Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Newspaper solution is emerging from the mist

Sooner or later, education will be defined as a hyperlocal community. Replacing textbooks with a new product, which I've been calling textbooklets, should help fix education. Fixing newspapers or the Print industry is some people's problem.

Fixing education is everyone's problem.

Most likely that "hyperlocal" will continue it's rise to number 1 in the blahblah-o-sphere. What is new is that real players are now starting the real work of defining that on the ground.

The good news for Print, is that the closer it moves to the ground, the more the unique value of news-on-paper is defined. The good news for newspapers is that it's now about execution, not about "what to do?" The good news for education is that once those are two industries get out of their "deer in the headlights" moment, we can all get on to fixing education.

Thanks to Mathew Ingram and Martin Langeveld, over at the NiemanJournalismLab, for their most recent posts.

From Martin's post,
Hearst’s 100 days of change: On the right track, or misguided?
Steven R. Swartz, appointed president of Hearst’s newspaper division in December, sent around a memo last week reporting to his troops on the “100 days of change” he launched not long after taking the job, the midpoint of which had come around.

Predictably, the memo got leaked and was published by the Wall Street Journal (scroll down). And predictably as well, Jeff Jarvis deconstructs it, line by line, as “too little, too late”:

Give a guy a break, already. It’s not hard for us journobloggers to pounce all over the industry’s hapless execs. I’ve done it myself, back in November when the clueless gathered at API to deal with “an industry in crisis” and decided that meeting again in six months would be a really good idea. (To their credit, they met again after just two months.) . . . read the rest over there..

From Matthew's post,
Google Exec and NYT go Hyperlocal
There’s an interesting battle shaping up in the “hyper-local” online journalism market, at least in the New York and New Jersey area. The New York Times confirmed on Monday that it is launching a new project called The Local, in co-operation with journalism students at the City University of New York.
. . . That isn’t the only battle over this particular hyper-local effort: As Jarvis noted in his post, another local journalism network called Patch is targeting the exact same locations in New Jersey — and it happens to be backed by Google executive Tim Armstrong.
. . . I wrote about another experiment in hyper-local journalism — or what project founder Leonard Witt calls “representative journalism” — in a recent Nieman Lab post. Much like the NYT plan, Witt’s project involves a trained journalist or intern writing news about a region as the core of a site that is also built up of contributions from community members of all kinds.


  1. Hi Michael,

    Why is hyper local print better than hyper local web?

    Education will be dominated by the Web in the next 2-5 years. Schools (comp. sci. and new media programs) are gearing up for the demand in online education and design skills (those who will create the sites/apps/template software).

  2. David,

    It's not an either or situation. The problem with the web for a newspaper is that it's really hard to make money with web ads. And the selling content stuff doesn't really scale past a niche market.

    On the other hand, it's well defined and works with print ads.

    Re education. We disagree. The web is great for some things. But in any media operation that has to serve everybody, rather than a niche market, print is a "must have."

    No doubt that the secular trend is more computers and more individualized instruction, but I hope the media programs have it right. They had a great run during dot.com days. Lots of students paid lots of money. The bust happened. Then creating a web site became a commodity instead of a $100,000 project.

    My advice to anyone interested in online education is to study anthropology and philosophy instead of technical skills. Any technical skill that can be outsourced will be under huge competitive pressure to keep wages low.

    Public education is a serve everyone business. Health is a serve everyone business.
    Local business is mostly a try to serve everyone business. Service everyone business live on Print in physical space. With a good web component.

  3. Michael, there IS something that we agree on, "My advice to anyone interested in online education is to study anthropology and philosophy instead of technical skills."

    I've studied both and I have to say that philosophy and anthropology tends to create a mind that has a greater capacity to see what needs to be "invented" while the latter gets the job done.

    What is interesting is that you and I have studied phil. and anthro. and we operate in a technical world but we have come to different conclusions. That's what makes life so entertaining!

    Though (with respect), to say that I am dead wrong is unknowable at this point.

  4. David,
    You got me, sort of... I will make explicit what was implicit (at least to me) in the statement,
    "I believe that you're dead wrong." I'm asserting that I'm correct, but as you say the truth value of the assertion is, in fact unknowable.

    I bet that if we shared a beer or a cup of coffee it would turn out that we agree on alot more than you might think.

  5. Michael, I'm sure we would agree on a lot as well. Blogs are fine but nothing beats real conversation.

    For the record, I'll give you the victory in this discussion becasue it was a draw (in my mind) but the draw occurred on your blog ;-)

    If I'm in NY, I'll take you up on the beverage.

  6. I had the home team advantage. Look forward to meeting in th real world on eof these days..