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Newsonomics: Twelve New Trends That Will Shape the News You Get 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0312598938
ISBN-10: 0312598939
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Doctor spent 21 years working in various capacities for the Knight Ridder media empire until the company's sale in 2006, and he offers an overview of the very changes that swept him out the door. But far from expressing bitterness about the barrage of blogs and Web sites that have brought old media giants like his former employer to their knees, Doctor is an enthusiastic, even giddy champion of how advances in digital technology are reshaping news media. He reels off buzzwords and corny catchphrases (It's all beta, baby; I'm not a Chump, I'm a Champion), but sheds little in the way of insight, analysis, or, frankly, news. His rules for newsonomics tend to be disappointingly obvious: Create multimedia, aggregate, blog, master the technology, and market virally. Perhaps to compensate for the lack of substance, Doctor has tricked out the book with sidebars, bullet-point lists, and interview transcripts, emulating the eye-catching style so prevalent in the blogosphere. In doing so, he inadvertently draws attention to what some might consider the chief limitation of the digital boom—that for all the technical innovation, there's still no substitute for good writing and solid reporting. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Ken Doctor is one of the smartest people I know in the news business. Where so many people have their heads in the clouds or under the table, he faced reality a long time ago. He gets the economics, the technology, and the personalities of the new news world. He knows the winners from the losers. His book is quite simply the best primer so far to the future of the news.” ―Michael Wolff, author of The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch

“The business model to fund journalism is broken. Ken Doctor picks up the pieces and offers hope to those smart and brave enough to embrace change.” ―Gordon Crovitz, former Publisher, Wall Street Journal, co-founder Journalism Online

“This is a wonderfully informative and conversationally written book that should be a must read for anyone interested in the future of journalism. "Newsonomics" captures the energy, passion, creativity and opportunity of this transformational period for journalism and the media. It's fun to read and full of relevant facts and context.” ―Robert J. Rosenthal, Executive Director, Center for Investigative Reporting

“Ken Doctor is one of the most important and readable analysts in media today. With Newsonomics, he creates some optimism that there is a way to navigate the difficult terrain. Newsonomics is a must-read and will leave you energized.” ―Bernie Lunzer, President of The Newspaper Guild-CWA

“Whether you are in the news business or some other industry, Newsonomics, offering sensible ideas for moving forward in any business, is a case study on how quickly your business model can be transformed.” ―Clare Hart, President, Dow Jones Enterprise Media Group


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312598939
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312598938
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,082,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ken Doctor, a leading news industry analyst, is the author of "Newsonomics: Twelve New Trends That Will Shape the News You Get" (St. Martin's Press. It's a handbook for the digital news decade to come., with its new daily 5Spot feature tracking the trends, is a new site that has launched with the book's publication.

As news industry analyst for Outsell, a global research and advisory firm, and through his own Content Bridges company, he covers the transformation of the news media, as it moves from print and broadcast to digital, focusing on changing business models and the journalism created.

In his work as an analyst, consultant and speaker, he focuses on what's being lost and what's being gained and on how sustainable models of contemporary journalism can be built. He believes we are now entering the Digital News Decade.

A veteran of the digital news industry, he combines deep experience as an executive in news strategy, revenue models and journalism. His experience includes 21 years with Knight Ridder, as well as time spent in the worlds of magazines, alternative journalism and syndication.

My Career

I've seen the news business from at least six sides now - alternative press, monthly magazines, features, news, digital journalism and analyst - and each step along the path feels like an internship. Just as all technology is interim technology, all careers, today, seem more temporary than they used to.

Now I think I'm onto my sixth career. Analysts are simply journalists, I've come to learn, just paid by someone other than news publishers.

Literally, what I'm doing today as an analyst is built on that diverse set of journalistic experience.

I finished my longest career, with Knight Ridder, in 2005, having worked for Knight Ridder Digital for seven years, as vp/editorial, vp/strategy and vp/content services. That time exposed me to the early and ungainly workings of news on the Web.

Though my Knight Ridder experience of 21 years is fast slipping into history, I see how the hundreds of people within that company that I got to know well shaped who shaped my perspective on the business of news. Knight Ridder, for many years, was easily the silver standard in the industry, lacking the cachet of the Times and the Post, but speaking to a way of doing journalism right. Becoming a Knight Ridder editor meant something.

Among a few to note: Jim Batten, late KR CEO, who stayed late at work one evening long ago to convince me to stay with the company and promised career-making opportunities in the years ahead. Soon after, in 1986, Saint Paul Pioneer Press editor Deborah Howell met me at the Twin Cities airport. We immediately hit it off. I was able to acknowledge her in the Newsonomics book, and am further saddened that we lost her suddenly at the year's beginning to an accident in New Zealand, just as that acknowledgment was being printed. The biggest Deborah: when you're an editor with lots of responsibilities to your readers and staff, listen for the voice in the back of your head. If that voice is nagging you to double-check, or revisit, or re-think, don't ignore it. A great journalism lesson, a great life lesson, well-used.

Her successor, Walker Lundy, promoted me to managing editor, in 1991. A Southern fish seemingly out of water in the true north of Minnesota, his homespun aphorisms often masked his deep insight. One time he said to me: "You know, Ken, I expect things to go wrong, and when they don't, I'm pleasantly surprised. You expect things to go right, and when they don't [too often in a newsroom] you're disappointed."

That comment didn't make me check my eternal optimism at the door, but sometimes temper it with, shall we say, realism.

Much of that KR career was built on my formative years in Oregon, first as publisher and editor of the Eugene-based Willamette Valley Observer alternative weekly (1975-1982, RIP and available by microfilm in the Oregon State University library) see lots of parallels between those days and the emergence of the green sprouts of online journalism today.

Those early Eugene days were formative, too, because of my graduate journalism education at the University of Oregon. I gained pointers there that I still use as an analyst decades later. Lately, I've been fortunate to reconnect with the UO Journalism School, through Dean Tim Gleason, one of the nation's pioneers in re-inventing journalism education in the digital age. As tough as things seem for the mid-career journalists of today, I'm enthused about the energy, skills and determination I see developing in the next generation of journalists.

On a personal level, I found myself in perpetual amazement of how digital media are changing - and largely improving - our lives. I lead a fairly digitally inflected life, from work, of course, to news, movies, restaurants and travel. The podcast is my multi-tasking best friend.

I find our travel adventures are further magnified by Internet assistance of all kinds.

My wife Kathy and I have been fortunate enough to begin visiting the wider world over the last two decades, from Turkey and the Czech Republic to India, Ukraine and Nepal. Our 12-seater flight to the top of the Himalayas reminded me of the human capacity for boredom - and need for adventure. As we flew parallel to The Top of the World, each of us, one at a time, was allowed to walk up front and see the sights from the front of the plane, standing just behind the pilot.

In a world, the view was breathtaking.

I said to the pilot, "Wow, that's astounding."

His response: "See it every day."

That, in a nutshell, is the challenge of all web businesses find them confronted with today. No matter how much different, better and wondrous are digitally enhanced lives are today, compared to say, 1990, the expectations of digital consumers are apparently endless, and impatient. Meeting them is a near-impossibility, but I'm sure those who come closest will be the victors in what I call the Age of Darwinian Content.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Dane S. Claussen on June 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Doctor writes this book from an elitist perspective, without ever telling the reader and, given his own journalistic background in places such as Eugene, Ore.; Boulder, Colo.; and St. Paul, Minn., perhaps without even realizing it. First, Chapter 1 is written as if every American is frantically searching the Web for the highest quality journalism about everything, all of the time. But while one-third (say, 33%) of the U.S. public uses Google every day, in a typical day less than 1% of the U.S. public is reading, on paper and online combined, The New York Times. The same goes for readership of each of The Dallas Morning News, the Chicago Tribune, The Economist, The Guardian, or viewership of CNN, BBC, News Hour with Jim Lehrer, or Rachel Maddow, and virtually all newspapers, magazines, TV shows, and radio programs that Doctor implies "everyone" is now consuming because of the Web. The fact is that The New York Times was widely available nationally on paper both before and after it was available on the Web, and the Times never was able to get even its Sunday on-paper circulation over 1.5 million in a country of roughly 300 million people despite supposedly everyone wanting to read it. All of Chapter One is written based on a claim, an assumption, that Americans want the highest quality journalism, but he provides NO evidence anywhere in the chapter that this is true for more than a small fraction of the public. It is not until page 81, in fact, that Doctor finally admits that most news consumers settle for "good enough content" (which is true now and always has been). But his recognition of John Q. Public settling for "good enough content" is in direct conflict with his Chapter 1, in which all of us are our own editor, frantically searching the Web all the time for the most excellent journalism.Read more ›
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Richard R. Edmonds on February 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Ken Doctor's new book published Tuesday, "Newsonomics: Twelve New Trends That Will Shape the News You Get," sounds as if it is going to be a treatise, but it's not. Sure, there is plenty of solid analysis, but "Newsonomics" reads more like a series of battlefield dispatches from the hunkered down camp of beleaguered old media and the loosely organized fronts opened by new media insurgents.

And Doctor is a virtual Christiane Amanpour of the news wars -- quick-moving, observant, solid in his interpretations and engaged without being a cranky partisan. Doctor delivers the book I would have expected, given his balanced perspective and consistently rewarding Content Bridges blog. Here are three things I like about the book.

Close-up reporting: Doctor's consulting practice gets him around the country. Without going all featurish, the book includes well-observed details, such as the contrast between the mammoth, half-empty newsroom of The Philadelphia Inquirer with the studio apartment-sized digs of [...](one of the biggest and best of the independent, nonprofit start-ups).

Opening the second chapter, Doctor describes New York Times brand-name tech columnist David Pogue holding forth on a stage in Monterey, Calif. Then he wheels into a solid discussion of how much money the Times may be making on Pogue's work alone.

In the manner of John Morton in his heyday, Doctor taps into insights from questions he is asked and from what he hears from his clients. The result is authoritative.

Good with numbers: Doctor has an eye for the telling statistic. He explains them without a lot of jargon and avoids some of the more convoluted modeling that creeps into some whither-the-news conversations.
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Format: Hardcover
After reading this book with an eye to what it means for the printed book (as opposed to newsprint and broadcast media), one single phrase from the text still follows me:

"In the digital world, technology makes or breaks ideas."

Newsonomics is more than just a blow-by-blow chronicle of the sweeping changes that have hammered the newspaper industry hard. Mr. Doctor is absolutely correct, again and again. I found myself not only agreeing with his assertions on the future development of journalism in the digital age (which encompasses all media, not just the printed media) but also being surprised by his insights. Although most of his insights are by no means truly original, when placed within the context of the media (and newspapers in particular) they certainly do qualify as revelatory and as earth-shattering game-changers. The ongoing evolution of media has implications, both ominous and opportunistic, for readers, publisher/distributors and content creators.

Technology really has removed the barriers of space and time, and it also has made it easier to create, publish and distribute content across all media. In particular, technology has made many aspects of publishing faster and easier, while rendering other aspects of the activity obsolete. For example, newspapers need not invest in newsprint and now can go directly to audiences via the web, and authors quite frankly need not go 'over the transom' (submit their manuscripts blindly to the major publishing houses) and can simply print on demand (they can even do this at their local library!). This brings to mind one of the key, big ideas of the 21rst century global economy: dis-intermediation- or the cutting out of the middle-man.
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