Jasper Smith

Commentary on politics, economics, culture and sports.

Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Our long national nightmare is finally over

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Thank God. What a serious buzz killer this has been.

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Written by Jasper

September 17, 2007 at 8:36 pm

Michael Vick’s biggest fan

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The following thought occurred to me this morning: don’t you think David Stern is probably elated about the Michael Vick scandal? It’s definitely long past time for the once (but no longer) effective NBA impresario to lose his job, but the amount of media energy focused on his league’s travails is looking mighty skimpy at present.

Written by Jasper

August 28, 2007 at 8:21 am

Posted in Culture, Media, Sports

The Economist does blogging

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The Economist is developing a series of blogs and blog-like products. They’re quite good, in my opinion. Now the journal has even taken to posting all (or nearly) the letters to the editor it receives. Good stuff if you’re a fan of the venerable British “newspaper” — as I am.

Stephen Bainbridge questions why they insist on cloaking their bloggers in anonymity:

To be sure, the magazine has a long tradition of anonymity. As I understand the magazine’s policy, only reviews of books written by authors associated with The Economist are signed. This makes sense in the context of a heavily edited magazine. The logic, I suppose, is that the magazine speaks with one editorial voice…But The Economist.com’s blogs are different. The are expressly stated to be “lightly moderated blogs in which journalists from The Economist Newspaper, Economist.com and The Economist Intelligence Unit post their thoughts and observations.” In other words, they are not intended to be a group product nor to necessarily represent the magazine’s editorial voice. So why not identify the bloggers?…I want to know if the post was written by Megan McArdle or somebody else, because it’s relevant data to assessing the argument. I also want to know which blog post was written by which contributor, just so I can develop a sense of the poster’s personality and
ideology.

Quite so. I believe The Economist mostly “gets it” when it comes to the internet. They certainly seem to “get it” a lot more than, say, The New York Times. But it seems to me they’d be better off just “adopting” Megan’s blog — or adopting several blogs — in a manner similar to what The Atlantic Monthly has done with Sullivan, or perhaps what Time has done with various bloggers.

The anonymity really doesn’t seem to quite work when it comes to blogging.

Written by Jasper

February 15, 2007 at 9:04 pm

Posted in Blogs, Media

Paying for The Times

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Stephen Bainbridge wonders about the subject of charging for news online. How come some publishers can get away with it, while others cannot?

From a business perspective, the interesting question is why the WSJ Online seems to work and other on line subscription services don’t. There’s no obvious reason that the NYT, say, can’t replicate the success of the Online Journal.

I think the answer is that there’s simply so much free news content out there, it’s just difficult to provide something sufficiently unique that people are willing to pay for it. Not surprisingly, those few online publications that are able to get away with charging for their content (or at least for a good portion of it) — WSJ, The Economist, The New Yorker, The Financial Times — aren’t simply providers of mainstream news. They’re specialists. The New York Times isn’t a specialist. There are many thousands of places online you can obtain, at no cost, the Times’s core products, non-specialist news and analysis. Why pay for it when others are giving it away?

Of course, the New York Times does charge for a modest portion of its online content. But I’m skeptical about how successful it’s been, and I’d be surprised if they were able to keep the joys of Paul Krugman or Maureen Dowd away from the general public indefinitely. Not that there don’t exist pirate sites where one can find the Times’s columnists for free, of course. But that’s one of the big problems for them. Keeping their top-shelf opinion behind pay walls risks making them irrelevant. I’ve usually found Krugman, for instance, to be an infuriating but highly interesting read, but he just doesn’t seem to be the same must read he was a few years back, because his influence has diminished. So, if one were in that category of persons who might actually contemplate paying to read Krugman, there’s less and less reason to do so. The Times has foolishly allowed one its principal calling cards — influence — to atrophy.

Written by Jasper

February 10, 2007 at 1:48 pm

Posted in Economics, Media