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Mark Potts
I'm a longtime thinker, entrepreneur and executive in the field of digital news.
Recent Activity
David: Thanks for your note. I'd be fascinated to talk with you about what you've seen us do in the past--and what you think we need to be doing. Ping me at the paper starting next week. Best, Mark
Thanks, everyone, for thoughtful comments, as well as for lots of kind words and promotion via Twitter. The response to this post has been phenomenal, and it's very cool to be able to illuminate this little corner of digital journalism history. And, as always, my thanks to Bob Kaiser for his vision and for sharing it with me 20 years ago.
Somehow, trading majority share of local print advertising for just 25 percent of local online advertising doesn't strike me as a great accomplishment—in fact, it underscore how badly newspaper execs botched the online opportunity, over and over again. As Pew documented last week (, news sites have generally failed to innovate in online advertising and aren't competitive with the likes of Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Groupon, who've captured most of the dollars that have shifted from print to online. Newspapers are playing catchup, at best, not leading, and their unabated declines in revenue, circulation and, unfortunately, staff numbers, attest to that.
Julie: The same questions were raised about computers and cell phones about 15 years ago, and look where we are now. I think we're still very much in the early innings of iPads/tablets (and iPhones/smartphones). The iPad is just a year old and still making its way into the mainstream; iPhones are a bit more ubiquitous, but still hardly commonplace. I think that will change over time—Apple sold 15 million iPads last year and is predicted to sell 50-60 million this year, so you can see them growing in the marketplace. For many of us, the iPad is already a laptop replacement—cheaper and lighter. I think in 3-5 years tablets and smartphones will be very much the norm. They certainly aren't going away.
Toggle Commented Mar 26, 2011 on The Instant iPad App at Recovering Journalist
Good question, Jack. As I said in the post, my trouble with most apps is that there's a great web site by the same publisher a touch away--and usually it's better. There are very, very few media apps that I use as replacements for their Web equivalents on the iPad (the superb MLB app is about the only one I can think of, if that even counts as a media app). In most cases, I use the app a couple of times, out of novelty, then go back to the superior Web version. So I agree: An optimized browser-based version seems like a perfectly fine solution for most publishers. If you really feel like you have to have an app, then private-label a Zite or Flipboard--or design an app that truly brings real value to the iPad experience (a la MLB). Otherwise, optimize your Web site for iOS (iPhone, too) and spend the money you save on better content for all readers.
Toggle Commented Mar 25, 2011 on The Instant iPad App at Recovering Journalist
DBenk: That's simply not true. The bulk of the Times' revenue comes from advertising; the print subscription price probably doesn't even cover the printing and distribution. That advertising is what pays for the journalism.
William: Thanks for that comment. It reminds me of a joke you hear in news-entrepreneurial circles: If you went to a venture capitalist with the idea to hire a bunch of people to cover the news and sell advertising, print one version of it a day on crushed paper, load it into trucks, drive around in the middle of the night and throw it on people's lawns and front stoops, the VC would throw you out of the office. Sure, it's historically been a profitable business, and in a diminished way still is—but the future lies elsewhere.
Toggle Commented Feb 11, 2011 on When the News Gets Old at Recovering Journalist
Thanks, and point taken--in fact, I was literally changing the language in the lead when your comment came in. But let's face it: TBD is on its way to being just another local TV site.
Toggle Commented Feb 9, 2011 on R.I.P. TBD at Recovering Journalist
Thanks, Josh. Agreed--I really wanted to like The Daily. But it's yet another disappointment from Big Media. It can't be this hard to understand how the digital world works and how to take advantage of it—Pulse and Flipboard amply prove that. But the big media companies just can't seem to break from their past bad habits. It's very frustrating to watch.
Toggle Commented Feb 2, 2011 on The Daily Snooze at Recovering Journalist
Donn: Interesting comment, but misguided. I'm not "stealing" anything. The Journal has chosen to make many parts of its site available for free, in spite of its pay wall, and that's what I'm accessing. Dbenk: I got the $99 offer in a subscription-renewal e-mail; I believe it's also advertised on
Of course I understand the reason they're pushing print. But it's fairly pointless, since my eyeballs would almost never look at the print product--it would go straight into the recycling bin. And I'm not a big fan of trying to sell customers something they don't want. I don't buy the logic of losing a paying customer altogether in the interest of pushing an unwanted product.
Dan: Thanks for the comment. I'm not planning on posting a full review of the iPad, and it turns out I don't need to: Daily Kos' Markos Moulitsas said just about exactly what I would have said: I haven't used it yet on a business trip, as he did, but I can't wait to, because I expect to use it just about exactly as he describes. I'd also add that as a casual home machine—for quick surfing and media consumption (or Scarbble-playing or reading) on the couch or in bed, it's spectacular. As Kos says, it's NOT a geek's machine. And that may be precisely why it's going to be a home run.
Toggle Commented Apr 12, 2010 on Padding the Coverage at Recovering Journalist
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Mar 15, 2010
Ken: Thanks for your comment. Where wins is through higher advertising rates. It can deliver local advertisers a well-defined local audience. Thats a far more attractive sell, at higher CPMs, than what it could offer when readers were coming from all over (and by identifying readers through their cable and print subscriptions, the site can target advertising even more sharply, further increasing rates). The business plan is not to make money from subscriptions; its to make it from higher ad rates.
George: Thanks for your comments, which I believe speak for themselves--as does my resumé.
Toggle Commented Jan 26, 2010 on Stage Five: Acceptance at Recovering Journalist
Cody: Wales and Stone are certainly innovators, though not in the world of journalism. Given that Peer News doesn't exist yet, I'm not sure how you can offer your evaluation of it as "a slightly more web geared version of the status quo." I think John Temple's writings over the past years about his lessons learned at the Rocky—not to mention Pierre Omidyar's involvement—will make Peer News quite interesting. As for NewWest, it's been a pioneer in community-generated content, non-traditional local and regional coverage, innovative revenue streams, and, yes, aggregation.
Toggle Commented Jan 22, 2010 on Visionaries in Action at Recovering Journalist
Ted: Well, we still don't know any specifics about the Apple tablet. But it seems reasonable to assume that it will have iPhone-like features like cell connectivity and GPS/location awareness. That's what makes it particularly interesting as a news-display and -interaction device. I strongly doubt it will merely be a reader.
Toggle Commented Jan 4, 2010 on Apple's Tabula Rasa at Recovering Journalist
Christopher: All good questions. All we have now is speculation about the tablet's capabilities. But the consensus seems to be that it will cost somewhere between a mobile phone and a laptop, and that could make a lot of those capabilities possible. We just have to wait and see.
Toggle Commented Jan 4, 2010 on Apple's Tabula Rasa at Recovering Journalist
I've spent most of the past two decades actively looking for solutions through innovation, and I work at it every day as CEO of GrowthSpur—which is helping local publishers large and small to develop revenue streams—and as an advisor to various media and internet companies. I'd be happy to talk more to you about those efforts offline. I can't speak for Alan Mutter, but as an industry veteran, I'm frustrated by publishers who think the solution is to somehow juggle the numbers, whine about new competitors rather than trying to compete with (or gasp, partner with) them, live in the past and hide from reality rather than truly innovating to find solutions to the industry's problems. That's the source of my criticism. There's no delight in it whatsoever.
Toggle Commented Nov 25, 2009 on Still Cooking the Books at Recovering Journalist
Counting (paid) Web circulation alongside print is fine. It's double-counting it that makes no sense.
Toggle Commented Nov 24, 2009 on Still Cooking the Books at Recovering Journalist
Super post, Judy. You've really nailed it. The need for vertical niche products and experiments that are allowed to fail is particularly acute, and newspapers' failure to follow these strategies is a fatal, frustrating mistake. I'm not sure AOL has figured anything out--historically, its track record is fairly horrible at anything but selling dialup access--but at least the company is trying a bunch of different things, which is more than you can say about most newspaper companies.
Thanks, Steve. I've taken the faux Guardian off the list.
Toggle Commented Oct 20, 2009 on Twitter and Breaking News at Recovering Journalist
Thanks, Craig. Good catch on @ColonelTribune, which I've written about before, though it's not strictly a breaking news feed. As I said, it wasn't meant to be a comprehensive list, just a snapshot. But your point is correct—there's really no excuse for a major news organization to be at the bottom of this list with a small number of followers.
Toggle Commented Oct 20, 2009 on Twitter and Breaking News at Recovering Journalist