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WHITE NOISE

by YES! Staff

Media News & Reports

Bye, bye, readers

Indicators of newspapers’ demise always seem to be in ample supply, notwithstanding our tendency in the industry to take a pollyannish view or at least put ourselves forward as the exception to the rule. The latest piece of bad news comes in an item on Monday from Editor & Publisher noting that Marriott International has decided to drop automatic newspaper delivery to guest rooms, citing a 25 percent drop in demand. Instead, guests will reportedly be asked to choose between USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, the local paper or no paper at check-in. “We want to give guests the choice of whether they want a newspaper or not,” Chairman and CEO JW Marriott Jr. tells writer Joe Strupp. “I visit more than 250 hotels a year, and more often than not, I’m stepping over unclaimed newspapers as I walk down the hallway.” — JG

Hyper-local news blogs help fill the void

With large daily newspapers like The Rocky Mountain News and The Seattle Post-Intelligencer biting the dust in recent months, hyper-local news blogs are beginning to spring up to fill the void in local news. Sites like EveryBlock, Outside. in, Placeblogger and Patch collect links to articles and blogs and often supplement them with data from local governments and other sources. They might let a visitor know about an arrest a block away, the sale of a home down the street and reviews of nearby restaurants, according to an April 12 article in The New York Times. The news business “is in a difficult time period right now, between what was and what will be,” said Gary Kebbel, the journalism program director for the Knight Foundation in the Times article. The Knight Foundation has backed 35 local web experiments. “Our democracy is based upon geography, and we believe local information is such a core need for our democracy to survive,” Kebbel said. Drumming up sufficient advertising has been the greatest challenge for community newspapers during the current recession, and the charge is no different for hyperlocal news blogs. One problem is that the number of readers for each neighborhoodfocused news page is inherently small. “When you slice further and further down, you get smaller and smaller audiences,” said Greg Sterling, an analyst who has followed the hyper-local market for a decade, in the April 12 Times article. “Advertisers want that kind of targeting, but they also want to reach more people, so there’s a paradox.” — KTB

Bowles and the NC leadership fetish

The News & Record, like North Carolina, seems to have an obsession with leadership, putting it at a higher premium than other virtues such as, say, democracy and collaboration. Still, it was rather fascinating to read in the four-page Ideas section on Sunday an excerpt of University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles’ entry in a new book to be published by Ivey House Publishing Group later this month called Secrets of Success: North Carolina Values- Based Leadership. Bowles, a Greensboro native, writes of his time working under President Clinton: “Over the years people have asked me about the balanced budget when I was chief of staff during the Clinton administration, wondering if that wasn’t the proudest moment of my time in leadership in Washington. My response is, ‘Yes, in some ways, but my proudest moment was putting together a team that had sharp minds and not sharp elbows. We really focused on trying to move the country forward rather than to take some kind of partisan advantage. We did it by taking partisanship off the table, establishing trust on both sides of the aisle.’” — JG

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