Media Notes: Winners and Losers


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Blogs are fading. Newspapers are dying. Or they're not dying. Or there is renewed hope for them.

The news about blogs comes from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, via the Associated Press. Only 14 percent of Internet youths, whatever they are, blog, which is down from over 25 percent in 2006. Apparently texting and Facebook are faster and more engaging. Bloggers are trending older, and may soon look like the AARP crowd at University of Memphis basketball games.

This is no surprise. As newspaper columnist Mike Royko used to say, the first 20 are easy.

Meanwhile, are you looking for an investment in which you could have tripled your money in the last year? That would be newspaper stocks, including E. W. Scripps, parent company of The Commercial Appeal. The stock (symbol: SSP) is up 305 percent, rising from $2 to $6.48. If you want a ten-bagger, try Lee Enterprises, parent of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, up 1145 percent, now selling at $3.84. No guts no glory.

I've been reading Ken Auletta's new book "Googled: The End of the World as We Know It," for which he was given complete access to Google's headquarters and meetings for an extended period of research. Google's motto is "don't be evil." The takeaway, as far as print newspapers are concerned, is ambiguous. Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, and Auletta both seem to have changed their minds on key points, so the short answer to "can they survive" is maybe. There seems to be some doubt in Google's offices about the supposed benefits to newspapers of being aggregated by Google and others without compensation. Online ads generally account for less than 10 percent of revenue and can't pay the bill for reporting.

Gee thanks; now they tell us.

Anyway, there is life after print newspapers. I'm happy to report that three of my former colleagues are doing well. Ex-Flyer intern Zack McMillin is working for Rebuild Government. I'm not convinced his talents would not be better used at The CA or The Flyer, but a man with a young family has got to do what he has got to do. Former CA religion writer David Waters is doing great at The Washington Post, working on the "On Faith" online section. Consistently excellent. And former CA columnist (and my former partner in crime at UPI in Jackson, Mississippi 30 years ago) Rheta Grimsley Johnson, has a new book coming out in March. It's a memoir about her life and loves called "Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming," published by New South Books.

Yes, The CA is in it, and so is Lewis Grizzard, the columnist she followed at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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