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Misc.

The Future of Newspapers — and online journalism

It’s no secret that the American newspaper industry is in trouble.

This New Yorker article by James Surowiecki from late December summarizes some of the problems:

  1. Advertising revenue is down. Way down. Department stores and real estate advertisers have been hit hard by the economic downturn. And online ads aren’t as lucrative as print ads.
  2. Fewer people subscribe to newspapers now. Surowiecki notes that “as a percentage of the population, newspapers have about half as many subscribers as they did four decades ago — but the Internet helped turn that slow puncture into a blowout.”
  3. Newspaper companies, critics say, have failed to innovate. Surowiecki says they’ve focused on the product — the newspaper — rather than the consumer.
  4. Ironically, papers like the New York Times are actually more widely-read now than, say, 10 years ago. But revenues are down since most readers are accessing the site online, for free.
  5. For solutions to the profit problem, Surowiecki points to a foundation/nonprofit model, bailouts from rich patrons, or increased online revenues.

Where do newspapers go from here?

Here are some resources for further reading:

Categories
Misc.

Audio slide show: photojournalists on memorable meals

Don’t miss this audio slide show from the New Yorker: “Tea and Wallaby: Photojournalists talk about memorable on-the-job meals.

(Via World Hum.)

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Misc.

Gladwell on Late Bloomers

Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker: “Late Bloomers: Why do we equate genius with precocity?”

Genius, in the popular conception, is inextricably tied up with precocity—doing something truly creative, we’re inclined to think, requires the freshness and exuberance and energy of youth. Orson Welles made his masterpiece, “Citizen Kane,” at twenty-five. Herman Melville wrote a book a year through his late twenties, culminating, at age thirty-two, with “Moby-Dick.” Mozart wrote his breakthrough Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-Flat-Major at the age of twenty-one. In some creative forms, like lyric poetry, the importance of precocity has hardened into an iron law. How old was T. S. Eliot when he wrote “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (“I grow old . . . I grow old”)? Twenty-three. “Poets peak young,” the creativity researcher James Kaufman maintains. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the author of “Flow,” agrees: “The most creative lyric verse is believed to be that written by the young.” According to the Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner, a leading authority on creativity, “Lyric poetry is a domain where talent is discovered early, burns brightly, and then peters out at an early age.”

A few years ago, an economist at the University of Chicago named David Galenson decided to find out whether this assumption about creativity was true.

(Emphasis mine.)

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Misc.

Understanding the Subprime Crisis

A few days back, I asked some of my Twitter friends to share some good resources for understanding the subprime crisis and global credit crunch.

  • Wise Kwai suggested The Subprime Primer, a 45-slide presentation using (profanity-spewing) stick figures to illustrate the meltdown. I suggest giving it a read (but be mindful that it’s — obviously — simplified).

    Understanding the subcprime crisis

  • Jay Dedman recommended the helpful This American Life episode called The Giant Pool of Money, which I’ve mentioned before. It remains an excellent resource, and one that I plan to listen to again.**

    Here are some other links that have caught my eye:

  • TheMoneyMeltdown.com: “Everything you need to know about the global money crisis of 2007-?.”
  • WSJ: Yes, Dow’s Record Was Year Ago Today, which contains this illustrative infographic. (Click the image for a larger version, or go to the article.)

    WSJ Infographic

  • I’ve read Zimran Ahmed’s blog, Winterspeak, since 2001, and he’s been posting some interesting thoughts on the credit crisis. Here was his take on things last week:

    My prediction: deflation will continue through 2008 and 2009. The economy will continue to contract as consumers reduce consumption (and increase saving, which they must do) and businesses scale back operations so they fit the new, lower personal consumption environment. This will be a slow process, though, as the Fed and Treasury have worked mightily to obfuscate prices, and drag out the bubble deflation. Eventually, Helicopter Ben will say enough is enough and start to (finally) mail freshly printed greenbacks to households. Now we will switch from a deflationary environment to an inflationary environment, China will complete it’s transition out of the dollar, and we will get real, honest-to-God 70s style stagflation. And then we will wait for the next Volker.

    I suggest reading the whole post.

  • RealClearMarkets.com is a good source for ongoing news. Thanks to Lan Anh N. for the tip.
  • The New Yorker‘s James Surowiecki has a piece called “Public Humiliation,” in which he concludes:

    Considering that Wall Street firms spend all day dealing with the market, they have been slow to understand just how vulnerable they were to it. Companies like Lehman and, earlier, Bear Stearns saw going public as an excuse to take on more risk and act more recklessly, when in fact becoming a public company makes caution more important, since the margin for error is smaller, and the punishment for failure swifter. Now that the government has acted, Wall Street (or what remains of it) may yet be able to regain investors’ confidence. But long-term survival really depends on remembering the fundamental truth about playing with other people’s money: it’s a lot of fun until they suddenly decide to ask for it back.

    (Emphasis mine.)

    **And on a related note, thanks to newley.com reader Paul D. for pointing out a NY Times article providing the backstory on how “The Giant Pool of Money” came to be.

    –> What about you? Got some good links to share? Leave them in the comments or email me (newley AT gmail.com)

  • Categories
    Misc.

    Elmore Leonard on Writing — and New Yorker Stories

    A snippet from what Elmore Leonard had to say at the New Yorker festival:

    “I don’t write New Yorker stories. I mean, my stories are easy to understand. They have a beginning, a middle, and an end.”

    Leonard — aka the Dickens of Detroit — is one of my favorite writers.

    Related: his 10 rules for writing. The central guideline: “If it sounds like writing, re-write.”