MediaFile

washingtonpost.com gets ready to move

It looks like the wheels are in motion for the eventual transplant of washingtonpost.com’s employees from their enclave in Virginia to the mothership at 1150 15th St, NW, Washington, D.C. An alert tipster spotted this advertisement on Page D4 of the Monday edition of The Washington Post (that would be the Business section, soon to be eliminated):

1515 North Courthouse Rd, Arlington, VA

84,000 square feet of sublease space available

Arlington VA @ Courthouse Metro

Top four floor of the building avail

12th floor: 21,177 SF

11th floor 21,177 SFf

10th floor: 6,900-to-21,324 SF

9th floor: 21,324 SF

Great views, furniture available, Cls to restaurants, hotels & shops, Fitness Center with locker room in the building, Computer room with raised floor, Parking.

Then there is contact information for two agents at Summit Commercial Real Estate

Those four floors, as I can say as a washingtonpost.com alumnus, are occupied by the Post Co’s web operations. A post.com spokeswoman confirmed that the ad indeed is for that space.

The move is not entirely surprising. Posties have been expecting it for years. The question for the web workers is what place they will have as the paper asserts more control over its digital operations. Some of my former colleagues are worried that the result will be job cuts, something that would not be entirely surprising at a time when the Post is trying to deal, like other newspapers, with a decline in precious advertising revenue. Then there is a question of culture. The Post has maintained separate print and digital newsrooms for more than a decade. Based on firsthand experience and many published reports, that physical separation has created its own form of culture clash between the old- and new-media types (since eased to some extent, folks have told me).

EW Scripps CEO: Storytellers are journalism’s future

I spoke late last week with the chief executive of EW Scripps Co, the company that got its share of hisses and boos for shutting down the Rocky Mountain News this past February.

Rich Boehne, a journalist back in the day, is in charge of navigating a chain publisher of U.S. newspapers through the most difficult time that it ever has had, not to mention all the employees of the papers that the company owns. And let’s not forget the local television stations that Scripps also operates.

Boehne and I talked about the future of newspapers for a story that I was working on about the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s 2009 report on the state of the news media. I included some of his remarks in a story that I wrote about ideas that the report had for saving newspapers, but our conversation ranged beyond the story at hand.

The state of the news media? Not so hot

The Project for Excellence in Journalism published its sixth annual State of the News Media report on Monday. The report, at 800 pages and 180,000 words, is a monster. The news media that it’s analyzing, however, is turning into something quite a bit smaller.

The group, along with its chief, Tom Rosenstiel, has provided a snapshot of where the news industry is today, though with an industry so large, a snapshot this size is impossible to condense into one little blog, let alone a story for the wire. If you’re looking to wallow, dig in to the specifics, follow this link.

Here, meanwhile, are some of the introductory remarks and top findings of the study, mostly in the study’s own words. Warning: These findings are not suitable for your friends in journalism who are struggling to maintain their sense of self-worth.

Washington Post takes care of Business

The press release says that The Washington Post is expanding its “A” section. This is true. It also is eliminating its business section on a standalone basis, except for a more enhanced version that will run on Sundays. Our story has just hit the wire. Read the memo here:

Beginning March 30, we will make several changes in The Post’s presentation of business news and some Style-section features.

Our business coverage will shift into the main news package in the A Section Monday through Saturday. We will have a new business and economics display page inside the section, designed to signal to readers the centrality of economic news, as well as the increasing overlap of political and economic events, in today’s world. The expanded A Section will allow us to make better decisions about story play and length, and to run a leaner, better-organized newspaper.

Your newspaper died? People don’t care

I hope I’m not violating any journalistic obligations toward objectivity by calling the following piece of news from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press rather depressing.

The group said that fewer than half of Americans, 43 percent, say that losing their local paper would hurt civic life in their community “a lot.” Just 33percent say that they would miss reading the paper a lot if it went away.

And that’s the good news! According to the study, 42 percent of respondents answered “not much” or “not at all” when asked if they would miss their papers. That’s not the kind of news that inspires folks at papers threatened with shutdown like the Tucson Citizen, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and San Francisco Chronicle, not to mention ones that have shut down like the Rocky Mountain News.

Two-newspaper city? Try Montreal, with *four*

montreal

Here’s a contribution to the newspaper files from my colleague Phil Wahba, born and raised in the city of Montreal:

With the Seattle Post-Intelligencer potentially closing its print edition or shutting down entirely next week, The New York Times wrote today that it is possible that a city of 3.3 million people, and other large cities, might only be able to support one paper.

Contrast that with Montreal, a city with 3.7 million people and four dailies, three French and one English.

More government aid to newspapers

The last time I mentioned the word “bailout” in connection with newspapers, I caught my fair share of flak from the conservative blogosphere for even entertaining the notion. I also caught a few rounds from Connecticut lawmakers who thought that I was suggesting their attempt to help secure tax breaks for struggling newspapers amounted to a bailout.

Having said that, it looks like Washington state is getting into the aid game as Hearst Corp weighs killing its Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper.

Here’s an Associated Press report about Washington’s state House of Representatives approving a temporary tax break for newspapers:

Hey buddy, don’t knock my newspaper!

The 24/7 Wall Street blog’s list of newspapers that it teed up as going out of business this year is making a certain group of people rather unhappy — the people who run those papers. Two of them are so hopping mad that they have aired their complaints to the public.

You can read the whole list on 24/7 Wall Street, but here is what it said about:

New York Daily News:

NY Daily News is one of several large papers fighting for circulation and advertising in the New York City area. Unlike The New York Times, New York Post, Newsday, and Newark Star Ledger, the Daily News is not owned by a larger organization. Real estate billionaire Mort Zuckerman owns the paper. Based on figures from other big dailies it could easily lose $60 million or $70 million and has no chance of recovering from that level

Wall Street Journal finds friend in Chicago

…And we’re not talking about Tribune Chief Executive Sam Zell. We Mean Coleen Davison, private citizen, and resident of Chicago, Illinois.

The Wall Street Journal turned a letter from Davison, a former Chicago Tribune subscriber, into an advertisement — that it tried to run in the Trib. Trouble is, that paper declined to run the ad. Now, it’s running in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Trib’s rival.

Here’s some of her letter:

Our growing discontent with the Tribune’s diminishing quality became intolerable after their redesign last fall, and led us to explore other news options. We settled on the WSJ after perusing several different newspapers, even though neither my husband nor I are particularly involved in the financial world. … While the focus is obviously on the business sector, there is so much to be gleaned about our world from your reporting. Your journalists/contributors clearly know their subjects. Articles are presented articulately and coherently. Your coverage of world news and your human interest pieces are insightful, engaging and thought provoking. And I LOVE your editorial pages-just when I had begun to think common sense was a lost art, I’ve discovered the WSJ!

Online ads, creatively in your face

The Online Publishers Association got a bunch of Web publishers (including Reuters) to agree to test a new series of ad formats that it says will “stimulate a renaissance of creative advertising on the Internet.”

Renaissance? Indeed, says the OPA. The ads will:

    Inspire creativity and high-quality advertising Provide a greater share of voice for the advertisers Introduce a measurement to capture impact Enhance interactivity to build user engagement with brands

Or, roughly translated: The new online ad formats are supposed to work because there will be fewer of them, they will be larger, they theoretically could command a higher fee for advertisers who buy the space, and more people will buy stuff because of them.

Here are the formats:

    The Fixed Panel (recommended dimension is 336 wide x 860 tall), which looks naturally embedded into the page layout and scrolls to the top and bottom of the page as a user scrolls. The XXL Box (recommended dimension is 468 wide x 648 tall), which has page-turn functionality with video capability. The Pushdown (recommended dimension is 970 wide x 418 tall), which opens to display the advertisement and then rolls up to the top of the page.

This is intended as a way to succeed the era of banner ads because who, after all, looks at them except as a prelude to irritation? (No one, according to lots of studies)