July 20, 2009

The New Yorker & The News Biz

After many years, I am finally subscribing to the New Yorker again. Not in print, but via their Digital Reader. I'm blogging about it because I like their model: the Digital Reader adds something I wouldn't get from the library version, and I feel like this new model bears watching as we migrate from print to online.

The Digital Reader offers a digital flip-through version of the print magazine - I wish I could show you this via a screen shot, but you have to try it to believe it. Click on the white circle within the grey triangle to move from page to page. You see the cover in all its colorful glory, the cartoons, advertisements, and, of course, entire stories. As a long-time New Yorker reader (over 40 years!), I love that I can again see the articles in context - with adjacent cartoons, snarky comments after the articles end, and that unique New Yorker font. I am excited again about reading the New Yorker -- I eagerly check my email on Monday mornings to browse the table of contents online.

But as a librarian in the world of journalism, I am excited about the model, too, because it seems like it just might be sustainable, or at least a step in the right direction. The New Yorker charged me $40 for this access, and I'm so happy about it, I'm blogging it. Points to them for peer promotion. Plus, they get to tell advertisers that folks are seeing their ads, even in the online version. I'd guess that advertisers get little or no benefit from readers accessing magazine archives through a library database. And presumably, readers themselves are happy about it, because they can read just the articles they want, in the familiar New Yorker format.

Blogger Jason Kottke gave a thoughtful list of pros & cons to the new interface in November 2008, in which I learned that the archives go back to 1925, and the site works on an iPhone. I agree that some improvements could be made to the interface, and I encountered some technical problems early on. It works well enough now on Mac FireFox, but printing isn't great on Safari.

I know that online access isn't the best option for all readers, but clearly the trend is for more online access to media-formerly-available-only-in-print. This is the first online foray by a print outlet that has captured my imagination AND persuaded me to open my wallet. I hope that other print publications will watch this and attempt their own versions.

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July 12, 2009

Susan Stamberg & Early NPR Days

Stamberg on NPRTwo interesting interviews with Susan Stamberg about the early days of NPR:

Bob Edwards interviewed her in November 2008 for his eponymous XM Radio show, and it was both entertaining and informative. They discussed some of her interviews, including Henri Cartier Bresson and Jorge Mester; they also talked about the monkey version of her cranberry relish recipe. Stamberg talked to Edwards about the very early days of being on the air at NPR, including a vignette about his early work as a newscaster. I laughed out loud while listening on the bus.

The interview is available on Audible, where it is described:
In the early 1970's, Susan Stamberg was one of the first producers hired by the fledgling National Public Radio and later she became the first woman to anchor its nightly news program, All Things Considered. Bob talks with Stamberg about her experience as a radio pioneer, what she feels makes a great interview and the true story behind her mother-in-law's Thanksgiving cranberry relish.
More recently, NPR librarian Jo Ella Straley interviewed "The Mother of Public Radio" and posted the 17 minute piece on the NPR library blog, A Matter of Fact.

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