Friday, August 27, 2010

It's the weekend: Time to read

(via Flickr: jj_pappas423)
For your reading (and listening) pleasure this weekend:

"Americans Are Dumping Cable TV, but Execs Say Economics to Blame" (Advertising Age): This article caught my eye because of something I had read earlier from DigiDave, the twentysomething new-media thinker who says he favors online options like Hulu to a "giant box in the corner collecting dust." When you think about it, TV watching (cable or broadcast) is pretty passive -- accepting the programming someone else has determined will be shown at a particular point in time. TV execs apparently fear the revolution playing out in print media that has destroyed the business model as it has given voice to "the people formerly known as the audience." So they're creating new online video options, available through subscription, to stay relevant. Interesting statistic quoted: that just 42 percent of Americans see landline phones and TV sets as "essential," according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. And only 30 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds would agree.

"Newspapers Gone by 2022 Says Futurist" (The Australian): Ross Dawson, a speaker, author and futurist on business and technology, previewed for the newspaper the proclamation he promised to deliver in his closing talk at the Newspaper Publishers Association Future Forum conference in Sydney. (I haven't found a copy of the talk, but here's his blog with "pre-talk primer notes" or talking points.) The story is similar to the one here in the U.S.: Newspapers have been slow to adapt to the now-online world and will become more and more irrelevant unless they move quickly to digital and mobile platforms. An interesting prediction: "By 2020 entry-level devices to read the news will cost less than $10 and often be given away." Cool.

Time for a musical interlude.

"SEO Makes It Too Late for Truth for 'Ground Zero Mosque' " (Poynter Online): Here's a riddle for the Google-ized world: Once a concept has gained momentum online and the search engines are pumping, how do you remake the SEO (search engine optimization) if the concept itself has been debunked? As Kelly McBride, ethics group leader at The Poynter Institute, writes, you can't because Google won't let you. In the case of the Islamic center in Manhattan that raised a stir when news reports mischaracterized it as a mosque at the site of the fallen Twin Towers ("ground zero"), a story can set the record straight. "But what about ongoing coverage? Must you keep using the inaccurate term? Sadly, the answer is yes, according to people familiar with SEO practices," McBride says. "That's because accurate or not, people are searching for the term 'ground zero mosque.' So if you want to reach people who are looking for information, you have to use that term."

"In Battle of the Weeklies, Local Focus Is the Key" (The Bay Citizen): Jonathan Weber, editor in chief of San Francisco's media newcomer, The Bay Citizen, the nonprofit online operation started in May and backed by billionaire financier Warren Hellman, profiles one of the granddaddies in town -- the San Francisco Bay Guardian, an alternative weekly. It's a finely written profile of the alt-weekly's founder and publisher, Bruce Brugmann, a self-described "newspaper guy" who vows never to give up print -- even after 44 years. "We're a valuable resource, kind of irreplaceable," he tells Weber.

"The Economic Outlook and Monetary Policy" (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System): OK. Set this one aside for a time when you're wide awake. But with all the talk this week of a slowed recovery and a double-dip recession, you might as well get a bird's-eye view of things from Ben Bernanke himself. The Fed chairman, at the group's annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo., says that while financial conditions "are generally much improved " from a year ago, "growth ... has been too slow and joblessness remains too high." But while the economy is not out of the woods yet, the Fed continues to stand ready to do what it takes to guide the economy forward.

And if you want a look back at an event that signaled the start of everything unwinding, listen here to the NPR Morning Edition story on "How Wall Street Made the Mortgage Crisis Worse."

The report, a collaboration by NPR's Planet Money and the investigative nonprofit ProPublica, is in written form here.

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