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By Jeb Bing

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About this blog: A longtime newspaperman, I have been editor of the Pleasanton Weekly since it was launched Jan. 28, 2000. I was a reporter and Neighborhood News editor at the Chicago Tribune for 13 years, and previously a reporter for the Advance...  (More)

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From websites to mailbox delivery, New Media is changing

Uploaded: Jan 12, 2009
As readers, viewers and advertisers shuffle the ways they get their news and sell their products as if they have some sort of a universal remote capable of switching media, those of us in the business of conveying information to this news-thirsty crowd are using technology to keep up with the changes. Contrary to some reports that the media as we know it is dying, panelists at the recent Media Day discussion at Las Positas College pointed out how it's getting better.

Look at the Pleasanton Weekly. I talked about how we have evolved in just the nine years we've been publishing our Friday paper into an online leader where readers can surf 24 hours a day for updated news, advertising and a popular free-access blog under the heading Town Square. Several months ago we started Express, an abbreviated report that we send as an email to more than 6,000 subscribers who have signed up for this free service. Now we're publishing Express with an email sent at 8 a.m. Monday through Friday. It's free and you can quickly sign up for the daily online Express at www.pleasantonweekly.com where the registration box is at the top of the online screen.

We're not alone in making changes to accommodate the New Media, as Mark Curtis, former news anchor at KTVU in Oakland told the Media Day group. Suddenly laid off by the station, he used technology to launch his own video news service, traveling the country during the presidential campaigns last year and signing up media users to broadcast his material.

As advertising revenue dries up for TV stations such as KTVU, and news staffs are downsized, enterprising entrepreneurs such as Curtis are filling the information gap. Others are trying, with Curtis pointing out how the lines are increasingly blurred between professional reporters and writers and the postings such as the Huffington, Limbaugh and Drudge Report websites that offer opinion in the name of news. Even though readers and viewers want to know about breaking news now, not wait for the next morning's newspaper or even that night's 5 p.m. news broadcasts, they also need accurate, objective reports which is what the established press can do best.

Other panelists at Media Day, which is part of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce's annual Leadership Pleasanton program, were Kori Hulac, co-editor of the Tri-Valley Herald/Valley Times news bureau on Spring Street in Pleasanton, and Dory Culver, managing editor of KCBS News Radio in San Francisco. Hulac, who started at the Herald 10 years ago, has the toughest job of those who spoke at Media Day. She finds herself surrounded by empty desks and few reporters although the missions of the two daily Bay Area newspapers are still the same. With five reporters to cover three counties, she has to carefully sort out the important meetings and newsmaker luncheons. Her staff has shrunk 40 percent since the merger of the Knight-Ridder and Bay Area News Group, but she's still very upbeat.

As a part of the papers' "New Paper" task force, Hulac is working with the technology side in "reinventing" the publications, as she put it, with increased emphasis on a website that offers videos, live interviews, special reports, even music. She doesn't expect the New Media to ever fully replace printed newspapers, but readers will have more choices and can be interactive in how they receive their news, advertisements and in their ability to influence what's covered.

Culver at KCBS seems less directly affected by the deterioration in advertising revenue, but technology at her station is giving drivers more options, including membership satellite radio. Surveys show that few listeners tune in her all-news station on AM radios in their homes or even their cars, so KCBS has added FM as a duplicate altnerative as well as a website. One of the station's newest promotions is "KCBS Radio, now in HD." That's right. Internet-available radio in a TV format, and this in a state that just banned text messaging as a detraction for safe driving.

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by David Jackson, a resident of Livermore,
on Jan 12, 2009 at 10:13 pm

> One of the station's newest promotions is "KCBS Radio, now in HD." That's right. Internet-available radio in a TV format, and this in a state that just banned text messaging as a detraction (sic) for safe driving.

What? "HD Radio" has nothing to do with the Internet OR television. It is a method by which a radio station can split an FM signal into multiple channels with alternative programming ... but it takes an HD-enabled radio to hear it (not a TV or the Internet).

And "HD Radio" doesn't stand for "high definition." It's just a marketing term.

If you heard that KCBS is "now in HD," you were hearing things. The station added its programming to 106.9 FM (formerly KFRC-FM) and is simulcasting the news from 740 AM. Not HD, not anything super high-tech -- just plain old FM radio, like we've had for about fifty years.

David Jackson
Bay Area Radio Museum

www.BayAreaRadio.org


 +  Like this comment
Posted by David Jackson, a resident of Livermore,
on Jan 12, 2009 at 10:19 pm

> Surveys show that few listeners tune in her all-news station on AM radios in their homes or even their cars, so KCBS has added FM as a duplicate altnerative (sic) as well as a website.

How did I miss this? "Few listeners tune in her all-news station on AM radios"? Then what would account for the high ratings of KCBS?

Surveys show? What surveys? The Arbitron ratings show KCBS is among the most listened-to stations in San Francisco, and it has been for decades.

This is one of the top all-news stations in the United States, and one of the highest-rated stations in Northern California. And few listeners are tuning in on AM radios?

How are they listening? By lining their baseball caps with tin foil?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jeb Bing, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School,
on Jan 13, 2009 at 10:35 am

Thanks David for your insightful remarks and also for pointing out the typo in "alternative."

I appreciate your data that shows KCBS (which is my favorite all-news station locally) is the Bay Area's leader in AM radio. But just as satellite receivers are affecting traditional cable television subscription growth numbers, satellite radio must surely be dampening growth in the AM radio field. A lot more is also affecting the boom years in AM radio just as it is for print media.

According to the most recent Tech Poll from radio research firm Jacobs Media, the audience for podcasts is up 87% year to year among rock radio listeners. Here are some of the highlights of their research:

New technology continues to rapidly move into radio listeners' lives. This year, the "big gainers" in terms of occupying their time includes streaming video, iPod ownership (and podcasting), and text messaging. Almost the entire sample now owns a cell phone and has access to a hi-speed Internet connection.

In-home radio listening is declining, as respondents continue to utilize other media in their residences.

A variety of things are cutting into people's time listening to radio, including:

Reading news online; Social networking sites (continuing to grow); iPods/mp3 players (getting bigger every year); Podcasting (up 87% year to year); Streaming radio; Music sites like Pandora, iTunes; Video games (which was trending down last year); Cell phones (which continue to be huge); DVDs; TiVo/DVRs (which lead to more television viewing); Video sites such as YouTube; Nearly six in ten respondents own a iPod/portable media player, an increase of 23% over last year's poll. And the iPod's presence in cars continues to rise.

Tech Poll also opined that HD Radio, which you fully explained, "is going nowhere fast, with awareness limited to about 1 in 100 people surveyed, which would have included me.

The survey also found that iPods and podcasts are replacing traditional radio listening at key listening times, with 40% saying they never listen to the radio while walking/working out. Even at-work listening has also shown some erosion. While nearly one-fourth (23%) say they never listen to radio on the job, an additional 16% say they're listening a little/a lot less at work. While three in ten (28%) report more listening in the workplace, that figure is down from the 2007 survey (31%).

This study was conducted from February 26-March 5, 2008. Data was collected from 27,029 respondents from a total of 69 Classic, Mainstream/Active, and Alternative stations in markets as diverse as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Grand Rapids, and Greenville, South Carolina.

BTW: I'd be remiss if I didn't compliment David Jackson, who is Executive Director of the Bay Area Radio Museum, an online service at Web Link. It's a great website.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on Jan 13, 2009 at 4:09 pm

New Media sounds like one of those lame buzzwords like New Economy. Print has been under attack for a long time. Think TV.

"The Changing Newsroom" Web Link
"Out of Print: The death and life of the American newspaper." Web Link
"What's Really Killing Newspapers: They're no longer the best providers of social currency." Web Link



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