Pepperdine student newspapers reported stolen after front-page DUI story

Student Press Law Center

Update: Three students have admitted they stole these papers for a university prank, not because of controversial content on the front page.

Hundreds of copies of Pepperdine University’s student newspaper have been reported stolen “likely to censor a front-page story about a student who is being charged with drunken driving,” Anna Schiffbauer writes for the Student Press Law Center:

“Elizabeth Smith, the newspaper’s adviser, said staff members noticed an unusual number of the Sept. 25 (paper) were missing from stands outside the library and student center on Sept. 26 and reported it to the university’s Department of Public Safety. They realized the newspapers normally outside the International Programs office were taken on Sept. 28, Smith said.”

Schiffbauer writes that “about 350″ copies of Pepperdine University’s student newspaper were stolen in October 2012 after the paper published an article about a student charged with a DUI.

In 2013, there were at least 10 incidents of student newspapers being stolen nationwide. In April, Poynter’s Kristen Hare reported members of the Delta Chi fraternity at Central Michigan University were shown in tweets burning copies of the student newspaper there. Read more

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Gaza invasion or missile strike? Newspapers wrestle with big news and limited space

A missile strike downs a commercial jet bound for Malaysia, killing nearly 300 people and generating international tension. Then, hours later, Israel invades Gaza, igniting a powder keg of conflict that has been steadily building for days.

With the hours until deadline ticking away, editors were faced with a difficult decision: which story should be featured more prominently?

Some newspapers gave both incidents similar play. The San Francisco Chronicle pushed down the flag and put both stories side-by-side, with kickers indicating international news. The downed jet story gets slightly more prominence with a heavier headline, photo and a three-line deck, but the four-line headline on the Gaza story gives it some parity and adds balance to the top of the page. Both stories jump.San Francisco Chronicle
The Washington Post and The New York Times also got both stories above the fold. The Post ran a rail down the left side and gave the story a four-line hed in large type, deftly making the difficult count work without splitting any subjects. Here, the missile strike once again gets dominant play with a large photo and five subheds.

New York Times-Some papers decided to give one story more play than the other, like The Arizona Republic. A large headline, subhed and photo leads the paper, and news of the Gaza invasion is relegated to the bottom.

Arizona RepublicThe Wall Street Journal took a similar tack, running a picture of the wreckage prominently and pushing the Gaza Invasion farther down the page.

Wall Street Journal

Some smaller papers elected to banish the big international news entirely, preferring to feature local news instead. Here, The Daily Sentinel (Scottsboro, Alabama) features wild art prominently on the front page, along with community news piece about area schools.

Jackson County Daily Sentinel
Likewise the News-Times (Danbury, Connecticut), which ran an art hed of the first governor’s broadcast debate over a dominant photo.The New Times Connecticut
Same with the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, which featured its Frontier Days coverage prominently.

WyomingTribuneEagle Read more


Yelp reviews newspapers: ‘mediocre’ journalism, but teriyaki stir fry at cafeteria ‘delightful’

An underappreciated benefit of digital delivery of newspaper content: The news doesn’t arrive on your doorstep covered with fleas.

Turns out newspapers aren’t immune to the bizarre — and often hilarious — complaints that bedevil restaurants and other small businesses on Yelp. But the review site also includes some appreciations of what only the local newspaper can offer and insight into how readers feel about the transition to digital.

Here are some of the best reviews I found, putting aside most of those focusing only on politics or delivery/billing problems (which are what attract the most complaints and seem to plague every newspaper). Bold emphases are mine; all photos by AP. Read more


Study says civic participation fell in Denver and Seattle after newspapers closed

Political Communication | Lee Shaker

Civic engagement in Denver and Seattle “dropped significantly from 2008 to 2009,” Portland State University professor Lee Shaker says in a paper published at the end of January called “Dead Newspapers and Citizens’ Civic Engagement” (the published version is paywalled, but Shaker posted a draft of the report last year; all quotes below are from that.) While Shaker allows that other factors may have influenced the drop, measured by the Current Population Survey, it “may plausibly be attributed to the newspaper closures” in those cities.

Denver’s Rocky Mountain News closed in February 2009, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published its last print edition the next month. (The P-I remained in business as a Web-only news outlet with a much smaller staff.)

Shaker’s study controls for other reasons for the drop, including that 2008 was a presidential election year, but found in eight comparable cities that didn’t lose a print paper, “indicators were not significantly different” in 2009 than the year before. Read more

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Newspaper PDF replica service bets on future of print-style digital reading

In October 2012, just 23 percent of Americans told Pew they read even one newspaper the previous day. So who in the world could possibly want or need unlimited access to 2,500 of them?

Alex Gruntsev, EVP and chief innovation officer of PressReader, made a compelling case in a phone interview that his “Netflix-style” subscription service — $29.95 per month — fills a niche in online news publishing by presenting news in a form that many automated aggregators cannot.

PressReader, formerly NewspaperDirect, has long provided PDF replicas mainly as a specialty business, but now it’s focusing on a wider consumer audience. “For just your morning routine, to open a PC was difficult,” Gruntsev said. “But in 2010, with the first iPad, the experience of reading dramatically changed, and it became way more appealing to the average reader.”

Now, PressReader users online or on tablets don’t just get static images of newspaper pages; they can jump into individual stories by clicking headlines. That launches PressReader’s SmartFlow mode, which allows for a seamless stream of stories scrolling left to right.

Stories from the Seattle Times, shown in the SmartFlow view of PressReader’s iPad app.

That’s in contrast to the “flop” method of consuming news on the web, Gruntsev said, where readers must jump into a story and then jump back to a homepage or index page for another one. That back-and-forth method of navigation leads to readers only viewing an average of three to five stories per day. Newspapers, meanwhile, allow for more linear navigation, leading to 20 stories seen by the average reader, Gruntsev said.

(For research into newspapers’ ability to engage readers longer and more deeply, see this report by the Readership Institute at Northwestern University and this one [PDF] from the University of Oregon highlighted by Jack Shafer when he was at Slate.)

The New York Times’ web app, Today’s Paper, achieves something close to the story flow of PressReader, but every story in the Times app looks the same. There’s no variety in headline size or photo size, the other big advantage of PressReader, according to Gruntsev. The layout engine, which required three years of development, converts print pages into one long stream of stories that takes into account editorial judgments, the visual cues that signal to readers that certain stories are more important than others.

That variety in presentation style also is intended to keep readers engaged better than the “flip” method, employed by various newspaper apps aggregators like Flipboard, which allow readers to jump from story to story without a menu but, again, offer stories that all tend to look the same. That makes readers lose interest quickly, Gruntsev claims. And to an extent I’ve felt that Flipboard fatigue myself: At some point, it becomes difficult to decide what to read when, for instance, every story card in Zite looks exactly like the others.

PressReader’s SmartFlow may not be as beautiful as other apps are, but it aims to mimic the visual hierarchy carefully crafted by newspaper designers. Readers instantly get a good sense for what editors deemed important, and it’s easier to judge whether stories are worth reading by browsing through full stories in a flowing format than by picking from dozens of headlines.

Analytics-powered aggregation

PressReader’s also leveraging its PDF replica readership to create a new kind of smart aggregation. The service can track which stories — and even which quadrant of the print replica pages — readers are most drawn to. Then, it reassembles stories from different newspapers into one collection of the day’s top stories. This feature is only available online for now, but Gruntsev noted how the industry seems to be focusing on web apps and moving away from native apps.

Will this type of aggregation surface more engaging content than social media or other smart aggregators like Zite that are so good at taking into account individual preferences? On Sunday night it definitely didn’t, as top stories at included a recap from a day-old NFL playoff game and a preview of one that had ended a few hours before I visited the site. With only the morning’s newspaper content to draw from, PressReader — even with so many newspapers available — can only feel timely and relevant for so long.

PressReader offers unlimited access to a wide selection of popular newspapers from around the world for $29.95 per month. Individual issues are available via in-app purchases.

As a newspaper nerd, I get a kick out of being able to flip through so many newspapers from around the world. But for the average consumer, access to thousands of newspapers is different from access to thousands of movies. (Gruntsev points out that access to the average newspaper website’s paywall costs around $15 per month, so in theory PressReader makes sense for anyone interested in two or more newspapers per day. And some newspapers bundle access to PressReader issues with their digital subscriptions.)

Still, the interface isn’t visually compelling enough to make me a loyal reader, and the lack of timeliness will alienate readers actively involved in social media. But it’s gratifying to see a digital service apply lessons from a piece of technology that has served us so well.

Read more

Finance and markets headline

For newspaper stocks, 2013 was a surprisingly good year

Despite yet another year of falling revenues, publicly traded newspaper companies saw their share prices rise sharply during 2013.

Yes, the overall market was strong — with the S&P index up 29.5 percent and the Dow Jones up 26.5 percent.

Yes, as I and others have noted, local broadcasting is thriving with two of the next three years bringing political and Olympics advertising bonanzas and retransmission fees a continuing windfall. Gannett, E.W. Scripps and Journal Communications all benefited from their TV holdings. Read more

Newspapers will lose a half of their share of digital advertising in the next five years, Borrell Associates forecasts. (Depositphotos)

Forecast: Papers will lose more than half their share of digital ads in next 5 years

With all the talk of newspapers as dinosaurs, you might be surprised to know that they will close 2013 retaining their position as the leader among legacy platforms in share of digital advertising revenue, according to Borrell Associates’ annual review and forecast.

But as Borrell looks ahead, the industry’s digital ad prospects are alarmingly weak. By 2018, the consulting firm predicts, newspapers share of all digital advertising will fall by more than half — from 7.1 percent in 2013 to 3.3 percent in 2018. Read more


National Park Service prints limited-edition Ben Franklin newspaper

The Oct. 6, 1743, edition of The Pennsylvania Gazette leads with a three-column letter from a lieutenant on the H.M.S. Centurion. “Our Men, by this Time, died like rotten Sheep,” the sailor tells his brother about one voyage.

For the next couple of weeks, the National Park Service is reproducing the entire edition of that day’s paper, whose publisher was Benjamin Franklin, at Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park. Read more


What’s in a name? For American newspapers, tradition and direction

Today, with the change of a name, International Herald Tribune readers became readers of The International New York Times. It’s a change that happens from time to time, reflecting business decisions or sometimes philosophical ones.

In his book “Discovering the News: A Social History of American Newspapers,” Columbia Journalism School professor Michael Schudson writes about the shift that happened among American newspapers in the 1930s.

“There was a move to more community-oriented and aggressive newspapers,” Schudson says, “not just waiting for the news to come to them.” Read more

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Online ad revenues up, sponsored content revenues down in 2012

IAB | The Wall Street Journal

Revenues from digital advertising reached nearly $37 billion in 2012, the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual report says, up 15 percent over 2011. Mobile advertising accounted for 9 percent of the total. Display advertising accounted for 33 percent, and search was 46 percent. Video advertising was up 29 percent over 2011.

As good as that news may seem, there’s no guarantee that this wave of cash will wash ashore at news organizations. IAB spokesperson Laura Goldberg tells Poynter the report does not break down revenue by web property category. But analyst Mary Meeker pointed out last year that there is a “steep imbalance between where people spend their time and where advertisers spend their money,” as Jeff Sonderman put it.

Read more


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