Dean Baquet inadvertently makes the case for a Public Editor at the New York Times. Google supports innovation in online news, but diverts attention from the real issue. The News Media Alliance calls for an antitrust exemption. Yep, that’s right. Solve the problem of market dominance by compounding the problem. Really, we’re not making this stuff up.

Martin Waxman and Joseph Thornley tackle these issues in this episode of the Inside PR podcast. Gini Dietrich is traveling this week, but she’ll rejoin us next week.

Dean Baquet answers reader questions – and inadvertently makes the case for a Public Editor

Last month, the New York Times eliminated its public editor position. And we thought this was a bad move.

Last week, Dean Baquet published a column answering readers’ questions about the cuts to editorial staff and, in doing so, he inadvertently made the case for a Public Editor at the New York Times. The fact that Baquet had an answer for every question, and that these answers showed no self doubt or reconsideration of positions, illustrated that simply receiving and answering questions does not replace the Public Editor function. The Public Editor was a position inside the NY Times, with the perspective on what happened as the sausages were made, and the ability to comment freely from an independent perspective. That now is lost. And just like a government without checks and balances, real accountability is imperilled.

Google supports innovation in online news; but diverts attention from real issue

Google and Facebook have recently been moving to support innovation in online news publishing. Martin points to one of the most recent efforts, a US $800,00 contribution by Google’s Digital News Initiative toward the creation of RADAR, software that will generate local news stories for the The Press Association, a U.K.-based news agency. A little support for template, predictable stories. But that’s not what we need. This type of effort to support innovation only diverts attention from the real issue. We need support for the reporters who exercise judgment about sophisticated stories.

The News Media Alliance’s solution will compound the problem

Last year, the Newspaper Association of America rebranded itself as The News Media Alliance. Does new paint lead to a smarter organization? It doesn’t seem so, based on its effort to convince Congress to give news publishers antitrust exemption to enable them to negotiate with Facebook and Google. Doesn’t this remind you of the publishers negotiating with Amazon over the right to set book prices? And who was the loser? The reading public who found those $9.99 book prices replaced by $19 book prices.

The solution to the plight of news publishers isn’t to allow them to escape antitrust so that they can negotiate as a group. Instead, the real answer to the problem lies in challenging the dominance achieved in search and social by Google and Facebook respectively and the unfettered power they are allowed to exercise. If anything, Congress should focus on reining in these two dominant platforms. Then, maybe, we’ll be able to stop the erosion of competition and enable innovation by small companies. Just as Google and Facebook once innovated.

Think twice before you upload a large PDF to your Website

We offer a reminder to anyone responsible for running a Website to think about the size of documents they expect to be downloaded by the public. This came to mind with the recent increase in the price charged by Canada’s largest ISPs to people who exceed their monthly data cap. If you publish PDFs and other documents for download that will gobble up 50MB of a visitor’s monthly data allowance, they will not thank you. In fact, if they reflect on it, they may actually think that what you are doing is costing them money. And do we like people who cost us money? So, if you are in charge of a Website, please, please, please ensure that anything you publish on your site, whether it is documents for download, images or anything else, are compressed to the smallest usable size. Your visitors will appreciate you for this.

It’s your turn.

We’d love to know what you think about the topics we discussed as well as your suggestions for questions you’d like answered or topics for future shows. Leave a comment on the blog, send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], leave a comment on the Inside PR Facebook group or the FIR Podcast Network Facebook group, We’re also on Twitter. We’re @inside_pr or connect directly with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman.

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Thank you to the people behind Inside PR. Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer. Inside PR is produced by Joseph Thornley.

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