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Mikeorren - page 57

Mikeorren has 587 articles published.

Mike Orren is the Chief Product Officer of The Dallas Morning News; President of Belo Business Intelligence; husband to Crystal Orren; and a Mungarian at Munger Place Church in Dallas, TX. All opinions herein are mine alone.

Commemoration

in Uncategorized

Lynn Ashby eulogizes The Houston Post on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of its demise:

Ever since the paper’s folding in 1995, there has been the rumor The Post
had gone bankrupt. Wrong. Each Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m., I attended
an executive meeting where we would go over the paper’s finances.
Unless our owner, Dean Singleton, was cooking the books, we had made
$10 million the year before and had posted a profit 12 of the 15
preceding months. So Hearst, the
Chronicle’s New York-based owner, has always been careful to say it bought the "assets" of The Post.
To have purchased the competition and closed it might have raised
questions with the Justice Department, which issued a statement saying
the deal was just fine. We are supposed to believe that on the very day
The Post ceased operation, Hearst whipped out a pen and signed a
check for $120 million to Singleton, who promptly got on his private
plane and left for his home in Denver. A lot of newspapers run a last
edition, their own obit, when they cease operations whereby the staff
bids farewell to its readers. Singleton said such a gesture would be
"useless."

Today we have the sound of one hand clapping. This
should still be a two-newspaper town, but if any good came from the
closure of
The Post, it is that all those businesses which had
refused to advertise in my paper were suddenly – like the next week –
hit with a huge increase in ad rates. Hey, when you’ve got a monopoly,
you name your fee.

Home

in Uncategorized

Like most people I meet in Dallas, I’m a transplant. I moved here on a whim in 1993; left in 1999 and came back (on purpose, this time) in 2001.

Ever since moving back, buying a home and now starting a Dallas-based business, I’ve begun really thinking of Dallas as home. Home.

That’s why I get so riled when I see Our City look bad. That’s why I was apopleptic this week while watching Sheer Dallas. I won’t dignify it with a description, but suffice to say that it is not representative of the culture or mores of the Dallas I know and love.

And, that’s probably why I was a bit o’er-snarky in my advice (fourth bullet) to the good folks at Oodle in reference to their cowboy hat logo. To their credit, they’re watching their press and reached out to me for suggestions for a better icon. Started to suggest the red Pegasus, but thought better of it.

Sad news for people who sit

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Our blog is generally about the state of media and our efforts to launch a new media product. That product will eventually cover goings-on great and small in our fair burg. In the meantime we’ll start occasionally dropping in tidbits in the blog as we run across them.

In our search for cheap value-priced office furniture today, we went to one of our favorite spots, the Gabberts Outlet Store, only to learn that it is closing in the next 60-90 days. There weren’t any going out of business signs yet — the folks working the floor alerted us. They didn’t have m(any) details save that the store would close Tuesday-Wednesday next week and then open in closeout mode on Thursday.

The press release
is a little more illuminating:

“We made the decision to close our Furniture
Outlet based on customer trends,” said Jim Gabbert, chief executive
officer, Gabberts Furniture and Design Studio. “Research is telling us
that many of our current Outlet customers are also customers of our
retail showrooms. That means we’re actually transferring merchandise
from our showrooms to a second location only to have it bought by
essentially the same customer. That doesn’t make sense from a business
or customer service standpoint.”

That may be, but for a lot of younger families, like us, who want to start furnishing a home with nice pieces of fine furniture without going into hock, the Gabberts Outlet was a godsend. I’d reckon half or more of the furniture in our home came from there.

An outlet-like area, called
Gabberts Odds & Ends, will be incorporated into the Dallas retail
showroom, located at 13342 Midway Road, just two blocks south of the
Outlet store. “We’ve had very strong customer response to this concept
in Minnesota, and we expect it to be well received in the Metroplex,”
Gabbert said.

The Odds & Ends area in the Minnesota store
is approximately 2,500 square feet or about 1.5 percent of the total
retail floor space. Floor plans are still in development for the Dallas
showroom…

Hard to tell exactly, because the building has multiple tenants, but by my math that’s easily less than 10% the size of the current outlet, which was generally packed tight with overstock inventory.


UPDATE: An industry rag says the store was "unprofitable" and was 45,000 square feet.

Why I'm not cut out for working from home

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I’m now wrapping my second week of full-time (un)employment at Pegasus News. My state of mind can best be summed up in this little ditty from my personal poet laureate, Todd Snider:

Now the nights are long
The driving’s tough
Hotels stink, and the pay sucks
But I can’t dig what I do enough, so it never gets be down

Bsmall_1My great lesson of the first fortnight is that I’m not cut out for working from home. Why, you ask?

  • When I’m home during the day, dogs don’t understand that it’s not the weekend, which in our house means play, play, play.
  • Having the person you married — on purpose, because you wanted to be around her — in the "office" all day is not conducive to work. Even if she’s minding her own business.
  • "Attractive nuisance" is not often taken as a compliment, even when it is intended as such. (It’s all in the intonation. Emphasis on the first word.)
  • When one is working on a complex spreadsheet, the goings-on out on the street become absolutely fascinating, validating one’s belief that neighborhood news is the plastics of the aughties.

That’s not to say that there aren’t upsides — the dress code is pretty slack and I’ve lost five pounds simply due to the proximity of the pool and the lack of proximity of fast food and office noshing. (I seem to have temporarily thwarted Jeff Sinelli’s plot to kill me with his delicious crack-laden potato chips.)

However, it’s time to go gently back into that real world of officedom. And thanks to the good graces and generous negotiating of my true pal and once and future landlord Manny Ybarra, we take possession of our office space today.

Now, if we only had furniture to put in said office, that would be something.

Must-read of the week, part the second

in Uncategorized

Let’s just assume that the Pegasus week ended/started at noon today.

Jay Rosen Q&A with Bill Grueskin, Managing Editor of WSJ Online.

I was very interested to see the oft-misuse of the "Information wants to be free" quote:

Bill Grueskin:  Well, information wants to be free, as the saying goes. But the saying goes further than that, it turns out.

Here’s the whole quote, from Stewart Brand’s book, The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT :

Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be
expensive. Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap
to distribute, copy, and recombine—too cheap to meter. It wants to be
expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient.
That tension will not go away. It leads to endless wrenching debate
about price, copyright, ‘intellectual property’, the moral rightness of
casual distribution, because each round of new devices makes the
tension worse, not better.

And support of one of our core beliefs:

Any newspaper Web site that limits itself to repurposing content from
the paper is in serious trouble. Any newspaper site that fails to
recognize the value of the paper’s brand and content is in serious
trouble. So there you have it. I’m firmly and unequivocally ambivalent
about this.

Some caution:

Now, though, the Internet is doing to print what TV
and radio threatened to do, but could never pull off. And journalists
who fail to see this ought to be writing their career obituaries rather
than their stories, because their readers are changing faster than
newspapers are.

Which gets back to the first point. What sort of readers do you
want? There are millions of people who will not and cannot replace
their print reading with an online news source. Supplement, yes;
replace, no.

Then there is the online audience that brings a different set of expectations. It is not entirely different; if so, the AIG
and Wal-Mart stories wouldn’t have been at or near the top of our
most-read list that Friday. But it’s different enough so you have to
understand their needs and anticipate their desires.

And on the lack of recognition of Craig?

Objects may be closer than they appear.

Email reading

in Uncategorized

Because I read almost everything through Bloglines, I’ve pretty much unsubscribed to every industry email newsletter I once read. Even if the newsletter publisher didn’t have its own RSS feed, most provided content I’d already picked up elsewhere.

The one exception is INMA’s Newspaper Industry E-Newsletter. It always links several good reads that I’d missed. This week:

A new model

in Uncategorized

Jeff Jarvis suggests a new model for local newspapers. I think our regular readers will find a lot of familiar ideas.

Note to new readers of The Daily Peg: We are not usually such a Jarvis-remora. He’s been heavy on topics near-n-dear this week.

ASNE update

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Tim Porter has some good analysis from the ASNE convention. Much of it sounds stripped right our of our business plan.

I can validate the story about newspaper folks not knowing Craig. I had the same experience dropping in on a newspaper conference a couple months ago where less than a quarter of the newspaper execs in the room had hear of Craigslist and maybe ten percent had checked out the site.

Jeff Jarvis is horrified by the cluelessness. I’ve said it a million times (at least): I fervently believe in church/state; newsroom/business separation, BUT until the editors get engaged in understanding the business at a macro level AND the businessfolk take a serious interest in the conversations about the changing newsroom, the industry has an intractable problem.

Life imitates my life's art

in Uncategorized

So just as I’m getting through the part in Autumn of the Moguls about Wolff’s interview with Rupert Murdoch, comes today’s Murdoch speech to the ASNE.

See analysis from Jeff Jarvis, who also indirectly helped to write the speech.

A few favorite passages (links and emphasis mine):

The peculiar challenge then, is for us digital immigrants – many of
whom are in positions to determine how news is assembled and
disseminated — to apply a digital mindset to a set of challenges that
we unfortunately have limited to no first-hand experience dealing with.


We need to realize that the next generation of people accessing news
and information, whether from newspapers or any other source, have a
different set of expectations about the kind of news they will get,
including when and how they will get it, where they will get it from,
and who they will get it from.
..

The challenge, however, is to deliver that news in ways consumers want
to receive it. Before we can apply our competitive advantages, we have
to free our minds of our prejudices and predispositions, and start
thinking like our newest consumers. In short, we have to answer this
fundamental question: What do we – a bunch of digital immigrants —
need to do to be relevant to the digital natives?

The punchline?

And the data support this unpleasant truth. Studies show we’re in an
odd position: We’re more trusted by the people who aren’t reading us.
And when you ask journalists what they think about their readers, the
picture grows darker. According to one recent study, the percentage of
national journalists who have a great deal of confidence in the ability
of the American public to make good decisions has declined by more than
20 points since 1999. Perhaps this reflects their personal politics and
personal prejudices more than anything else, but it is disturbing.

This is a polite way of saying that reporters and editors think their readers are stupid. …

Newspapers whose employees look down on their readers can have no hope of ever succeeding as a business…


I do not underestimate the tests before us. We may never
become true digital natives, but we can and must begin to
assimilate to their culture and way of thinking. It is a
monumental, once-in-a-generation opportunity, but it is also
an exciting one, because if we’re successful, our industry
has the potential to reshape itself, and to be healthier
than ever before.
 

I wonder what Rupert would think of Our Little Enterprise?

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