About Raymond Howze

Journalist, formerly with the Tennessean and Leaf-Chronicle.

To Lucas Allyn

May 25, 2013

Sonia, me, Lucas. May 25, 2013

I remember it like it was yesterday. Lucas sharing with me one of his many outlooks on life:

“Girls like guys who are good looking or guys with a lot of money,” he said. “And with this gut, I’m sure as hell not gonna be good looking so I better be making a s***load of money when I’m older.”

Now I could go on about the flaws in that reasoning, but that’s not what we’re here for. In fact, like many things Lucas would say, some of that is more true than we’d like to admit. What I really want to do is spend some time reflecting on a friend’s life. A friend who was engaging, charming and saw the world as he saw fit.

I lost my closest friend, Lucas Allyn, to a boating accident in Utah this past week. The medical examiner determined carbon monoxide poisoning as the cause of death.

Lucas was that friend I could trust with anything, including my life. He was even going to be my best man (if I ever were to get married). My family took him in almost a year ago when he moved out of his apartment and since then, our bond became even stronger. He became essentially, the brother I never had.

It’s never easy to be reminded of life’s frailty with the passing of someone close to you. You can go from having the whole world ahead of you to being someone people write memorials about with the snap of a finger. All aspirations gone like that.

If anyone knew Lucas, they know he was a fun-loving, charismatic guy. He was someone who made you feel important, like you meant something to him (whether you really did or not, only he knew). If you were around him, you could just feel that energy and drive he had. He had the tenacity of Mark Cuban coupled with the business mind of Charles Koch.

Hell, he’d always tell me he wanted to be a multi-millionaire by the age of 30. And after that, a billionaire.

You see, he had this plan we’d start a business together. What that business was, we had no idea, but that didn’t matter. It was the idea that drove Lucas and boy, was he an idea man. His business ideas ranged from creating one that installed peep holes in people’s front doors (Low start-up costs, he’d tell me and “You’d be surprised how many people don’t have one.”) to building high speed trains that would transport the city’s trash to a new waste management facility in the west desert (for when the current facility fills up in the next 20 to 30 years. “They’re going to have to put it somewhere,” he said). And yes, you can laugh here, just like I did the first time I heard ’em.

That brings me to trains. He loved trains. He turned into an 8-year-old boy when it came to trains. He even attended the midnight premiere of Unstoppable, the movie starring Denzel Washington about, you guessed it, runaway trains.

Lucas told me many times that when he had enough money and if none of us were married by 40, he was going to buy us a bachelor mansion with acres of property. On that property was going to be a full-fledged, real world train system — one he would drive around whenever he pleased. He would joke about this, but I know at some level, he was completely serious.

“Can’t get a DUI on my own property going around in circles,” he joked.

And that was the great thing about Lucas — he hadn’t quite grown up yet. He still had that charming naïveté a lot of us lose over the years because we get caught up in the fear of failure and “getting that degree”. Lucas wasn’t quite there yet, and that’s why we loved him. Sure, he had his share of burned bridges (probably more than most of us), but he didn’t let that faze him.

Lucas would bring up the business dream half the time we were perusing downtown Salt Lake. I was supposed to handle communications and marketing “because I can’t write worth a damn,” he’d say. Another friend was going to handle sales, brokering deals, etc. And Lucas was going to be the head honcho, the deal maker.

“You see, I’m the one that’s good at making people feel comfortable and confident in whatever their investment is,” he’d always tell me.

He was right. He was pretty darn good at that.

Whether that dream would ever to come to fruition, we’ll never know. But the beauty of it was just that, a dream — something to motivate ourselves.

No, Lucas didn’t last more than a year in college. (I’m sure we all know someone where hitting the books just wasn’t for them). And we all know who else never received college degrees … So who’s to say he couldn’t have been someone we all were talking about 10, 20 years from now?

Side note: I was in the process of helping him enroll in school again. In the end, he wanted to do whatever it took to get to the top. I’ll always remember this quote from him: “You’re never penalized for over-dressing … just like you’re never penalized for being over-educated.” Lucas liked to live a life of excess, in all senses of the word. He even had dress shirts with his full name, Lucas Marcellus Allyn, embroidered on the collar.

In talking with his mother on Sunday, I said to her, “I think he looked up to me as much as I looked up to him.” She responded with the all too true cliché, “I guess opposites do attract.”

What she was getting at (and if we’re looking to put labels on things), was that I was the “responsible” one in the friendship. Lucas, on the other hand, was the “wildcard”. He took his share of risks. He knew things I didn’t. And I knew things he didn’t. We saw the world through different eyes and that’s why we got along. Lucas was taking the non-traditional path to a career. I “played it safe”. Went to school.

There’s no right way here, it’s simply about where we would end up.

If he taught me one thing, it’s to enjoy life because it’s too short not to.

Too short, indeed.

Lucas Allyn – Oct. 9, 1990 to June 29, 2013

UPDATE: The Daily Mail posted an article Tuesday with more details of the incident.

"Please, no pictures." - Lucas Allyn

“Please, no pictures.” – Lucas Allyn

Advertisements

Simply being there

I couldn’t help but keep coming back to how Samuel Freedman in Letters to a Young Journalist discusses the idea of showing up in reporting. We spend a lot of time discussing how the Internet has changed news and how news outlets can find new ways to profit from the Internet. But it has also helped diminish the need to go out in the world.

Now I don’t think it is all a bad thing. The Internet can make for much more comprehensive reporting, especially with data. But we can’t forget the importance of having, “scuffed up shoes.” What Freedman means is that reporting is more than taking what press releases give you. There’s more than showing up to all the White House press conferences and staged photo-ops. As the Washington Post reporter, Walter Pincus, won the Columbia Journalism School award for outstanding political reporting, he wasn’t just regurgitating information fed to him by the press office. Pincus was asking the important questions and getting other information as to what was really in Iraq.

What’s even more interesting about the Pincus story is that his stories weren’t even showing up on the front pages. The stories created by the press office were. Pincus on the other hand, was engaging in his basic reporting skills to get to the answer.

I also liked how Freedman discusses in addition to showing up, the need to use all of your senses in reporting. There’s more to it than just showing up and writing about what you see. What’s it smell like, sound like or even taste like are sometimes more valuable questions to the story than the visual aspect. For example, with the story of the reporter walking through the New York neighborhood with the man who grew up there, he asked him what it smelled like. This in turn evoked a nice little anecdote from the man’s childhood that I’m sure led to other information the subject could recall. It was a great example of showing up and asking the more than just visual questions.

Learning to also be human

If there’s one quote that sticks out to me in Samuel Freedman’s first chapter of Letters to a Young Journalist, it has to be the following: “If you can’t be a person, then you’ll ultimately be less of a journalist.”

Freedman brings up a good point here. As journalism students, we are always taught to be objective our fair in our reporting, that we need to maintain a wall between the subject and ourself. This is true to an extent. Maintaining that boundary with sources is part of being professional. But should it go as far as to remain emotionless when a source begins to cry?

Freedman addresses some of these questions in the  ”Temperament” chapter. I think Freedman’s example of the Times reporters who sometimes cried after covering families affected by 9/11 is a good example for when journalists can be more human than normal. It’s an unusual story that can make every person involved in the story emotional.

As journalists, we’re supposed to write engaging stories that are meant to humanize subjects. How are we expected to do this is we ourselves can’t act human also? A journalist can’t get to know a subject for a feature story if the journalist doesn’t connect with the subject at some human level.

It’s like the story about the 700-pound man and reporter Mike Sager. Sager may not have known as much detail as he did if he wasn’t the source’s friend at some level. I think if we expect to get to know intimate details about an individual’s life, we have to be able to act human as well.

This is something that can only come with experience. Yes, there are many times in journalism when it is necessary to be very professional. But there are almost just as many times where we need to lower some of that emotionless professionalism to connect with our sources. If done too much, our ethics can be compromised. You don’t want to become too attached to the source because that could effect the fairness or objectivity of the coverage. The key is to find a balance that will reveal enough about the source without compromising any objectiveness and cloud the journalist’s judgment.

Storytelling and reporting

From the Journalism and Democracy blog.

While reading the chapter about making the significant interesting and relevant, I couldn’t help but think about a lecture we had last semester in Advanced Reporting. This discussion focused on the difference between storytelling and reporting. In other words, the difference between reading a story and reading a report. The question was: Are the two different? Yes, at a fundamental level, there’s a difference between how you write a report about a shooting that occurred over the weekend. That strategy is different from how you may go about telling the story of a 12-year-old dying boy’s last four weeks, as is the example Kovach and Rosentiel give us.

Yet, the two are strangely similar. The chapter quotes Howard Rheingold as saying there’s one aspect that is most important; are taxes going up, is there going to be a war? “The other end of the spectrum is just what’s purely interesting … And most stories are something of a mix of the two,” Rheingold said. I think we have to try to remind ourselves of this when we’re covering what may seem to be a minor story. Many times it’s a reflection of something bigger, and it is a journalist’s job to bring that out. That’s where the rule of making the significant interesting and relevant comes into play.

Kovach and Rosentiel discuss the lack of time journalists have today as a factor to why this type of in depth journalism is harder to do today. Newsroom cutbacks have strained journalists all over. Many just don’t have the time to dedicate to a thorough, Pulitzer prize winning piece. When they do though, it doesn’t go unnoticed. There will always be a need or desire for these types of storytelling in journalism. Journalists just have to be careful moving forward and not forget how to tell intricate stories. Kovach and Rosentiel suggest to experiment with different storytelling techniques. It’s not just A to Z, but maybe it would be better to start with L, M, or P.

While a report on a fire or shooting may seem routine at first, there’s always a level of storytelling that can be done. The hard part is finding that story. You can start with the basics such as why the fire occurred or the amount of damage it caused. But there is also most likely a story that can be found. The key is to always keep an observant and open mind about your reporting to be an effective story teller.

Journalism and its public forum role

I wanted to spend some time on journalism job to serve as a public forum. It’s animportant aspect in the profession today because of the many ways to contribute or create a public forum. The Internet has opened up many doors for journalists to engage with their readers, or viceversa. However, there is a big problem with this ease of being able to communicate with the public. That problem is the tendency for journalists to not verify all of their information.

Kovach and Rosentiel mention in the chapter that especially with the rise of the live interview on television, there’s an increasing tendency to rely on the interviewee to have correct information. This takes weight of the vetting process off of the journalist. But this is exactly what journalism cannot afford to let happen.

“As this new and more robust public forum gains momentum, the strength of what is replaced — the professional effort of verification — diminishes,” write Kovach and Rosentiel.

If we don’t have journalists vetting the necessary information, it can become too easy to spread rumors, such as what happened with Chris Matthews and the Clinton scandal mentioned in the beginning of the chapter. This is where the debate of what truth is in journalism comes in. As was discussed in the truth chapter, truth in journalism is more of a practical truth. It’s hard to define exactly what truth is, but we know it is something that is more like an onion — layer by layer (story by story) the truth is revealed.

I think an expansive public forum, like what we have today with blogs and comments, can only help reveal truth in journalism. But journalists must remember some of the principles of basic reporting with this new public forum. They must remember to verify all the information. Just because a source tells you the information in a live interview doesn’t make what they say necessarily true.

While we saw what can happen with providing a public forum without at least some type of guidelines — we get an argument culture. One that paints a black and white picture and polarizes any type of discussion. It seems that culture has certainly diminished in recent years. Now, I think the public forum role has been put back in the journalist’s seat a bit. People want a professional product and one that they can rely on. This can only happen if we put these people (journalists) in that position of trust and authority.

A newspaper has to reflect the ideas of a community, but also has to challenge some of those views — that’s what verification is. As the president of the Tribune Publishing Company, Jack Fuller, said: “A newspaper that fails to reflect its community deeply will not succeed. But a newspaper that does not challenge its community’s values and preconceptions will lose respect for failing to provide the honesty and leadership that newspapers are expected to offer.”

Learning from mistakes

*From the Journalism and Democracy blog

Many of the topics covered in this week’s reading, a Federal Communications Commission report titled The Information Needs of Communities, have many similarities to subjects we’re covering in another class, Changing Media Business Models. I can’t help but think about what a good thing this is. We have learned so much about the reporting in the last four years, but not as much about the economics or business behind the news.

Learning how to write and report are valuable skills. Just as valuable though, are how to make a living off of those skills. Or think of it in this way — how to not make the mistakes print newspapers have made in the past.

Before I knew more as to why newspapers had been reluctant to jump on the Internet train in the beginning or why they didn’t charge for that content, I naïvely thought it was because members in the industry didn’t know any better. But that is far from it.  Look at the developments from a market standpoint. The newspaper industry is not the only industry to be effected by disruptive technology (i.e. the Internet). Disruptive technology happens all over the place. Just look at computers from the 80s to now. They’re significantly different and many businesses have entered and left the industry along they way because they couldn’t keep up with the technology developments.

This is what happened to newspapers. When the popularity of the Internet started growing, newspapers couldn’t immediately shift all their resources over to the web, they had to learn what the new resource meant for them and how to start using it. It’s hard to make business decisions with an unproven technology.

This manner of thinking has led me to look at the newspaper industry’s mistakes in the past decade in a completely different perspective. I sympathize, although not completely, with why the industry has faced profit difficulties in the last few years.

The reading explained how the rise of radio led newspapers to act hostile toward the new medium. The newspapers didn’t want the competition. This is eerily similar to what we saw with the Internet and the print medium. The print papers didn’t know how to react to the Internet at first and were somewhat skeptical to the new competitor in the market. However, now, we see newspapers learning how to utilize the Internet to the best of its ability.

The Internet has also created about as many negatives for the democratization of news as it has positives. Newspapers have had to cut down on their staff sizes due to decreasing revenue. After all, ad revenue dropped 48% from 2005 to 2010 according to the reading.

The decrease in staff size has led to less things being covered. Beats that used to have four of five reporters now only have one. That doesn’t sound good at all. One of the worst beats to get hit by this all is the investigative teams of newspapers. With less time for reporters to invest in stories, you can only imagine the amount of investigative stories that weren’t done as a result.

“An ill-informed public will benefit people who can push an agenda without accountability and public scrutiny,” Education Week publisher Virginia Edwards said.

I think that quote epitomizes what can happen if we have less reporters filling that watchdog role.

Now those are just a few of the negatives the Internet has created. It has also created many positives. The barrier for entry into the journalism world is essentially zero nowadays because of the ease of creating a blog. More voices in the public discourse is a good thing. If newspapers can figure out how to best tap this resource, they might figure out how to break even in the industry instead of continuing to lose money.

Capitol Hill Seattle is one of the bright spots in the rise of blogs. It is basically run by one man, Tom Fucoloro. But what is so intriguing about this website is the neighborhood’s investment in the site. It’s a blog that focuses on the news for one neighborhood in Seattle. The beauty of it is that just about anyone can post on the website. The “news” stories are distinguished from other types of posts, as Fucoloro explained to our media models class last week.

This type of website may not be able to survive in other cities not as big as Seattle. But what it does do is tap that interest all of us have in the happenings in our neighborhood. It allows for the community to have a stake in the website. Without them it wouldn’t be here today. It’s an example newspapers today can probably learn a lesson or two from.

Finding inspiration in Seattle

The first thing that stood out to me about the Seattle trip was how each media model attempts to serve a somewhat different type of audience. All the places we visited compete for similar readers and viewers, they are all located in Seattle after all. But the highlight had to have been how each place recognized the importance of building and audience, not striving for page views.

Before I get to the details of the trip, I want to highlight this idea of audience vs. traffic. It was something I discussed with the publisher and editor of the Idaho Post Register, Roger Plothow, for the legacy media assignment. Plothow guided me toward two posts he wrote that get at the importance of building an audience. If you’re interested: Audience versus traffic and his ideas behind paywalls.

Each visit really deserves its own blog post, but that would get too repetitive. So below are short reflections from each stop.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Yes, I think it was pretty clear seeing those empty office spaces was a menacing sight to any of us about to enter the journalism world. The paper cut down its staff by more than 100 after all. Having such a small staff also affected their news coverage. We saw this in how they frequently talked about how popular slideshows were on their site. They had slideshows of everything from celebrities to cats in Seattle. But what journalistic purpose does this serve?

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

If it serves anything, I think it’s more entertainment based. It’s a way to drive people to their site but not so great at growing an audience. Now the PI does still have reporters that go out and cover Seattle news. The fact is, they just don’t have the ability to cover as much of it anymore so they have to make tough calls on what to cover and what not to cover. (I can imagine this can be tough at times) The PI has had to switch how they try to reach their audience having moved over to online only. This shows in their type of coverage, yet they still do serve a certain type of reader. Even if it is one that likes browsing slideshows.

Tom Fucoloro

Fucoloro’s meeting was a stark contrast to what we went to next, The Seattle Times. This was one guy running two successful blogs. One guy! The content on these websites is very focused. One covers the news for just one neighborhood in Seattle, Capitol Hill, another simply covers biking in Seattle. So how are these blogs maintained? It’s a great example of developing a niche audience. There were enough people that wanted to read about these two subjects, that they can maintain themselves.

Blogger Tom Fucoloro

Blogger Tom Fucoloro

Idealistically, and Fucoloro hinted at this, a blog like Capitol Hill Seattle would hopefully be sustained by the community at one point. People can already post on the website themselves, but Fucoloro runs most of the news content and reporting, all while riding his bike. I liked seeing how this can be done. The key is finding something that people want to read about, whether they know it yet or not, and really honing in on that subject. It showed me that something this small can be done, and while you’re still young and have more freedom, it’s worth it to look into trying.

Seattle Times

Now the Seattle Times so different than the places we had been before, I didn’t know what to think at first. It was a full-scale newsroom with a large staff and hundreds of full desks. The first question I wanted to find out was how does a big paper like this still appear somewhat healthy? What immediately came across was the staff’s pride in being a family owned paper. I think this is a large reason due to their ability to still be in business. It has allowed them to experiment a little more liberally with new technology and innovations with the new journalism model.

Seattle Times

Seattle Times

The Times still prints their newspaper. Something I don’t see happening down the road. But what was refreshing to see was the fact they have people constantly analyzing the market. These people are trying to see what prices their readers will respond to. How many people are still reading print and who are those people and how many are only digital. This is work that needs to be done all around by newspapers. If they want to be ahead of the curve moving forward, they need to be able to predict what’s next. Unlike what happened across the industry with the rise of the internet. The Seattle Times showed me they are doing this and might even be ready to thrive in the future of news.

GeekWire

GeekWire was probably my favorite visit. This is because they were a true success, maybe even poster child, of entrepreneurial journalism. It started out as two former PI reporters. They knew there was an audience out there that read their tech articles. The two also knew they were being underserved while constrained by a newspaper’s guidelines. So they created their own website. One dedicated to solely tech news.

What I liked most was their loyal following they developed and the site’s alternative funding model. The events they host throughout the year help sustain the business and at the same time develop a strong GeekWire community. The staggered levels of membership was another interesting idea. It certainly wouldn’t fly at any traditional media outlet. But it’s a great idea. If readers want more perks and want to pay more for those perks offered by GeekWire, then there should be no reason they can’t.

Todd Bishop has a closer relationship with the business side of GeekWire than he would at a normal paper. But he’s shown that this can be OK. There doesn’t have to be a complete separation. Bishop said he would like to completely hand it over to someone eventually, but so far has shown it doesn’t effect his ability to do good journalism at the same time. We can learn all the reporting skills possible, but I’ve always thought we should be taught how to make money from those skills at the same time.

MSN and Amazon

The visit to Microsoft and the meeting with the Amazon employee immediately felt like typical corporate culture. Now this isn’t a bad thing, except for the fact that meetings are the popular form of communication in corporate life. But what I got from MSN News was the idea that they are actively trying to understand how people view their news. What they want to read and how they’re getting to their website. These are all important factors into understanding your audience. Something very important for a big company like Microsoft.

Both MSN News and Amazon know their customers/readers very well. They know how to respond to their demands and give them things they don’t know they want. It’s kind of scary to think they can tell us what we want, but it’s true. The aspect of MSN News that took me some time to wrap my head around was the Rumors section. At first I didn’t like it because it felt like it was a way for them to perpetuate untrue rumors and didn’t serve much of a purpose. But their thinking was that they were actively looking into these rumors so why not share with the reader what they are finding out to be true and false. It creates a level of transparency and is apparently something quite popular with MSN News’ audience.

While all of these places try to serve a certain audience, I learned that they understand the importance to creating an audience. They all go about it in different ways and attract different readers, but within each outlet, they’ve learned their audience’s wants and responded to them effectively.

Print and the industry’s mishaps

*From the Changing Media Business Models blog

I was really looking forward to Dan Potter’s visit to class Wednesday because I wanted to hear some of his insight into what mistakes the print industry made with the internet and what it’s doing to try and fix those mistakes now. Much of what print newspapers are trying to do now is figure out a way to charge for their online content — something I’m inherently not very fond of as I’ve grown up with the mindset that online is free, but that is slowly changing.

I was curious to hear from someone who has worked during the years before and after the internet’s presence in delivering news. Potter offered a wealth of experience in the business side of newspapers. When the Missourian began charging for its content last September, I have to say I wasn’t a fan. After all, who really was? Something I had been getting for free was now costing me about $5/month. What I was really interested in was how the paper’s paywall would affect its online readership. As I predicted, the readership went down, 30 to 35 percent as a matter of fact. So what is the problem here? The readers haven’t yet come around to the fact they will need to pay for the content eventually.

The fact is that I believe paywalls for online newspapers are going to become commonplace in the next generation.The next generation will be the ones used to paying for content online, not us.

Sure, we can continue to think of traditional forms of revenue for newspapers through ad sales and subscriptions. But don’t we think there’s the possibility for papers to do something else? My question is this: If the way news is delivered went through such a revolutionary change in the last decade, how come the business side of newspapers do the same? What put the industry in the position it is now was the fact papers didn’t act on the new technology. It seems like it was a problem many industries face — a problem with how to adapt to new technology. There’s a few complicating factors here that make a newspaper’s decision hard. The paper has to ask themselves if their readers are ready for the change. Is it the right change? How can we still profit off of this new technology?

Those are just a few questions the newspaper industry I’m sure was asking themselves. It seems now the newspaper industry is finally catching up with the digital technology integral to any publication today. What slowed this adaptation was in part due to the newspapers themselves, and second, because of the economy (the readers, advertisers etc.)

We didn’t get a chance to talk about it in class, but what I’ve been racking my brain about the last few months are other ways papers can make money. Surely there’s more ways than the ad revenue and subscriptions. Why can’t they take a note or two from public radio’s funding model? Or learn how to better tailor their content to a specific reader? A paper could create a staggered subscription plan that provides more services to higher paying members and more basic news access to lower paying members for example. That’s just an idea, but one that I think could be looked into.

I don’t know the answers to many of these questions because I haven’t had a chance to learn the business side of newspapers very well while here at the J-school. Hopefully there’s a type of business class required for each sequence in the future. I mean, we can learn all the skills required to be a successful journalist, but what good does that do us if we don’t know how to create a sustainable and profitable business model at the same time? My hope is that newspapers will eventually catch up in the economic shortfalls they’ve had in recent years and learn how to best take advantage of the technology available to them today — and that hopefully readers will come to value the news content enough to pay for digital subscriptions.

Debunking truth

*A reposting of this week’s Journalism and Democracy post.

Last week we discussed quite a bit about the goal of truth, especially in regards to political coverage. I couldn’t help but think about how this was something I struggled with a bit last semester. I think I wrote a blog post about it too. I worked on the public life beat at the Missourian last semester and spent most of the semester covering the enhanced enterprise zone debate — a debate that had many “truths.”

I think this is a great example of how the truth is complex and more than a simple “Yes, it’s true,” or “No, it’s not true,” answer. As I covered this ongoing debate, I realized there was much more to it than simply regurgitating what each side would say at council meetings or planning meetings. Sure, I could easily write about what each side said at the latest meeting, but what purpose would that serve than to just record the day’s events. One side believed there were other ways to grow Columbia’s economy than offering tax incentives to businesses. The other side believed it was a tool to attract and keep businesses in Columbia. When each side would make their case, they believed what they were saying to be true, which made getting at the actual truth a challenge.

Kovach and Rosenthal talk about in chapter two of the Elements of Journalism how if journalists fall into a passive type of role, all they are doing is merely recording the world’s happenings. There’s more to the coverage than serving as a sounding board for political candidates and others in public office who use the media to also serve their interests.

“The search for truth becomes a conversation,” Kovach and Rosenthal write.

I wish I had known about this idea as I was covering Columbia’s EEZ debate. If I thought of it more like a process and conversation, I think it would only have strengthened our coverage. Our goal was to provide a human interest side to the debate. Show readers how implementing a zone would actually impact a community. There’s more to these types of government stories than what you report from meetings or documents and that’s what we wanted to achieve — a conversation that would shed light on the truth behind an EEZ’s impact on a city. (Although now the point is moot because Columbia has decided not to implement the zone)

A quote by Walter Lippmann speaks to this idea of injecting analysis into journalism to better reach the truth.

“News and truth are not the same thing…the function of news is to signalize an event,” Walter Lippmann wrote.

There is news and there is truth. Yes, there is value to “signalizing” an event, but there is more value to getting at the idea of “why” or the meaning behind the event.

Thought also needs to be put into the validity or truth of what the reporter is hearing. This is what Arthur Brisbane was trying to get at in his truth vigilante idea. If the media only is there to act as a stenographer, truth can become obsolete. Truth in journalism is hard to explain, but that’s just it — it’s what makes journalist’s still valuable. Truth in journalism is a rather complicated idea to put in pen, but when it’s done right, we all know.

How to know when it’s time to change

*Note: This is a re-post from our class blog for Changing Media Business Models

It seemed a lot of what we discussed in class on Monday was how the main forms of media (Radio, Television and Print) are in the midst of changing how they rely on advertising funds. Plenty of other methods in advertising today include mobile/tablet platforms and Facebook or Google ads to name a few. It was clear these are rising forms of advertising and probably bring in quite a bit of money to the companies like Google themselves. But why is there still so much investment in traditional 30-second spots on local television stations, for example?

The print model has crashed and now we’re seeing newspapers struggle to find those new forms of revenue. It is just too easy today to reach the consumer through new media (or unmeasured media, now 40% of all ad spending) which is what companies, television stations, newspapers and radio need to understand. Just as the print model is slowly becoming obsolete for papers, traditional forms of advertising are falling out of style. This whole situation screams economic inefficiency. Millions of dollars are invested in traditional advertising (we’ll stick with thinking about the television model here), yet more people every day watch their television online — there’s no consistent commercial breaks there. So now if we keep thinking of how economically inefficient this might be, it’s tempting to think about dropping the traditional forms all together. However, that’s not so easy. Most importantly, it’s not entirely up to the advertisers — there’s the market itself to keep in mind.

It’s strikingly similar to what Clayton Christensen talks about in the first chapter of his book, The Innovator’s Dilemma. While some of the details regarding the technology behind the technological development of disk drives was a little over my head, what he discovers are patterns companies like IBM experienced from the 70s to the 90s. Smaller disk drives were being developed, yet the existing companies wouldn’t invest in them. Instead, they would continue to make the bigger, slower disk drive. They claimed the consumers wouldn’t like the smaller models because they had less storage capacity. But start up companies would then enter the market themselves and use those smaller models. This in turn forced the larger companies to also invest in the smaller drives. Now think of this pattern in terms of advertising. I think it’s strikingly similar, no?

This is what new companies are doing in the advertising market. They see a hole left by pre-existing companies and try to fill that void. Stephanie Padgett told us on Monday she predicts the television advertising market to be the next one to crash. It’s certainly hard not to believe her. After all, how many of us watch television shows when they actually air nowadays? The best case scenario is that the advertising economy decreases its inefficiency by investing in old ad technologies and instead figures out how to be innovative. The worst thing they can do is become complacent. But until then, we’ll continue to see the same pattern emerge as what occurred in the disk drive market. The key is to know when to take the chance with new technologies.