Happy Holidays

Photo: Tonie AuerBy Tonie Auer
DFW Chapter President/National Blog Chairwoman

The ASBPE national blog is going to take a little winter break and we'll resume our mission of keeping you thinking and informed about B2B journalism after the New Year.

Happy Hannukah and Merry Christmas. Oh yeah, and Happy New Year!

ASBPE Members Get Discount on Publishing Business Conference

Photo: Martha Spizziriby Martha Spizziri
ASBPE Web Editor

ASBPE has made a special arrangement for its members to attend the Publishing Business Conference & Expo at a discount of $100-$200. The conference, which will take place March 23-25 at the New York Marriott Marquis, will feature more than 100 speakers on topics such as audience development, e-media, editorial, design, business development, production and manufacturing, and the economy.

ASBPE members who register by Jan. 9 will pay only $675 — a $200 savings off the full registration fee of $875. Members who register after Jan. 9 will pay only $775 — a $100 savings.

Members: Learn how to get the discount.

Not an ASBPE member? Consider joining.

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Another Nail in the Coffin

Photo: Tonie AuerBy Tonie Auer
DFW Chapter President/National Blog Chairwoman

Some days I feel like the dinosaurs I remember instructing me in college. I refer fondly to my old J-school professors as the men who shaped me and guided me in my career as a daily newspaper reporter. I started out my career for a small five-day-a-week evening daily in northeast Texas. We used VDTs and I had to size photos, count headlines and literally cut and paste galleys. *Ed. note: younger folks, refer to your journalism history books to understand these terms.*

I remember when my newspaper in West Texas got a website and started trying to determine how they would post content and still make money. It seems like yesterday, but also a million years ago. And, it was just another nail in the coffin of print journalism.

Yes, this old-timer who refuses to only get her news content online is saying it. I must have the feel of newsprint in my hands to feel like I'm getting the whole story. The gal who listens to Paul Conley, nods her head, but still refuses to get Internet/email connectivity on her cell phone - that girl is the one who is truly, finally admitting it: print journalism may, indeed, be dying.

I was shocked to read that the Detroit Free Press plans to change the way it does things in the spring. Gone will be daily delivery of the paper. Ok, well, reduced is a better word. Instead of a daily paper waiting on your doorstep each morning, you'll now have to log on and get your news. Except on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.


Call me old-fashioned, but this is sad news to me. I love having the portability of a newspaper, the in-depth details you don't get from the 30-second spot on the broadcast news. I just don't see how you can get that from the palm of your hand on your Iphone. It just isn't the same. That's it. It just isn't the same.

I know pretty much every news outlet is changing how they do things. So, what does it all mean for journalism and for B2B pubs? Well, you guys know what it means. You're the ones doing it and experiencing it. Is it as hard for you as it is for me?

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Nieman Foundation Offers Journalism Awards, Fellowships, Conference

By Martha Spizziri
ASBPE Web Editor

Following is information received from the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard.

The Nieman Foundation will present two journalism awards early next year:
  • The Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism. The Nieman Foundation is the new administrator of the Bingham Prize and will present the award for the first time in March 2009. The cash award has been doubled from last year's amount to $20,000. The deadline for applications is January 9, 2009. The award honors investigative reporting of stories of national significance where the public interest is being ill-served. For more information visit: www.nieman.harvard.edu/worth-bingham-prize/

  • The Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers encourages fairness in news coverage by daily newspapers in the United States. The application deadline is January 16, 2009. The cash prize is $10,000 for the winner and $1,000 for each of the top two finalists. Full details can be found at www.nieman.harvard.edu/taylor-family-award/

The Nieman Foundation selects at least 12 U.S. and 12 international journalists for Nieman Fellowships each year. The fellowships are awarded to working journalists of accomplishment and promise who come to Harvard University for a paid year of study, seminars and special events. More than 1,300 journalists from 88 countries have received Nieman Fellowships since 1938. The application deadline for the 2009-2010 academic year is December 15, 2008 for international journalists and January 31, 2009 for U.S. journalists. More information about the Nieman Fellowship program is available at www.nieman.harvard.edu/nieman-fellowships/

The Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism – March 20-22, 2009

The theme for this year's conference, the premier annual event for narrative journalists in the U.S., is "Telling True Stories in Turbulent Times." More than 50 star speakers and hundreds of mid-career journalists will gather in Boston to celebrate the art of storytelling in every format and every medium. Online registration begins December 4 and an early-bird rate of $375 will be offered until January 15, 2009. More information can be found online at: www.nieman.harvard.edu/narrative2009/

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Should B2Bs Blog?

by Erin Erickson, Chicago Chapter Vice President

Last week, the company I work for convened for a day-long editorial meeting. One of the hot topics of discussion was our blogging strategy.

I work for a small B2B company with an even smaller number of people who blog on behalf of their magazine's website. Most of the bloggers post news; some of them post timely opinion pieces; a couple of them have written posts that have landed them in hot water with advertisers.

In these economic times, upsetting advertisers over a blog post isn't necessarily something you want to do particularly if there's an advertiser that can make or break your year.

So this room of editors started to ponder: Can you really "blog" if you work for a B2B?

I put blog in quotation marks because a blog, when used as intended, is an often-updated, interactive vehicle for promoting news and/or opinions.

If you can't post often enough to call it news or can't present an honest opinion without risking monetary consequences, can you really call that blogging?

And if you can't call it blogging, then what should it be called?

The format that blogs provide certainly is a great way to show the world that your media company "gets" interactive media. But, if you're not actually "blogging," then what is it you're doing? What should you call that portal on your site where you post news and not-quite-100%-honest opinion?

I'd love to know of a B2B site that actually blogs with 100% honesty about a topic, advertisers be damned.

I'm also curious to find out other people's opinions about what this altered style of blog posting should be called: B2B Community Journalism perhaps?



Cast Your Vote: Which Twitterers Should B2B Editors Follow?

By Martha Spizziri
ASBPE Web Editor

Who's on Twitter that B2B editors and journalists should be following? Let us know, and we'll post the top 10 responses here in a week or so.

Here are some of our picks, in alphabetical order; their names are linked to their Twitter profiles.
Do you agree with our list? Or do you have other suggestions? Either way, let us know. To vote, simply log onto Twitter and send an @reply to ASBPE giving the person's name and Twitter handle. (To send an @reply, just write a Twitter post beginning with "@ASBPE," and we'll see it.)

If you're not already using Twitter, I encourage you to take this as an opportunity to try it out. Register an account at Twitter.com; then visit the ASBPE Twitter page and click the "Follow" button under our logo. You'll start seeing ASBPE's Twitter updates. And if you're curious about who else you might want to follow, you can take a look at the people ASBPE is following on Twitter.

(Postscript: Just for good measure, here's Guardian columnist Paul Carr's list of the top 12 people the average person should follow on Twitter, found via CIO editor-in-chief Abbie Lundberg's Twitter page. All of the people on Carr's list are famous, at least in Britain, but he also chose his 12 because they demonstrate different ways to use Twitter. Included: MC Hammer, The Daily Show's John Hodgman, and Shaquille O'Neal.)

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Twitter: The CB Radio of the 21st Century?

Photo: Steven RollBy Steven Roll
ASBPE President

For the past year or so I've been reading about Twitter and quietly hoping it would just go away. After all, I bet in 10 years from now we'll look back at some of these social networking Web applications as a long-forgotten fad — like the CB-radio craze of the 1970s.

In 1976, it seemed perfectly normal for someone to communicate over a radio frequency with people who used made-up names like "Metroliner" or "Uncle Pickle."

There was a community aspect of CB-radio culture too. If you saw a patrol car up ahead, you told those sharing your frequency to look out for "smokey."

The whole thing seems kind of silly now.

I suspected Twitter might go the way of the CB Radio because they share some of the same characteristics:
  • most people use a "handle" instead of their real name,
  • it's perfectly acceptable to "follow" and interact with strangers,
  • the conversations are conducted without any expectation of privacy, and
  • there's no stigma attached to those who send out overly frequent or inane messages.
Of course, I'm not the first person to notice the similarities. This ham radio enthusiast refers to Twitter as his "lifeline."

But here's why I've been giving Twitter a second look:
  • It seems like it’s gaining widespread adoption. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger launched a blog a few weeks ago called TwiTip, which focuses exclusively on Twitter. A post he wrote last weekend about influential people who use Twitter generated over 130 comments. Each comment was a list of influential people within a given niche that use Twitter.

  • It allows you to connect with smart or influential people. One of the people I've been following is online marketing guru Guy Kawasaki. As I expected, Kawasaki is a prolific tweeter. But to my surprise, he is actually following me.

  • Most tweets contain a link to an interesting Web site or news story.

  • You can search Twitter to find out what people are saying about you, your company, or any other subject you care about. After you identify these people you can follow them.

  • You can use Twitter to do things like post an appointment on your online calendar or update your status on Facebook.

  • Once you have enough followers, you can start using Twitter as your new Google.
To be sure, Twitter has some real limitations. The biggest of which is that messages or "tweets" must be no more than 140 characters. But I'm learning that this social technology application has more than enough going for it to overcome this deficit.

You can follow me on Twitter at b2beditor.

10-4 Good Buddy!

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Marketing Alert: Seven Ways to Pass an E-Newsletter Exam

By Howard Rauch

Most editors are knocking themselves out facing the dual challenge of creating great content for websites and printed media. But be warned: When it comes to electronic media, you must prepare for the eventuality of a competitive analysis attack.

How will you respond to opposition claims that their website is clearly superior? Do you already conduct regular electronic media strengths/weaknesses reviews? If snafus in your content delivery are detected, do you remedy them promptly?

I’ve been thinking more often about stuff like this since I began handling e-newsletter/website review projects. My evaluation process usually begins with a check of how publications drive readers to their websites. Among other things, it’s surprising to find magazines that don’t even include an “on the web” contents page.

The next phase – which is where the rest of this column is focused – is e-newsletter evaluation. As a former newsletter editor, I am especially vexed about one aspect of today’s typical electronic approach. That is . . . most e-newsletters function as a contents page for the website. There is very little independent news value readers can take away without going further. In terms of competitive comparisons, we need to think about how existing information value can be enhanced.

Anyway, here is a list of seven e-newsletter factors that could prove burdensome if your competitors have the edge. In the future, I expect my list to swell to at least 25 items.

1. Dedicated editorial webstaff. This should be the top concern. It’s impressive for competitors to emphasize that advantage if it exists.

2. Evidence of enterprise. One way to get this point across is by identifying several articles that are web exclusives. Linking to newspaper articles or copies of corporate press announcements, while informative, is not the best sign of enterprise.

3. Informative news previews. Several e-newsletters simply list a bunch of headlines. Instead, each head should be accompanied by at least a three- or four-line blurb.

4. Content variety. Instead of a total news item focus, provide a longer preview of a current blog. Include interesting excerpts from current reader forums. Run a problem/solution contest; advise visitors that winners’ names will be posted in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

5. Tightly edited copy. Blurbs linking to news articles that consist of a parade of 30- or 40-word sentences won’t do. In one recent e-newsletter analysis involving 20 news articles, almost half of the sentences used ran beyond 30 words; several were in the 40-50 range.

6. No junk allowed. Most e-newsletter editors understand that featured news blurbs should link to high-value, in-depth website articles. But sometimes less than best-of-show items sneak through. For instance, be wary of allowing three-sentence newsletter blurbs that link to “full” articles (sometimes of a puffy nature) consisting of four or five sentences.

7. Emphasize statistical expertise. If your competition rarely publishes original research, your e-newsletter is an important way to exploit that shortfall. Perhaps you can even include occasional self-contained data summaries – no need to click for additional details.

Whether or not you concur with the above suggestions is incidental. The important thing – as in any competitive analysis review – is that you should create and regularly apply an evaluation system that can be quantified.

Howard Rauch is president of Editorial Solutions Inc., a consultancy focusing on B2B magazines. Rauch is the 2002 recipient of ASBPE’s Lifetime Achievement Award. You can contact him directly at howard@editsol.com.

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Articles Worth Reading

Photo: Tonie AuerBy Tonie Auer
DFW Chapter President/National Blog Chairwoman

Thanksgiving has left most of us anxious for the winter holidays and the fun that goes with the Christmas music, the lights of the menorahs and visiting with family and friends. Work? Well, that is a necessary evil, isn't it?

When it comes to the B2B publishing industry, there is news aplenty.

Here are a few worthwhile articles I rounded up for a quick read while grabbing lunch at your desk, so you can leave early for that holiday party or school event later in the evening.

Medill Reports - written and produced by graduate journalism students at Northwestern University’s Medill school- reported that expanded services are the key to revenue growth for the struggling business-to-business magazine publishing industry, said a group of experts at industry conference in Chicago recently.

Reed Construction Data offers tips for B2B publishers to flourish in the tighter economy.

Rick Edmond at PoynterOnline reported on Paying for the News: Five Seeds for the Future of Journalism.

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