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February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers" 
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Post February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
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Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:05 pm
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Post Re: February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
It's worth noting that in England newspapers are still going strong amoung all age groups, though more people read them for the opinions rather than for getting their news.

A lot of comedians crack jokes about diffrent newspapers.


Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:03 pm
Post Re: February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
James,

Good story. We can all echo these trends.

Your click through rate is excellent, don't let anyone downplay that. The average click through rates (CTRs) on banner ads are around 0.15% at the moment. You are 3x the average and within the advertising network that I deal with, that would be considered excellent.

Rob


Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:45 pm
Post Re: February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
nickfurze wrote:
It's worth noting that in England newspapers are still going strong amoung all age groups, though more people read them for the opinions rather than for getting their news.

A lot of comedians crack jokes about diffrent newspapers.



Nick

Like you I notice a big difference in newspapers here in the US versus home in the UK. in the Uk we have many national newspapers alongside local and city based publications. in the US, I think there is only one.

I do wonder how ethnic diversity and the rise of the the non English speaking population is impacting newspaper consumption as well?

Rob


Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:55 pm
Post Re: February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
Wave of the future....you can't fight it. But I wonder what's going to replace the Internet


Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:58 pm
Post Re: February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
I respectfully disagree. I don't think local newspapers will disappear within the foreseeable future. However, I will agree that some major newspapers will shrink, if they have not already done so, some to a point of distinction. I subscribe to the Los Angeles Times and the Ventura County Star, a local paper that covers Ventura County, CA, population: 750K. Both papers have dramatically downsized and laid off lots of employees within the last 12 months.

I live in a retirement community. I have my papers delivered. As I pick up my papers in my driveway, I can look down my street and see the Star on most every driveway, but very few copies of the Los Angeles Times. That tells me that people are interested in local news and want to stay in touch with activities in the community. What is often overlooked in this discussion is that many people either don't have a computer, have no desire to own one or are scared to death of computers, so newspapers & TV are their only source of news.Granted most of these people are over 50.

Because I occasionally write letters to the Editor for the Star, I enjoy reading that section. It has been my custom for as long as I can remember to read while I am eating. I cannot picture myself eating bacon & eggs while attempting to read the morning news on a monitor. In the meantime, magazines seem to be flourishing while the subscription rates are dropping. Will they also soon become extinct? I think not.


Tue Feb 24, 2009 9:16 pm
Post Re: February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
James,

I remember you may have mentioned something about a video version of Reelviews. Newspapers are declining & there's no easy revenue stream from the internet due to its nature, but I'm thinking video isn't a bad way to go. I'm talking televised video of course, not 'net-cast. The technology is still evolving with HD, surround sound, etc. which, in my opinion makes it a pretty good band wagon to hop on. Of course, it would have to be something you would want to do.


Tue Feb 24, 2009 10:52 pm
Post Re: February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
I always wonder and this reel thought almost nails it, "Are movie reviewers detached from journalism?".. Sadly, it seems, they are.. Just because your site is famous doesn't mean that people don't revere AO Scott or Peter Travers.. What kind of a skewed logic is it that newspapers will die a death that is imminent.. The entire charm of picking up a paper in the morning is something, someone like you who thinks that reviewing "Confessions of a Shopaholic" one the day of its release, is bound to miss.. I love your website and your writings but I cannot agree with these thoughts of yours.. Sadly, you don't understand the beauty of a byline..


Wed Feb 25, 2009 9:02 am
Post Re: February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
Obviously I can't comment on the newspaper situation in the U.S, but I think that newspaper sales will hold up fairly well in the U.K. I'm 24, and ever since I came to university 3 years ago, I have bought "The Guardian" every day. I know a sizeable amount of my friends in my age bracket, also buy quality broadsheets newspapers on regular basis aswell.

The size of the U.K helps, because due our geographical size, national papers are easier to circulate. I personally enjoy reading quality newspapers, such as "The Guardian" because the writing is of an excellent standard, and I enjoy finding out what is happening in the world.

The reduction of advertising revenues is obviously a problem for newspapers, as is the fact you can get your news, for free, via the internet. Perhaps, one or two nationals newspaper may close in the near future due to the squeeze on their revenues, but on the whole, I think the U.K newspapers sales will be fairly robust. I'm lucky that I can choose from at least 9 or 10 national newspapers to purchase, all with varying opinions, articles, analysis, and political viewpoints. Generally, I think people in the U.K like to know the what is happening in their own country and the world.


Wed Feb 25, 2009 9:05 am
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Post Re: February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
jaganladybug wrote:
I always wonder and this reel thought almost nails it, "Are movie reviewers detached from journalism?".. Sadly, it seems, they are.. Just because your site is famous doesn't mean that people don't revere AO Scott or Peter Travers.. What kind of a skewed logic is it that newspapers will die a death that is imminent.. The entire charm of picking up a paper in the morning is something, someone like you who thinks that reviewing "Confessions of a Shopaholic" one the day of its release, is bound to miss.. I love your website and your writings but I cannot agree with these thoughts of yours.. Sadly, you don't understand the beauty of a byline..


Regardless of whether you agree with me or not, you can't disagree with the facts. When you look at shinking revenue and circulation numbers, it's undeniable that the future for newspapers is bleak. It's no coincidence that, after decades when a major newspaper rarely failed, we have now had three file for Chapter 11 in the span of several months, and my sources within the industry (and I know a lot of them) tell me this is just the tip of the iceberg.

As for my "missing" the charm of picking up a paper in the morning - you're right. But that's not unique for me - it's the case for a majority of those in my age bracket and younger. Time marches on. There are things I do that I find "charming" that you wouldn't get because they aren't ingrained in your daily routine and haven't been part of your past.

That reminds me of something my great-grandmother's sister once told me. It was after a family gathering in the '70s and we were all gathered around a TV. She lamented how television had destroyed the beauty of family get-togethers and how the presence of an image had sapped creativity. She went on to rhapsodize about the days when families would gather around the radio at night and listen to the old serials and plays.

Things that one generation find special and "charming" are often discarded by the next as antiquated and unnecessary. That may be a little sad but it's also the reality of a cold, cruel world. I don't begrudge you your morning newspaper, just as I don't begrudge my parents' theirs. But the newspaper industry is a business and it is literally dying alongside its primary audience.


Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:18 am
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Post Re: February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
The New York Times ran an article about this subject that provides a good summary of some of the issues. It's nearly six months old but, to the extent that things have changed, they have only gotten worse.

Link to it here.


Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:28 am
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Post Re: February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
When he makes his assertion about the impending death of newspapers I think JB is correct for the world in which he lives. While this forecast may be true in large cities' publications or for papers with national or worldwide circulation, I believe that small-town papers will fill a need for some time to come. Large cities have a different dynamic. People live close together physically, but far apart socially. News is generic and anonymous. While big box stores line the 6-lane "Main" street, and provide cheap staples to the masses, they-the-people still seek out something that is "their own". This identity is tougher to come by in a large city, but they seek none-the-less. Small "towns" within the larger cities are developing -slowly, and people are seeking to become part of something that has a more connected feel.

What do they seek? They look for Link's hotdogs, or Draganetti's pasta, or Sand Creek Lager. They want something that can be their own little secret, and at the same time, something that fills their need for community, and makes them feel like part of the place rather than simply an occupant. They want to read about the neighbor's issue with the tree hanging over the power line. They want to see pictures of the fire over on Third St. How did Doug Jr. do in the football game on Friday night? (He's such a nice boy!) Big box newspapers are creeping to fill this need. It is this writer's opinion that the "small town" newspaper will be around for quite some time. While big cities are slowly catching on and dividing their big boxes into a series of smaller regional boxes, tiny towns have been maintaining this appeal for some time.

I'm under 40. I read my local paper this morning. Turns out the city council voted to have businesses in downtown pay for the new rustic-style street lights that were installed instead of having the city pay for them. There's only about 8 lights, but they voted so it's on the front page. Two of our neighboring towns are discussing combining police forces to save money. -Did you know that when they buy squad cars 2 at a time they can save, like, two or three thousand dollars??! Scandal rocked our area this weekend when a no-good scoundrel smuggled his own fish into an ice fishing contest and won a new truck. No truck for you! I'm sure he'll be run up yonder pole. I see that Trig's has Chocolate Milk on sale for $1.99 a gallon (limit 2) until Saturday; better get there quick! Maybe the news isn't "fit to print", but it's what people want to read, and what their willing to plunk down their dollar to buy. I don't believe the future is in 'building the box bigger" and peddling typed wares in the WalMarts of print. I believe the future is contained in the past. You can Google Marshmiller Lake and find out who was the latest drunk to put their car through the ice, maybe. But how many cows were in the Mikl barn when it burned down?!? I gotta know! * There's a spaghetti dinner benefit and I dunno if I'm bringing the family or just dropping some money in the jar at Shadduck's Gun and Bait Shop.

The small-town paper is alive and well and with the advances in desktop publishing -no more linotype here thanks- they will be here and viable for some time. As cities begin to learn about and develop their small town sections, they will see an increase in their circulation. Is there a need for a movie review section? Perhaps. We small townies are a frugal bunch and if we're taking in a 'talkie' down at the theeayter, we want to know our money is well spent.

How many of these small papers is James willing to approach? On the 'net the reviews are free. Could he charge 50$ for his reviews to a limited circulation pipsqueak of a paper? I don't know. He's seen the writing on the wall for his print colleagues and I agree with him fully on the syndication front. As the climate changes, the Buy n Large Gazette is lumbering its way into the glacial fields, but the field mice are beginning to thrive. I'd be tempted to try hitching my wagon to a sh!tload of field mice and forget about the mammoth.


*FYI Adam and Missy Mikl lost 35 cows of their 135 head operation. The barn was a total loss. My family enjoyed the spaghetti dinner.


Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:29 am
Post Re: February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
In NYC, I still see plenty of people reading the paper on the subway each morning. However, it's mostlye Metro and AM New York--both free newspapers (decent ones at that--they don't bother with the sensational tabloidism of the Post and are far easier to digest than the NY Times).


Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:35 am
Post Re: February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
James wrote:
Back in the early 1990s, when I started [reviewing movies], I had vague dreams of maybe someday writing for a newspaper. That seemed to be the ultimate goal - the level at which legitimacy would be recognized. By the mid-'90s, I realized that newspapers were a dead end and, when an opportunity came to write for one around 2000, I turned it down. Tying my future to a dying industry didn't seem like a good career move.
There is some irony in this statement. Film as we know it is arguably in a state of decline. It's not as far along or happening as rapidly as that of print periodicals, but it's happening nonetheless. I don't think film will ever die off completely, but it will lose the relevance it once had to our culture. It has lost much of it already.

But there's a silver lining, just as there is with the decline of newspapers. The idea that declining is the same as dying is a natural prejudice. Stepping back a little bit and viewing things more dispassionately, things don't die so much as they change. News going from print to digital is a change, not a death.

Film is changing too. The experience of watching a two hour cinematic narrative in a darkened theater may be going away, but increasingly inexpensive technology and the Internet have opened the landscape wide up for smaller and experimental DIY productions. What we'll have in the near future won't necessarily be movies, but the children of movies: new forms of audiovisual art that borrow some of the major features of movies and run with them in unprecedented directions.


Wed Feb 25, 2009 12:07 pm
Post Re: February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
Awf Hand wrote:
When he makes his assertion about the impending death of newspapers I think JB is correct for the world in which he lives. While this forecast may be true in large cities' publications or for papers with national or worldwide circulation, I believe that small-town papers will fill a need for some time to come. Large cities have a different dynamic. People live close together physically, but far apart socially. News is generic and anonymous. While big box stores line the 6-lane "Main" street, and provide cheap staples to the masses, they-the-people still seek out something that is "their own". This identity is tougher to come by in a large city, but they seek none-the-less. Small "towns" within the larger cities are developing -slowly, and people are seeking to become part of something that has a more connected feel.

What do they seek? They look for Link's hotdogs, or Draganetti's pasta, or Sand Creek Lager. They want something that can be their own little secret, and at the same time, something that fills their need for community, and makes them feel like part of the place rather than simply an occupant. They want to read about the neighbor's issue with the tree hanging over the power line. They want to see pictures of the fire over on Third St. How did Doug Jr. do in the football game on Friday night? (He's such a nice boy!) Big box newspapers are creeping to fill this need. It is this writer's opinion that the "small town" newspaper will be around for quite some time. While big cities are slowly catching on and dividing their big boxes into a series of smaller regional boxes, tiny towns have been maintaining this appeal for some time.

I'm under 40. I read my local paper this morning. Turns out the city council voted to have businesses in downtown pay for the new rustic-style street lights that were installed instead of having the city pay for them. There's only about 8 lights, but they voted so it's on the front page. Two of our neighboring towns are discussing combining police forces to save money. -Did you know that when they buy squad cars 2 at a time they can save, like, two or three thousand dollars??! Scandal rocked our area this weekend when a no-good scoundrel smuggled his own fish into an ice fishing contest and won a new truck. No truck for you! I'm sure he'll be run up yonder pole. I see that Trig's has Chocolate Milk on sale for $1.99 a gallon (limit 2) until Saturday; better get there quick! Maybe the news isn't "fit to print", but it's what people want to read, and what their willing to plunk down their dollar to buy. I don't believe the future is in 'building the box bigger" and peddling typed wares in the WalMarts of print. I believe the future is contained in the past. You can Google Marshmiller Lake and find out who was the latest drunk to put their car through the ice, maybe. But how many cows were in the Mikl barn when it burned down?!? I gotta know! * There's a spaghetti dinner benefit and I dunno if I'm bringing the family or just dropping some money in the jar at Shadduck's Gun and Bait Shop.

The small-town paper is alive and well and with the advances in desktop publishing -no more linotype here thanks- they will be here and viable for some time. As cities begin to learn about and develop their small town sections, they will see an increase in their circulation. Is there a need for a movie review section? Perhaps. We small townies are a frugal bunch and if we're taking in a 'talkie' down at the theeayter, we want to know our money is well spent.

How many of these small papers is James willing to approach? On the 'net the reviews are free. Could he charge 50$ for his reviews to a limited circulation pipsqueak of a paper? I don't know. He's seen the writing on the wall for his print colleagues and I agree with him fully on the syndication front. As the climate changes, the Buy n Large Gazette is lumbering its way into the glacial fields, but the field mice are beginning to thrive. I'd be tempted to try hitching my wagon to a sh!tload of field mice and forget about the mammoth.

*FYI Adam and Missy Mikl lost 35 cows of their 135 head operation. The barn was a total loss. My family enjoyed the spaghetti dinner.


Certainly an interesting post but I would argue that the blog/facebook/twitter/etc phenomena is coming to replace this specific, specialized, something to call your own identity niche. Its the creation of small community (and everything that goes with it) in an ocean of info.


Wed Feb 25, 2009 12:16 pm
Post Re: February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
I don't know too much about internet advertising, so I open this question up to anyone. If newspapers do die out, will that change the way site owners are paid for ads on their sites? To my way of thinking, companies have always paid newspapers, TV networks, billboards, whatever for ad space on the HOPE that people will buy their product. They have no way of knowing if people will buy, but they can judge how many people saw their ad by ratings or subscription and sales numbers. With websites, though, currently the advertisers are getting to demand one better: not only do people need to see their ad, they must show an interest (clicking through). So site hits right now aren't the same as a network's ratings or a paper's sales. Do you think if papers are ever out of the picture, a person with a popular website might have the power to dictate price the way a newspaper owner does now?


Wed Feb 25, 2009 1:21 pm
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Post Re: February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
Revolution wrote:
I don't know too much about internet advertising, so I open this question up to anyone. If newspapers do die out, will that change the way site owners are paid for ads on their sites? To my way of thinking, companies have always paid newspapers, TV networks, billboards, whatever for ad space on the HOPE that people will buy their product. They have no way of knowing if people will buy, but they can judge how many people saw their ad by ratings or subscription and sales numbers. With websites, though, currently the advertisers are getting to demand one better: not only do people need to see their ad, they must show an interest (clicking through). So site hits right now aren't the same as a network's ratings or a paper's sales. Do you think if papers are ever out of the picture, a person with a popular website might have the power to dictate price the way a newspaper owner does now?


There's no real stability in the current model of on-line advertising. Yes, it's currently a mash-up of small payments based on pageviews and larger payments (but still not really large) based on click-throughs, but I don't see this as being sustainable long-term. Where it is going is unclear, but I'd be surprised if something hasn't changed radically a few years down the line.

Advertising in general faces major hurdles as a result of technology. Consider commerical television. Now that DVRs allow viewers to zip through commercials with far more reliability than VCRs ever did, a lot of TV ads are being bypassed as easily as ads on websites are being zapped by ad-blockers.


Wed Feb 25, 2009 2:31 pm
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Post Re: February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
James,

I saw where you wrote that an undeserving "Brokeback Mountain" lost for 2006 best picture to an equally undeserving "Crash".

I've been going around since then saying "Brokeback was a better movie than Crash, but "Walk The Line" was better than both of them."

Where do you fall in there? Was WTL your pick for '06? If not, what was?

- Walt


Wed Feb 25, 2009 2:47 pm
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Post Re: February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
WaltBennett wrote:
Where do you fall in there? Was WTL your pick for '06? If not, what was?
- Walt


I'm in a danger zone here because I'm not bother to look up the nominees (lazy, I know), but wasn't that the year Munich was nominated?


Wed Feb 25, 2009 2:55 pm
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Post Re: February 24, 2009: "Ink Stained Fingers"
Yes, I looked it up. You went with Munich and did not even list WTL among your top ten.

Upon reflection, does the movie hold up well for you?


Wed Feb 25, 2009 2:58 pm
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