Participatory Journalism: Star Tribune Newspaper Guild members are voting as we speak on whether to call for Publisher Par Ridder's resignation. Sounds like a move we'd see out of Europe. Maybe that's what American newsrooms begin to look like as they reporters and editors increasingly see their own owners as an adversary and not as a protector. Meanwhile a flock of attorneys filed their final arguments this week in the court case alleging Ridder's theft of Pioneer Press confidential data should force his termination from Star Tribune employ.
(Addendum: July 18. The Guild's vote is in. Two lonely no's on the question of calling for Par to resign, 110 in favor. Story here.)
Across the river, another 15 jobs are being cut in the Pioneer Press newsroom (Par Ridder's had the unenviable task of cutting employees at both papers in the same year!). That will bring the newsroom down to about 165 people. When I had the privilege of being managing editor of the paper in the mid-'90s, we had something approaching 225 FTEs to cover the news.
What the Newspaper Industry Can Learn from 7-Eleven: In today's New York Times piece by Andrew Adam Newman, new Blockbuster CEO James Keyes, late of 7-Eleven, offers some convenience store tips that sounds like a prescription for the newspaper industry:
Among his strategies: "tailoring the product line to each store, relying heavily on data and automation, and reducing the size of the retail footprint."
Sounds like customized vertical websites, hyperlocal, following the clickpath and using less newsprint and more pixels.
How about inviting Mr. Keyes to the next ( Editor and Publisher, NAA, SIIA) conference? I'd like to interview him.
What's the Difference Between the Music and News Industries?: All kinds of punchlines to that question. I liked Richard Siklos' description of the music industry and its rate of change and innovation in a recent column in the Times:
What is astonishing about the music industry, versus other forms of media, is the amount of entrepreneurial fervor it attracts at every level — from indie labels to Web and satellite radio to fan sites and consumer electronics giants and mobile phone operators. This partly explains why Universal has at least raised the possibility that iTunes and the iPod might not forever be the only game in town.
In a nutshell, that's one of the key answers to the news industry's dilemma. Passion, and unleashing it. What's been astonishing in the news industry over the last decade is how stodgy the response to change has been, and how much great energy has been lost, drummed out of the industry and forced to join tech companies that only have a glimmer of the value of news. What the industry needs is a new burst of fervor -- backed by some publisher and editorial veterans paired with a new generation that sees the world of opportunity to digital news.