Bill Baker's Blog

Perspectives on the Media from New York Public Television

Weekly Media Briefing September 11-17

Michael Hurtig | September 12th, 2011

E-book sales explode while print sales continue their steady decline.

Nielsen’s newly released Social Media Report is packed with fascinating information, like the fact that internet users over 55 are driving social media use via mobile devices.

Is The Toronto International Film Festival the Cannes of North America?

While we don’t really want to admit it, the time has come to start paying attention to the 2012 Presidential Race, and the Columbia Journalism Review is a good place to start.

More evidence that the internet seems designed to reward content aggregators rather than content producers.  With too many sources of material, not enough time to sort the bad from the good, and never enough buyers, the content creators always lose out — a sad state of affairs.

The Murdoch phone hacking scandal (remember that?) continues to change the way the UK is thinking about privacy, and has emboldened Harry Potter creator J. K. Rowling and other celebrities to initiate and inquiry about violations of their privacy by gossip-mongering journalists.  Let’s hope that the citizens of the UK can get something good out of this spectacle.

Is the golden age of novels and short stories about to return?

Michael Hurtig | September 9th, 2011

An unbound chapter from Bleak House's original run. (credit: Evan Leatherwood)

According to this piece from Fast Company, short pieces of writing, like recipes and single articles, are now being sold on Amazon and at the Apple store for prices ranging from ¢99 to a few dollars, for download to the Kindle, iPad, etc.  The article asks: what sort of writers will benefit from this new form of publishing?

Have we come full circle? (credit: Corey Nascenzi)

First off, this is not really a new form of publishing, but a really old one.  Before the mass reading public had a taste for bound books, they bought printed works in single sheets, or in unbound sheaves of paper, priced to move and made for single-serving consumption, not unlike downloading single episodes of your favorite TV show to your iPhone to watch on the subway.

This is how the essays of Samuel Johnson were first published, and how millions first consumed the novels of Charles Dickens, chapter by chapter.  (more…)

Remembering 9/11 at WNET

Michael Hurtig | September 8th, 2011

It is hard to believe that a decade has passed, because the memories are still so fresh.

Taken almost exactly two months before the attacks. Front row, left to right: Greg Anderson, Charlotte Ackert, Bill Baker, Mario Biazan, Kate Marron, unidentified, Kathy Rae. In the back, left to right: Terrel Cass, Don McGregor, Josh Weston, unidentified, unidentified, Ken Devine

On the morning of September 11th, we were all at our desks on 33rd street.

All except for Rod Coppola, our beloved station engineer, who was on duty near the antennas at the top of the North Tower.  After the attacks began, Rod was in touch with our master control room on 33rd street.  He told them something had happened, and that he was going out to take a look.  That was the last we heard from him.  Rod was a wonderful employee and a good man and he is still very much missed.  I will never forget his hospitality every time I came to see him and the technology at the top of the North Tower, which was often.  Here is a moving piece on all the TV engineers who lost their lives on that day.

That day, as the towers and the world we had known came down around us, I realized we had a choice.  (more…)

New York area Irene coverage: tempest in a teacup

Michael Hurtig | August 30th, 2011

Hurricane Isabel, wikimedia commons

I’m writing this on an iPad with the power still off at my home in Riverside, CT.  This is the third day without power, phone and Internet.  We came within inches of a flooded basement, had three feet of water in the driveway, and there are still lots of tree limbs on the lawn.  But that’s it for damage.

Yet my adult daughter and my wife, who were glued to the TV leading up to the storm, had pictured us all standing on the roof of our house surrounded by forty feet of water waiting for a helicopter to airlift us to safety.  The Weather Channel reports were the most histrionic.  One actually said that Irene would be “the worst storm we will see in our lifetime.”

I never thought for a moment that our lives would be at risk. (more…)

Weekly Media Briefing for August 29th – September 2nd

Michael Hurtig | August 29th, 2011

Google’s Eric Schmidt is delivering a speech at Edingburgh’s Television Festival next week, and is expected to outline the company’s plan to make a splash with GoogleTV in the U.K.

What would the news look like if PR firms could do whatever they wanted online?  For the Chinese, this is not a hypothetical question.

Why booming e-book sales are actually bad news for publishers, at least for now.

Here’s something nobody expected: non-profit news is getting MORE ideologically polarized, not less, says Pew.

Wal-Mart has become a major player in online movie rentals and downloads.

The death of books has been greatly exaggerated, says Lloyd Shepherd in a sane and cheerful article for the Guardian.

Weekly Media Briefing for August 22nd – 26th

Michael Hurtig | August 22nd, 2011

Bids for Hulu are still coming in, and numbers between 500 million and 2 billion are expected. The site’s instance as joint venture between media majors has brought access to many hours of premium content, however it has also created many conflicts of  interest. Potential investors could potentially open doors for the site and make it a stronger competitor in the online streaming space.

Freshman at Florida Atlantic University get a lesson in how journalism was done before the internet, and are surprised by how much has been forgotten in just twenty short years.

Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC blurs the line between satire and activism, but that may just be the point, in an America with no limits on campaign spending, and where political power is impossible without and often inseparable from media presence.

Whatever may be happening in the economy, we say with certainty that the news consensus says the economy is ailing, and hasn’t been this bad since 2009.

Bill Moyers returns to public television!

Another Google books dispute in France ends in settlement. Following a similar deal between Google and Hachette, French publisher La Martiniere has agreed to share revenue for out-of-print books from its collection which are to be scanned by Google.

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