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The Strib Makes a Business Decision - To Whose Benefit?

Recently Tom SenGupta had his monthly meeting round the pot-bellied stove. The topic was the future of newspapers and those attending were representative of journalism in general - large paper, small papers, MPR, etc.

The general consensus is that papers are - surprise, surprise - in deep doo-doo and that the main problem is lack of revenue. If you give it away, who will pay for it?

People like Maura Lerner, Jeremy Olson, Dom Papatolla, Nick Coleman, add your own name to the pantheon, cannot continue to do the work they do unless they have a job... And who will pay? We kicked around MPR as the most likely candidate now, although I know this is a dicey propostion. We also kicked around the idea of public funding along the lines of the BBC.


Today the Strib published an article in the Sunday paper that is not available on the web. Apparently this is an effort to force people to buy the paper in order to read the article. I thought about transcribing it and putting it up, but have decide not to - out of sympathy for the ink-stained wretches. But how is someone who didn't buy the paper already going to know about the article so that they can go out and buy it? This doesn't seem like a very good strategy to me, but I'd be happy to be set straight if I am wrong.

Full disclosure: I am a daily subscriber to the Strib. I read it on the web, FIRST, in the morning. But then look at the print version. I never fail to find something interesting/useful in the print vesion that I would have missed by only looking at the web version.

Nevertheless, Maura Lerner has an incredibly important article about shennanigans at the U. I don't think it will get as much attention as it warrants because of this business strategy.

My colleague at the U. Gary Schwitzer, has a post up on the matter which I re-post:

Murky mess for U of Minnesota with MMPI conflict of interest issues
By Gary Schwitzer on August 9, 2009 9:51 AM | 2 Comments

Who hasn't heard of the MMPI test? Used to assess the "emotional stability of millions of people," according to the Star Tribune, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory test is now in the crosshairs of

In an article for which I can't offer a link because the Star Tribune published it as one of its "only in Sunday's paper" articles, Maura Lerner reports:

"The 70-year-old test has undergone a dramatic makover recently, sparking a bitter feud among its leading scholars. The debate, which started in professional journals, has boiled over into courtrooms and triggered at least two internal investigations at the university.

...But critics say the changes...damaged the tests's credibility and backfired on some patients. ...

University investigators found nothing inappropriate about the MMPI changes. But they did fault the University of Minnesota Press for relying on an advisory board that consisted entirely of two scientists...who co-wrote the new test and stand to profit from its sales."

The well-detailed, enterprise story suggests a murky mess over the MMPI in psychology and in the University of Minnesota - where murky messes seem to be increasingly common these days. Buy the paper and read for yourself.

From the comments section:

Richard Rumer, Ph.D. | August 9, 2009 1:39 PM | Reply

The Star-Tribune article you mentioned was noted in a Psychology-Law Discussion group, so when I went looking for the source article I found only a teaser. Is this the common practice of this newspaper not to publish certain articles on the Web? From afar, it has the appearance of the newspaper pulling its punches.

Gary Schwitzer | August 9, 2009 1:58 PM | Reply

I'm not here to defend Star Tribune editorial or business practices by any means.

But this is clearly a business decision to help keep the old dead-tree version of their newspaper alive by saving some premium content for the print version only.

Given the news industry economy, I can't argue with that.

It does, however, make your searching from afar more difficult. Almost like the pre-Internet days again. Remember when?

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