Monday, March 30, 2009

It's all about timing

Today was the first day of the Detroit newspapers' reduced publication schedule. The NYT:

Maybe once a year, a city has a news day as heavy as the one that just hit Detroit: The White House forced out the chairman of General Motors, word leaked that the administration wanted Chrysler to hitch its fortunes to Fiat, and Michigan State University’s men’s basketball team reached the Final Four, which will be held in Detroit.

All of this news would have landed on hundreds of thousands of Motor City doorsteps and driveways on Monday morning, in the form of The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News.

Would have, that is, except that Monday — of all days — was the long-planned first day of the newspapers’ new strategy for surviving the economic crisis by ending home delivery on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Instead, on those days, they are directing readers to their Web sites and offering a truncated print version at stores, newsstands and street boxes.

I'm actually a big proponent of local papers. It's more and not less important to be informed at the local level in order to be an engaged citizen. It's far too easy to just vote in the national elections.

However, local reporting needs to find a new model that creates and engages actual information gathering and sharing. Three or four days a week isn't it. If a 24-hour news cycle is too long, how does a 48-to-72-hour news cycle make more sense?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

It's like an analog podcast

In a neat show of common interest between "old" and "new" media, Michigan Public Radio did a piece on the New Liberal Arts project. (Full disclosure: I was interviewed for the piece and show up at the one-minute mark.)

Interesting observation to come out of the story: while professors are notoriously liberal, students are actually rather conservative (in much more than the political sense):

Carolyn Racine is in [University of Michigan creative writing professor Emily] Zinnemann's class and a fan of Facebook. But that doesn't mean she wants her entire creative writing class or poetry class to happen via Facebook or Twitter or whatever is the next big online tool.

"I think," says Racine, that "students now shouldn't be completely into current processes like Facebook and forget about Shakespeare and the formalities. I think that's dangerous to forget about formalities."

When asked why, Racine hesitates and says, "Uh. I don't know. I'm still figuring it out as a student."

Resistance to the new in academia doesn't primarily come from administrators or parents; it comes from students. And rightly so, since they're the guinea pigs in all educational experiments.

Monday, March 02, 2009

He doesn't really have any idea how science works

Tax-cut fundamentalist Grover Norquist on the siren song of the new:

Norquist puts the "fresh ideas" people into two groups: Those who want to move the party to the left and those who want attention. "The only way to get attention is to come up with something completely new, which in life, usually means something completely stupid. There's a reason why scientists and inventors are known as crazy people: Because most of them are, and then every thousandth guy invents something really good. But most of the time they're lunatics. The guys who say, 'That won't work' "—he breaks into a whisper—"they're almost always right."

(Via Slate)