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Showing posts from April, 2009

BANKRUPT NEWSPAPERS GIVE EXECUTIVE BONUSES

Failure isn’t what it used to be. Bankrupt newspaper companies are following the lead of AIG and Lehman Brothers and rewarding executives with large bonuses. The Tribune Co. is trying to pay out $13 million in bonuses, the Journal Registers Co. is trying to pay $2 million, and Philadelphia Newspapers has already given hundreds of thousands in bonuses to its corporate officers.

Company spokesmen say the bonuses make good business sense by rewarding good performance and keeping executives from leaving the companies. Both arguments are hollow. The first rationale rewards performance in running the companies into the ground and the retention rationale assumes other newspaper companies are hiring and would want to hire the tainted executives.

The issue of bonuses has emerged because newspapers filing for bankruptcy are not liquidating, but using Chapter 11 to create reorganization plans that will allow them to change the terms of the debt and union contracts. They have to seek approval from …

PERFORMANCE PROBLEMS SHAKE MYSPACE

The high hopes that News Corp. had for MySpace when it paid $580 million in for the social networking site in 2005 have never been realized and appear more elusive than ever.

Consequently, MySpace co-founders Chris DeWolfe (who is CEO) and Tom Anderson (who is President) are being pushed out of their management roles in major shakeup of the company's leadership.

The move is signals News Corp’s concern over the site’s declining market share and poor returns.

In the past three years Facebook has surpassed MySpace in total number of users worldwide, but MySpace has managed to remain the largest site in the U.S. and has 130 million users globally.

In 2008 the company had estimated advertising revues of $585 million, with the bulk coming from its ad-sharing deal with Google. But it will take a long, long time for News Corp. to recoup its investment at that pace. That revenue problem is compounded because Google has been unhappy with its MySpace deal and is unlikely to continue it at presen…

DOES ONLINE NEWS STILL NEED OFFLINE TIES?

When the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ceased publication in mid-March it continued www.seattlepi.com as a web-only publication. It employs 20 persons, making it one of the largest online staffs of any local Internet news organization.

Although it has a much smaller staff than the print edition did, the site continues to cover local news and sports, provides national and international feeds, and features local bloggers. In many ways it is what many observers have called the future of post-print journalism. It is well recognized that print is an expensive way to convey news, information, and commentary so observers argue that the Internet is the answer for community informational needs because the public is increasingly getting their news there anyway.

It is still early days for forming a definitive view of how dropping print may affect online demand, but the P-I’s situation gives a unique opportunity to observe effects. In February—before the print edition closed—the website had 1.8 millio…

THE WILD AND WOOLLY WORLD OF CABLE, SATELLITE AND BROADBAND MARKETING

Increasing competition among cable, satellite, and broadband suppliers, combined with slower growth in consumer uptake because the industries have reached maturity, is leading to aggressive marketing efforts to wrestle market share from other companies.

If the leading companies followed classic marketing strategies, they would be offering consumers better arrays of networks and services, better customer service, and/or better prices in efforts to attract more customers.

Instead, many of the largest competitors have been engaging in acts that harm customers and consumers by using illegal and deceptive marketing practices and strategies designed to unwittingly wring greater revenue from their customers. Although the companies apparently think there are benefits in behaving badly, their marketing practices are increasingly getting them into trouble.

Aggressive telemarketing—which has always offended consumers—has landed a number of leading firms in hot water. Comcast and Direct TV have just…

TECHNOLOGY RESTORES COLLECTIVE CONTEMPLATION

Humans are social and tribal animals and we have always collectively contemplated the meaning and potential responses to issues and events. In the past tribes gathered around fires and villagers gathered in taverns, cafes, and community halls to consider contemporary developments.

Individual engagement and participation in discussion were the norm, with some reliance on leaders and those who held the history and wisdom of the community.

Lifestyle changes in the 19th and 20th century society created mass society and reduced time and opportunities for collective contemplation. It was replaced by a form of representative contemplation and a greater reliance on expert and professional commentators. The effect was primarily to produce communications telling members of communities what to think and do.

Contemporary communication technologies are dramatically altering that situation and supporting a return to collective contemplation. While not producing face-to-face discussion, blogs and techn…