The Future of Newspapers

September 26, 2008

I’ve just updated my article on the future of newspapers. It was painful. I felt like I was writing about the progress being made in treating AIDS in Africa or the current economic crisis in America. The news about the newspaper industry in North America has been so unremittingly depressing for so many months that it’s extremely difficult to re-enter the topic with anything but a grimace.

Still, I managed to create a new section that I call “Bright Moments” (named after an old Rahsaan Roland Kirk song of that name — try to find it: you’ll be cheered up). I chose three topics to focus on: “Free Dailies,” “Community Newspapers” and “The Global Newspaper Industry.”

The free dailies are apparently beginning to suffer some of the setbacks of the broader newspaper industry, but the other two topics appear as true bright moments.

I was of course cheered to find something bright to mix into the gloom, but I cannot say that I’m in any way convinced that these bright moments are going to be self-sustaining, or to change the overall gloom that enshrouds this once-great medium.

The problems are so complex. What do you realistically think will be the outcome?

I’ll be updating the magazines article shortly.

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Sources are Leaking Adobe Creative Suite 4 News

September 22, 2008

I just received an email from Adobe’s PR agency as follows:

Hello –

Due to sources leaking Adobe Creative Suite 4 news prior to the previously set NDA date of 12:01 ET tonight, the NDA is now lifted effective immediately. Please feel free to post your coverage on CS4 and any of the related point products. Please let us know of any questions.

Best,

Eddie

————————————————————————

So I’m checking out some of those folks who just broke their contract with Adobe.

Apple Insider is declaring that the release is “Nothing Revolutionary.”

The Wall Street Journal has a small piece about tomorrow’s unveiling which reveals few details of the product.

I’m on page 6 of googling the topic and find only entries that either refer to Apple Insider or just mention that it will be unveiled tomorrow. In the “News” section on Google is a not very informative piece by CNET. I just can’t find anything that would cause Adobe to issue this supposedly alarming statement.

I’ll be posting a full review shortly, and as I intimated in yesterday’s blog entry, I think CS4 is big news. But with 16 different software programs in the combined suite it’s very complex to explain exactly why this is so. I’m going to make a measured evaluation and report back. Stay (patiently) tuned please.

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Are You Ready for Something Brilliant?

September 21, 2008

That’s the title of Adobe’s invitation to the world for a special Web broadcast of the details of the eagerly-awaited Creative Suite 4.

We who have been briefed on the product also signed the standard non-disclosure agreement (NDA) agreeing not to reveal any details before this September 23rd Webcast. But I don’t think that Adobe would be upset with me if I urge my readers to take some time this coming Tuesday to participate. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

To gain access it’s necessary to sign up here.

I will be reporting on the suite in this blog following the announcement.

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Journalists Should Sue Themselves

September 20, 2008

Wow!

Jeff Jarvis, whose BuzzMachine blog is one of the best there is, went to town in a September 17th entry sparked by the lawsuit of the journalists at the Los Angeles Times against their controversial new owner, Sam Zell.

I think you could say that he really let the journalists have it.

The second paragraph gives you a taste of his current state-of-mind: “Journalists are such a whiny bunch, always complaining, constantly blaming someone else for their problems. But friends, as the Rev. Wright would say, the chickens are coming home to roost.”

Later in the entry the attack resumes:

“When the paper failed even at covering its own hometown industry, did you jump in to fill the void? No.

“When the internet came, did you all – every one of you as responsible, smart journalists, on your own – leap to get training in audio and video? Did you immediately hatch new ways to work collaboratively with the vast public of bloggers able and willing to join in local journalism? Not that I saw.”

He finishes this scathing attack on journalists with “Want to see who’s to blame for the state of your paper? Get a mirror.”

At the same time he presents the most emphatically damning statement about the future of newspapers:

“Newspapers and newspaper companies are about to die (emphasis mine). The last remaining puddles of auto, home, job, and retail advertising are about to be sucked down the drain thanks to the economic crisis and credit is about to be crunched into dust. So any newspaper or news company that has been teetering will fall. If Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, and AIG can fall, so can a puny newspaper empire — and there’ll be no taxpayer bailout for them.”

I wrote the 27th response to Jeff’s entry:

“That is the most refreshing and to-the-point article (OK, blog entry) I’ve read in the midst of these endless months of hand-wringing, tear-jerking and self-serving twaddle. It’s strong stuff, but exactly what needed to be said. Sure, some folks can take some small issue with parts of it. But they should read the entire indictment and respond to that. You’ve finally said what needed to be said. For this I thank you. I’m going to send my readers to it from my blog.”

Check it out.

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Steve Jobs and the Future of Publishing

September 11, 2008

By now it’s widely-accepted that few if any publicly-traded companies are as inextricably linked to the fate and fortune of their commander-in-chief as is Apple Computer and its CEO Steve Jobs.

It’s almost a fairy-tale story: the early growth of the company, Steve’s adoption of and then ousting by that soft drink man followed by his triumphal return, the results of which have been nothing short of miraculous.

Say what you will about Steve Jobs, the man (and plenty has been said); the results speak loud and clear. Apple Computer would certainly not be where it is today without him.

But there’s the issue of his health…and there is much concern. Try googling this week’s modest announcement about the iPod, and almost all of the coverage makes reference to concern about Steve’s health. Why is that?

Well, if you missed logging in earlier this year, the word emerged that Steve had in 2003 been stricken with pancreatic cancer. He was lucky. It was a treatable form. Not that he chose to have it treated in a conventional way. According to a March issue of Fortune magazine, Steve, being a Buddhist and a vegetarian, chose for nine months to “employ alternative methods to treat his pancreatic cancer, hoping to avoid the operation through a special diet.” This failed, and he eventually agreed to an operation, and the result was apparently successful.

What many will find shocking in the Fortune article is that Apple’s bigwigs “secretly agonized over the situation — and whether the company needed to disclose anything about its CEO’s health to investors. Jobs, after all, was widely viewed as Apple’s irreplaceable leader, personally responsible for everything from the creation of the iPod to the selection of the chef in the company cafeteria. News of his illness, especially with an uncertain outcome, would surely send the company’s stock reeling. The board decided to say nothing, after seeking advice on its obligations from two outside lawyers, who agreed it could remain silent.”

The Fortune article later notes that “the SEC requires that any public company disclose material information to investors so that they can include it in their calculation of whether to buy or sell a stock. But there are no specific guidelines governing health issues, and the SEC has never taken action against a company in this area.”

I am not a lawyer, no penalty was levied against Apple in this case, so it is up to each reader to make their own judgment.

My point in creating this blog entry is that the future of publishing is not just the story of major issues and influences, but sometimes the story of one man. Looking at Apple Computer, the future of publishing is going to be strongly influenced by whether or not the CEO who made the company what it is can remain at the helm. And in these small tales, there are much larger stories to be told.

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