Melody Kramer writes about her informal survey of people who don't work for the news media and don't live in the three big U.S. media centers: "I was curious if they still relied on local news sources, or whether they preferred national publications. I wanted to know how many of them changed their habits as their local publications changed, and I wanted to know if my own media habits were skewed by working in journalism in Washington, D.C. (Spoiler alert: they were.)"
Jeff Bradley was a columnist and sportswriter covering major league baseball until he was laid off almost three years ago by his newspaper. Now, he writes about his new life as, most recently, a golf course clubhouse attendant: "Lots of people had ideas. The one I hear the most is, 'Write a book.' My response to that is usually, 'I will write a book one day. Probably when I retire. But right now, I need a job.'" More from Poynter's Ed Sherman.
ESPN pulled the plug last week on its ambitious Grantland site, and Ben Thompson suggests its death is bad news for sites focusing on quality over quantity: "It certainly seems that the lesson of Grantland is that there is no room in the middle: not enough scale for advertising, and costs that are far too high for a viable subscription business." Also, why Grantland mattered. And Malcolm Gladwell on ESPN's decision.
Kristen Hare's first job was reporting for an online news startup that was filled with a legacy paper's bought-out veterans. Here's what they taught her: "People assume veteran journalists are slow to change, but after working with many of them and covering the continual slog of layoffs and buyouts, I’m not sure that’s accurate. Young journalists are adaptive by nature. Anyone who has been in this profession for awhile is most likely resilient out of necessity."
You might think that the media's declining fortunes would be driving away recruits. But journalism professor Héctor Tobar writes that his students remain committed to their craft: "Young journalists operate on a strange mix of adrenaline and idealism. They savor the rush that comes with making a deadline, or conquering the stage fright of a live broadcast. And they believe that if they master those skills, they’ll contribute something important to their communities."
Michelle Levine, Anna Hiatt, and Michael Shapiro report on a Tow Center-funded study of what longform readers want from websites: "Among our most remarkable findings is that readers finished 94% of the longform pieces they started. To understand why that completion rate is a big deal, we have to step back in time to the early days of the internet, when conventional wisdom held that readers would not be interested in stories longer than the height of a computer screen."
There's more bad news from the Author Guild's latest member survey. Incomes of full-time authors have dropped 30% in the past seven years as traditional publishers merge and self-publishing claims a bigger share of the market: "These phenomena, along with the meteoric rise of Amazon as an industry behemoth and the shuttering of thousands of brick and mortar bookstores, have made the business of authorship both more diverse and less profitable than it was six years ago."
There's finally good news in the online journalism world, as well-funded websites like Vice, BuzzFeed, and Vox Media compete for writers and drive rates up, Noah Davis writes: "The question is, how long will the relative good times of getting paid to write on the web last? Even venture dollars are exhaustible. While a few sites will probably survive, the existing (and future) business models can’t support all the ones that are currently vying for writers and eyeballs."
Get out of the office and be out standing in the field, Laura Dattaro writes in her list of tips for better environmental writing: "As with all beats, reporting from the field makes for the best stories, and not only because you can describe what the elephant smelled like. It can also help provide important cultural context that can be lost amid persistent messages to save a species at any cost." Also, doing peer review in environmental writing.
Felix Salmon joins the chorus saying that journalists should take a more scientific approach to their work but won't do so for reasons of culture and habit: "The problem is that there’s no Ben Goldacre of journalism, no one urging cooperation and replication in the service of a greater good." Akshat Rathi begs to differ and says journalism has never been better: "Salmon confuses the true role of journalism and ignores the deficits of science."