Thursday, December 15, 2011

Paywall Discussion

Here is a newspaper I used to work for, the News-Register in McMinnville, OR, going through the move to a paywall for online content. I was often concerned with the anxiousness to move content online at no cost when I worked there. Now, they are having to make this move.

The comments to the announcement are worth reading, with a good number of supportive readers.

They key here to me is this: The N-R serves a population of the Willamette Valley, primarily Yamhill County, that gets little news coverage elsewhere. If you want news in that area, you need the N-R. So, in the end, you have to pay for it.

Ferris J-Day Event

Some of my students produced a video about our High School Journalism Day event held Nov. 2, 2011. It was the first time for the event, partnering with the Big Rapids Pioneer, University Advancement & Marketing, Admissions, The Torch and the Journalism & Technical Professional Communication program. The event went well, with about 100 students and teachers attending from 11 schools.

The video is also posted on one of the student's blog: kronmultimedia.

Spread the word about this free event and plan to attend in fall of 2012 if you're a high school teacher or student in West Michigan!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My online newspaper

There are a few things I've been thinking about as I prepare to make a monumental shift from being a primarily print newspaper reader to an online news reader (I dropped the word newspaper because it just doesn't make sense in this application). I am also a Facebook user and frequent Amazon, among other sites. As I make this change, with the Kindle Fire my chosen new tool, I wonder:

- Will my online news providers allow me to personalize what I see?
- Will my online news providers learn what I like to read and move that to my "front page?"
- Will my online news providers be as responsive as Amazon and Facebook?
- Will my online news providers care what I think?

I'm worried that the same format I have struggled with while dabbling into online news with sites like MLive will continue to frustrate me. For example, when I clicked on Mlive today I found top articles about the Detroit Lions and letters to Santa. I don't want to read either of those stories. And I have no choice about what is right there screaming at me to read them.

I don't care about Detroit sports - or really any sports in Michigan. And I rarely care about any sports in the world ahead of real news. The only letters to Santa I care about come from my own children and I want to read them in private.

Will I be able to remove the "dumbed down" online content for news I really want? When the Grand Rapids Press changes to three-day-a-week delivery in February 2012, I expect more online for my subscription. If not, I'm going to be very tempted to move my loyalty elsewhere. It would be a monumental shift for me - I have been a loyal "local newspaper" reader since I was a teen-ager. Those papers have included the Vista Press, North County Times, Huron Daily Tribune, News-Register and Grand Rapids Press. I have loved them all.

Will I love what online news providers provide me? It really depends on whether or not they can prove to be as smart and relevant as those print papers have been all those years....

Friday, December 2, 2011

Are you under 25 and NOT interested in news?

When I ask my students if they are interested in news, many reply that they are not - even some that are pursuing careers like public relations and communications and (I'm sad to admit) even a few who see journalism in their futures.

As I continue the discussion throughout the semester, we often come to the conclusion that they are highly interested in news. When a tragedy occurred on campus this semester, many went straight to the Torch web site to find out what happened.

They are interested in news. They do want to know what's happening in the world. They really do care.

What has changed? Basically, there is not a single place for them to go for their news information. There are so many options in this internet-age that what I find is my students do not have a way to go about seeking their news.

They respond when they need to - and they know how to do that well. What many of them don't know how to do is keep up with important news on a daily basis.

I am highly skeptical when my students tell me they are not interested in news. Most often, I am successful at proving them wrong.