Jed Morey’s Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘Newsday

Hosing Down Green Street

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hosingstreetYears ago, our company produced several outdoor concerts and events. This experience led me to vow never to host an event exclusively held outside. Mother Nature is a cruel and unforgiving partner in such enterprises. Her ever-dwindling patience with our species is certainly not without cause, mind you. Perhaps this is why I felt as though we were in the clear by celebrating Mother this past weekend when the Press hosted the second annual Green Living Expo at Suffolk Community College. While the Expo is technically dedicated in her honor, I stayed true to the vow of hosting events indoors in case she was having a bad day on someone else’s account.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature’s lesser-known, ne’er-do-well cousin, “Murphy,” decided to intervene and delivered to us perhaps the warmest, sunniest April weekend on record—not exactly optimal conditions for hosting an indoor affair.
Not to be undone, redheaded stepchild “Insult-To-Injury” came along as I opened up my Newsday on Sunday to find their new Green Street LI section. Surely this will appear to be sour grapes on my part—or disingenuous criticism at best—but understand that I have also been a staunch defender of Newsday in this column before. In an era of downsized newsrooms nothing in our little world is more important than supporting good journalism. The problem is that this isn’t journalism. Not by objective standards or even their own admission.

This new endeavor actually runs a disclaimer that states it “does not involve the reporting and editing staff of Newsday.” Instead this weekly feature is compiled by the Community Affairs division with some content “provided by advertisers.” The Press shares many of these advertisers in common, actually, and most have something important to offer to the green movement. I should also mention that it is commonplace for newspapers to run special targeted advertising sections that include “advertorials.” The problem here is the altruistic packaging and the conspicuous absence of any real journalism. The mere fact that this disclaimer-laden piece is compiled sans Newsday’s editorial staff is greenwashing at its worst and boldest.

The economy alone is taking enough of a toll on the green movement that many now deem it a luxury, even though it is the ultimate necessity. This is not something to trivialize by slapping together strictly well-worn ad-supported tips. This is a topic that needs research, investigating, thinking. This moves beyond a top-five on “Why Composting is Good”; this requires coming up with a plan to make Long Island sustainable and taking down local polluters, even if they are potential advertisers.
Having spent the weekend with the true grassroots leaders on Long Island who work tirelessly day in and day out to move a positive environmental agenda forward, I can think of no greater insult to them than to have our only daily newspaper trivialize their work. Surely our fragile ecosystem, the air we breathe and the soil beneath us deserve better than this.

When I founded the Long Island Press seven years ago my father offered simple advice to me that I have never forgotten. Having lived and worked in media on Long Island for most of his career he told me that if the Press did nothing more than give Newsday a conscience, it would be a great success and enormous public service. So while gnawing away at this behemoth is my favorite pastime, this is personal for all of us. The very first issues of the Press featured lengthy editorials on renewable energy and investigative pieces on companies and government agencies that polluted the Island. Since then we haven’t wavered one bit. If Newsday has finally decided to grab a mitt and get in the game, then play ball like you mean it. If not, take a seat on the bench and leave the environmental reporting to us.

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Written by jmorey

May 2, 2009 at 3:39 pm

All the news that’s fit to keep printing…

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newspaper

Advertise In The Long Island Press (Subliminal Caption)

As a fortunate son born into a family broadcast business, I did what any good Gen-X media executive would do with the advent of the internet: I started a newspaper. Pretty cutting edge, no? Currently I’m working on a patent for a new, sleek horse-drawn carriage. Stay tuned. It should be big.

Being acknowledged as such a new-media pioneer has afforded me the opportunity to speak on a few panels lately with discussion topics such as “The Dying Newspaper Industry” and “How to Keep Your Newspaper Alive in a Depression.” Good times. Good times.

 

 

My own experiences and my colleagues on Long Island have taught me, however, that newspapers aren’t dying. In fact Long Islanders are consuming more news than ever—yes, including print. Long Islanders and all Americans can’t get enough news and information it seems. The difference is that they demand it constantly and in multiple forms. This has confounded the news gatherers who struggle to maintain the integrity of the written word and stressed the news gathering process given our voracious appetite for it.

This is a good news/ bad news scenario for news organizations whether they be community focused, national outlets, broadcasters or this alternative newsweekly. The good news is that our product is being consumed with greater frequency and interest. The bad news is that there are more ways of receiving information and they are mostly free. The real bad news isn’t increased competition from talking heads and bloggers or the commoditization of information by search engines. Rather, the information glut has diminished the perceived value of advertising dollars businesses are willing to commit.

The prospect of search in an Orwellian sense is that all information is and will be available to everyone immediately. While the portal to this information is narrowing to the point where we will all someday reside somewhere inside the googleplex, the sources of information have become increasingly fragmented. The present danger in the googleplex is the blogger being seen as an equal to the newspaper reporter who must report stories that are vetted through time-tested systems. The long-term danger (which is like dog years in the googleplex) is that traditional reporting that is right and trustworthy will not receive enough advertising support to exist for much longer.

With several daily newspapers on the brink and a few already beginning to fall, Eric Schmidt of Google has already peered into his crystal ball and is afraid of what he sees. He doesn’t want to be responsible for killing the journalism trade. Besides, as Tim Knight, Publisher of Newsday, astutely pointed out on a panel this week – if the newspaper are gone, what will we google? Imagine a giant information vacuum that consists of bloggers critiquing other blogs and talking heads on television covering their critiques while politicians succumb to viral conspiracy theories left unchecked.

In a “Gladwellian” sense (I hope that term make it on Wikipedia!) newspapers have always played the roles of both maven and connector. As mavens we generate the news stories that serve as connectors around the water cooler and dinner table. While still playing the role of maven, we are no longer the connectors. When society reaches a point where our children text message each other while in the same room and our Facebook updates take the place of a phone call, we have officially surrendered the connector role.

Therefore, newspapers must seemingly leave the connector role behind and continue the work of mavens. But it is exactly our roles as connectors that advertisers pay for. And there’s the rub.

The salvation of newspapers will be in the people and businesses that value the credibility of information and the quality of the people who are reading them. The smart business owner will realize that in the information age, newspapers are still one of the best places to advertise because we offer a wealth of original and creative information that still matters to the interested and engaged public. The businesses that will miss the boat, particularly during a recession, will believe the hype that no one is reading newspapers any longer. After all, if you’re reading these words and have made it all the way through this diatribe, you’re one of them. And I bet there are businesses out there that are wishing they knew how to find you. If only I could introduce you to them…

Written by jmorey

March 27, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Posted in Publishing

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