May 29, 2007

Newspapers need an attitude adjustment

There's an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle today that showcases the exact attitude newspapers need to ditch if they intend to survive.

The piece, penned by UC-Berkeley journalism professor Neil Henry, points the finger at Google and other successful Web corporations as the culprits in the downfall of traditional media. To make up for such travesties, Henry essentially asks that Google subsidize American journalism by contributing part of its megaprofits to groups such as the Society for Professional Journalists.

"Is it possible for Google to somehow engage and support the traditional news industry and important local newspapers more fully, for example, to become a vital part of possible solutions to this crisis instead of a part of the problem?"

Corporate-sponsored journalism. Gee, that sounds like a winner, doesn't it?

More painful than this suggestion, however, its the essay's whining, "You stole my lunch money!" overtone. That approach needs to go. Many newspapers have of free will and sound mind offered up content on the Web for free for more than a decade. To complain about the fact that someone took, linked to or otherwise pilfered those pages and pages of juicy, well-written, unguarded stories is -- well, ridiculous.

Newspapers and other "old media" need to give up the rant and put energies where they belong: in finding a way to make strong, investigative journalism profitable on the Web. No, Web advertising isn't the moneymaker right now that print advertising is. But it will be someday. When newspapers go the way of the 8-track and the mimeograph, JCPenney, Kroger and Wal-Mart will still need a way to reach shoppers. It will take time -- and creative common enterprises -- but the price those retailers pay to advertise on the Web will increase.

It's going to get worse before it gets better. But wouldn't it be nice if "old media" went down with some dignity intact and not a large amount of bellyaching?

May 11, 2007

Look what I did!

It's refrigerator-clipping time. I'm using some of my 'working break' time to finally learn how to do a few things with the Web and GIMPShop. This blog is one attempt to keep myself Web-savvy; another is helping my friend Elizabeth set up a Web page for her photo studio.

Elizabeth's not quite ready to launch a full-blown Web site, so we're using a temporary blog to get her info on the Internet. I designed the page, with input from Elizabeth, and the b-f helped us get her domain name to redirect to the blog. She'll soon be adding photos and posts to liven it up.

Where GIMP comes in: Elizabeth wanted to use a script-like font for the title of the blog, but Blogger didn't offer anything close to the script on her business cards. So I made a simple text and background file in GIMP and uploaded it as a JPEG, in place of the title.

May 9, 2007

Summer's on its way

Today is the sort of cool-but-humid late spring day that reminds me of camp. It's humid enough to feel sticky, but still cool enough to leave the AC off.

With the amount of trees in our yard (50 or so, according to Mom), it's easy to imagine I'm up in the woods in Arendtsville, cleaning out cabins and spending a week with a bunch of other Lutherans.

Alas -- I'm actually editing manuscripts, writing stories and trying to find the floor under boxes and piles of clothing in my room.

May 5, 2007


I spent Saturday morning covering a clean-up event in Michaux State Forest for the local paper. The stuff people will throw away into a mountain is gross, let me tell you.

After about an hour of just interviewing, I got involved in the fun (it is enjoyable, for any doubters who've not tried it). I found the usual: soda bottles, a paper bag from McDonald's (likely from an abandoned picnic) and empty cigarette boxes.

As I was picking up one empty Coors can, I took note of a phrase and jotted it down:

"Don't Mess with the Mountain -- Please Recycle!"

If only they'd read the can.