Coyne v. Wells on the sorry, sorry state of the media: All the self-pity, and twice the denial!

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Coyne v. Wells on the sorry, sorry state of the media: All the self-pity, and twice the denial!

  1. I enjoyed that. I’m always happy to see journalists talk about the media.

    It’s too bad frank discussions about The National Post, newspapers and news media in general have had to wait for a crisis before they can be entertained.

    Why is that, exactly?

  2. That is so very interesting. It’s my opinion that the Media reached a *critical mass* and now it is *growing* but just not in the expected way. I think Andrew’s point that *new product* is needed, and that would be toward building a new snowball *effect*. To digress, I think on that when the Big Newspapers began to re-publish online every article they had ever published — well that was the point at which critical mass happened. The Print became a Literature. The Newscast a Play. The Audience fully participatory.

  3. Amazon is already doing newspapers and magazines ( some ) on Kindle ( 1&2 ) …… in the US.

  4. What do you think of Amazon’s Kindred as a platform for reading the newspaper?

    What’s up with this talk of paying for the news when it’s never been done before? Advertising–at least for as long as I can recall–has always paid for it.

    • Advertising is way down and probably not paying for much anymore.

    • I should confess I’m just generally a fan of direct payment over advertising in any event: It’s more stable as a source of revenue, and more importantly it creates a very direct relationship with your readers/viewers. Whereas with an advertising-based model, you’re not selling content to readers, but readers to advertisers.

      • Whereas with an advertising-based model, you’re not selling content to readers, but readers to advertisers.

        Gee, where I have heard that before?

          • That awful commie, Noam Chomsky. That’s where I heard it first, in any case.

            It’s been a problem with the business model for journalism since…well, as long as I can remember.

          • With Ti-guy it all begins and ends in the gospel according to Noam. The guru and oracle of the left.

            Well I guess we all have to believe in something or other.

            I just people were more….discriminating.

          • I buy the G&M daily just to find out if that towel wrapped guy has lost any more weight since dropping 17 pounds in 30 days.

            But, after three months of the same ad, I concluded he ballooned back up – well, certainly didn’t lose any more, or we’d have seen a new pic.

          • With Ti-guy it all begins and ends in the gospel according to Noam. The guru and oracle of the left.

            You’re an idiot. I’m always loath to mention Noam Chomsky just because this is exactly the kind of response it elicits. I *despair* that the World is full of Jarrids who have the baffling arrogance to be confident enough to dismiss, out of hand, something of which they are completely ignorant.

            I’m not a leftist, you moron.

          • Is it alright if I respect Noam for his contributions to computer science?

          • Sure. If you like. But …..

          • Is it alright if I respect Noam for his contributions to computer science?

            For those of you wondering what Andrew (not Potter or Coyne) is talking about: the Chomsky hierarchy.

          • I buy the G&M daily just to find out if that towel wrapped guy has lost any more weight since dropping 17 pounds in 30 days.

            For those of you wondering what I was talking about, nevermind.

          • Ti-Guy, he doesn’t say things like that out of ignorance, he says them out of fear.

  5. I like Andrew in more casual dress. Ditch the suits.

    • Me too. Very fetching.

      I’ll keep reading the comments. I’m sure I’ll have something intelligent to say eventually.

  6. By the way, the IPOD has NOT saved the music industry. If anything its slowed the decline. Buts the sum of micropayments there too doesn’t make up for lost album sales, as far as I can see.

    • bigcity, I’m not so sure of that. I was listening to the owner of Thrill Jockey Records on the radio the other day and she claimed that Independant record companies can definitely make a living off of their digital sales. What she was worried about was the decline of LP’s and CD’s, which in her opinion, is the superior product.

      • Make a living off of, sure. But I think the music biz is still getting smaller.

        And yeah, a digital file doesn’t have the same sound quality (esp. when you play it over a stereo and not headphones).

  7. Oh, la-de-da, I’m Andrew Coyne, I’m nonchalantly posing with a full bookshelf behind me!

    I say Wells should respond by, in the next edition, doing his segment with an interview of flattened old pizza boxes.

    • I actually arranged the books behind me for our first duelling weblog, but I got the webcam angle wrong and ruined the effect.

    • He had a beer going there didn’t he, what more do ya want? :)

      • Nah, I’m pretty sure that was a cola product. Probably of the diet nature.

  8. How much did Wells get for his diet coke product placement?

    Now there’s thinking creatively guys!!

    • Next week Andrew and I will do our chat from behind the wheels of matching brand-new Toyota Priuses. Prii?

      • That’s a horrible car. It isn’t even environmentally friendly. At least sell out for something that that either actually helps mother earth or is enjoyable to drive.

        • You got that right. Everyone loves a winner. They should each have a really hot car and or a couple of babes. Enough with the doom and gloom, i demand to be entertained. Poor Ac, at one pt there i thought he was going to throw himself out of the window.

          • Completely ignoring of course what exactly goes into its manufacture. Plus of course, if you are actually just using a car primarily for urban driving, you are better off with a smaller, lighter, more fuel efficient car than you are with a hybrid like a Prius if you care about km/litre.

      • I suppose Prii, ’cause they’re using it as a noun, but in Latin it’s an adverb and so indeclinable. The adjective is “prior,” pl. “priores,” but I dunno if that cuts much ice with Toyota marketing people. I mean, they’re already using an adverb as a noun and you just can’t talk sense to people like that.

    • I thought that was a beer. Gee, now it isn’t as poignant as I had originally thought.

      • Looked like Michalob to me.

        • I thought ti was a gros Mol.

  9. So no one takes my points?

    This reminds me…CBC Radio’s Ideas had part one of “The Hurried Infant” last week and part of the episode dealt with new research that seems to suggest that our current media culture is producing children who manifest clinical/classical attention deficit disorder.

    I’m looking forward to part two.

    • My comment was deleted, all my *points*, and what was the point of that? Firstly, that is my property, it’s my writing, and if it was good enough to be deleted it was worth something. Perhaps the website technology is not developed enough to where there is a ‘hide’ feature, and so the draconian delete function is used (but still, my email is there, an explanation should be provided!). If the website here wants to solicit comments that solicitation comes with a responsibility not to exploit. Hence the need for Regulation of the Media on the Internet further to Andrew Coyne’s previous post.
      Maybe Sheldon Sawchuk deleted my comment? How can I know who was offended, who has a problem with me? I can improve myself if there’s no feedback, how can I learn the rules for participation in this media porta.? I don’t think Paul Wells deleted my comment cause he usually dismisses or ignores comments that make no sense to him and usually announces when he deleted comments and that is the polite and right thing to do. Sheldon Sawchuk is not as polite, I’m sure.

      • Terms of Service, Article 5.3(d), fourth bullet:

        Removal of Content. Rogers has no obligation to, and does not and cannot, monitor or review every item of Content that you and other users make available through the Site, and Rogers is not responsible for any of this Content. However, Rogers reserves the right to investigate, monitor, delete and/or refuse to transmit, move, remove, edit or refuse to post any material or information, in whole or in part, without notice to you, that it deems in its absolute discretion, unacceptable, undesirable or in violation of any law or this Agreement.

        You claim it’s your property? Get your own blog. I have been pleased to comment or not on various posts, but I have never felt any right to tell Rogers what to do with any of my pearls on its own property.

    • While I don’t have anything to offer in the way of positive suggestions for improving things. I’d bet that if i were to suggest that we’re reaping the whirlwind of the dumbing down of our whole culture, i wouldn’t be wrong, merely stating the obvious.

      • if i were to suggest that we’re reaping the whirlwind of the dumbing down of our whole culture

        Maybe Jaime Weinman has some thoughts on that…

  10. Here’s one solution — free morning tabloid distribution disappears while public transit ridership increases owing to recession. Those long commutes require reading material, ergo buying and reading newspapers become popular once more, for a time at least.

    Simply trying to cheer you.

    People will never lose their appetite for information so the medium and the cost remains the issue as you touch on in your discussion. (Content only affects potential market — not buyers’ innate desire for any medium.)

    What I’m trying to say is, relax (prudently) — we’re all going through an adjustment and we’ll adapt.

    • What I’m trying to say is, relax (prudently) — we’re all going through an adjustment and we’ll adapt.

      No way. Keep the media scared. It’s the only way to effect real change.

  11. hair today, gong tomorrow

    • My and Ti-Guy’s comments were in response to an entry by “Hair Today” – not sure why their comment was deleted. I hope this doesn’t become the norm. I’m sorry in retrospect if my comment contributed to the editor’s decision. You were wrong, editor.

      • The editor is us. It’s that report abuse button. Too many people click it and your comment is whisked away into never-never land.

  12. Forgive me in advance, I’m thick — what does the handsome woman with the winning smile have to do with newspapers?

  13. Is anyone else having problems watching this? I keep hearing a loud buzz on top of the sound, and it makes both Firefox and IE crash.

    • Not here. Worked perfectly in FireFox. But then, I have Rogers internet, so maybe I’m being privileged.

    • I couldn’t view it at all in FF (gave up waiting after 3 minutes) but it was fine in IE on my machine.

      • No problem with FF here. But you might have to “allow” it.

      • I had to update to the next version of FF. I’ve been noticing FF compatibility issues lately.

        • Ah. I noticed that I had my vpn connection to work open. I closed it, and everything worked fine.

          • Oooh, I love it when you all talk technical stuff.

  14. Anyone else having trouble viewing this vid? I’ve been waiting about three minutes with the little swirly circle thingy and still nothing (fast connection, good new desktop, plenty of RAM, latest Firefox, watched the other vids in the series no problem… pretty sure the problems not on my end…).

    I’ll try IE just to see and report back.

    • Still not sure what the issue is, but it seems to work fine in IE for me but not FF.

      I don’t mean to be a complainer, just thought it would be useful for you to have reports of issues while you’re still in the early experimental stage!

  15. What I think would be interesting is if you could somehow print out a newspaper that was tailored made for each, individual person. The problem with newspapers is that they are one size fits all, I find myself reading only a tiny fraction of any paper I buy, not that they are printed on paper. We don’t need to invent new device to read news on, we just need news delivered that is tailored to each person’s interests.

    • Yeah. What you need, jwl, is Fox News, Rush, O’Reilly, Beck, Malkin and Hannity and any Murdoch publication. Or, you could just read the National Post and watch CTV?

      I don’t really see your problem? Problem with finding what you want, I mean.

    • jwl, you have just described the internet. Let the individual pick and choose what s/he wants to read, as headlines or in depth. Sorry about that, revenue-desiring media people.

      • myl and James C

        yes, I understand your points. I love National Newswatch and other sites like it but what I hate is that I am chained to my desk to read them. I don’t like BlackBerry or Kindle or any other type of device like that to read on because they are tiny and difficult to read. What I would like is a newspaper, which is readable and can be taken anywhere, but tailored to my tastes. I am perfectly aware I am asking for a lot but I am just trying to fit in with zeitgeist of everyone wanting a pony at the moment.

  16. A problem is that the online product is just a regurgitation of the print product so you force people to ask ‘why should I pay for this’? Instead they should fee each other. Subscribe to the print edition and online you get access to not just the articles, but back up research, maybe some of the reporters notes, portions of the article cut for space, links embedded within the article or the extras to prior articles on the same matter, etc. Someone want to just see that extra material? No problem, just subscribe to the print edition and opt to not receive the actual paper. You’ll still drive up your circulation numbers and your circulation dollars.

    Plus, allow subscribers to organize their own news online: I like to see lots of headlines with the lede from the Canada, Ontario, Toronto and ROB sections of the Globe so let me organize it that way the way I can organize my free yahoo.news or google.news. The technology is there.

    A second problem is that, while I subscribe to the Globe, I like to read from many papers on certain topics to get a variety of viewpoints. Especially on politics, I like to see what the NP, the Calgary papers, the Washington and NY papers and some non-conventional sources are writing about a particular issue. News aggregators like Drudge or National Newswatch are huge because of this. So partner up with your competitors or other cities papers and offer a general subscriber service: I subscribe to your print edition, you allow me to read it and, in one place, a whole bunch of newspapers and magazines as a featured add-on service.

    A third problem was mentioned by Coyne. The cost of archived material. $5 for an article at the Globe is so out of touch with online information distribution that it alone highlights how far out of it some are.

    In all these cases the solution is the based on the same simple solution: Make it easy for me to collect more information how and when a reader wants to.

    • Second line should have read “Instead they should feed each other”.

  17. What’s a happening with the threading in this comment section?

    You guys and your technical problems…

  18. Must be the auto industry tightening their budget. They spent $1.5 Billion on advertising last year.
    The old regulars are now just fuel for the popular bloggers .And I am enjoying them, altho it can be time consuming.And addictive.But atleast I don’t have to see all that stuff about cars.

  19. It always seemed to me that the Globe when down the toilet when the Post showed up. Newsmedia response to competetion seems to be to get dumber.

  20. The slow death of print media is a lot like the slow death of the music industry—they’re both being made obsolete by changing tastes/consumption habits. So I’m not sure “relaxation” is really in order here.

    There’s a key difference between the two, though—and it doesn’t favour journalists. The difference is that Individual musicians aren’t actually suffering that much from downloading because they have other sources of revenue that are still directly (and traditionally) linked to their work: concerts, merchandise, selling songs to advertisers, etc. Writers, on the other hand, have no other avenues than going through publishing houses that are, in effect, the print media industry’s equivalent to record labels. And even when new avenues have presented themselves—things like web, multimedia, data mashups, etc.—writers have proven to be a pretty conservative bunch and never really embraced them. That said, unlike concerts and t-shirts, all that techy stuff hasn’t been monetized yet, so maybe there’s a good reason for the skepticism. But perhaps that’s where micropayments come in. Just like you pay for the time- and place-limited experience of a concert, maybe that’s how journalism should be consumed.

    Either way, I still think I should have gone to law school.

    • Until there’s a better consensus among the elite that a prosperous, healthy, free market democracy depends on an informed citizenry, I can’t see any light right now at the end of this tunnel.

    • You may work FOR a ‘print medium’ but you work AS a journalist. The tools you use to do your work might change (often making things easier), the media that transmits your work may also change (think of a fine artist) but still, it’s your skill that matters. Besides, you may find yourself released from the ‘tyranny’ of ‘publishing houses’. Wouldn’t that be nice?

  21. This was the best vlog yet.

    Good point about the Post keeping the Globe honest (or relatively more honest). I remember when the Post was born and the Globe got better overnight. Though I sense that now, at the other end of the Post’s life story, the Globe isn’t waiting for the death certificate before it lapses back into complacency.

    I think Mr. Coyne is right about micropayments; but even then, who will make the first bet? Perhaps it will take the emergence of new players, about the same time the old players are leaving the table, before consumers will pay anything.

  22. I talk to and interact with boomers and the elderly on a regular basis. I don’t think the culture is being dumbed down at all. Some of that golden nostalgia for the age that never was popping up again.

  23. What the media needs is for the inferior publications to go bankrupt so that the superior ones consolidate the customer base.

    We don’t need to have every paper across Canada regurgitating the national news on the internet.

    Andrew’s micropayments idea is great. Same with the ipod-reader device.

  24. I have no useful comment again, just want to encourage more of these. And I’ll pony up my nickel when it comes to that.

  25. is that a Kreighoff behind Paul?

  26. wow wells really comes off as shallow, self-important and stupid.

    I had to stop half way through it was so bad.

    I was right about my onanistic comment on previous thread about these totally not ground-breaking webcam postings.

  27. Coyne has got the right idea with the comparison to Apple and micropayments. I think ‘Le Monde’ is the model for future newspapers, both in terms of focus on opinion and analysis but also in terms of ownership – many of the journos who work for Le Monde also have a financial stake in the newspaper. If we could combine the two, I think we could lead the way here in Canuckistan in providing a new model for media – there doesn’t have to be a print version, only an Internet version, and those who want to read it pay a small subscription fee which is lower than a paper newspaper subscription. In fact, I would argue that there should not be a print version in order to make the enterprise successful. Direct mail techniques could be used to bump up subscriptions. I really don’t care whether it’s left or right in its political orientation, as long as it’s not partisan and intelligently written. Somebody should take the National Post brand off of Canwest for a dollar debt free with this idea in mind. I would be willing to pitch in to make this work. Andrew, Paul ?

  28. I used to subscribe to the Edmonton Journal, but the subscription lapsed when the credit card expired, and despite their friendly reminders to update my payment information in order to resume delivery, I just…didn’t. Why didn’t I? First and foremost, it was those giant stacks of old newsprint that would build up in the corner of my kitchen, which I probably could more easily have put up with if I actually read more of it than I did, but I didn’t. In the main, that’s due to the fact that it’s slowly but steadily turning into an unreadable piece of crap. The journalism itself is getting progressively softer, the local perspectives are growing more and more marginalized, replaced by bozos from the national chain who are more interested in selling me stuff than they are in producing genuine, insightful writing. And then there’s Lorne.
    So, as I was finally getting around to calling that nice customer service lady back to update my credit info, it suddenly occurred to me – I could keep sending them my money, encouraging them to produce a newspaper that I don’t value while breaking my back taking blue bags full of largely unread crap out for the recycling, or not. I put the telephone down.

  29. Here in Halifax there has been a lot of talk in the media about this issue since our remaining daily (The Chronicle Herald) is laying off 25% of their journalists. I don’t subscribe since I think the Herald (like many of the supposedly local dailies) isn’t very local. Yesterday’s issue that I picked up on the newstand had less than 40% local content – the balance was CP/ AP. Often this outside material is supplemented by reprinted articles and commentary from global sources like the New York Times. As mentioned, the Herald is in trouble but I am a devoted subscriber and reader of AllNovaScotia.com, a business online daily. It provides great coverage of my city in an online format. If I want to see articles or comments from the New York Times, I can read them myself rather than let my local media monopoly choose for me. People will pay for online content if it is valuable to them. Most local newspapers are not.

  30. I really enjoyed listening to this.

    Having gradated from a journalism program last year, it’s interesting that while there, I heard very little debate on this. Of course, that was a different time, and this was definitely still an issue on the table. The teachers, journalists all, certainly had opinions on what to do, but there was very little debate on the issue.

    To me, that seems to be part of the problem. There has been some discussion on this, especially in the last few months, but maybe journalists, be they print or broadcast or web, need to get together and start having this discussion, with the aim in mind of finding a solution, because there isn’t one yet, and if we don’t find one we’re going to have a lot less media outlets running around. And that could be a serious problem if you think of media as a watchdog that has an important role in society, which is what I think.

    I wish micropayments would work. But that won’t support the way I read articles, which is to open twenty or thirty of them from a whole bunch of different websites, skim the opening to decide if there’s anything worth reading, and then only read it if I feel there’s something worth reading. I don’t think I’m the only person who does that, but if I had to pay to open up each of those articles, with only the off chance that I might read them, well, I probably wouldn’t. And that makes me doubt the micropayment option.

    I think we might have a lot more effort with the subscription model, but only when we get those Kindle-type readers into the market in mass numbers, cheaply. And that relies on people actually buying them.

  31. I love the format of this video blog, it is cutting edge, keep it up.

  32. I enjoyed the vlog thoroughly. An innovative idea.

  33. I really enjoyed this discussion as it’s one I’ve been pondering lately. As someone trained in journalism and now contemplating, after several years’ hiatus raising my children, how best to make my voice heard in what seems a cacophony of voices in the webosphere, on television and in various print models, I admit to being somewhat overwhelmed, as I’m sure the general readership must be.

    Perhaps a natural culling is in order. Yet I would hate to see the preponderance of opinion spewed as fact or the rantings of one issue or one ideology bloggers take the place of well researched journalism. I think the concentration of the media in fewer corporate hands has also contributed to the decline in quality.

    While I continue to try and figure this out, I’ve cancelled my print subscriptions to my local paper though continued with a low cost online subscription for a year, until I figured out I could certainly get a handle on what was going on in the world through Google news and had the advantage of being able to read a variety of sources on the same story.

    I don’t know if it’s feasible but I’m wondering if journalists could be paid to submit their work to a ‘feed service’ that a reader then could subscribe to. People pay for what matters to them, and us news junkies would obviously spend more to subscribe to more sites. I guessthe sites themselves could do the same kind of ‘annoying’ advertising that all website and now the social networking sites are doing as a say to generate more $. Enough. I’m still got to wade through everything that’s out there.

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