Ken Doctor has a good post for Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab on why news organizations need to be ramping up niche product development, both for individual sale and as free add-ons to make digital subscriptions worth more.

Let’s take one example. On Wednesday, the Boston Globe launched “Sunday Supper & More.” It’s a cookbook. It’s New England. And it could be the beginning of a new franchise: Expect summer, fall and winter editions each year to join this spring debut. The Globe’s staff built it with Apple’s iBooks Author tool, so it offers video within it.

Want to buy it? Not so fast. Today, Sunday Supper & More is only available to Boston Globe print, all-access, and digital subscribers. So subscription — think “membership” (the recent riff of the L.A. Times new paywall intro) — is gaining new benefits. Surprise, says the Globe, you not only get our paper, our spiffy new replica-plus edition, if that’s what you want, and our mobile apps — you also get our cool cookbooks, with more to come.

The Globe will sell the book to non-subscribers — probably at $4.99 — but will decide the timing of that sale after next week’s Globe confab at which execs and editors will plot an ebook plan for the company.

— ProPublica’s Jesse Eisinger writes about a Dallas Fed report he calls a “radical indictment of the nation’s financial system,” and particularly our too big to fail banks. Look at the language here:

The country’s biggest banks look much as they did before the 2008 financial crisis — only bigger. They have “increased oligopoly power” and “remain difficult to control because they have the lawyers and the money to resist the pressures of federal regulation,” Harvey Rosenblum, the head of the Dallas Fed’s research department, wrote in the essay.

Having seen the biggest banks make risky bets, crush the economy and get rewarded leaves “a residue of distrust for the government, the banking system, the Fed and capitalism itself,” Mr. Rosenblum wrote.

It’s one thing for the Occupy movement to point out how bailing out the biggest banks — with little cost to their executives or shareholders and creditors — has demolished credibility. It’s quite another for top officials in the Federal Reserve system to put it in an annual report.

When even central bankers are throwing around words like oligopoly and talking about plutocracy, you know there’s a problem.

— Representative Paul Ryan, the Republican budget guy, says that a Pentagon budget supported by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and submitted by the Defense Department is no good. It would have cut half a trillion dollars from defense budgets over a decade, but Ryan’s committee put nearly half of the money back in, saying he doesn’t believe the generals “are giving us their true advice.”

Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum notes that “Ryan Finally Meets a Budget Cut He Hates”:

Just to be absolutely clear here: if we’re talking about a program that helps the poor or the elderly or the sick, Ryan is eager to cut spending. In fact, he’s usually eager to be the biggest budget cutter in the room. But if it’s a program for the military, he won’t accept spending cuts even if the military brass supports them. In fact, he insists on raising their budget.

For some reason, this is known in mainstream circles as being a “deficit hawk.”


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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.