Paying For Honolulu News
Follow the money, the technology and the readers to try to predict the future of the news business
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Digital Media Explosion
Larry Geller, a former radio newsman who runs a six-year-old local blog called Disappeared News, is addicted to the flow of information that comes to him via Twitter or RSS feeds and may never show up in the newspaper or TV news.
“As I type this,” Geller notes in a recent email, “a man has set himself on fire near the Royal Palace in Amsterdam. In Wisconsin elections, 19 counties that voted for Republican Walker in November flipped yesterday to the Dems.
“How Hawaii fits in,” he adds, “how we get our news, is already changing. I think it depends entirely on the interests of readers/tweet consumers. If that’s true, then the newspaper may be doomed as its demographic passes on.”
The Pew Research Center’s latest State of the News Media report says 47 percent of Americans now get some of their local news on a mobile device. The report also says more people say they get news from the web than from print newspapers.
“In a media world where consumers decide what news they want to get and how they want to get it, the future will belong to those who understand the public’s changing behavior and can target content and advertising to snugly fit the interests of each user,” wrote Pew researchers Tom Rosenstiel and Amy Mitchell.
“In the 20th century, the news media thrived by being the intermediary others needed to reach customers. In the 21st, increasingly there is a new intermediary: software programmers, content aggregators and device makers control access to the public.”
Where Newsmakers Get Their Local News
We asked a broad range of local newsmakers where they got their news. Here are some of the responses:
Haunani Apoliona, chairperson, Office of Hawaiian Affairs: Pacific Business News, PBS, online local news, TV at 6 and 10, OHA’s daily radio program, OHA’s Ka Wai Ola newspaper, Pacific Network TV and magazines such as Hawaii Business, “along with the good old coconut wireless and talk story.”
Ryan Ozawa, Hawaii blogger: Twitter, for local and global news. “I find I get more context and personally relevant information by keeping an eye on what other people are reading, talking about and debating.” Also, Google Reader for headlines from specific sources.
Randy Roth, U.H. law professor: Star-Advertiser, Civil Beat and Hawaii Business magazine. Parts of Midweek, Hawaii Reporter and blog-type groups. Occasionally watches TV news and sometimes Olelo, but regularly watches PBS public affairs shows. “There doesn’t seem to be as much on TV as there used to. … I’m a big consumer of news but most comes from online.”
Beverly Keever, former UH journalism professor: New York Times alerts on UH, Hawaii or certain Pacific islands. Star-Advertiser, Pacific Business News, Honolulu magazine and Island Scene. Honolulu Weekly’s news articles, Hawaii Reporter and Hawaii Free Press websites. Environment Hawaii and specialized newsletters such as from Audubon Society and Life of the Land.
A Sampling Of Other New Media
Begun in 1990 as a subscriber-only newsletter, it has since added a website. It calls itself, “The single most important source of news on environmental issues in the 50th state.”
Primarily an aggregator of news with commentary and reporting, generally from a Libertarian perspective.
Larry Geller’s personal news blog, billed as “news you may not find in the local media. Learn why it was disappeared.”
An independent news, arts and culture site that aggregates information and also does some of its own reporting. Publisher Ikaika Hussey depends on volunteer subscriptions and advertising.
Edgy Lee launched the website with grants and voluntary contributions, and keeps it going with subscriptions, advertising, sponsors and media partnerships. Content focuses on culture, arts and Hawaiian themes; it bills itself as the “Native Hawaiian portal to the world.”
In his blog, political activist and former newspaper reporter Ian Lind reports and comments on government, public records issues, public policy and the news media itself. Lind is an expert on database reporting – mining government and other public sources for information of public interest.
One Media Expert’s View
“Don’t shed Any tears for the mainstream media in Hawaii,” says Mike Middlesworth, former managing editor with The Honolulu Advertiser and now a media consultant based in Hilo.
“Black Press, with the Star-Advertiser, MidWeek and all its other publications, has the general-circulation market locked up. It’s profitable now, and its profits will only grow as David Black and Dennis Francis take advantage of their virtual monopoly on Oahu by continuing to raise ad rates,” Middlesworth says.
“And on the Neighbor Islands, though business is down, the Maui News, Garden Island and the two Big Island dailies (Hawaii Tribune Herald and West Hawaii Today) are in essentially the same position on their islands. All have taken huge losses in classified advertising, but that may have bottomed out.
“The future for Black Press (in Hawaii) went from bleak to rosy when Gannett changed its business model and decided The Advertiser no longer fit the media giant’s plans. Isolated, unionized and carrying a huge debt for its printing plant, the paper was expendable, so a deal was struck with the competition that got Gannett out of Hawaii with a healthy improvement for its balance sheet.
“In the radio world, Hawaii Public Radio has the only real news operation, which its listeners appear to appreciate given the support it gets as it extends its reach throughout the state. KHPR is the closest thing we have to a statewide news operation, since the Star-Advertiser has no Neighbor Island presence and does little serious reporting outside of Oahu.”
“There’s a fair amount of buzz about websites and blogs, but none has emerged as a serious business threat to any of the traditional media outlets. Civil Beat is an interesting experiment and has a good reporting staff that others look to for leads, but it has changed its business model by offering free access, and how long the Omidyars will continue to bankroll it is unknown.”
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