Some benefits of being a reporter

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Reporters who visit my classes often describe the variety of assignments they cover. This is especially true in Moscow and Pullman, where a relatively small group of journalists covers a myriad of events and issues.  Visitors range from Nobel Prize-winning diplomats to world-renowned scientists to Olympic gold medalists.

Tim Steury, editor of Washington State Magazine, offered these thoughts in his First Words column in the magazine’s latest issue:

How else would one have the opportunity to have breakfast with an esteemed poet or lunch the same day with an equally esteemed winemaker? Or snorkel with a marine scientist? Or be granted insights of a dissertation on atomic culture while the dissertation is in progress? Or immerse oneself in a tale of obsession, scholarly collecting, and crime? And at the end of the experience? Guaranteed publication. Well, almost guaranteed. The result does have to be literate, correct, and engaging. Spectacular, even.”

He’s writing of his own experience and those of the writers on his staff. But the opportunity to satisfy one’s curiosity on an amazing array of topics is to me one the lasting rewards of being a journalist.

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Online readers boost newspaper circulation

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U.S. media companies are cheering news that paid circulation has risen at major newspapers, including The New York Times.  The report by the Audit Bureau of Circulation for the six months ending March 31 shows that online subscribers have boosted circulation figures.

In particular, The Times  has benefited from imposing a paywall, which provides some online content at no charge but requires a subscription for unlimited access. The Times quotes Caroline H. Little, chief executive of the Newspaper Association of America, who gave this spin to the report:

 We’re particularly gratified to note that newspapers’ embrace of digital platforms, as well as smart and efficient circulation strategies for print products, are reflected in the numbers, which clearly demonstrate positive trends in total circulation growth for publishers.”

The report suggests that readers are willing to pay for quality content online. But the larger challenge for news organizations will be replacing revenues lost when major advertisers started to abandon printed newspapers.