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"Murphy was an optimist!"

New York Times Pwns Bloggers April 7, 2008 9:32 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Blog, Publishing, Touchy Subjects
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Let’s knock out some buzz words: new media, blogger, msm, social media, old media. The future of the New York Times, and other traditional papers, is shaky at the moment.

…its financial performance is lagging. NYT Co.’s stock is trading at about 40, down 25% from its high of 53.80 in mid-2002…The Wall Street consensus is that the company will report net income of $290 million for 2004, down 4% from the preceding year and a good 35% below the $445 million it netted in the media industry boom year of 2001. Revenues have plateaued at $3 billion, give or take a few hundred million, for five years running. [Source, BusinessWeek, The Future Of The New York Times]

With newspaper circulations down, the newspaper companies are in a panic and looking for someone to blame. The finger most frequently gets pointed at bloggers, citizen journalists who write without the impedance of an editor nor the accountability of a professional journalist and who are able to get the news out (accurate or not) in seconds from the scene as eye witnesses. Blaming bloggers is simply a red herring.

The root problems go back to the late 1940s, when the percentage of Americans reading newspapers began to drop. But for years the U.S. population was growing so much that circulation kept rising and then, after 1970, remained stable. That changed in 1990 when circulation began to decline in absolute numbers. [Source, The State of the News Media 2004]

1940 predates the modern Internet and 1990 predates the blogging boom. But since The New York Times is convinced that bloggers are partially responsible for subscription decline (and that may very well be accurate!), they devised a way to get some of that traffic back…they published an article about how detrimental blogging is to health! They even attributed a 41 year old’s heart attack to blogging. Now that should scare the competition away! Bloggers jumped on this story! Writers like my wife, Michael Silence, and Dr. Helen all chimed in and linked to the story. It spread like wildfire through the blogosphere with each blogger adding their opinion and interesting commentary. Now I respect each of these bloggers and enjoyed reading their take on the NYT‘s article, but I’m going to call it like I see it. In a stroke of marketing genius, you were link baited by The New York Times! Which I’d say is quite an honor!

Is blogging stressful? I suppose if you were relying on it for your income it would be. But if you are a hobbyist who posts between tasks rather than taking smoke breaks (which is how I blog), there should be no stress in this diversion. I do find blogging stressful when I have deadlines because I know my clients read my blog and each post could look like I am playing instead of working (which is not the case). So for me, the stress is in wanting to post but not give the wrong impression to those people to whom I have professional obligations.

Others who took the NYT’s bait:

Whew! The list goes on. I just can’t keep up.

Comments after advertisement


1. Michael Wender - April 7, 2008

Hehehe… I do believe you’re right on this one. I consider myself “baited!” 🙂

2. CTI97 - April 7, 2008

heh, it’s easy to get pwnd like this, but like you said it : it was an honour 🙂 especially for me who just (re)started my blog …

Bloggers are known to jump on the info without verifying the sources, only to say they were the first to break the news. Do we live in the (mis)information age ?

3. Swap Blog - April 8, 2008

Looks like you called it and the hooked us.

4. Matthew - April 8, 2008

My feelings and response had nothing to do with the NYTimes article. Several years ago, I made a committment to write an in-depth blog entry on a theological or philosophical topic each weekday. When my schedule got hectic, I wasn’t able to continue that committment, and it bothered me to slack on it.

Similarly, I currently maintain 3 blogs and try to keep an update schedule where I update one of them each day. The personal one, at least three times a week, a tech blog at least twice a week, and one about religion once a week. But since I hadn’t updated in four days, I felt like I had dropped the ball on my personal committment yet again.

This isn’t about trying to please readers or anything. It’s about me wanting to become a better writer and stick to my committments. That’s what makes blogging somewhat stressful for me, and what would probably make any writer stressed over time. When I have work I want to do, but for various reasons have been unable to do it, that makes me anxious. Twitchy to sit down at a keyboard and get something done. I may not like that anxiousness, but to me the solution isn’t to write less (as the NYTimes suggests), but to write more.

Which is why I’ve spent the last 18 hours planning a complete revisioning of my website to better organize my writing and help me write more 🙂

5. Doug McCaughan - April 8, 2008

There is certainly that. Any when you do have a readership those people come looking for information and/or entertainment. So there is a pressure to deliver. For instance, we also blog at Our Asperger Teenage Boy which is about our son and our lessons with Asperger’s Syndrome (Disorder..what have you). But since Cathy communicates her feelings at Domestic Psychology, Tommy has his own blog, and I post here, Aspergerteen suffered. People kept coming so I have returned to trying to put appropriate material on there as many readers expressed gratitude. Tommy is a different person today than he was when Aspergerteen was started and so there can be conflict between delivering material there (for the sake of the readers) and considering Tommy’s feelings in regard to what gets published.

For me, I will remain unstressed and simply enjoy the publishing.

6. Reality Me » Truemors gets link baited by the New York Times! - April 8, 2008

[…] joins the list of people baited by the New York Times. Comments after […]

7. JayMonster - April 9, 2008

Funny, I never thought of it quite that way, but I DID start a post on this, then left it draft, because I decided I didn’t this an article that stupid was worth answering.

The sad part of it is, the lousy writing, and slanted point of view in the article, is an excellent example why blogging has in many instances replaced more tradition “news” outlets.

8. Amanda - May 6, 2008

While there have been some decreases in newspaper circulation not all of it can be called failure or a complete shift away from this traditional medium. In many cases the decreases are genuinely business oriented—things like voluntary circulation cutting to outlying areas because of escalating fuel costs. Diego Vasquez wrote an article (http://www.medialifemagazine.com/artman2/publish/Newspapers_24/Why_papers_are_still_a_good_media_buy.asp) about this based on a Q&A with Rick Edmonds, media business analyst for the Poynter Institute.

There seems to be a lot more to the picture than it seems. The one thing that’s certain is that the only real way to tell what’s going on is through the use of audited circulation statements. Furthermore, though there may be a shift to online media that only reinforces the need for the development of realistic audit processes for that medium. We’ve been working with a group called Buy Safe Media (http://www.buysafemedia.com/) and they’ve got some good info on the value of audited media.

9. Reality Me » Knoxville “The Couch” - June 8, 2008

[…] of her 36 hours wasn’t spent on one of the West’s old couches. Of course, maybe it was a red herring to get Knoxville media and blogs to link to the article. If so, it worked! Michael Silence, Byron Chesney, Bill Lyons, Katie Allison Granju, […]

10. Why I’m Not Surprised by Couch-Gate | Rocky Top MBA - June 12, 2008

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