THE BACK PAGE PROBLEM: LA VANGUARDIA’S GREAT FORMULA

Files under General | Nov 30th

lvg200611300801lb.jpg

Front pages are evolving.

You will find new ideas all the time.

But, what about the back page?

Well, that’s a real problem.

My experience is that the last page is one of the most boring ones in any newspaper of the world.

If advertisers were smart they will sell it every day.

But, you know, they are busy just getting easy money placing ads in TV, does not matter if they are a waste of money for their clients…

Then, there is the “second” front page solution, with sports as an option.

Wrong.

Readers are always confused with this option.

What about a summary like “the paper in five minutes”?

No way.

The last thing that we need today is to say our busy costumers that they can “read” a newspaper in five minutes…

What about an interview?

That’s better.

But only if you do what LA VANGUARDIA in Barcelona has been doing in the last few years with LA CONTRA (THE BACK).

A team of three reporters (Victor Amela, Ima Sanchis and Lluis Amiguet) share the responsibility for what has become the most read and popular daily news feature of the paper.

The “formula” is as simple and smart as this:

Select an “offbeat” person.

Add a visual portrait.

Include a self-presentation.

Plus a short background about the personage.

And casual Q&A.

The secret is the selection of the person and the non/conventional interview.

Always very relaxed.

Informal.

Funny.

Fresh.

Provocative.

It’s a pity that LA VANGUARDIA’s website is not open but, believe me, this a great innovation.



GOOGLE HAS OUR CREDIT CARDS

Files under General | Nov 30th

google-card.jpg

John Battelle, the great expert on Google has disturbing news for all of us:

Herewith the story of my attempts to buy a Dora the Explorer Mr. Face Plush Backpack from ToysRUs using Google Checkout.

In short, Google now has my credit card number. (It’s one I use for testing, however).

It feels kind of odd, to be honest.

It seems Google is obviating the merchant entirely vis the ongoing data relationship with the buyer.

The registration screen states: “”Google” will appear by the charge on your credit card statement. Your card number will not be shared with the seller.”

Well, all these developments make more important than ever to find new ways to protect our privacy.

Advertisers (and Google is becoming more than a technology or a media company, an advertising company) will love to have your credit card and to find out your shopping habits.

Like the “don’t call me” lists that have stopped some of the worst telemarketing practices, online merchants will have to face similar rules in order to avoid more span and more privacy violations.

Unfortunately, the basic “let me alone!” traditional definition of privacy is going to be a lost right in the new online world.



PULITZER PRIZES MYOPIA

Files under General | Nov 30th

joseph-pulitzer.gif

Jeff Jarvis says that “the Pulitzer Prize has long been a dangerous influence in American journalism, and it’s only getting worse.”

He is right.

For too long, newspapers have been edited for prize juries not their publics, taking resources away from local reporting to write long, show-off pieces that don’t necessarily serve their communities and that skew the priorities of newsrooms.

The Pulitzer Prize is so print-oriented that Jarvis is asking for big changes:

Last year, the Pulitzers allowed just a little bit of online content to qualify for a prize. This year, they open that up to include “a full array of online material-such as databases, interactive graphics, and streaming video.” But they still insist, stubbornly, to award only journalism from newspapers.

Eligibility for entering the competition will continue to be restricted to newspapers published daily, Sunday, or at least once a week during the calendar year. “This keeps faith with the historic mandate of the Pulitzer Prizes,” Gissler said.

I thought the Pulitzers existed to award journalism, not printing.

His request:

Esteemed jurors: Open up the prize. Award great journalism wherever and however and by whomever it is committed.

This print-myopia remembers me my suggestions more than 10 year ago at the board of directors of the then Society of “Newspaper” Design (SND).

My proposal was to change the name to Society of “News” Design, a change that will keep the name of SND but will open the group to the new multi-media platforms.

There was a lot of opposition (and still the issue arises voices of dissent) but finally my proposal was accepted and the SND changed the name.

Unfortunately the annual SND Awards still are dominated by the print ones but online news-design was accepted much more before to what the Pulitzer Prizes are ready to admit.

The same we did with the Malofiej Infographic Awards that since many years ago accepts online infographic entries.

Well, the Pulitzer Prizes are reluctant to online journalism, as they were late to embrace infographics in the new category of “explanatory journalism.”

American newspapers are slow to adapt to the new multimedia journalism challenge, and perhaps the Pulitzer board of directors must be sacked.

Joseph Pulitzer was more open minded that this group of cronies.



THE NEW YORK TIMES UNDER A MASSIVE ATTACK

Files under General | Nov 29th

home-logo.gif

Pay attention to this breaking-news from MarketWatch (a Dow Jones company):

Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, the former CEO of American International Group, has started buying “huge blocks” of New York Times shares in a bid to break the Sulzberger family’s control, according to a report in The New York Post.

The newspaper cited unnamed sources as saying that Greenberg has been buying hundreds of thousands of Times shares.

A Greenberg spokesman declined to discuss the specifics of his investment in the Times, but told the newspaper he is “exploring several options with respect to media companies.”

The New York Times had previously reported that Greenberg was interested in buying The Tribune Co. or Dow Jones & Co.

A massive attack that will continue for sure in the next few hours.



NEWSPAPERS AND INNOVATIONS OF THE YEAR: FIRST CANDIDATES (I)

Files under General | Nov 29th

I got yesterday the first suggestions from a Polish editor:

“Here is Grzegorz Piechota from Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland.

I read you blog and found an invitation to send you some tips about candidates for *Newspapers of the Year* title.

You must have heard about the Bakersfield Californian, an independent family-owned local media company in California*s Central Valley. Thier publisher is open-minded and understands the importance of innovation and a focus on long-term growth rather than quarterly earnings.

Despite they are traditional US newspaper publisher (and you know better than me that US newspaers are the most boring in the world), they do really great job in print and on the web. Their goal is not to sell ink on dead trees, but to create and inform communities they serve. They launched two home delivered free newspapers based on readers’ stories and photos linked with websites (http://www.northwestvoice.com/). They have numerous websites that serve as YouTubes, MySpaces and Craig’s Lists of the community (http://www.bakotopia.com/). You can learn more about them for example here: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/stories/060808reed/

If you would like to dig deeper, please log in to Bluffton Today, an even smaller newspaper in South Carolina (http://www.blufftontoday.com/). Totaly free for all 15,000 inhabitants. Their paper and website are linked together in 100%, however the whole website is organised like a blog. Great local stories provided by both journalists and readers. They are owned by Morris Communications. I have found their presentation at one of the last events of Newspaper Association of America; it was really inspiring.

I understand they are both tiny local newspapers, much smaller than all the others you nominated, a kind of papers that are rarely visible at large international newspaper conferences like WAN’s one. But on the other hand they are the most Web 2.0 newspapers I know in the world, much more newspaper-like products than exaggerated OhMyNews and maybe they can become even a sort of a model for Newspapers 2.0?

As you always says, it is about innovation, isn’t it?

Even if you don’t decide to name them *Newspapers of the Year*, maybe they show interesting examples in the industry for your annual report.”

Thanks for your suggestions!



USA NEWSPAPERS: WHO READS WHAT AND WHY

Files under General | Nov 29th

Romenesko is asking about the 10 best USA newspapers and a reader sends this classic and funny list:

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by people who run the country.

2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.

4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don’t really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.

5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn’t mind running the country—if they could find the time, and if they didn’t have to leave Southern California to do it.

6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job, thank you very much.

7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren’t too sure who’s running the country and don’t really care as long as they can get a seat on the subway.

8. The New York Post is read by people who don’t care who is running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

9. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.

10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren’t sure there is a country, or if anyone is running it; but, if so, they oppose all they stand for.



UK PRESS GAZETTE

Files under General | Nov 28th

A comment in The Guardian blog about the death of the UK Press Gazette:

“Sad to see it go, but it was a poor product.”



TV ADS? BYE-BYE BABY!

Files under General | Nov 27th

Merck plans to cut back on television ads in favor of more targeted media such as online internet communities.

The news came today from the Financial Times, and newspapers can learn the lesson.

Our advertisers will demand more and more information about our audiences.

It is really astonishing that still in many European and American newspapers, the advertisers (well, advertising agencies and media buyers) don’t want to go to the special supplements…

Everybody wants to go to in to the main sections, and as forward as possible.

For this amazing (ir)rational you will see financial service ads in the main news section, as they refuse to go to the business section…

The consequence is that “main news sections” are crowed, with bad design, and become chaotic sections… that readers pay less and less attention… while advertisers struggle to be there.

Advertisers, advertising agencies and media buyers need to be told about the waste of money and be more rational, before companies like Merk say “bye-bye” not only to traditional media but also to traditional advertising practices.



NEWS FROM KIEV: LOOKING FOR INNOVATIONS IN NEWSPAPERS

Files under General | Nov 27th

I am in Kiev for just a few hours.

The World Association of Newspaper’s board of directors is meeting here for the first time.

INNOVATION has been invited again to prepare the 2007 INNOVATIONS IN NEWSPAPERS Global Report that will be presented a the World Newspaper Congress in Cape Town, next june.

We are looking for candidates to nominate “the newspaper of the year” and also to find new trends and innovation that deserve to be covered in our next report.

Do you have anyone in mind?

Please tell us.

INNOVATION will select, as always in the past, an innovative, independent, profitable newspaper that can be a model for best practices and successful business and editorial formulas…



UK PRESS GAZETTE INPRINT IS GONE, ONLINE IS ALIVE

Files under General | Nov 27th

The news came last Friday in the online version of the former voice of Fleet Street:

“Press Gazette’s editorial team would like to thank all of its readers over the past 41 years, and all of those who have given us support in the recent difficult weeks.

The magazine’s staff was informed tonight by managing director Simon Read that they were being made redundant with immediate effect.”

The rescue plan failed.

Nobody wanted to take over a publication that did not brake news anymore.

A publication that always was too soft.

As I said, I used to read it for many years until I went once to the old office.

I was amazed by the chaos of the place.

Since then I stopped my subscription.

It was not worth.

It was dead before last Friday.

Like the old Fleet Street