Monday, April 7, 2008

Boston Globe Sunday Business Section...gets new look, consolidates two sections

Another shoe is dropping for newspaper business sections (see "The future of newspapers' business sections in the Internet age"). This time it's the Boston Globe, which announced that it will consolidate its Sunday Business & Money section with its Careers section.

The Globe tried positioning this as a positive thing, with its article actually using the more positive word, "combine," claiming that the reason was "to offer readers more focused coverage on personal finance and the workplace. By bringing together these two sections, readers will be able to catch up on investing news and career advice in one convenient place."

Ok, first, that last sentence is grammatically wrong -- so I'd say the Globe might've combined copyediting with copywriting. Correctly written, the sentence would read, "By bringing together these two sections, the Globe offers readers investing news and career advice in one convenient place." (It's not the readers who are doing the bringing together; it's the Globe's accountants.)

The new combined section will banish the Globe's stock and mutual fund listings to the Globe's website -- a move made by other newspapers, including its parent paper, the New York Times.

Instead, the section will offer a new two-page package of stories and graphics. The article emphasized the graphics.

I'm not surprised.

It wasn't that long ago when the Globe redesigned its Career section -- and eliminated all locally produced content, replacing it with syndicated content.

Yet people like local. Especially in the Boston area.

Which may explain why they brought back some local features like Maggie Jackson's "Balancing Acts" column and the "Job Docs" Q&A column.

Seems to me that the real problem with the Globe's Help Wanted ads is that they are not organized the way the New York Times' ads are -- by industry category. That makes it a lot easier to quickly search for appropriate job postings.

The new Money & Careers section may not solve the Globe's cost issues. The graphics seem to be a way to reduce local content, which may make it less of an inviting section for local advertisers -- and that could push the Sunday section in a downward spiral.

Let's hope it doesn't get that way. But what's next could be combining other sections: Anyone interested in reading the "Money & Careers & Cars & Real Estate" section?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Aging Rocks Stars May Leave Something to be Desired

Every review of Martin Scorsese's documentary on the Rolling Stones, "Shine a Light," pays homage to Mick Jagger's amazing energy.

Check out the Wall St. Journal's lead paragraph: "Almost in his mid-60s when the movie was shot, he [Jagger] could still teach the Energizer Bunny a thing or three. He sweats and struts and runs around the stage as though in medal contention, pumps the air with his arms and makes communing with the audience an aerobic activity. He's caught coming and going -- and you are there.")

Or check out the New York Times' lead: "As you scrutinize the aging bodies of the Rolling Stones in Martin Scorsese’s rip-roaring concert documentary “Shine a Light,” there is ample evidence that rock ’n’ roll may hold the secret of eternal vitality, if not eternal beauty."

But that's not the point I want to make about aging rock stars. But first some context. Trying to make a point, I told a colleague (via instant message) I'd rather hear the Captain & Tennille sing "Muskrat Love" -- probably the worst rock song, along with "We Built This City" by Starship (formerly Jefferson Starship and Jefferson Airplane). Problem was: I couldn't remember how to spell Tennille.

In Googling Tennille, I came across to Toni Tennille's blog. (It available here, if you must look it up).

Okay, so now to make the point from the title of this posting. In her blog, Toni talks about a new house they're building, but that at 67, she needs to think about features that will enable her and the Captain (yes, after all these years, he's still just a captain) to live in the house for the rest of their lives. Her solution: "We are installing grab bars and high-boy toilets in the new house...not because we need them now, but because we know we will need them down the road." (I didn't feel the need to click onto the link for more information on high-boy toilets.)

How practical of them.

Which, of course, goes against the rocker sensibility.

While clicking to find something on TV, I came across an oldie rock special, filled with reconstituted/reunited bands -- often, I bet, with only one or two original members -- singing the hits that once made them famous. During the nanosecond I stopped on the channel, Iron Butterfly, best (or only) known for their 1968 hit "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" was performing. They sounded about the same, I guess, but, dressed in rock 'n' roll clothes, were these old dudes...who really should've been wearing something less, um, revealing.

I mean, even the New Kids on the Block, who this week announced their reunion tour (I call these the Mortgage-College-Tuition-Payment Tours), updated their look.

The lesson here: not everyone can be Mick.

It's okay to sing, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Just don't try to sing (I Can't Get No) Medicare Reimbursement."

Friday, April 4, 2008

Wall St. Journal looks at "what's next for newsmagazines?"

In a Wall St. Journal report on changes affecting major U.S. newsweeklies, here are some interesting take-aways:
  • Time and Newsweek are trying "to reinvent themselves yet again.
  • About a year ago, Time redesigned the print and website versions of the magazine. Richard Stengel, editor, told the Journal, "My whole view was there's more information out there than in human history. What people don't need more of is information. They need a guide through the chaos."
  • Newsweek, on the other hand, is increasing the quotient of serious news.
  • At 4M and 3.1M, respectively, Time's and Newsweek's circulation level have been flat. (An optimist might say, "is holding steady.")
  • The article says that Time & Newsweek suffer from Economist envy, since that international magazine saw an increase in ad pages.
  • The fact that Time & Newsweek are suffering (Newsweek's buyout offer to 150 staffers is the article's newshook) reinforces the point made in earlier posts: U.S. magazines subsidize circulation through advertising; in other words: 4M circulation is great, but it doesn't pay all the bills. Advertising does. When advertising suffers, so too does editorial.
  • And what you may ask of U.S. News & World Report? Tellingly, despite spending nearly a 1000 words on the newsweekly category, the Journal does not mention U.S. News & World Report.