Friday, October 19, 2012

The Guardian's decision over when to kill the cash cow

It was fascinating to read Picard's "Cash cows or entrecote" article the same week I read all about Newsweek killing its print edition and The Guardian being rumored to do so. The Guardian, it seems, is very publicly dealing with the exact same decision that Picard writes about in his article -- at what point do they "kill the cash cow" and drop print altogether? As this paidContent article explains, the Guardian's executives have determined that they're going to have to go digital-only at some point, and probably sooner than they initially expected.

But print is still generating the vast majority of its revenue, so that time hasn't come yet. Basically, it's trying to  rapidly ramp up its digital revenues to the point where it could turn off its print revenues and survive. It seems they're operating from a similar mindset as Picard: You can't kill print and hope you can then generate enough digital revenue to survive. You have to bring up the digital revenue first, and then kill print when you've reached that point and you're ready for the transition. Newsweek seems to be doing the previous strategy, which is being widely mocked as an instant loser. The Guardian is approaching things much smarter.

I think Picard's rule of waiting to switch until the whole operation (rather than just print) is losing money is a bit too conservative. But I do like the wisdom of his patient approach. It seems like a natural response to the foolish eagerness some executives might have after reading Bower & Christensen's article -- "This technology is disruptive! Quick, let's jump on it!" Instead, Picard is saying, "Sure, go ahead and pursue it, but don't drop your old technology until you've fully harnessed that new one." It's a needed bit of levity in the midst of the panic in the news industry over digital disruption.

Along those same lines, this is a good explanation from this week by Nicholas Carr of why more publishers don't drop their print editions. It covers some of the same points as Picard, but in more casual, non-academic terms.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Are traditional media and online media different? Let's do a research!

Here's the cite:

Michael A. Cacciatore,  Ashley A. Anderson,  Doo-Hun Choi,  Dominique Brossard,  Dietram A. Scheufele,  Xuan Liang, Peter J. Ladwig,  Michael Xenos,  and Anthony Dudo
Coverage of emerging technologies: A comparison between print and online media
New Media & Society September 2012 14: 1039-1059, first published on March 21, 2012 doi:10.1177/1461444812439061

First of all, how do I get on the ninth author train? Seems like a good way to get around. How many ninth authorships does it take to equal one solo authorship? And what do you do as ninth author? Write the subheads and table captions?

Second of all, a summary of findings:
  • U.S. print media cover less nanotechnology news than blogs in general do (using google blogs search)
  • Blogs in general use more varied themes in their coverage of nanotechnology (think frames: environment and nanotechnology, health and nanotechnology, etc.) than U.S. print media do.
Third, stuff like this should be caught by a reviewer:
This suggests that print news media and Google News share similar issue-attention cycles for emerging technologies, perhaps because Google News aggregates online news articles from print news outlets.
Perhaps? More like, precisely because of that fact. Sometimes I wonder if people really treat Google News like the aggregator it is.
These contradictory findings imply that it is not the type of media – either the internet or traditional news media – that matters for the establishment of a public sphere. 
Then why is that what you're studying?

So my main problem is how the research is framed. They have set up the main question of the paper to be whether there's a difference between print and online media sources. And the answer to that is a resounding, "DUH." This would only be significant if there were NO difference between the two, I think. I mean, you can look at them and see that they're different, you don't need research to tell you precisely how. In my opinion it would be more useful in the long run to study what attributes of each medium contribute to the differences in the way they cover things and in their subject selection, or to study actual effects on readers (knowledge, importance and range of topics, etc.) rather than projecting these effects in the discussion section.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Research critique

1. What am I missing here?

  • Immigrant acculturation -> studying international students' college adjustments?
    • The study starts off by saying that intercultural communication is important especially for understanding how immigrants acculturate to foreign socities, but instead of studying immigrants or acculturation, it studies international students' college adjustments... 

2. U&G-related issues

  • "Old wine in new bottle?"
    • "To find out what's going on" -> "To find out what's going on in China"
    • "To make friends" -> "To make Korean friends"
    • "To learn about current issues" -> "To learn about current issues in Korea"
  • "What's the contribution?" (e.g., Any reason to believe these would be different among international students when it comes to Internet use?)
    • "To pass the time when bored"
    • "To be entertained"
    • "To find information related to class assignments"

3. Discussion points from the paper: 
  • "The internet does not uniformly facilitate or impede international students' adaptation, but rather serve as an additional means by which they can pursue different goals that may or may not contribute to a smoother transition" 
  • "Apparently, when international students' media use is heavily gravitated toward their home country, it hinders their adaptation to the new environment, posing greater emotional challenges"
  • "Online communication with existing friends (through IM) improved adolescents' subjective well-being, while talk with strangers (through chat in a public chat room) had no significant effect"
Proper(?) reaction: