Newspapers, TV and the Net – Its Convergence Time

its interesting to me that the organizations that should be combining as quickly as they can aren’t.

What are the strongest news brands in this country ? Rupert Murdoch would tell you that the Wall Street Journal is at or near the top. You can put the New York Times,Washington Post and others up there as well.. You could probably put Time and Newsweek on the list as well. All are print.

For years the TV networks have spent billions on promotion, people and production to try to create a definable and sustainable brand that drives viewership. In the internet era, it hasn’t worked as choice has significantly diluted their audiences.

Cable News Networks have tried to expand the market for news consumption, but really haven’t grown beyond niche audiences, with 2mm viewers for any given program being a huge hit.

What I find interesting is how duplicative all their efforts are. Each of the above has a signifcant news departments with reporters out in the field looking to break stories or do a better job of reporting than their competitors, regardless of medium.

Riddle me this Batman: Rupert Murdoch has figured out that Print and TV can be combined to be a vertical news organization and is willing to pay 5 billion dollars to do it. Why has no one else realized the value of combining big news brands and organizations ?

Why isn’t a CBS News merging their news department with a NY Times and rebranding itself as the 6pm NY Times News ? Or with Time Magazine News ? Or NBC News and ???

I recognize the arrogance factor. That each wants to be the defacto source of news in this country and lever what little editorial power they still have left (Does anyone other than the people who write editorials or are written about really read the editorials in newspapers these days ?). But its time to realize that drastic change is necessary and that ego needs to be put aside.

Put simply, a NY Times reporter with a camera crew can reach every medium available today. Right now any video that reporter captures is relegated to the net. Instead, that resource could be available to a network news department , the net, heck, even as part of a DVD series or to theaters as part of a weekly series. We would show it at Landmark Theaters.

News should be available to its customers in the medium that its customers demand, and in those customers don’t even know they want yet. I know there has been many a time when i have read a Times story thinking that it would be interesting to see video to support the story. Why not ?

This post is a long way of saying that I think news is a unique opportunity still. But what is happening is that everyone is cutting back individual news operations rather than partnering to ramp up. Consumers dont need more brands, they need more indepth reporting of more stories.

Its time for convergence of mediums. The NY TImes 6pm News on CBS makes a lot more sense to me that teleprompter reading by talking heads with nice legs. As Dan Rather often says, its time for news “with Guts”

While on the topic of news, 2 quick thoughts:

1. One of the biggest all time product branding blunders in any business is newspaper columnists and reporters calling what they write on the web a blog. When you have a reporter in the field offering online updates and you call it a blog, you define them as peers of the many unwashed masses who post on a blog, myself included. Suzy and Don on myspace have a blog, and so does your intrepid reporter. Its not too late to come up with a name to brand what professionals call their timely infield updates. Its the only way you are going to differentiate your news organization from user generated content.

2. I was trying to remember the last time I heard a question from a sports reporter before or after a game or event when i thought to myself “What a great question”. Why ?

51 thoughts on “Newspapers, TV and the Net – Its Convergence Time

  1. Excellent site and I am really pleased to see you have what I am actually looking for here: this .. as it’s taken me literally 1 hours and 51 minutes of searching the web to find you (just kidding!) so I shall be pleased to become a regular visitor 🙂

    Comment by foofFlopsysag -

  2. Where the local markets allows it like Murdoch and DJ + Fox Business channel this will make a great deal of sense.

    And we will see some newspapers go fully digital as collateral damamge to this change.

    Comment by Jason Kemp -

  3. Mark,
    Part of the reason is antiquated law. It\’s illegal for a single entity to own a newspaper and TV station in the same market. What about WFAA and DMN you say? Both owned by Belo? That was grandfathered in. Belo is one of the oldest media conglomerates in the country. This is one of, if not the only market in the country where you will find this.

    Now, that\’s not to say that a cable media mogul couldn\’t buy Newsweek or Time magazine. But as far as newspapers and TVs go, Uncle Sam didn\’t want one company controlling all of the news and information in a single community/region.

    Is it antiquated? Sort of, but probably not completely. We complain about the media enough. In todays word of corporate consolidation can you imagine if CNN or Fox controlled 80% of the countries news and information? Reform might be needed to keep up with the times, but abolishing the rules is a risky proposition. Some LIGHT regulation is arguably needed.

    Keep pushin the limits!

    Comment by Brad -

  4. ubei sebya ap stenu

    Comment by offtar -

  5. Oh! but Is it the think that you know earlier??

    Comment by Christopher -

  6. You\’d put Time at the top of the list? Really?

    Totally agree about the need for a name other than \”blog\”. Some news organizations are trying to take on more of a grassroots feel. It\’s an odd way to go, though – those organizations are giving up their main differentiation from all the other stories I could read. If Brokaw is just blogging, it sounds like he\’s doing no more research than John Doe.

    Comment by Matt Dooley -

  7. so exciting it is,i love it very much

    Comment by wow power leveling -

  8. To the final two comments in this post:

    1. Newspaper columnists/reports with \”blogs\” on newspaper websites — Man, do I agree. It doesn\’t even qualify as a \”pet\” peeve for me — it\’s a \”full-on\” peeve. Generally, it\’s the same boring \”my thoughts\” column that runs in the newspaper every day — yet it\’s branded as a \”blog\” because newspaper websites are playing catch-up and think that users will read it if it\’s called a blog.

    2. Good questions from sports media to athletes — I don\’t think we hear many for a couple reasons:
    a) local/national sports media talent wants to be liked by the athlete, perhaps out of a fantasy of being the athlete\’s local \”regular Joe (or Jane)\” buddy when around-the-way
    b) while the athlete-turned-sportscaster is nothing new, again I think that former athletes hated when media asked them tough questions. And now they want their former teammates/opponents to feel at ease when being \”interviewed\” so it\’s always an easy \”get.\”

    Comment by Patrick -

  9. Most sports reporters don\’t even ask questions because they\’re only interested in a quote to fit their story, instead of an answer that might lead to a different story. Thus, most \”questions\” are now along the lines of \”Talk about how this.\”

    Might argue the web has made this worse as everyone feels pressure to file immediately, but it\’s a poor excuse.

    Comment by jason becking -

  10. Very interesting article, Mark. With respect to the net, Convergence is akin to searching for the Holy Grail. I don\’t believe its power is understood as it should be. I\’ve spent 10 years evangelizing on that concept and we\’re just now beginning to make some headway with Corporate America. It\’s finally catching on.

    For example, the main challenge today facing ALL organizations worldwide is how to respond or adapt to changes taking place in the global marketplace due to the Virtualization of the Workspace and the Virtualization of the Workforce.

    Although great strides have been made by IT with respect to Virtualization of the Workspace through the use of the latest web technologies, virtual collaboration toools, social networks and a host of web-based CMS (content management systems), sales force automation tools, sophisticated financial modeling tools, instant messaging etc., very little progress has been made in the area of Virtualization of the Workforce.

    Besides token effort in the areas of telecommuting, virtual employment in certain fields, and virtual collaboration by some remote teams or among globally dispersed members, there remains a HUGE VOID that needs to be filled with respect to Virtualization of the Workforce.

    Once that void is filled and we approach a state of equilibrium, a VIRTUALIZATION CONVERGENCE will take place and create a virtual synergy that will transform [whichever company] that understands its importance into a Virtual Economic Powerhouse (VEP).

    That applies to any company in any industry and the bigger the company the better.

    Pierre Coupet
    CEO & Chief Virtual Organization
    Management Consultant

    Comment by Pierre Coupet -

    *********Public Emergency Broadcast*********
    This is a Public Emergency Broadcast to Awaken the people of America. This isn\’t about money and that is why you WILL NOT hear about this In the \’Main Stream Corporate Media\’.

    We are ALL in Grave and Immediate Danger.

    Go to: WakingMinds . Org

    and pass it on.

    Comment by Concerned Citizens Of America -

  12. The biggest reason why other groups are not doing more convergence is simple: FCC rules prohibit it.

    Companies like NewsCorp that own local TV stations can not also own newspapers. There are only a handful of places where owners of local TV station owners also owned newspapers before the rules were put in place in the 1970s — Tampa is one place where Richmond-based Media General owns both WFLA Channel 8 and the Tampa Tribune. Media General has been pushing convergence quite hard for some time now.

    NewsCorp can buy DowJones because it doesn\’t own a local TV affiliate in New York City. But many of the other large media companies can\’t do that.

    Finally, the FCC is currently reviewing its rules in what many anticipate will be a loosening, allowing cross-ownership under certain circumstances (larger, metropolitan areas).

    Comment by Jim Johnson -

  13. Your comment on news reporters not branding themselves is absolutely correct. People are creatures of habit and naturally gravitate to just a few sources of the vital information they need on a day to day basis. Its about building a relationship of trust even trusting that your source will say I dont know when they dont and building trust follows the same rules from time immemorial. After the Web 2.0 honeymoon were reaching the stage when folks are realizing that a lot of supposedly vital information out there is wrong, and maybe even the blog writer didnt intentionally set out to mislead folks. This is an extremely dangerous trend. Its one of the reasons public broadcasting had to be regulated. Now I am careful in my choice of what blogs to read. You, Mark, think a lot about the issues you speak about and youre fairly serious about working on your blog so its a source of useful information. However a lot of people simply dont have the time to run consistent blogs because they have day jobs and quality quickly suffers. But we still want that small set of reliable sources so building up brands around good reporters online will help users find them. The big newspapers like Nytimes etc have already done their due diligence on their reporters. Sure you have the occasional misreporting incident but for the most part those reporters are great batters who are where they are for a good reason and folks will recognize their value sooner if given the right direction.

    In general, though, things will just evolve the proper way. If the current big news agencies dont do the right thing, someone else will step in the marketplace and get it right either deliberately or by accident. This is how CNN became so big, although I believe Ted Turner chose news simply because he wanted a big cable channel focused on one area and many of the other areas like Sports were already taken up. As a software entrepreneur it took me a very long time to set my company on developing an Internet product. I dont like entering something unless I have a fairly good shot at creating a new standard, so my companys activities have been and still are elsewhere. I still kept thinking about the Internet and became convinced that actually we are still at the very beginning of exploiting this technology. Way in the beginning. Luckily, thinking about it constantly for many years helped me get a clear glimpse of where it may be heading so I have now committed resources to develop a brand new Internet product/service. As an equity investor I would stay away from Internet related stocks because a casual purchase is just way too risky, but as a technology entrepreneur with a deep understanding of the technologies, investing in an Internet business over the next several decades or so as an owner makes perfect sense. The internet will continue to generate amazing inspiration and real value to people for ages to come. It is truly an abundant source as described in Chris Andersons book on the Long Tail.

    Comment by Stephen -

  14. Per your item #2, regarding Sports reporter\’s questions… answer your question by asking, When was the last time you heard an answer from an athlete being interviewed that made you stop and think, \”What a great answer…\”.

    Comment by Alexis Wallrich -

  15. One cannot deny the business saavy of good ole Rupert in terms of the Myspace purchase…

    I am still in shock Google rolled up with a $900 million buy in just to become the search engine. Makes the $560 mills spent seem cheap.

    Comment by Chadwick -

  16. Did you hear about Donald Trump this weekend. He trashed back. Yikes!

    Comment by E -

  17. Newspapers and TV have grown complacent as a result of their near monopoly in their own geographic kingdoms, whether there is one or multiple vendors.
    The internet, which received daily coverage from these mediums, has simply blindsided traditional media. Up until recently the editors, publishers and owners have been caught up in their own form of denial. It appears that they are starting to come out from under the ether and utilize a combination of resources to remake themselves.

    Comment by Jack Merr -

  18. Hey, Mark, just wanna say that I really love your blog!
    Great content!

    Comment by Marcelo -

  19. Call me nuts..but the Internet is about to tip the distribution of news. I already subscribe to only the writers I respect, regardless of source and stay tuned to keywords I care about. The 2008 election will be the tipping point for the majority of Americans….tools that take advantage of personalized, dynamic RSS will be the engine to distribute news to phones, computers, TV\’s, iPods, etc.

    Comment by David Armstrong -

  20. Question: Ethically, do you think it becomes an issue when a few media conglomerates own all of the major news outlets? Does more combining complicate that issue?

    Ah, before I posted, saw the very first comment tackles that:

    1. While I agree it make sense (and cents) to integrate our various news medium vertically, it is likewise a scary though. The last thing we need is a smaller number of people controlling a larger percentage of our news. The current bias in news reporting renders it almost useless as it is.

    How do we keep the guts in the news with guts after the boardroom takes over? News has the same troubles as all mediums now, and unfortunately news has somehow gotten lost amidst trying to compete with celebrity goss shows and otherwise. Infotainment theyre calling it, right?

    What it comes down to is we need a driving change in mindset around this country. Otherwise? Its all just more of the same circle.

    Its possible for media, sports, the arts, advertisers to lead that change, but its going take a focused plan and an upfront, calculated risk to do so.

    Tell me, who is going to do that when its much cheaper and easier to go with the status quo?


    Comment by jm -

  21. Mark, great insight as usual. What these newspapers and TV news departments, and BTW, even online bloggers sometimes, don\’t seem to realize is that their perception of what business they are in is outdated. Newspapers are not in the news paper business, nor TV news departments in the TV news hour business. They are all in the business of delivering ads and news simultaneously to viewers [print viewers, TV viewers, Web page viewers,…].
    Once they realize that their real competition has just gotten way bigger that they had understood [Rupert Murdoch as usual is ahead of the crowd here], consolidation is a natural thing to occur. Pride and belief in tradition [as one of the commenters pointed out] will retard this process, but in the end economics will ensure it.

    As to the number of independent viewpoints consolidating to a few \”mega\” companies, I am skeptical about this fear (1) instant publishing and blogging will ensure that independent viewpoints will always be heard and seen, and keep bigger news sources honest (2) Many newspaper articles are from AP or Reuters [or rehashes of them] anyway.

    Here\’s another thought for how to improve newspapers: I wanted to get the San Jose Mercury News WITHOUT the Sunday edition, and was even willing to pay more, but they wouldn\’t sell it that way. I also did not want some sections of the newspaper [travel, religion, art] but again no deal, even thgouh each section was really a separate physical unit. I could get weekends only, or the whole week. Wouldn\’t custom bundles work better? This is another example of newspapers being behind the times, in this age of mass customization and 1-on-1 marketing.

    Comment by Jeyendran Balakrishnan -

  22. I agree with the value of combining newspapers and TV. I mostly read news online. Local Tv content is not that well presented online. I do watch some local content besides movies on my 46 inch HDTV. Often since I am a paraglider and interested in local weather , all I watch on TV is the local weather forecast( better than info in newpapers). However for soaring aviation and paragliding , I can get more detailed info on the internet. The more niche the content the better the internet appears to provide specialized news. I would like a best of breed news application that feeds my computer, my TV, my smartphone and last a printed newpaperversion.

    I can zero in on the news I am most interested in more quickly on computer and newspaper or DVR news on TV and fast forward to part I want to watch. Comcast in Seattle also has news on demand.

    It seems that weather channel has figured out how to create extend TV online with additional layers and choise for infromation.

    A best of breed approach appeals to me for my news consumption. Often after reading news online, TV and newspaper are not \”news\” to me..

    Comment by John Clifford -

  23. In regards to the interview questions presented to athletes and coaches, most of the time the interviewee doesn\’t answer the question they are asked in the first place because they are too busy trying to give bland answers full of sport cliches that we have all heard a million times. In some cases when that is not seen, then the interviewee is either trying to deny the facts of the game or push their own personal agenda.

    So in these cases if I were a reporter, I wouldn\’t bother putting any effort into preparing out of the box or specialized quesions because it won\’t get answered anyway.

    For the few personalities that have personality and opinions, when they choose to present it during interviews – they are constantly critized by the media and/or become an hour worth of dialogue on sport radio/tv. They also risk fines, lawsuits, demoralization, and tons of public scrutiny. So in this case – I would probably become another boring shell of an athlete and avoid answering interview questions, creating a vicious circle of pointless sport coverage.

    Comment by Diane -

  24. Hmm. As a employee of the incredible shrinking multimedia Tribune empire, I only wish what you say were true. I don\’t disagree with your premise, but I think the results seen in the marketplace suggest that neither we nor anyone else has figured out how to find many real synergies. Not only are the capabilities of the various forms of media different, the audiences\’ demands are different, and the institutional histories are different.
    BTW, we label blogs \”blogs\” as a not-terribly-effective means to segment opinion-ish stuff (what\’s in many of the blogs) from news. I\’d agree that you could do a blog without injecting opinion, and if you did, there wouldn\’t be any reason to differentiate it from other stuff on the site.

    Comment by Jon Healey -

  25. esefs

    Comment by jake -

  26. I don\’t know that Murdoch is really trying to fuse together print and TV as much as he\’s looking for a lifeboat to jump into as the web (and DVRs) nail both. Also, your idea for dual branding sounds interesting on the surface, but I tend to agree with Al Ries when he cites the problems with such a strategy in this article:

    Finally, regarding your \”great question\” point… Come on! I tend to think you\’re more like Bobby Knight when it comes to the media. In hindsight, can you honestly think of any questions you *wish* a reporter would have asked you, especially those you would have deemed \”good questions\”?!

    Comment by Joe Wikert -

  27. Bloomberg – awesome internet/field reporting, awesome tv reporting.

    ESPN – awesome tv, awesome internet, could be awesome print if they did a daily instead of weekly.

    It\’s being done, but not in \”general\” news. Has to be a specific subject in order to be a \”must see\” station or website; if general and not specific, your smattering of all-encompassing headline subject matter is just as easily gathered at a multitude of news aggregation sites.

    Comment by worth -

  28. #2 – I think the main reason you don\’t have that \”wow\” factor with sports reporting is due to the nature of sports writers themselves. In my experience you have a lot of writers who do not want to go out of the box to ask a more technical or possibly sensational question so they do not fell any repercussion if the question is not answered well. If you ask something tough, you have the chance that the athlete/coach will turn on you and become hostile or not answer your questions in the future. Or conversely, the question is answered and the audience does not understand question or answer…so why bother possibly sticking out and failing when you can lob softball after softball and become the \”friend\” of an athlete or coach.

    Comment by Scott -

  29. Nice points. i Think that the polarization in the USA is partly b/c of the major news media badgering readers into what is news and why the the public needs to listen. A horizontal purchase approach would accelerate this technique using the \”real\” news sources as the brand. Persoanlly i cannot stomach CNN or FOX news, too graphic, too flashy, too polarized. The nytimes is an English newspaper i enjoy reading however, and even to the point where i go to the slow churning site over major – cable networks online. Think about it, why would a cable service necessarily have a better on-line site? Cable news… stinks. SO i agree on convergence, but i also feel it is happening faster than most realize, i for one no longer watch tv unless its sports or movies. I think that the internet is much more exciting and balance of that and print are where most people want to be. Even that will change however and of course all three will \”converge.\” sooner than we all expect.

    Comment by Americo -

  30. When is the last time you heard a reporter of any kind ask a \”great\” question?

    Comment by David -

  31. Mark,
    You never hear great questions from sports reporters because they are fat and lazy. You\’ve given them a free meal and a ticket to the game. They don\’t want to get kicked off the gravy train since the last thing a newspaper\’s budget holds is season tickets. I used to cover minor league hockey for a FaxOnDemand magazine (the dirt track of the information super highway). Most of the real newspaper people just wanted to write their six inches of copy and get home.

    Now why do we need more than one reporter covering a story? Because there\’s a lot of lame reporters who can\’t get the real facts. Imagine how great CBS news would have been if Jayson Blair had been their NYTimes on the spot? He would have been standing in front of a blue screen from his neighborhood bar like a Daily Show correspondent. Look at how many people run AP wire reports with bogus details and nobody corrects them.

    At least FoxNews has taught us one thing – that people don\’t care so much about the news as much listening to commentators shout about the news. They don\’t care to actually read the reports ahead of the teleprompter to know what they\’re saying. Neil Cavuto read a piece about cutbacks at MTV Networks and made a comment about how poorly the music video channel has been doing. But the cutbacks hit more than MTV. It hit Spike, Nick and other MTV Network channels. But that detail meant zilch to him.

    I still wait for a sportswriter to respond to a coach\’s answer with \”Are you sh___ing me?\”

    Comment by Joe Corey -

  32. Careful, Mark – advocating a further consolidation of opinion – especially in this country – is a very dangerous move (by you in particular).

    We already have a glut of \”lazy journalists\” that a) don\’t leave the Green Zone, and take the Pentagon\’s word for it, b) copy Stephen A. Smith\’s take on anything east of the Mississippi, or c) follow the Rove/Snow direction for the \”news\” of the day.

    I agree with you that we need a more integrated news-delivery service (broadcast + print + online). I disagree that the number of providers of this service should be reduced.

    We already have hyper-consolidated entertainment/news industry: we the consumer are already devoid of contrarian thought. You know this: you started and HDNet.

    The bigger question is: how do we lower the entry costs of print and broadcast, so that those gaining traction online can more easily expand their reach?

    Or will this simply work itself out evenutally anyway, especially in light of the online religion taking hold amongst the media execs?


    Comment by Michael -

  33. The phrase \”he has a face for radio\” comes to mind. Likewise, there are plenty of super thoughtful writers that have terrible voices. When you think of news mainly as entertainment, each medium will have different stars. So I don\’t buy integration for cost savings. Perhaps to create a new value and interesting brand synergies, but not to wipe out overlap.

    Comment by Brad Hutchings -

  34. Why are blogs a \”threat\” in the first place? If there is a blog in a given local region that is pulling in a lot of readers why doesn\’t the local newspaper buy it out or offer the blogger a job? It seems like this is a great way to find good journalistic talent.

    Comment by David L -

  35. \”When you innovate, you\’ve got to be prepared for everyone telling you you\’re nuts.\”

    Comment by KindAndThoughtful -

  36. WI agree with what you\’re saying Mark, but do the pols in Washington? Rumor has it that once Sam Zell completes his purchase of the Tribune, he may have to spin off WGN as whatever special dispensation the bureaucrats extended to the Tribune may not continue to its new owner?

    I remember when Rupert Murdoch was forced to sell the Boston Herald over a decade ago, with Ted Kennedy berating Murdoch all along the way. The Herald hasn\’t been the same since.

    When businesses look at what they do from the perspective of what the consumer wants, these convergences will come to the surface… with news, music, et. al.


    Comment by Mike Maddaloni -

  37. Why brand professional blogs as something different at all. Why not simply call online reports Online Reports. I have the same expectations from a reporter if the story comes in the form of television report, newspaper article, or online update. So why differentiate a blog as something different and separate from a news organizations other content?

    Most news websites adhere to the strict standards of The Associated Press Stylebook (see newspaper style). Blogs are more informal and often take a conversational tone so it is obvious why print news wants to differentiate a reporters blog from a traditional story. Television news already strives toward conversational writing but still requires web reports to resemble the long-in-the-tooth print model.

    There is a staff of web editors at most television stations who rewrite television copy for the web because the actual reporter who reported the story doesnt have the time or has not been trained on how to post to the web. Who knows the details of a story better than the reporter who went and got the story?

    Does the online audience care about such distinctions? If a reporter is giving me a timely update on a developing story, do I really care if it meets a strict formula? Tell me what is new and link back to the original story if necessary.

    The Associated Press Stylebook is considered the Journalists Bible but has it changed with nature of the Internet? (I know, Blasphemy!) Blog writing is different from AP style because it utilizes the interactive and immediate nature of the web.

    Online reporting is a new medium and will continue to develop its own distinct set of conventions over time. Until then, television producers and newspaper editors will call it blogging because they think of it as different from what they do.

    Comment by Kyle Majors -

  38. Newspapers should play to their strengths and go hyper-local to compete. Provide the best classified advertising rates, and make it easy to place and monitor ads online.

    Local newspapers should be THE source for local search results…which I believe is The Next Big Thing in search. Take a look at as an example of how to do local search right.

    For more details see my blog

    Comment by Don Dodge -

  39. \”What I find interesting is how duplicative all their efforts are. Each of the above has a signifcant news departments with reporters out in the field looking to break stories or do a better job of reporting than their competitors, regardless of medium.\”

    Bzzzt… wrong. Each of the above has a bunch of \”journalists\” who reprint press releases and other bits that are spoon-fed to them. Some have actual reporters that go out and get stories, delve for truth, etc., but at the end of the journalistic Alimentary Canal that most of us live at any actual reporting seems to happen by mistake.

    What all of the above have in common are that they are in the content business and finding someone who can dig up a story and present it in a manner that\’s not as dry as the eyes in the courtroom at Paris Hilton\’s last sentencing are the two things that content companies hate: difficult and expensive. So we wind up with cheap filler – lazy retards that parrot each other and add their own \”analysis\” (the first two syllables being the operative part of that word) – a bunch of left-wing or right-wing flamebait to juice the content up a bit. Then, rather than actually discussing the event or information being reported on, the ongoing discussion is on the reportage itself, not what was being reported. I mean, how the hell else are you going to fill a newspaper or a cable news channel? You think that much real news actually happens in a day? I mean, news that the room-temperature-IQ \”reporters\” and Joe Bubba Jim Bob six-pack-of-beer (or Earth Moon Sunshine Peace six-pack-of-tofu) can actually 1) give a crap about, and 2) understand? Hell no. Much better to borrow from the good old Morton Downey Jr. school, but with military analysts and think tank geeks instead of pregnant trailer trash.

    Want to make money in the news biz? You can either jump into that fray and join the race to the bottom (although I must confess I\’d probably watch a show that involves Bill O\’Reilly and Keith Obermann deciding issues by kicking each other in the balls over and over again), or you could create a news dead-tree / boob-tube / Web 2.0 hybrid that reports \”just the facts ma\’am\” and lets those of us who occasionally exercise our brain cells between bar tabs work things out for ourselves. I know we\’re not the biggest market or anything, but I hope (for the sake of humanity) there\’s enough of us to make it worth pursuing.

    Comment by Erik Carlseen -

  40. Newspapers as TV producers…aren\’t most newspapers now just a random collection of wire stories, a few ghostwritten \’celebrity\’ columns, a handful of pseudo politicos trying to gain influence and a tonne of advertising supplements?

    I don\’t think it\’ll work for TV 😉

    What has CNN got to gain from working with the NY Times? I\’d argue both are held in the same regard by the general public.

    Rupert Murdoch is a genius, he\’ll launch a WSJ orientated financial network and it\’ll be a success. He\’s got the scale and the financial niche is one of the best in TV, consistantly selling out the ad inventory.

    NY Times? No brand value for CNN, nothing to gain.

    Comment by Adam -

  41. Why don\’t you encourage your NBA players to blog?

    A \”blog\” isn\’t some special category of writing!

    You don\’t have to BE someone or PORTRAY somesort of style with you writing!

    Anyone can blog: Executives do time sheets, Teachers deliver class assignments, anchors do segments, journalists write articles, pro atheletes answer questions after the game.

    A blog is merely simply an individual expression/documentation of content.

    A feed is a string of blog entries.

    A channel is a niche menu of searchable feeds to choose from and feature on your personal page.

    A personal page is a representation of who a person is and a viewing point for all of their preferred feeds of interest.

    A portal is a collection of peoples personal pages who connect because of a particular niche

    Caller id, SSN, Email Adress, Myspace ID ## is a reference point colleagues use to connect with each other within a portal.

    A front door is a menu of portals and/or channels of all niche interests.

    Its much more than just owning the consumption points or \”hardware\” (print distribution business, movie theatre chains, flat panel television sales, tablet pc manufacturer, cell phone, highway billboards, etc..) you have to own the contribution/authoring/assembly mechinism as well!

    If you encourage your players to blog (video or text) freely without lesser regard to corporate concequence, then you have access to an additional set of valuable DRAMATIC content.

    I could understand a \”NO\” in a private corporation but your team is publically featured in the mainstream media anyways.

    Why not capitalize on the \”feelings\” they are sharing with that mainstream media anyways?

    Broker your own ad relationship around it instead of dishing that $content$ out to the Newspaper guys?

    Maybe the point you were trying to making about Journalism and blogging is that we don\’t need journalists to ask questions in order to portray the same information in a blog posting – you could just have the players post it up themselves

    All they\’re answering after the game anyways is \”what did you think of the game\”.

    It would influence the \”HDTV idea\” I shared in the comment below earlier.

    Comment by Ben McFerren -

  42. Call real journalism blogs \”Progs\” – for Professional Blogs. It has the added advantage of being short for \”programs\” 🙂

    Comment by Rob La Gesse -

  43. personally, I have not watched the evening news in at least 5 years. I get about 90% of my news from the net occasionally I read the wall street journal. I agree the journal is the better paper but it doesn\’t feature the range of stories that the NYTimes does.

    Comment by superdave -

  44. Here\’s a question for you. With TV, radio and Newspaper ad rates dropping like a rock….whats the future of invenue advertising rates…there was a time when big corps paid millions to be instadiums but now that it can be measured the rates can longer be justifed….where will the money come from in the future?

    Comment by JBVick -

  45. The NYTimes may be sold nationally, but it\’s still no better than the 4rd place newspaper in most markets, behind the local daily, behind USA Today, and behind another New York newspaper, the Wall Street Journal.

    In the great flyover – which IS most of this country – viewers would automatically choose \”World News Tonight\” over the \”New York Times News\”. There\’s already more coverage on national news when a fly burps in New York, Washington, Atlanta or Los Angeles than when 42 people flap their arms and fly over a barn in Billings, Montana.

    We even have Rudy Guliani running for President, although nobody in the heartland can figure out why. His appeal seems to derive from 9/11, but he didn\’t do anything before 9/11 to prevent it, nor anything after 9/11 to fix it. Ron Paul gets it, but Rudy can\’t even be bothered to read a report to find out what happened.

    It would be reasonable to use the \”USA Today\” brand on television news, I suppose, were USA Today to acquire a reputation for breaking news. I don\’t mean to insult USA Today. It does a nice job at what it does, which happens to be highly readable feature stories. It\’s simply not attempting to provide the same content as the evening news telecasts.

    Comment by Paul Ding -

  46. will never happen. compnies that size, and deals of that significance, there are too many people to get in the way. everyone looking out for themselves, and their jobs. everyone will want credit AND control of the entire deal. they\’d rather die on their own than live together.

    Comment by Clark G -

  47. In response to your:

    \”#2. I was trying to remember the last time I heard a question from a sports reporter before or after a game or event when i thought to myself \”What a great question\”. Why ?\”

    One could also ask when was the last time a sports figure being interviewed actually gave an answer which one could say was \”A great answer\”. I know, it is the chicken and egg scenerio, ask a great question and ye shall get a great answer. But then again, would it kill some to expand on an answer, to take a simple question and give it a terrific and honest answer? There are not that many Q and A sessions which are out of left field, less so during the play-offs as the coach or player will be all over the reporter asking the question. The reporter than is unable to get the inches of content needed to fill the space between the adverts in the next days newspaper.

    I saw you on The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch a while back, up until then I knew nothing of you as I was living in Japan for the last decade or so. All I did know was that you freaked out often enough and seemed to enjoy donating to the NBA BadBoy Fund. ESPN makes you known everywhere, sports really does glue of our world together. The answers and questions on The Big Idea were show-stopping, in the sense you were being honest, more than honest, to a point I felt there was no way Donald Trump would ever let us the viewer inside for a real look at the person. Not that I give a toss about DT, never have, never will. DT does not let us care, we only care about the less protected person, a human if you will. DT has a wall so thick and so high, we feel the journey is way too much aggro for too little pay-off. I said to my wife \”Look at this guy (Cuban), he is being so honest and has no fear of being wrong. I like him. There is no way Trump would ever be this way\”. Thanks for the interview, thanks for being yourself and thanks for caring.

    Cheers, Steve

    Comment by Steve -

  48. Mark, Thought provoking ideas as usual. Interesting that today the San Francisco Chronicle says they are laying off 25% of thir newsroom staff. The San Jose Mercury News staff is less than half what it was 5 years ago. The newspapers are getting killed because they have failed to adapt.

    The AOL/Time Warner merger was supposed to take advantage of the synergies you are suggesting. Time Warner had it all…raido, TV, Newspapers, magazines, books,, movies, music…everything. Combining all of this with AOL, the king of the online world at the time, was supposed to create amazing synergies. It didn\’t happen.

    The San Francisco Chronicle (newspaper) has to cross promote and utilize content. KRON TV and Radio has also tied together content and promotion.

    I think you are absolutley right. There is synergy…but the existing management teams have looked for it in all the wrong places. They have failed. It would take out of the box thinking to really make it work. Something you are very good at.

    Even conventional thinking management could at least take advantage of cost savings available through mergers. It seems like there is a lot of duplication and overhead that could be sqeezed out in a roll up of news organizations.

    Rupert Murdoch is the best in the business. It would be wise to watch very closely what he does. He has built Fox News and Fox Interactive into powerhouses, and bought MySpace before anyone else figured it out. Pretty smart guy.

    Comment by Don Dodge -

  49. I think the model in academia for this is the Tampa Tribune, and whatever their tv station is. It\’s been a few years since i was studying this in grad school, and I\’m not in the field anymore, so I don\’t know if it\’s \”working\” or not.

    Being a big sports fan, I go back to sports on this subject. Whenever I think of convergence, it reminds me of ESPN\’s Cold Pizza. I dunno if you ever watched it, but they spent a lot of time bringing in people from print media and putting them on camera to talk news. I spent a few years in television, and this tactic would make me sick. These newspaper people aren\’t trained to be on camera, and you can see their discomfort. They aren\’t good on camera, and you can see them react when the PAs tell them to smile; you can see them get flustered when they stumble over the prompter or their stories. I saw that they got rid of Cold Pizza, and renamed it FirstTake, but i dunno if it\’s the same show or not.

    I think news departments can be combined, but you\’ve still got to have those specialized people who are eye-appealing and trained to talk on camera.

    This is another deal where you have to wait for the \’old-guard\’ to get out of the game before things really start to change. It\’s bound to happen eventually.

    Comment by Scott Allen -

  50. For your questions 2, about the questions lobbed to coaches, players, etc, post game (and even pre-game) my assumption was that no tough or though-provoking questions are asked is because they are often the edgy comments, the ones that no one wants to answer for fear of saying something stupid.

    In sports, writers and reporters need access in order to provide information to its readers……so, if they ask questions that are tough to answer or could require a player or coach to break league rules or team \”rules\” (how reffing affects the game, why they weren\’t ready to play, if they agreed with play-calling, etc.) they won\’t get answered.

    And for the other spectrum of great questions, intricate strategy details, those don\’t fly with bosses because most of the readers/listeners have no idea what is being said, therefore it doesn\’t drum up any additional interest.

    Quite simply, great questions either won\’t get answered or aren\’t sellable. Therefore, sports reporting is dumbed down.

    Comment by David S -

  51. While I agree it make sense (and cents) to integrate our various news medium vertically, it is likewise a scary though. The last thing we need is a smaller number of people controlling a larger percentage of our news. The current bias in news reporting renders it almost useless as it is. Thank god those unwashed masses are out there (however ineptly) attmepting to fill in the blind spots.

    As to your comments at the end:

    1) To me, it seems news outlets go out of their way to present Blogs to the public. They frequently spotlight the fact they have blogs on their homepages, no doubt hoping to attract the younger demographic advertisers crave.

    2) I actually did a couple times this year in Mavs broadcasts, but I agree – the vast majority of question are bland, almoast literal rehashes of the same questions which have been asked repeatedly the last 25 years.

    The most obvious answer is: sporting events are extremely repetitive in nature so one would expect the accompanying questions to be repetitive, as well. A baseball game is a baseball game is a baseball game. A basketball game is a basketball game is a basketball game. The names and situations change but the game itself largely remains the same. Every game has winners and losers; heroes and goats. Imagine how difficult it is to formulate new questions every game for 82 games in a row for an NBA season – year after year. Now, extend that imagination to baseball and it\’s 160+ games a year; year after year.

    Finally, think about what happens if a reporter attempts to break out of the box on questions. First, the risk of asking a question deemed \”out of bounds\” by the scandal driven piranha-press increases exponentially. Second, if they ask a question the player thinks is too incisive, they risk that player\’s refusal to grant them interviews in the future.

    The combination of all these factors results in the bland mush we get game after game.

    Comment by Michael Brenner -

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