Showing posts with label newspaper industry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label newspaper industry. Show all posts

Friday, August 5, 2011

Visualization shows expansion, peak and fall of the American newspaper

A new visualization from Stanford University charts the expansion of printing presses as early settlers headed west, as well as the peak and decline of the American newspaper.

It’s also highly interactive, letting users scroll back and forth through the American history of newspapers, pausing for textual markers at historically significant times. Users also get a breakdown of the publications serving a particular town, and can filter papers by the language they were published in or by publication frequency.

This was a major undertaking from the Rural West Initiative of Stanford University, which involved tapping into a directory of some 140,000 American newspapers at the Library of Congress.

“It would be fairer to call this a ‘database’ visualization than an omniscient creator’s-eye view of the growth of American newspapers,” the Rural West Initiative writes on an introduction to the visualization. “There are known (and surely unknown) omissions from this list, as well as duplicate entries, and entries that are similar and can appear duplicative.”

The visualization accompanies a report by the Initiative which indicates that while metro journalism has been on the decline for decades, rural journalism is still alive and thriving, although the job makes for “a lean living” for rural journalists and most papers are “an advertiser or two away from red ink.” Many reporters and some editors are fresh out of J-school.

Geoff McGhee, the Bill Lane Center creative director, and Judy Muller, a contributing editor at the Rural West Initiative, will both be on the Salt Lake City NPR station KUER to discuss the report August 8, at 10 a.m. pacific time (12 p.m. central, 1 p.m. eastern). It will also be simulcast on the SiriusXM Public radio channel.

Listeners can call the station at (801) 585-WEST or submit questions at The station website has a live stream and will archive the show as a podcast.

The Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University lab tweeted of the interactive map, “How cool (or sad?) is this?” That’s because the dots peak at about 1920, and decline to the number we see today. Most news begins life in a newspaper news room, according to a 2009 Pew study on the Baltimore news ecosystem.

“Fully eight out of ten stories studied simply repeated or repackaged previously published information,” Pew wrote. “Indeed the expanding universe of new media, including blogs, Twitter and local websites—at least in Baltimore—played only a limited role: mainly an alert system and a way to disseminate stories from other places.”

The Initiative’s report seems to support Pew’s conclusions.

For some original reporting about the St. Louis newspaper market, including several visuals about the rise and fall of newspapers in the city, along with a report about a nonprofit newsroom trying to buck the trend, read “Funding Challenges, Long-term Aspirations of a Nonprofit Newsroom.”

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Funding Challenges, Long-term Aspirations of a Nonprofit Newsroom

Shot of the newly-renovated KETC newsroom in St. Louis, Missouri. The building houses the St. Louis public television broadcaster, as well as the nonprofit online news organization the St. Louis Beacon. Photo from MagneticNorth.

You can’t mention a “model” for funding journalism without a can of mace these days. Mention the word, and you instantly become fodder for journalists, media tycoons, college professors, bloggers, SEO con artists and pretty much anyone with enough fingers to tweet.

Lately, the targets have been the newly-erected paywall at the New York Times and Rupert Murdoch’s iPad-exclusive app, The Daily. With the former, some suspect potential customers will be baffled and irked. With the latter, critics say Apple’s exorbitant fees and News Corp's cumbersome implementation may ultimately doom the enterprise. Other critics say both will fail long-term because they are dependent on closed, vertically-integrated systems that create artificial scarcity that simply does not exist in the rest of the digital world; and it only takes a short hop over the paywall or app store to find freer, greener pastures.

But before the Times and the Daily were whipping boys, nonprofit newsrooms were a popular whipping boy. MinnPost, the Voice of San Diego and ProPublica were the first of these newsrooms to garner nationwide attention. Some praised these operations for filling an enormous gap of coverage that commercial media left open, while others questioned whether it was wise to rely on handouts from a handful of wealthy donors to sustain journalism.

While the long-term prospects of those newsrooms remain to be seen, but they are still alive, vibrant, and producing journalism.

One of the lesser-known nonprofit newsrooms is the St. Louis Beacon. I recently had the opportunity to interview several people from that online news organization, including its founder.