 21 Jul 2011 at 5:13 pm

File this in the “wish I had thought of that” category.

It is one of Yahoo News’ superb attempts to cover the damage done to average Americans who are shut out of the job market. It’s a Tumblr blog that rolls out with story after story of the troubles of honest, hardworking people who can’t find meaningful employment.

Here is how Yahoo editors explain what they have done:

At the end of June, we asked for your stories of being unemployed for six months or longer. We received more than 1,000 emails and nearly 5,000 comments in response to our post. We’ve collected 58 of the stories here in the hope that they will help put faces to statistics that can grow abstract and numbing as the country wrestles with the scourge of joblessness.

Some of the stories are simply gut-wrenching and cumulatively they paint a dramatic picture. I think choosing the Tumblr format was sort of genius, too. It was made for a democratic listing like this, offered without hierarchy. Open it up and you’ll read things like this:

  • I have led men in combat, but my last job was a temporary cashier position in the women’s department at Nordstrom’s. Marshall … Read the rest of this entry »

The medium is the message

In Media on 21 Jan 2011 at 11:14 am

This morning, I was surprised to read that Google CEO Eric Schmidt was relinquishing the company’s top executive post to one of the search engine’s founders, Larry Page.

It got me thinking about the nature of breaking news.

Here’s how the story read in the local newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News:

In a bombshell announcement that ends a decade of leadership continuity at Google, co-founder Larry Page will take charge of the company as chief executive, replacing current CEO Eric Schmidt, who will focus on Google’s external relationships with other businesses and government.

Here’s how Schmidt described it in the company’s official blog. (Notice that he takes the time to back in, to explain it in the context he sees.) … Read the rest of this entry »

Media matters to message

In Online media on 11 Jun 2010 at 8:14 am

I begin here by saying, I’m still trying to get my head around this one. But the Pew Center has released a study of social media that points to the differences between various social media and the “legacy” media — and the reliance of the former on the latter.

As we all know, news travels differently in newspapers, on Twitter, through blogs and across other forms of media. Pew drilled down to find out how these platforms behave.

Among the specific findings — and directly from a post on the Pew site:

  • Social media and the mainstream press clearly embrace different agendas. Blogs shared the same lead story with traditional media in just 13 of the 49 weeks studied. Twitter was even less likely to share the traditional media agenda … On YouTube, the top stories overlapped with traditional media eight out of 49 weeks… Read the rest of this entry »

Be a good watchdog

In Ideas on 5 Dec 2008 at 8:55 am

Niemanwatchdog.org has an interesting Q&A with Orange County Register blogger Teri Sforza. She turned her obsession for government accountability into a winning web product for her newspaper.

And, really, her idea is nothing new. She seeks out public documents and lets readers know where the money goes. It’s so basic that it barely merits mentioning. Except that it’s hard work. My bet is that all of us could do a better job upholding one of the true pillars of our business.

“For some time, the emphasis was heavy on reflecting the lives of ordinary readers, as opposed to follow-the-money, turn-over-the-rocks, poke-around-in-the-dirt reporting,” Sforza says in the interview.

“But if looking under rocks fell out of fashion a bit, the rise of the Internet has helped it stage a comeback. Our ability to monitor Web site traffic has made it easy to see exactly what people are actually reading, and it turns out they’re hungry for very traditional watchdog-type journalism – stories that keep a critical eye on government spending and the public trust.”… Read the rest of this entry »