Journalism’s new (not really) vehicle for delivering news — email newsletters

CATEGORY: JournalismI don’t read The Washington Post any more. I don’t see a hard copy. I don’t go prowling around its website.

Instead, I read four of its newsletters delivered by email every day. In fact, WashPo offers 68 newsletters culled from the work of its journalists and pundits. So it’s easy to select the kind of news anyone might want (rather than have an algorithm do it).

These newsletters are well-crafted and not necessarily hastily churned-out hodgepodges of factoids. For example, the Daily 202 (all about news from the American capital), begins like this today:

10 important questions raised by Sally Yates’s testimony on the ‘compromised’ Michael Flynn

Sally Yates’s Senate testimony in three minutes

THE BIG IDEA: Sally Yates’s riveting testimony Monday raised far more questions than it answered. Most of all, it cast fresh doubts on Donald Trump’s judgment. [boldface in original]

Each Daily 202 from WashPo is designed to be quickly read. Each item is one or two paragraphs and contains a link or two for further consumption.

WashPo’s not alone in the newsletter game. Continue reading

What cute baby picture posts may lead to …

You know them — the social media parents.

They learn she’s pregnant with her first child. Joy consumes them. The announcement hits Twitter with abdominal photo or sonogram: “I’m preggers! #thefirst #babybump #joyful”

The author, ever analog ...

The author, ever analog …

Husband and wife create an email account for the unborn child. They send a book’s worth of loving messages for her to read years from now. Husband or wife (usually wife) creates a WordPress blog to chronicle the family journey.

Delivery room photos of happy husband and sweat-soaked wife holding the minutes-old child hit Facebook. Baby clothes choices choke Instagram.

The predictable follows, mostly with photos. Cute baby eating in high chair, face smeared with mushed peas. Cute baby’s bare butt. Cute baby sleeping blissfully. Cute baby in cute baby holder. Selfies (usually by mom) holding cute baby smiling, regurgitating, sleeping, crying (don’t bother to pick one; you’ll eventually see them all). Cute baby with family puppy or kitten.

Then it’s toddler toddling. Kid taking her first steps. First play date. First day of pre-school. Pre-school graduation. First day of kindergarten. Kindergarten graduation. Various religious functions (baptism, bris, first communion, bar mitzvah, aqiqah, etc.)

Continue reading

CNN’s ‘Courageous’ — recycling an idea that was bad decades ago

Move along, now. There’s nothing new here. Really.

From the Wall Street Journal’s Steven Perlberg:

CNN is creating an in-house studio that will produce news-like content on behalf of advertisers, a move that reflects marketers’ growing desire for articles and videos that feel like editorial work.

CNN calls its foray into “news-like content on behalf of advertisers” by the name “Courageous.” But it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.

Marketers know their ads generally compete with other content. Continue reading

You, too, can be a journalist (or a corporate message control specialist)

I asked my students as the semester ended: “How many of you do not want to be journalists?”

Most raised a hand, albeit timidly. (I am, after all, a professor of journalism.)

“How many of you wish to work in PR or advertising?”

Several raised their hands. I smiled – in the evil way they say I do when I’m setting them up for the kill.

“If you plan to work in PR and advertising, then I’ll bet you’re going to be working as a journalist,” I said.

Confused looks ensued.

Suppose they take jobs with a mattress company, thinking they’ll be pushing sleep products — writing ads, doing media buys, all the sorts of things PR and advertising flacks do.

But at Casper, a start-up company, they’ll likely be working as journalists. Continue reading

Advertising’s enticement: You must crave, therefore you must buy

Advertising may be evil, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil.

Despite my exposure to what a colleague estimates is nearly 100 million advertising impressions as I approach seven decades of life, I am not taller, I am not more attractive, I am not thinner, and I sure as hell don’t smell much better than I did in the 1950s.

I teach in a journalism school in which more students aspire to be advertising and PR madmen and madwomen than journalists. So I think about advertising often — mostly with disbelief and frequent outrage (the righteous kind, y’know).

The disbelief: I watch an ad in which a pricey luxury sedan maneuvers at night through lanes illuminated by paper lanterns. Continue reading

A company’s right to lie?

Yesterday federal District Court Judge Gladys Kessler issued a ruling requiring tobacco companies to use their own revenues to inform the public that they have lied about the dangers of tobacco use:

“Defendants have known many of these facts for at least 50 years or more. Despite that knowledge, they have consistently, repeatedly and with enormous skill and sophistication, denied these facts to the public, the Government, and to the public health community.”

The pattern of dishonesty perpetrated by Big Tobacco and their supporters is well-documented. Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway connected the dots in between the campaigns of misinformation about tobacco, DDT and climate disruption and those who designed them.

But here’s the question:  will the tobacco companies get away with it? Is corporate deceit protected by the Constitution? We may be about to find out. Continue reading

Facebook's bad year just got worse

It’s an interesting time to be Facebook. You know, as in the old Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times.”

They’ve been the target of freedom and privacy advocates for some time. All the way back in 2008 I was talking about the company’s anti-privacy tendencies and arguing that things were only going to get worse for the citizenry. More recently, I called them the most congenitally dishonest company in America, and I’m waiting for evidence that proves me wrong.

But these days, us privacy ankle-biters are the least of Mr. Zuckerberg’s concerns. You’re no doubt aware of the debacle surrounding the company’s IPO. They opened at 38, then all hell broke loose, and as I type they’re trading at 20 and change. Continue reading

Limbaugh atones for attacking young woman by attacking another young woman

Seriously?

It seems that after several days of mounting public pressure, Rush Limbaugh has finally cracked. How else could you explain his attempt to move beyond this whole “hating on young women” debacle by continuing to attack young women? Today’s victim? Author Tracie McMillan, who represents another one of those awful “overeducated” young unmarried women Rush so emphatically resents. (More)

This one isn’t as vitriolic as the Sandra Fluke case, but it certainly makes clear that Rush is committed to the War to Keep ‘Em Barefoot and Pregnant for the long haul.

Limbaugh’s remaining advertisers have to be just loving this stuff….

As boycott pressure mounts on Limbaugh, two words come to mind: hoist, petard

I don’t know when the very first boycott of a product or company happened, but I suspect the tactic has been around in some form or another for a long time. I do remember the onset of the modern form of the practice, though. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, social conservatives began going after businesses who advertised on shows they didn’t approve of as a key part of their culture war strategy and they did so with a good deal of effectiveness. So much effectiveness, in fact, that a lot of people today (both conservatives and more progressive types like myself) routinely make purchasing decisions based on a company’s political behavior. (I miss Buy Blue, which made the process a lot simpler.)

A lot of conservatives this week seem to have conveniently forgotten their history. Continue reading

Great googly moogly! Google ain't gonna !#$*!$%'in like this


Expletive Deleted

Or, Allegations of America’s dirty little backwoods secret and Google won’t let their ads be placed on the newsfic coverage…

Since I’ve only got a few articles under my belt thus far, I feel like I can still beat the “new blogger” drum, at least for a while. I’d best enjoy this while the romance is still all hot and sticky. My posts should still throb with their burgeoning tumescence. Why, I’m so hot, my prose is even turgid.

As a new blogger, I face many issues. Finding a name for a blog (and available domain) that pleases more than just me. Finding a host that will serve my needs without breaking the bank. Learning the ins and outs of social media and self-promotion. Maybe even generating a little (likely very little) revenue while I’m at it. That’s where this post comes in. Continue reading

Nota Bene #123: Behold the Chickenosaurus

“There ought to be limits to freedom.” Who said it? Continue reading

Gallup poll reveals that public questions PR industry credibility: are PR practitioners to blame?

A Gallup poll released in August indicated that the advertising and PR industries aren’t viewed very favorably by the American public.

One-third of respondents voiced a positive view of the advertising/pr industry (6 percent “very,” 27 percent “somewhat”). Twenty-seven percent were “neutral.” Twenty-five percent expressed a “somewhat negative view,” while 11 percent were “very negative.” (The rest didn’t venture an opinion.)

You might argue that, on balance, the numbers are only slightly negative – total positives were 33% while total negatives were 36% – and the AdWeek story cited here certainly goes out of their way to put a chirpy spin on the results (no real surprise there, I suppose). Continue reading

Why science journalism is suffering

There are a number of problems with science journalism today, and they tend to feed on each other. Decades ago, when the newspaper industry had advertising-driven profit margins in the 10-25% range, newspaper companies were bought by conglomerates that wanted those sky-high profits. Advertising revenues have since plummeted largely as a result of web advertising, especially sites like Craig’s List. But those same conglomerates continue to expect sky high margins even though revenues have fallen. Because the conglomerates are unwilling to accept lower short-term profits, corporate managers instead force editors to lay off journalists.

In every business, the first people laid off are those who just plain suck at their job, cost the most, and are the least flexible. In the case of newspapers, the most expensive and least flexible people tend to be the oldest journalists and editors with the highest salaries, the specialists who produce little day-to-day volume but cost a lot, and those who are unwilling or unable to transition from one beat to another. Continue reading

Chevrolet: poster child for sexism?

by John Cavanaugh

What a gorgeous bit of nostalgia from Chevrolet! Or whatever this is trying to be. Especially in tough economic times like these, I like to think about the possible target audiences. Even for a poster, which is not technically advertising. And since it begs the question, here are some possible responses:

  1. Hell yes! Those were the days. Continue reading