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‘Wired’ scores on first iPad edition

A friend of mine was waiting for a flight recently and called to tell me that he was reading Wired magazine.

“And I can keep reading it when the plane takes off; they won’t make me put it away,” he said, clearly comparing his version with the first edition of Wired I’d just downloaded to the iPad.

“Sure, but can you watch a video clip from the Pixar story or get a 360-degree look at Iron Man’s suit?” I asked.

“No.”

“How about audio files? Does it play audio files?”

“No.”

“Mine does.”

“The little subscription cards probably don’t fall out of yours either, do they?”

“Nope.”

Along with the full text of the print edition, mine had more than 40 pieces of multimedia or interaction points. We paid the same price for both editions of the magazine, but I know mine was more fun to browse. Read the rest of this entry »

News in the age of augmented reality

In the last 30 years, the newspaper industry has moved from typewriters to laptops, from “hot” type to “cold” and from black and white to color photos. It’s now in the process of moving from print to digital, which is what I intend to make my primary topic for this course.

I’ve experienced the other changes over the last three decades and I’m on the front line of the next change.

During the recent economic downturn, many newspapers shed jobs to keep the doors open. It didn’t always work. Many closed; others cut staff and tried to make a living online.

One thing they all tried to do was keep their content in front of as many readers as possible. That meant expanding online operations, going mobile and getting into social media.

As part of the Web team at Dispatch.com, I’ve encountered all of those aspects. I’m constantly trying to learn about new tools and how they might be applied in our operation.

Over the last few years, I’ve developed a knack for spotting interesting digital trends.

I didn’t invent podcasting, but I saw its value in the early days and launched a show — a first for any newspaper. I set up Twitter and Facebook accounts for the paper as experiments long before most of my peers became interested in them. They’ve both slowly gained a following.

Many publications are using these tools today as alternate avenues to deliver news or bring more readers to their websites.

So, what’s on the horizon?

I’m still trying to figure out how to get us involved in foursquare, I think QR codes could be an overlooked gem and augmented reality seems like it could a transformative engine. I hope we’ll finally decide to adopt CoveritLive soon and I wonder if there’s a place for a Tumblr or Posterous blog in our toolbox. I’m also really excited about the prospects of using the iPad in publishing — maybe not for the daily product, but certainly for niche publications our company produces.

Our company doesn’t have someone assigned to “bird-dog” new tools. As we grow, I’d like to be that guy and I hope my blog entries will help make that happen.

What’s next?

I was interested to read Old TV News Guy’s post about the new study “Life Beyond Print,” which surveyed 3,800 journalists in an attempt to gauge their eagerness to make the transition to digital.

Today’s newspaper journalists have no trouble envisioning a career where news is delivered primarily online and to mobile devices instead of in print, according to a new report by the Media Management Center. In fact, almost half think their newsroom’s transition from print to digital is moving too slowly.

Though I wasn’t surveyed, I’m one of those print folks that has moved to multimedia duties and I couldn’t be happier about it. But there’s no doubt I also feel my organization is moving too slowly towards an all-online model. I came to the realization long ago that the only way for the newspaper newsroom to survive is to realize that we’re a news organization and not just a newspaper. We can do the same thing online as we do in print each day and do it better by utilizing more tools that aren’t available to us in print. But we have to adapt to a different news cycle, staff the newsroom differently and get a better handle on how we present the news online.

The folks who own and run and the company aren’t prepared to embrace that view. While they’re more willing to pay attention now that things have changed, they’re still hoping an economic rebound will bring their advertisers back, which I guess would put them in the “Turn Back the Clock” group.

I don’t know if newspapers will go away entirely, but I do have a feeling we’ve just stepped through the looking glass in terms of a business model. As NYU professor Clay Shirky said earlier this week, “the old models are breaking faster than the new models can be put into place.”

Let’s hope that changes soon.

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