Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Morning Brief: Stock markets set to plunge following Japanese market collapse; third explosion reported; will Apple to include magazine templates in developer code?

If you are in the stock market you better hang on tight, it might be a very rough ride today. U.S. stock futures are falling following a more than 10 percent decline in the Nikkei today.
Investors are in Japan, and worldwide, are reacting, of course, to the horrible news coming from Japan following the countries 9.0 earthquake Friday and the tsunami that then ravaged the nation.

Now, the news coming from Japanese officials concerning their damaged facility at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant is ominous. A third explosion was reported today, along with a fire that released large amounts of radioactive material. Despite the attempts by Japanese officials and nuclear industry lobbyists here and around the globe to paint the situation in Japan as not serious, the situation has grown critical, with the New York Times using words like "catastrophe", and claiming that this situation "already made the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station the worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl reactor disaster a quarter century ago."

Showing that nuclear power makes strange bedfellows of conservatives and liberals, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo yesterday wrote a post on his site defending nuclear power saying that the controversial form of energy is actually safe.

"But even at these moments when we see the most frightening side of nuclear power," Marshall wrote, "I think we should still draw back and look at the global -- meant both literally and figuratively -- costs of different fuels and consider the possibility that nuclear power is actually safer for our own health and that of the planet."

TPM currently has as its main headline "C-R-I-T-I-C-A-L - Nuclear Crisis Spins Out of Control"

But remember, its safe!

Yesterday the Pew Research Center reported that online news consumption now outpaces newspapers -- not a very surprising finding for those in the New Media business.

On yesterday's Talk of the Nation from NPR, host Neal Conan talked to Tom Rosenstiel, Project Director, Project for Excellence in Journalism, Pew Research Center. (The audio file and the full transcript can be found on the NPR website.)

Responding to a point from Conan that metro papers are not doing so well, compared to local newspapers in more rural areas, Rosenstiel agreed:
They're not. We say that newspapers, since the year 2000, have lost 30 percent of their reporters and editors. It's probably more like 40 percent at big metro papers. My old paper, the LA Times, it's over 50 percent. My hometown newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, closer to 60, 65 percent of the newsroom is gone. But at the small papers, you may be looking at 10, 15, 20 percent shrinkage. That doesn't sound great, but, you know, compared to 65, feels pretty good.

Gadget Daily News speculated yesterday that Apple might be creating a set of template tools for developers to use to create iPad magazines. The Xcode tools would make it easier for publishers and individual developers to create new iPad apps for magazines and other periodicals.
The idea is certainly not new, and I would have thought solutions such as this would have appeared already. According to the report, Apple will include these new templates by the end of the year. That is almost two years after the launch of the first iPad.

In the meantime, publishers remain stuck with three choices: built their own app development teams, use digital publishing solutions from Adobe or WoodWing, or use third party vendors to create native or replica edition apps. Luckily, there are lots of gradations of these choices. Unfortunately, publishers are finding these choices to be very expensive -- certainly smaller publishers feel in a bind.