Laid-Off Newspaper Reporters Flock to Online Startups, Profits Still Elusive

onlinelogos.jpgLaid-off newspaper reporters are increasingly finding refuge on the Internet, but so far, their online startup efforts are being met with mixed results: Today, the trio of investors who teamed up with 30 journalists from the folded Rocky Mountain News to launch In Denver Times last month announced that they’re backing out of the venture. Initially, the investors hoped the site would get 50,000 readers to pay subscription fees ranging from $4.99-$6.99 a month. According to Kevin Preblud, a spokesman for the investors, In Denver Times has only managed to sign up approximately 3,000 subscribers. An article on the site says that “certain members of the INDT newsroom group, led by co-founder Steve Foster and business writer David Milstead” currently seek new backers.

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Internal Google Memo on Today’s 200 Layoffs: ‘We’ve Ended Up With Overlapping Organizations’

Google326.jpgWe’ve got the internal memo sent by outgoing Google senior vice president Tim Armstrong (“TA”) to Googlers in its North American sales organization (“NASO”) within the past hour. This follows on the heels of the announcement published today at 12:20 ET on Google’s official in-house blog by senior VP of global sales and business development Omid Kordestani.

The complete message from Armstrong — whose appointment as chairman and chief executive of Time Warner’s AOL unit was announced exactly two weeks ago today — sent to Google staffers this afternoon, is after the jump…

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SXSW ’09 Wrapup: Interactive Festival Closes With Wired EIC Anderson in Fiery Final Keynote On ‘Free’

webnewser_sxsw01.gifThough this year’s South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, got off to a slow start in the keynote department, and often drove us to distraction with its near-unilateral avoidance of external factors such as the nation’s crumbling economy and the continued deterioration of the media-industrial complex, it picked up steam courtesy of the many smaller presentations and panels surrounding community, social interaction and ways to share and make portable online data and identity.

In our view, however, the biggest payoff at SXSWi didn’t stem from any one announcement, launch, speech or celebration, but instead spanned many of them, often at the same time…

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Video @ SXSW: Alltop Founder Guy Kawasaki, Pre-Closing Keynote With Wired EIC Chris Anderson

kawasakisxsw.jpgFresh off today’s launch of his site’s new customizable My.Alltop service, we video interviewed Alltop founder Guy Kawasaki prior to his SXSWi ’09 closing keynote, in which he’ll be interviewing Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson to discuss the latter’s upcoming book, Free, advocating open and available content to help make companies money.

We asked Kawasaki about the future of print media, the fate of free, how Alltop’s new offering will aid time-crunched users, and why he has yet to acquire a Kindle for those trashy novels he claims he just can’t quit. Watch what he has to say here.

SXSW Opens Up, World Says ‘Eh’

webnewser_sxsw01.gifTransparency, openness and community emerged as governing themes at this year’s SXSW Interactive conference — and no, not just in the softballs thrown by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh in his opening remarks on Saturday. At the same time, the conference created no small amount of cognitive dissonance for those with a mind toward the largely-unmentioned ‘e’-word here in Austin — the economy.

From the open APIs that dominated last year’s sessions, the conversation has turned to openness in data, identity, and information sharing, as panel talks and smaller-scale ‘Core Conversations’ centered around freely exchanged information transferable across sites, properties, and platforms, regardless of their owners and operators. Still, the barriers aren’t entirely permeable yet, despite the efforts of groups like OpenSocial, due to “fear of loss of control, fear of losing quality control and ability to filter and moderate content,” according to MySpace’s Max Engel, since it “has severe content implications.” In the talk “Becoming Open,” MySpace developer Max Engel, charged with overseeing the social networking site’s open ID and offsite APIs, acknowledged, “opening out is still happening much more than opening in.” Touting his veteran bona fides, a Thomson Reuters participant urged, “Maybe we can get the story out to old, big media companies that open doesn’t just mean stuff you can download,” pointing out its applications in software portability, data portability, personal identification portability, and business model portability.

Other evolutions from last year’s conference: Facebook’s plunge from superstar to sad-clown status, and Twitter’s total domination and elegant absence…

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Live-Tweeting ‘Sex Lives of the Microfamous’ at SXSW

webnewser_sxsw01.gifWe’re hoping thinking the sensation-filled talk at SXSW ’09 — this year’s ‘Gossip’ panel, if you will — promises to be Twitter book compiler Nick Douglas‘ and our buddy, Sexerati blogger Melissa Gira Grant‘s ‘Sex Lives of the Microfamous’ talk Monday at 3:30pm Central, 4:30pm Eastern. So, for your potentially NSFW delectation, we’ll be liveTweeting it then here. Follow if your boss isn’t looking…

SXSWi Keynotes: Hsieh Proselytizes, Silver Wonks Out

BusinessWeek‘s Stephen Baker interviews political prediction prodigy,’s Nate Silver in a Sunday keynote at SXSW (via)

Toothless: That was the assessment of many in the 1,000+ audience to hear CEO Tony Hsieh‘s opening remarks Saturday at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive festival. Known in the tech set for its “customer service above all” ethos, is considered a model by many for its early embrace of Twitter to fuel customer service, and for its emphasis on transparency.

In an address with a hearty helping of self-help, Hsieh told the crowd he turns reporters loose when they come to visit the company for a story. “We believe so strongly in our culture, we’re not afraid of what employees will say,” he enthused, describing the “weirdness” and individuality Zappos seeks in employees. “If [reporters] talk to three different employees, they’ll get three different answers to what it’s like to work at Zappo’s.” Given Hsieh’s fanatical-sounding approach to recruitment and training in the interest of alignment, this reporter finds that tough to believe. All that indoctrination doesn’t seem like the recipe for the diversity Hsieh was touting. We found ourselves wishing the format for Hsieh had been an interview with a tech/business journalist who could ask him pointed questions about what happens when the economy takes a dive and people are clinging to their jobs like life rafts — can the same sincerity and singularity of purpose persist when employees are forced to consider the bottom line in their own lives?

What of’s Nate Silver, number-crunching ingenue and presidential prediction prodigy?

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MPA Digital Conference: 50 Percent of Attendees’ Mags Projected To Still Be In Print In A Decade

MPAdigTweet.jpgAfter several years worth of events warning magazine professionals about the advent of digital and the need to get their content online in various ways, it’s safe to say the future is here for Magazine Publishers of America. At very least, it was on full display at today’s MPA’s Fifth Digital 24/7 Conference, “Navigating the New Reality,” a daylong event focused on digital strategies for keeping magazines above water in a tanking economy.

Perhaps the most bracing blow of the day was delivered by panel moderator Jacob Weisberg (relative to the 100+ magazine pros in attendance, more safely esconced at all-online Slate as its chairman and editor-in-chief), when he asked panelists in his talk, “Print vs. Web: The Editorial Challenge,” how many of the magazine titles represented in the room would still be in print in a decade. The question itself elicited audible gasps, but the grimmer response probably precipitated more than a few muttered curses.

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