Revamped US Journalism Courses Attract Students

From the Chronicle of HE (Katherine Mangan):
“Many universities report that journalism enrollments are up this year. Over the past few weeks, a lot of these budding journalists have been blogging, broadcasting, and tweeting their way through introductory courses that have been revamped to embrace the digital age.

Applications to Columbia University’s master-of-science program in journalism rose 44 percent, to 1,181, for the class entering this fall, and an investigative-journalism specialty drew more than twice as many applications this year than last year, up from 54 in 2008 to 121 this year.

Elsewhere, applications to master’s programs were up 30 percent at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 25 percent at the University of Maryland at College Park, and 24 percent at Stanford University.”

Read more here [link]

Finding a niche: do papers need to focus better on what they do well?

Jim Brady, web consultant to Guardian America: “You take most newspapers in the U.S., there are a couple things they’re really, really good at, better at probably than anybody else. And then there are a long list of things they’re just no better at—especially if you look at soft sections […]

I don’t think that producing a paper that’s great at 30 percent of the subjects it covers and OK at the other 70 percent really has much of a future on the Web, because it’s just too hard to compete. We’re in this social media world now where if I’m on Twitter or I’m on Facebook and someone sends me an article, three pieces of information come with that: what friend of mine sent me the article, what the headline says, and who produced the article. And I would argue that who produced the article is by far the least important of the three.”

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A journalistic limbo until we reach The New World | Editors’ Blog

Imagined scenarios for online journalism, before we reach the New World (Promised Land, Golden Age etc), by Benji Lanyado:

“1) The paywalls go up, and a black market for scoops emerges
2) The non-paywall sites are damned because they didn’t
3) The fall of ‘quality’ news
4) The rise of ‘all blogosphere’, and the government subsidy solution
5) The New World: Shirky’s vision of a conglomeration of multiple news organisations begins to take shape. A handful of old media names, dramatically reduced in size and scope, survive thanks to government propping. This ‘new BBC’ competes with the vastly augmented blogosphere, and journalism becomes healthy once again.”

>> And they all live happily ever after. At least until the next disruptive technology / economic crisis / cultural shift [insert choice of cause here] …

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Phone app lets news readers be extraordinarily helpful

Steve Outing on the Extraordinaries: "…a brilliant concept in empowering the crowd to do good things. Foremost, the idea is to allow people to use the little bits of spare time they have (riding the bus home, waiting at the DMV, waiting for the movie to start, etc.) to do small bits of volunteering using the Extraordinaries iPhone app. Examples include tagging photos for the Smithsonian or other museums. The San Diego Voice investigative news website is asking people to use the app to record location and photos of city agencies and buildings wasting water during the current drought period.

This app and model of micro-volunteering has potentially huge implications for journalism. Reporters and editors should be thinking about how Colker’s project can help them improve and expand their reporting and research projects. I hope you’ll listen to the interview."

Read more here [link]

UK news sites see 54% increase in hits from USA

Robin Goad of Hitwise sets out the figures, noting that the Drudge Report is the second-largest source, sandwiched by Google Search (top) and Google News (third):

“UK Internet visits to News and Media websites grew by 8% last year, but British news sites aren’t just being successful at home. As the chart below illustrates, US Internet visits to UK News and Media websites have increased by 54% over the last 12 months.

BBC News ranked as the 21st most visited News and Media website in US during August, while the Daily Mail was 47th and the BBC Homepage 65th. Other British sites in the US News and Media top 200 last month included: the Telegraph (71st), the FT (115th), The Sun (117th), Times Online (131st) and the Guardian (134th).

The growth of British news sites is somewhat slower in Australia, but then they are starting from a larger base; BBC News ranked 13th in the Australian News and Media category last month, for example, while the corporation’s homepage was 18th.”

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BusinessWeek sinks $16m on social media project

Sounds like a spectacularly large spend for a social networking site, even for a large publishing company. Makes me wonder if there's more to be told. From Brand Republic:

"As the bid deadline for ailing BusinessWeek magazine approaches the McGraw-Hill title is revealed to have spent $16m on creating its social networking site, which is generating little cash.

BusinessWeek launched its social networking venture Business Exchange in 2007. By 2008 it had spent $16m on the site, which is estimated by the New York Time to have generated just $600,000 in revenues."

Read more here [link]

Paying the price: cost of Johnston Press’s debt

Sobering stuff as Peter Kirwan spells out the numbers underlying Johnston Press’s refinancing of £485m debt. As he puts it, “the maths are grim”, concluding that:

the running total for bank payments comes to £75.2m during the next year. Remarkably, this equates to an annualised interest rate of neither 5% nor 10%, but 15.5%.

This, remember, is before Johnston Press repays any of its outstanding loans. Here, too, the terms of the deal are draconian. In addition to everything else, the company has promised to repay £85m of debt by next May.

Now clearly, this is a lot of money for a rapidly-shrinking regional newspaper publisher that turned in £27.5m in pre-tax profits during the first six months of this year.

Kirwan then raises the prospect — if Johnston is unable to repay that £85m by May 2010 — of payment in kind (PIK) penalties, which could take the effective interest rate to 20% or more. Gulp.