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British printers struggle to cope with shift toward digital media
April 15, 2014 | 5:46 pm

printingpressMy friend Michael Brotzman pointed out this story to me from the New York Times, about how the printing industry in Britain is coping with the decreased demand for its services. Even as high technology leads to printers that can print bigger runs, faster, more efficiently, and with fewer operators, demand is dwindling and so are employees. The British printing industry is down from an estimated 200,000 workers in 2001 to fewer than 125,000 now. And for the jobs that are left, the UK is more and more often having to compete with lower labor costs of printers in continental...

One more use for newsprint you won’t see on Kindle: Canvases for amazing artworks
March 7, 2014 | 4:25 pm

Here's one more contribution from the legacy of printed paper that Jeff Bezos will not be bringing to the global cultural inheritance any time soon: Fabulous portraits and hand-drawn life drawings done on old newspapers, printed pages, letters, and other found or abandoned paper surfaces. These are the creations of artist Mark Powell, frequently executed in ballpoint, and often incorporating the texture of the underlying newsprint or other document into the final artwork. Just look at the texture of the topographical map in the piece below, for example, and how it fits into the portrait.   "Both the canvas he uses and the...

Chloephobia is an irrational fear of print newspapers
February 8, 2014 | 12:45 pm

ChloephobiaBefore we get to the fear of newspapers story, a brief introduction to a thoughtful word maven. Michael Quinion in Britain runs an insightful word origins website called World Wide Words, which is a free newsletter that goes out by email and catalogs in witty and wise selections how the English language is forever changing. "World Wide Words tries to record at least some part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new  words, word histories, the background to words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech," Quinion says. Some stats: his newsletter, in operation for over 17 years, goes out...

When a byline’s more than just a byline
January 26, 2014 | 12:30 pm

bylineBrian X. Chen covers technology and gadgethead issues for the New York Times, and with a stellar career at Wired magazine behind him, he is poised to soar even higher. So as a longtime student of newspaper bylines, I was struck by Mr. Chen's middle initial ''X'' and always wondered if it was part of his real name, from birth, or a self-created middle initial for purposes of helping his name stand out from the other 10,000 Brian Chens in the Internet listings. A former Times reporter Jennifer Lee, use to use the middle "numeral" of 8 followed by a period in...

The hazards of being skeptical: Clifford Stoll on the Internet in 1995
December 19, 2013 | 5:14 am

crystal-ball-219x300Here’s an amusing little article I just discovered tonight thanks to a friend passing on the link. It involves Clifford Stoll, author of the 1989 book The Cuckoo’s Egg about catching a hacker years before most people even knew what the Internet was, pontificating on this new-fangled Internet thing for Newsweek back in 1995. (His book, Silicon Snake Oil, expanded on these themes.) Drawing on his twenty years of on-line experience, Stoll declared that most predictions for the future of the Internet were overblown, and went on about it in great detail. Consider today's online world....

Guardian braves death of the bookshelf, trials “Shelf Improvement”
December 17, 2013 | 2:22 pm

Unfazed by articles proclaiming the "death of the bookshelf," Britain's The Guardian newspaper is launching a trial of Shelf Improvement, its new book subscription service "that aims to improve the literary lives of book lovers in 2014." Without a single ebook or Kindle in sight. Shelf Improvement, it seems, is "all about sharing the experience and expertise of our trusted editors, critics and writers in order to expand your reading horizons. Each month, they'll name their top pick and we'll pop it in the post. The exact book remains a mystery until it lands on the doorstep." [caption id="attachment_103498" align="aligncenter" width="455"] In...

In glitchy online world, news site ‘glitches’ do happen
December 8, 2013 | 2:15 pm

In a glitchy online world, news site glitches do happen, and here's a story to freeze your computer screen as we speak. A few weeks ago, a man in Manhattan read an op-ed in the New York Times online, and feeling he had something to say in response, he did what a lot of people do these days: he wrote a letter to the editor. And send it in by email. Of course, the Times receives over 500 letters to the editor every day, most by email nowadays, and the editors have to find 3 or 4 letters that "fit." Remember, the...

Iconic French movie ‘Breathless’ put ‘IHT’ newspaper on global map, now re-branded as INYT
November 23, 2013 | 12:51 pm

inytGoodbye International Herald Tribune of "Breathless" movie fame and bonjour "International New York Times." A famous global print and online newspaper has been renamed, rebranded and reorganized. In an oped column last month in the New York Times, columnist Roger Cohen wrote a piece headlined "Adieu IHT, Bonjour INYT." He was trying to explain to readers how the renamed "International New York Times" (INYT) was once the iconic "International Herald Tribune" (IHT) – and before that the "New York Herald Tribune." In an old 1960 black-and-movie from France titled "Breathless," the actress Jean Seberg gained international fame for her role hawking the...

Japan’s English-language newspapers part of global trend
November 22, 2013 | 10:48 am

newspapersJapan has always had trouble explaining itself to the rest of the world in English, but for the past 50 years, several national newspapers have tried to publish English-language newspapers. While not all of them prospered or succeeded, a few of them did, and one of the best was the popular ''Daily Yomiuri" -- which has now been remained since April as “The Japan News.” It's published daily both in print and online. For Westerners living in North America or Europe, and for that matter, for all English-speaking people around the world, the online site is a deal: it's free and no paywalls...

John Paton reports from the newspaper digital subscription frontline
November 20, 2013 | 12:10 pm

John Paton, CEO of Digital First Media, the parent company of MediaNews Group and 21st Century Media, which operates "operate more than 800 digital and online products in 18 states serving more than 61.5 million customers per month," has become something of an icon for print periodical turnaround stories since his rescue of the Journal Register Co., now part of 21st Century. And he recently disclosed in his personal blog - tellingly titled "Digital First" - some details of "The Subscription Project" at his group, and their results so far. "The transformational journey from print to digital is a long one. And...

Paying for News: What’s the Right Price?
November 14, 2013 | 2:44 pm

paying for newsI recently posted an article on the Toronto Star paywall experiment---they erected it this past summer, and now, partway into the rollout, they were reporting on the results. In my analysis, I remarked that I personally had not visited the Star's website since the paywall went up; that I get such news elsewhere now and that I don't miss the site enough to pay $9.99 a month for it. A frequent Teleread commenter made a remark in response which interested me. He said "Isn’t it odd how allergic some folks are about paying for a respected online news service yet they’d think...

Toronto Star Paywall: A Mid-Scandal Report
November 12, 2013 | 4:27 pm

toronto starCTV News has a great write-up detailing the quarterly earnings reported this week by Torstar, parent company of The Toronto Star. The Star erected a paywall this summer, and I was curious to see if their earnings had reflected any changes as a consequence. The report confirmed what I had already heard anecdotally: website hits were down---by a lot---but print revenue was up a tiny bit. John Cruickshank, the Star's publisher, did, however, have this caution: "It's so early that it really is difficult to give you a response...we've looked at models that are like the model that we have adopted, and...