Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Enquirer in Wired

In Wired, Jeff Howe uses the Enquirer as the central character in this story, "To Save Themselves, US Newspapers Put Readers to Work," about how Gannett newspapers are trying to move ahead as the print product declines.

This is a trite and largely uncritical look at how the Enquirer and Gannett are remaking themselves. Howe is a proponent of crowdsourcing as a newsgathering technique, and he uses the Wired article to promote crowdsourcing as vital to the survival of newspapers.

All you need to know about the author is in this sentence fragment. After describing some of the Enquirer's online moves, Howe writes, "Such innovation isn't exactly Gannett's style. Better known for ruthless cost-cutting than risky initiatives ...."

I have no love for Gannett (surprised?), and "ruthless cost-cutting" is only one of the kinder ways to characterize the company. But saying the company isn't known for risky initiatives just isn't true. What do you call the startup of USA Today? What other company has started a national daily newspaper from scratch and succeeded? Al Neuharth was an Evil Genius. He built Gannett from a chain of 10 newspapers in upstate New York to an international media company, and that didn't happen without taking some risk. Where Neuharth was evil, though, was in emphasizing selling ads over groundbreaking journalism. That was great for quarterly numbers and Wall Street, but bad for the long-term survival of daily newspapers. The fact remains Howe oversimplified Gannett's history, and a deeper appreciation for the company's history might have improved his article.

Howe eats up Tom Callinan's line of bullshit. Callinan is the evil without the genius. When Howe told how Callinan went to college at night for a degree in new media, I was reminded of this from "A Fish Called Wanda:"
Otto: Don't call me stupid.

Wanda: Oh, right! To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people! I've known sheep that could outwit you. I've worn dresses with higher IQs. But you think you're an intellectual, don't you, ape?

Otto: Apes don't read philosophy.

Wanda: Yes, they do, Otto. They just don't understand it.
Callinan is not the king of new media, and there are a lot of questions Howe could have addressed, but didn't. He thinks its great that the Enquirer has a bunch of programmers putting data online, but he doesn't ask how many reporters the Enquirer has. Howe says the Enquirer's web efforts have attracted dozens of businesses that had never advertised with the Enquirer before, but he didn't ask what they're spending. He presents impressive numbers on how the web efforts are growing, but doesn't question how long that might continue. I thought Wired was better than this.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He thinks its great that the Enquirer has a bunch of programmers putting data online, but he doesn't ask how many reporters the Enquirer has."

This statement proves that the newsroom sees nothing but itself as important in that business. The Enquirer has 2 developers. How many reporters?

Additionally, one developer built everything that was referenced in that article, but no one ever gave him credit. Classy.

It's funny how self-centered reporters can be...you know...since they're just watching out for "society" and all.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Wired article uses this phrase: "The Enquirer's team of in-house programmers."

It is entirely possible that NewsAche wouldn't know how many there are and could have take the term "team" to mean more than a "couple."

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This quote (if true) might indicate the value of web advertising.

"The reality is that the average subscriber to a print newspaper represents $350 in annual revenue. An online reader represents about $35 to $53 annually."

Seems that it takes 6 to 10 times the effort as print advertising today. That will undoubtedly change but the web's low operational costs will make it harder for Gannett to simply run other papers out of business as historically been the case with the print version. Maybe it would be time for business to improve itself with better stories!

4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ad for a VP of Finance at the Enquirer dated Monday:


5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is entirely possible that NewsAche wouldn't know how many there are and could have take the term "team" to mean more than a "couple."

Am I to understand that a blogger whose sole purpose is to defend the reporter's integrity and way of life doesn't fact check?

I'm shocked.

Before you pan the quality of other news sources, you might consider placing your monitor in front of a mirror.

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought this blogger's sole purpose was to trash his employer.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Initially, cincyMOMS was projected to bring in $200,000 its first year; it made $386,000 in half that time."

So how much of this revenue came as a result of WCPO.com telling the Enquirer to take a hike and reps redirecting that to Enquirer pages like Cincymoms? It had to be a fair amount given the amount of traffic that 9 delivered prior to the end of that business relationship.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They just wanted to do something to save their jobs,"

Get in line, spreading bullshit worked for USA Today, CNN and FOX. Who needs the truth when we can be entertained by the corporate wizards.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the old adage that “people don’t leave companies, they leave their bosses” holds true, then Gannett should ask what the hell is going on in Cincinnati.

Devish’s departure highlights the loss of another talented individual (a former publisher and seven time president’s ring recipient) from the Enquirer’s ranks, and the fifth OC member to leave in just over a year. Her number two recently left after serving less time, and it’s obvious countless others from other areas have voluntarily departed.

Admittedly, people leave for many reasons. But, if Gannett doesn’t actively explore why, they should as it’s likely that they’ll discover that they are seeking to fill the wrong corner office on the 20th floor.

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad that others realize that Mary Devish is an incredible loss for the Enquirer. She was a breath of fresh air when she walked in the door and she managed to get things done (in good ways and across the company) despite the difficulties of Enquirer history, cut-throat peers of questionable honesty trying to save their own skin and crushing demands from above. I hope that Mary's move was more than the best thing at the time and that it is truly good for her.

11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is anyone willing to speculate on the choice Devish made in leaving? What were employees told? If there was any communication to the employees, did it ring true or was it hollow and questionable as to the motive(s)? Did Mary, as well as the second in finance, have greener pastures?

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently no reason was given for Devish leaving; just that she's leaving Gannett. No mention of another job was made. As far as her second in command that left - what I heard was that he went back to Boise ; the new owners there probably gave him a lot to go back.

9:36 PM  

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