Metaphors: A wooing youngster, non-paying jerks, bike nerds

A young man a courtin’
Chuck Peters, quoted in John Kenyon in the Corridor Business Journal

Chuck Peters uses the analogy of a young man seeking the affections of an attractive woman when discussing the rather radical changes his media company is undergoing.

“It’s like saying, ‘I like that girl over there, I’ll just watch how somebody makes an approach and then will do it myself,’” he said. “But then, the relationship is gone.”

In this case, the tentative suitor is a typical media company, while the comely lass is the ever-eroding audience. Many in media, newspapers in particular, are waiting for someone else to come up with the model that will recover readers and viewers who have been fleeing in droves over the past decade.

Mr. Peters instead wants to be that bold young man who wins the maiden’s hand. The announcement last week that his company was rebranding itself from Gazette Communications to SourceMedia Group Inc. is the most public indication of an evolutionary process under way for a few years.

Non-paying jerks
Bill Cotterell in the Tallahassee Democrat‘s “There’s no more free ride for our online-only readers” (Now behind a paywall, free Google cache version here)

Just as an experiment, the next time you want to get to the mall, go to a car dealership and ask for a lift. When the salesperson asks if you mean a test drive, just say, “Oh, no, I don’t want a car, I just want a ride.”

Then go to a deli and ask what’s on the free lunch menu. Thinking you’re broke, someone might offer to buy you a sandwich, so you say, “Thanks, but I have money — I just choose not to pay.”

At the mall, go from store to store and don’t buy anything, just criticize the merchandise. Tell customers how ugly that tie is, what a lousy stereo they’re considering, how stupid they must be if they want that book. When shopkeepers tell you to leave their private property or be civil, yammer about “censorship.”

We don’t need such an experiment, because we know the results. But here at the Tallahassee Democrat, we’ve been competing with our own free alternative product for about 13 years — and we’ll soon find out what happens when you start charging for what you’ve given away.

and

President and Publisher Patrick Dorsey and Executive Editor Bob Gabordi on Wednesday wrote a front-page column, announcing our new “pay wall” content policy. Of the hundreds of comments that poured in, very few wished us well, but not all the critics were unhappy. Many were delighted to predict the end of the paper.

I have no way of knowing those commenters’ names and, if I did, I wouldn’t care enough to go over to circulation and see which, if any, are subscribers. But the greatest glee appeared to come from people who hate the Democrat, read it only online and regret that, come next Thursday, they won’t have us to kick around anymore.

We’ll miss them like Sears misses shoplifters.

and

Steve Hyatt, a Gannett executive from Reno who explained the new format to Democrat employees this week, used an interesting example. He said railroads started about 100 years before commercial aviation, but no airline today bears the name of a rail corporation.

That’s because the train tycoons thought they were in the railroad business, rather than the transit business. Well, we’re in the communication business. What worked when Gov. Napoleon Broward took office in 1905, the year the Democrat began publishing, doesn’t work now.

In his railroad analogy, Hyatt mentioned that the only trains you see now are freight lines or Amtrak passenger routes, heavily subsidized by the taxpayers. There won’t be any government bailout to keep print journalism going — as there certainly shouldn’t be — so our revenue model has to be either “all aboard” or “stop the presses.”

Elitist bike nerds
Scott Leadingham’s Why journalism should and should not copy bicycling culture

I’d become a hardcore bicyclist if it weren’t for hardcore bicyclists. In fact, I remarked to a friend recently that “the worst part about biking culture is biking culture.”

Forgive the gross generalization, but it’s been my experience that bicycling breeds an upper-crust crowd comparable to the snottiest fox-hunting, caviar-eating, polo-playing societal elitists out there. Go into any bicycle shop (not big box retailer) and ask about the lubrication benefits of using WD-40 on your chain.

“Eh. That’s a cleaner, not a lubricant. Don’t EVER use it to lube a chain!” is a likely response. “Here’s our selection of specialized lubricants – $10 per three oz. bottle.”

This notion of superiority, the kind coming from people on bikes that cost more than my car, keeps me away from becoming fully immersed and involved in biking culture.

Transfer that to journalism.

It’s not a new sentiment to say there’s a certain amount of arrogance in the profession. One doesn’t lead to the other, of course, but perhaps it’s more apparent in an industry that sees its practitioners’ names, faces and voices constantly before the public. As Linda Thomas aptly noted in a recent Quill piece on journalists to follow: “ … having the title of journalist doesn’t make you more interesting or important than anyone else.”

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