Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Washington Post Newspaper Facing Losses, Chairman Says

THE Washington Post newspaper will follow a money-losing 2008 by losing "substantial money" in 2009 and will continue to cut costs, Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham said in a letter to shareholders included in the company's annual report released yesterday.
The Post Co. newspaper division -- which is dominated by the flagship paper but also includes the Everett (Wash.) Herald, Express and a number of smaller papers -- reported a $24.9 million operating loss last year.
As a whole, The Post Co. -- which also owns the Kaplan education company, Cable One cable company, six television stations, Newsweek, Slate and a number of other publications -- saw its 2008 revenue rise compared with 2007, though earnings dropped, because of charges related to the falling value of assets and one-time charges.
"The familiar problems of the newspaper industry -- declining readership and the loss of classified -- are now made worse by bankrupt advertisers," Graham writes. "The newspaper will lose substantial money in 2009. Some will be non-cash accelerated depreciation because we will be closing a printing plant. Most will be real losses."
Newsweek "has a plan it hopes will change the direction of the business and put the magazine on a better and more profitable course," Graham writes.
Graham said The Post Co. is willing to lose money on The Post and Newsweek "as we did at Kaplan from 1994 to 2001" if the two publications show that they have a plan to achieve profitability.
Graham writes that "The Post will get every chance" to become profitable again.
"It sounds as though there's a commitment to the paper, which obviously doesn't surprise me," newspaper analyst John Morton said. "Clearly, the principal owners are committed to staying in the business even if it's not consistently profitable."
Nevertheless, Graham warns in the letter: "Post management knows that losses must diminish in 2010."
Despite the grim news, Graham is hopeful for the future of news as a business.
"Ten years from now, it is highly likely that customers will be getting news from profitable institutions staffed by talented reporters and editors," Graham writes. "We're going to try to show a way."
Kaplan and Cable One combined provide almost 70 percent of current Post Co. revenue. In 1998, Graham writes, The Post, Newsweek and the television stations provided 75 percent of company revenue.
The Post Co. said its pension was overfunded by $320 million at the end of 2008.
The company reported a pension credit of $25.7 million on its income statement for 2008, and projects that credit will fall to $6 million by the end of 2009, partly as the result of a 25 percent drop in pension fund investment returns in 2008.

Source: Thw Washington Post

BBC says it will share audio and video with newspapers

THE BBC has confirmed it is developing a plan to share its online content with newspapers and do more to link to rival news organisations.
In its submission to the government's Digital Britain consultation, published this week, the corporation said work was underway to create an "online syndication strategy".
Last December, BBC director general Mark Thompson said he was keen to help the newspaper industry by syndicating some of the BBC's news footage and waiving the charge it makes to provide TV listings.
"The BBC will explore whether it can do more to support the newspaper industry through a range of initiatives including greater online linking and the syndication of online content," the broadcaster's submission said.
"The current proposal is for a phased roll-out to a limited number of partners in the first instance, before extending the offer more widely.
"Syndication would be subject to partners agreeing to appropriate terms and conditions in relation to branding of BBC content, advertising and editorial considerations."
The BBC has already announced a sharing agreement with Telegraph Media Group, allowing the newspaper publisher to put some content from the BBC iPlayer on the Telegraph.co.uk website.
The olive branch to the newspaper industry comes after the BBC's plans to launch a network of online video news websites across the UK was blocked by the BBC Trust in the face of massive opposition from the regional press.
The corporation's governing body said the local video proposals could have harmed regional newspapers' attempts to make money online and was not a worthwhile use of licence fee money.

Source: Press Gazette

Mobile media use on the rise

LONDON: More than four out of five mobile media users access mobile media once a week, research by Orange reveals.
Based on its survey of 2,000 mobile phone media users from all five UK mobile networks, Orange found that 70% of consumers are attracted to interactive mobile
Meanwhile, Orange found click-through ads are the most popular form of mobile marketing, with 47% of participants preferring to click on ads that go straight to a brand's website; 43% preferring to click on voucher codes or coupons and 34% using click-throughs to enter competitions.
The average age for mobile media users is 36 and 81% use mobile media more than once a week, with 46% using it daily. Mobile internet pages viewed most often are search engines, e-mail, news, music and film, although 55% of people browse mobile internet with no specific agenda.

Source: Brand Republic

10 Newspapers That Will Survive The Apocalypse

BELIEVE it or not, there are investors who still want to buy local newspapers.
Our favorite person of this stripe is an investor who has already plunked millions into the industry and is in the process of spending much more.
"I might be running head first into the buggy-whip business, but I'm not sold on the death of print quite yet," he tells us. (He's asked us to keep him anonymous because many of those deals remain under non-disclosure agreements.)
So what does this investor see in the newspaper industry that the rest of us don't? Lots of room for improvement, for one thing.

His view:
* For most of their existence, newspapers were steady sources of revenue that required little management -- "cash cows that you put your brother in charge of."
This led to bloat at the large, public congolmerates that now own many of our best local newspapers.
* Then came the Internet. It brought some competition yes, but more devastatingly it brought the preception of a paradigm shift. Suddenly, the bloat-tolerant managers at the top of the newspaper chains couldn't turn left without hearing from an equity analyst threatening to slap their company with a "sell" rating if it didn't invest enough in the Internet.
* After a decade of investing in the Internet -- but doing little to fight the bloat -- the conglomerates are collapsing under a weight of debt.
* This debt remains and online ad revenues aren't helping reduce it. The LA Times claims its online ad revenues pay for its newsroom, but our source doesn't buy it. "You had to pull out the duct tape and rubber hoses to make [their formula] work," he says.
Our guy is convinced that underneath the mess, there are plenty of local newspapers that, after cutting newsroom bloat and R&D costs, would be plenty profitable. He says these local newspapers just need to stop "spending on trying to find their way out" and "instead run their current good business."
What does our source think of newspapers on the Web? Not much. He says local papers should have a Web site run by two people that links to international and national news and keeps all local content behind a pay wall or off the Internet entirely.
He named ten newspapers worth acquiring.

Source: The Business Insider

Newspapers look to digital as print faces challenges

AFTER struggling with a loss of ad dollars in print, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (P-I) ran its final print edition last week. The 146-year old paper will remain alive as a Web-only publication, making advertising for the publication exclusively digital.
The P-I is not alone. Newspapers and magazines across the country are looking to build digital revenue sources as less money is being spent in print advertising.
“I think digital publishing's absolutely the trend,” said Robert Grimshaw, publisher and managing director of FT.com, the Web site for the Financial Times. “Everything ultimately follows the consumer, and everybody is going online, so publishers have to be comfortable with operating in a different environment.”
“Yes, there are closures and bankruptcies, but newspapers are not going away. Like all industries, the product life cycle changes and right now things are changing and going more digital,” added Mike Petrak, VP of sales for MediaNews Group, a group that publishes 54 newspapers nationwide, including The Oakland Tribune and The Denver Post.
In fact, digital news audiences are growing. According to the Magazine Publishers of America, the number of unique visitors to consumer magazine Web sites for the first quarter of 2008 averaged around 70.7 million unique users per month, a new record. In fact, online readership is rising at twice the rate of the general Internet audience.
Larger markets, in particular, are seeing digital publishing take off, but the challenge is converting that digital audience to revenue, notes Jerry Lyles, SVP of publisher relations for Publishing Group of America (PGA).
Currently, online ads are valued far below print ads, and publishers are struggling to make their old, ad-supported revenue models work online.
“Advertisers understand that that is the direction that everything is headed,” Lyles said. “The challenge comes more from the newspaper side, and trying to monetize the online version in a way that's similar to how they are able to monetize print. The papers have to get the correct pricing for those ads and the proper staffs to actually go out and sell them, and the last thing they want is to have their current print sales team selling digital.”
As the digital format continues to grow and gain audience, Lyles expects advertisers to become more accepting of paying similar rates for digital as for print ads.
“Online offers an enormous number of options not available in print and allows advertisers to pick out a very fine segment of the audience and target them precisely,” Grimshaw added. “It's an amazing benefit, and of course there's an awful lot of tracking technology that allows you to get great insight into the value of the money you've spent. As advertisers start to understand what it can do for them, online advertising is an attractive proposition.”
Until online ad revenues catch up with online publishing, there are plenty of other ways to make money on a digital platform — without having to relearn the entire business.
“Conceptually, digital is not that dramatically different than print,” explained Sean O'Neal, chief revenue officer, Datran Media. “A publisher's Web site functions like a newsstand, and an e-mail newsletter functions like a subscription, where the content is being pushed by the publisher. There is a lot of opportunity to monetize this e-mail content, which is highly targeted.”
For MediaNews Group, which works with Datran Media's e-mail and inbox ad inventory services, it is about focusing on the content and knowing who its target audience is in each marketplace. After doing this, the company can push targeted content to a specific audience via e-mail and mobile.
“We are a content distribution company, and e-mail helps us to provide great service and maximize the relationship [while helping us] monetize the content,” added Petrak.
MediaNews Group has been using digital to focus on its niche audiences such as lifestyle groups and specific communities. It is segmenting e-mails to reach special interests groups and, by adding more niche newsletters, it adds more ad inventory targeted to a specific audience. For example, Denver has many pet owners and dog lovers, so it has created a newsletter that targets this audience.
“In print, inserts drove a lot of subscriptions. In digital, people can get the same benefits from insert media by signing up for these lifestyle oriented newsletters that give them offers,” said Petrak.
New York magazine also is working with Datran and using e-mail to help monetize its publication online. It also has found success in e-mail newsletters with editorial content and advertising e-mails that send consumers offers from their advertisers. In fact, 10% of NY Magazine's digital revenue comes from e-mail. For the lifestyle magazine, it is all about building out its offerings in various channels.
“Like every media business, 2009 has been a tough year, but it doesn't change our belief that print is still a viable medium,” said Michael Silberman, general manager, NYMag.com. “And at the same time, digital is important. We have built a real digital media business, as opposed to just having a Web presence.”
The Financial Times, too, has built a robust digital media business. Some of this business comes from online offerings, but, unlike many of its peers, the paper also charges a substantial fee for online subscriptions.
“I think papers need to look at subscriptions,” said Grimshaw. “It's very tough to make money just from advertising, not least because it's highly cyclical but also because the Internet is so intensely competitive. There's not much to differentiate one publisher's ad proposition from another, and that's part of the reason why ad networks have been so successful.”
The publishing world is not broken into print v. online, but, rather, into a multiplatform world. Publishers should be prepared to serve content on mobile phones and e-readers as well. The Financial Times, for example, has signed an agreement to provide content for the Kindle and for Plastic Logic's forthcoming e-reader, set for release in early 2010. The paper has also revamped its mobile site and is working on an iPhone app.
New York Magazine is also experimenting in mobile and plans to expand that over the next year. Mobile has become a hot topic for newspapers and magazines. Cox Newspapers, CBS News, The Street.com, Boston.com, The Onion and Gawker Media all recently have created mobile WAP sites. Mobile ad network Quattro Wireless is helping to sell inventory for these media properties.
“As many papers focus their efforts on online publishing, mobile is a great way to extend that content and generate more traffic and ad revenue,” said Lars Albright, VP of business development at Quattro Wireless. “We see solid interest from advertisers in the news space as the demographic is often highly attractive to a brand advertiser.”
Albright said that both national papers and smaller more regional papers have been using mobile to help grow their audience.

Source: DMNews

Study: Online Newspapers Must Manage Relationships with Ad Networks Carefully

CHICAGO Online advertising networks have grown from convenient ways to fill unsold banner ads to potential obstacles for maximizing publisher profits on the Web, concludes a study released Wednesday by the Media Management Center (MMC) at Northwestern University.
For online newspapers and other content publishers, managing relationships carefully with those online ad networks "can mean the difference between earning 50 cents and earning 50 dollars per 1,000 impressions," the MMC study found.
The report, "Online Ad Networks: Disruption -- and Opportunity -- for Media Businesses," argues that ad networks are increasingly defining the future of online content business as they sell not just a growing share of Internet advertising -- generating significant income for content publishers -- but become increasingly sophisticated, serving ads dynamically based on previous customer behavior and real-time feedback. Advertising becomes more measurable, accountable and personalized, the MMC notes.
But what's good for advertisers is not necessarily good for publishers, the MMC adds: "Among four publishers studied for the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the average revenue from ad networks (measured in CPMs, or cost per thousand impressions) was one-sixteenth the revenue generated by ads sold by the publisher's sales staff."
The largest networks, MMC adds, will fill a newspaper's advertising inventory with banners that generate less than $1 CPM -- when the publisher's own sales staff could offer better-targeted ads that "might bring prices of $20, $30 or even $50 per 1,000 banners served."
Scott Anderson, a former content and technology manager at Tribune Interactive, was the lead author, with Michael A. Silver, another former Tribune Co. executive contributing portions of the report. Silver is now the executive director of the Yahoo Newspaper Consortium. The report's project manager and editor was Rich Gordon, MMC's Director of New Communities and Director of Digital Innovation for Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.
Among the reports recommendations, as taken from the executive summary, are the following:
"Devote staff time and technology investment to tracking and optimizing their advertising revenue and their use of networks;
"Pay more attention to their ad inventory, understanding which ad positions are worth the most and which ones they should sell themselves rather than through a network;
"Understand and serve their core advertisers better than the networks can. MMC found that publishers will generate higher prices selling ads directly than by relying on networks, and they may have opportunities to help their advertisers and themselves by creating networks of their own;
"Consider partnerships that leverage complementary strengths, such as the Yahoo!-newspaper partnership that promises to generate new revenue for both Yahoo! and the hundreds of participating newspapers."

Source: Editor&Publisher

News businesses must think about content, not just products, to ensure their survival

I work for a 126-year-old start-up company.
Since our founding in 1883, Gazette Communications has revolved around the newspaper that gave the company its name. As time went on, the company added a television station and various other products, but our focus was always on the products, especially that venerable core print product.
We developed a pretty good staff to provide content for the products, but their work always revolved around the products. Editors would meet daily in a conference room and talk about the stories that would be in the next day’s paper, writing slugs and story lengths on a whiteboard. The story lengths were not based on the amount of relevant content a reporter might develop. They were based on the interests and attention span of a mythical average newspaper reader and on the price of newsprint.
After two newspapers that were older than ours, the Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, folded within the past month, it’s clearer than ever that a proud past doesn’t ensure a prosperous future. We are feeling the same pressures as all newspaper companies. In fact, beyond the national economic problems and the industry turmoil, our community is reeling from a historic disaster. Our company is cutting its staff from about 600 before the flood to about 500. I had to tell 14 journalists last month that their jobs were eliminated. But whatever turmoil our products face, the demand for content is stronger than ever.
So Gazette Communications is unhitching our content generation from product management.
If you just thought, “Huh?” you’re not alone. Our staff and some of our leaders are still working on understanding this concept. Content and product are so closely entwined in newsroom organizations and in the minds and hearts of journalists that “untangling” would probably be a more accurate verb for the paragraph above than “unhitching.”
A Mark Briggs blog entry in January quoted Tom Peters, summarizing the mental and cultural challenge we face: “Visa founder Dee Hock said it best: ‘The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get the old ones out.’ … Every enterprise (and every individual) needs a formal … Forgetting Strategy. We must be as forceful and systematic about identifying and then dumping yesterday’s baggage as we are about acquiring new baggage.”
So I spelled out the forgetting strategy for our staff, listing some time-honored terms and concepts in any newsroom (starting with the word “newsroom”): reporters, editors, photographers, columnists, deadlines, story lengths, space, gatekeeper, story selection …
This had to start with me forgetting and forgoing my title of editor, which, of course, I had been thrilled to accept last May. Gazette CEO Chuck Peters had suggested Information Content Creator or Moderator in his blog, but I didn’t like either of those. I countered by suggesting conductor. I liked three different meanings of the word: musical (orchestrating creative people), railroad (helping people get where they want to go) and electrical (carrying energy). Most important, it says we’re doing something different, forgetting something precious.
As conductor, I lead a start-up organization, which we are calling Content Creation & Collaboration. We will have about 30 entrepreneurial journalists whose sole job is creating content, some in topical areas, some providing enterprise or covering breaking news. Other staff members will lead the group or provide training and support. We will publish unedited content digitally in a multitude of forms: stories, yes, but also bulletins, updates, tweets, liveblogs, photographs, videos, multimedia, graphics, source documents, databases, links and whatever other form is appropriate.
We will sell our content to The Gazette and other products our company owns and they will edit the content to meet the needs of the packaged products. We also will sell content to external customers such as other media outlets and will seek ways to sell enhanced content (such as photo reprints or customized products) directly to the public.
Our start-up will collect revenue for advertising sold to accompany these streams of unedited content, though the journalists producing the content won’t handle the advertising sales ourselves. Gazette Communications’ sales staff will sell advertising, but we also can use Google or other third-party ad sales. We also hope to develop some direct-sales opportunities for business customers, though that responsibility will rest with our colleagues responsible for transforming our approach to commercial content.
We’re in the transition right now, making staff assignments, working out the details of workflow and communication and deciding which functions rest with the content staff and which are product-focused. We answer many questions by saying, “We don’t know yet.”
But here’s an example of how it will work: In the print-only days, a reporter covering a trial spent all day in the courtroom, then wrote a story for the morning newspaper that summarized the day’s action and presented a few highlights. That story might be 12-15 inches, more than many readers cared about but not nearly enough for people with strong interest in the case. Now that reporter will liveblog from the courtroom, writing perhaps 4,000 to 5,000 words and interacting with the audience. In a throwback to the days of “Sweetheart, get me rewrite,” a product editor will cut, paste and edit a story for the morning Gazette from the liveblog (probably not the 12-15 inches of days gone by, because our newshole is tighter). If the judge makes a key ruling, the reporter would file a bulletin to our breaking news blog, informing people who aren’t watching the case as closely and linking to the liveblog.
Because building audience will be part of our journalists’ responsibility, the journalist would also tweet news developments in a Twitter feed, linking to the liveblog. And the journalist would link to relevant external contact as well as to archived stories about the case that would provide context.
The basics of journalism remain unchanged, even strengthened: We’ll answer who, what, when, where, why and how in greater depth, free from the limits of products.

Source: KnightDigitalMedia

London Evening Standard boosts last edition

THE London Evening Standard has boosted distribution of its last edition by more than 10,000 copies and renamed it Late Night Final.
Available in central London from 6pm, the late edition used to be an offshoot of the West End Final but has been rebranded Late Night Final in red and white right across the front page.
"This is a more significant final edition," managing editor Doug Wills said. "It's all part of a vibrant refreshed paper."
Wills said that other improvements would follow after the paper was bought by Russian businessman Alexander Lebedev.
Last December, the Standard dropped from three to two editions a day and cut the numbers of newsagents that sell the paper. Today Wills said that the third edition had never been scrapped but just had its print run reduced.
In September 2006 the paper went from four to three editions to ready itself for the launch of News International's rival free title the London Paper.
In February the 50p London daily newspaper, formerly owned by Daily Mail & General Trust, recorded a 3.69% fall in circulation year on year to 277, 522.
Full-price sales of the Evening Standard in February were 142,513 on average, down from 155,467 the previous month. Bulks – copies that readers can pick up free from hotels, airlines and gyms, which pay a nominal fee – were also down from 134,666 to 132,682.
Following Lebedev's acquisition of the Evening Standard, editor Veronica Wadley left after seven years. Wadley has been replaced by former Tatler editor Geordie Greig.

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Changing format: newspapers switching between broadsheet and tabloid

BLICK is the most widely read paid newspaper in Switzerland, and has just made the somewhat unusual decision to revert to back to broadsheet format. Blick changed to a tabloid format four years ago, reportedly in order to compete with free daily rivals. However, free daily 20 Minutes has since overtaken Blick in terms of readership. 20 Minutes' increased popularity may be a factor in the official reason for the change; that Blick wants to differentiate itself within the market, as well as from its own free daily newspaper Blick am Abend.
Moving in a more common direction, UK, two long-established local newspapers have made the leap from broadsheet to tabloid. The 236-year-old Reading Chronicle, owned by the Berkshire Media Group, and the 162 year old Newsquest owned Darlington and Stockton Times are the two publications making the change.
Chronicle editor Sally Stevens explained that the decision came in response to reader opinion and that "the compact size of the paper is a more modern format which complements our modern town". Times editor Malcolm Warne explained that for his publication the move "means we can offer a more focused local news service - there's an additional cost to that, but we've been able to make that investment for the benefit of the paper".

Source: Press Gazette

Don has been a leading researcher, author, educator and speaker addressing the sustainability of media supply chains for the last decade, and for over

WE expected bad news from the Daily Mail & General Trust today, and we certainly got it. Advertising revenue for the first three months of this year down by 24% at its national newspapers and 37% down at its regionals.
So, in response, the publisher says it will cut 1,000 jobs at its regional division, Northcliffe Media, to reduce the headcount by about 20% to 3,500. That's double the number of losses it envisaged in November 2008.
Though I am sympathetic to the plight of the people who will suffer the cutbacks, I think we waste our breath decrying these decisions. Every publisher, without exception, is taking similar action.
The DMGT announcement has to be seen in that context. The dramatic plunge in advertising in the past six months has produced an unprecedented crisis. The revenue that pays for journalism has, quite literally, vanished.
I know people will say that most companies remain profitable. But it's hard to be overly censorious about that when shareholders are clearly suffering (from falling stock prices and the cancelling of dividends) and when many senior executives are taking substantial salary cuts (and all of them surely should do so).
Profit margins have come down from their ridiculous levels of a couple of years back and there is no way now of retrospectively laying hands on that money. It's gone and there's no point in banging on about past fat cattery.
While the present round of cuts make financial logic for newspaper companies they are, of course, personally painful for the thousands of individuals who are losing their jobs.
Furthermore, I believe they are also painful for society, because they could well prove to be a threat to democracy. (Note that excellent quotation in the posting below).
I have long argued that we will eventually move from print to screen. What worries me, however, is that the transformation is being threatened by the immediate economic crisis. I fear that the death of print products will lead to the demise of the related online platforms too.
Anyway, are regional publishers really prepared to make the switch from one to the other? Are they devoting enough of their receding revenues to building vibrant online news outlets that will do the job of holding local power to account? Are journalists, for their part, thinking about a post-print world?
I believe publishers and journalists should be working together on projects to make as smooth a transition as possible from print to screen.
For example, in the basic and essential first stage of a new kind of web-based participatory journalism, skilled veteran journalists should be training people to become citizen journalists. They will need each other in future.
Almost all the blogs written by readers that are currently available on local paper websites are all about opinion. They need to have a reporting element if they are to have maximum impact in future.
This does not mean that we should abandon print at present (though print is clearly abandoning us). It means that we should be working towards a new form of journalism.
Journalism matters, as the National Union of Journalists so rightly reminds us in its campaigning slogan. It matters more than the platform that delivers it.
Local papers already have online platforms, but they are not getting the attention they need from publishers or journalists. The former cannot see how they can profit from them. The latter largely view them as a threat.
We need to get over that. If we want to ensure that our communities are not bamboozled by politicians and trampled on by big business, we have to preserve journalism. And, for the moment, that means preserving newspapers in their current form in order to provide the springboard to an online future.
To achieve that we need, at the very least, a series of informal concordats between publishers and staff. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, crucial to the social and political health of this nation.

Source: Guardian.co.uk

News Media Innovation, Convergence and Sustainability

Interview with Don Carli Executive Vice President of SustainCommWorld LLC, and Senior Research Fellow with the Institute for Sustainable Communication.

DON has been a leading researcher, author, educator and speaker addressing the sustainability of media supply chains for the last decade, and for over 25 years has been a respected media technology and marketing strategy consultant to major advertisers, agencies and publishers.

RI: Why are newspapers and other traditional publishers pushing the issue of eReaders as a communications medium when something like less than one third of one percent of the reading population of the United States owns these products? Is it a paper sustainability issue? Is it a cost issue? What’s the justification?
DC: Other than pushing the “cool” factor, one of the main selling points being made by marketers of eReaders is that they are greener than print. It is little surprise that the common view held by consumers who don’t know the backstory is that going digital means going green and saving trees. Many are in for a rude awakening. When subjected to “cradle-to-cradle ” Lifecycle Analysis eReading is not nearly as green as many naively assume it is.
There is no question that print media could do a better job of managing the sustainability of its supply chains and waste streams, but it’s a misguided notion to assume that digital media is categorically greener. Computers, eReaders and cell phones don’t grow on trees and their spiraling requirement for energy is unsustainable.
Making a computer typically requires the mining and refining of dozens of minerals and metals including gold, silver and palladium as well as extensive use of plastics and hydrocarbon solvents. To function, digital devices require a constant flow of electrons that predominately come from the combustion of coal, and at the end of their all-too-short useful lives electronics have become the single largest stream of toxic waste created by man. Until recently there was little if any voluntary disclosure of the lifecycle “backstory” of digital media.
Sadly, print has come to be seen as a wasteful, inefficient and environmentally destructive medium, despite the fact that much of print media is based on comparatively benign and renewable materials. In addition, print has incredible potential to be a far more sustainable medium than it is today… and a truly digital medium as well. Despite its importance to business, government and society, print has been cast in the role of a dark old devil in decline. Digital media has been cast as the bright young savior on the rise.
Ironically the future of digital media and eBook readers is likely to be based on flexible polymer electronics manufactured using printing presses rather than silicon semiconductor fabrication technologies. In fact, the next generation of eReaders will most likely be digital AND be printed. For example, major components of the soon to be released PlasticLogic eReader are printed flexible polymer electronics.

RI: What is the demand for eReaders now though?
DC: Well it’s a category that has been “emerging” for over 15 years. What one can say is that eReaders are once again capturing media attention and there appears to be significant latent demand for gadgets that can replace printed media, but mainstream adoption still remains years away. E-reader device sales and eReader content revenues are still rounding error in relation to print media revenues. In a survey of attendees at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair 40% predicted digital book content sales would overtake traditional printed book sales by 2018, but over 30% said digital content would never surpass traditional books sales, and 66% said they expect traditional books to dominate the market for the next decade.
We’ll likely see many fits, starts and failures with different products, media formats and business models over the next five years to ten years until someone hits on the sweet spot and develops a business model that supports the profitable creation of content as well as a system of commercially practical devices and a sustainable supporting infrastructure. One of the major problems is that people tend to be fixated on the announcements of cool new devices rather than on the development of business models and sustainable supply chain business ecologies.
For an example of what I mean, consider why Edison was successful. Edison didn’t invent the first electric light bulb, but he did develop the first commercially practical incandescent lighting system. It encompassed every aspect of the lighting lifecycle including not just the bulb but also a business model for a successful electric energy generation and distribution system.
I think a comparable challenge exists for eReaders. People focus on the eReader devices, but it’s not the invention of the coolest e-reader that matters most, it’s the availability of a sustainable business ecology that matters most. I don’t think traditional publishers or device manufacturers have yet identified that sweet-spot combination of content, medium and business model that’s required for e-readers to become mainstream.
Unfortunately many of the business models that drive media companies still have both the content and production/distribution aspects of the business intertwined. They are struggling to find ways to uncouple them and remain profitable. We saw companies like Kodak face the same challenge in trying to decouple the business of capturing and preserving memories from the business of selling analog film photography and photofinishing systems. They are still struggling with a profitable transition to the use of digital imaging technologies. Newspapers are likely to face similar problems trying to decouple newsgathering, journalism, creative and advertising from production and delivery in print to delivery via networked digital eReaders and handsets.

RI: What other examples of fundamental business model failure can you give me?
DC: Sure. One example is the failure to recognize the value of “waste” and the true cost of externalities like greenhouse gas emissions or water use. Print media value chains have become extremely complex and tend to cross-subsidize and institutionalize wasteful and inefficient flows of energy and materials. A case in point of institutionalized waste is the fact that more than 60% of magazines distributed to newsstands never get sold or read. Another example is the failure to consider the full lifecycle costs or carbon footprint of media. Newspaper publishers deliver newspapers but they don’t typically recover them and recycle them or use them as an energy source locally. Few if any know what the carbon footprint of their products are. Why is that?
Until recently, companies like Nine Dragons were shipping our waste paper half way around the world to make cardboard out of it, and then shipping it back to us as packaging which we were sending to landfills. Going forward, the carbon cost of print and digital media will no longer be swept under the rug. It will soon have to appear on the balance sheets of advertisers, publishers and retailers. It will also appear in the price tags of goods and services. The climate crisis is another market failure that is now coming to light.
Business models that fail to recognize full lifecycle cost and value will be unlikely to succeed going forward. As we exit the global recession we will simultaneously be transitioning to a low carbon global economy that will change the meaning and value of waste and inefficiency. As we do so, print will survive if it reconfigures its supply chains to use energy and materials more eco-efficiently and publishers will survive if they can decouple the message from the medium while meeting the requirement for “triple bottom” line results that are economically viable, environmentally restorative and socially constructive. The growing demand for sustainable business practices, lifecycle analysis and environmental product disclosure will impact eReader manufacturers and digital media companies as well.
I expect there will be new opportunities for sustainable digital printing and print on demand to compete with toxic eReaders and coal-powered digital media. I also think there will be exciting new opportunities for printed electronics to blur the categories of print and digital media. Ultimately both print and digital media will have to become more sustainable if either of them is to survive, and judgment of which is environmentally preferable or cost effective will increasingly be based on comparative lifecycle analysis, carbon footprints and environmental product declarations based on standards such as ISO 14040, PAS 2050 and ISO 14025. Sustainability science and the triple bottom line are becoming an increasingly important aspects of business and public policy decision-making. There is every reason to believe they will also become increasingly important in media business and policy decisions.

RI: What have you seen in other countries that sticks out in your mind?
DC: When you leave the Stockholm’s airport to get on the high-speed train to downtown Stockholm there are book vending machines! While some may choose to download content to a phone or eReader, for many a book, a magazine or a newspaper will continue to be preferred. One of the major challenges print needs to address is waste, and another is the customization of format and content. There is no technical barrier to replacing newsstands and vending machines with hard copy media output devices or “fabricators” that could produce customized or personalized books, magazines or other media objects on demand. That would be one of the ways print media could compete with the immediacy and customization potential of digital media while also eliminating newsstand distribution waste.

RI: Sounds to me like the future is looking digital.
DC: As I said earlier, the distinction between print and digital media will ultimately vanish. The media of the future will be digitally printed and printed digital devices.

RI: Will people still care where they get their news from?
DC: I don’t think people care so much about where their news comes from, but journalism… yes I believe they still care. Anyone can make news and anyone can report it, but journalism is different and that difference matters. For example, Twitter is fast becoming one the most important source of breaking news, but it isn’t journalism. I think a robust Fourth Estate capable of independent investigative journalism is essential. The first tenet of sustainability is having a political system that secures effective participation of its citizens in decision making. That is the role served by journalists and the media channels that deliver and store their content.
The capacity of our society to effectively participate in decision making is contingent upon our having sources of news, journalism and dialogue that represent a diversity of informed opinions as well as a diversity of textual, graphical and other content types. Likewise, the sustainability of our society is dependent upon the supply chains and media that carry that content being diverse and sustainable as well. While much of current media debate is about the future of journalism as the sea change shift to digital media is occurring, we need to recognize that our current digital media supply chains and media types are unsustainable before we kick print media to the curb and entrust our future to an ephemeral and uncertain digital media monoculture.
As publishers struggle to extricate themselves from the advertising business models that encumber them, we are likely to see them continue to trim editorial staffs and funding for investigative journalism. However we are likely to begin to see syndicates of content creators and journalists emerge who are independent of any particular distribution channel or media type. Spot.us is an example of how journalists may increasingly be directly supported by their audiences rather than by a publisher who is supported by advertising.
If the capital structure of traditional media cannot support the research and legal expenses that investigative journalism demands then those entrepreneurs will find other sources of funding for their efforts.

RI: So do you have to go to newspapers to get journalism?
DC: No, as I said, we’re already starting to see things like spot.us and syndicates, as well as entrepreneurial journalists operating outside of mainstream media advertising supported business models.

RI: Last question. What should I be asking you right now?
DC: The real question is “how can we encourage both advertisers and publishers to consider the sustainability of the media supply chains they depend on?” Whether they are print or digital, they consume energy, and neither are sustainable. Will they have to learn the way fish learn about the importance of water? Will they only be aware of it when it is gone?
Looking at Print media, we can basically agree that it is dependent on paper. The paper making industry in the United States is in tragic decline. We haven’t built a paper mill in the US for over 12 years and we’ve shut down hundreds of paper making machines. We’ve exported more waste paper than any other product. In fact waste paper is this country’s single largest export! The paper has gone primarily to China where it is recycled into cardboard and shipped back to us as containers and then ultimately devoted to landfill.
We’ve effectively put ourselves in a situation where in short order we may be as dependent on imported paper as we are dependent on imported oil. If we don’t address the strategic importance of an intact infrastructure for papermaking in the US we may not have print media in time because we won’t be able to afford the substrate to print it on. Hopefully the current administration’s focus on renewable energy holds promise for the reinvention of America’s papermaking industry.
Over the next 10 years we need to transition from making paper in outmoded papermills mills build by our grandparents to producing paper, fuels, energy and renewable chemical and pharmaceutical feedstocks in a new generation of integrated biorefineries.
Likewise we need to transition from printing methods that employ wasteful and inefficient mass production to those which employ leaner greener digital printing and printed electronics manufacturing that support mass customization and dematerialization.
Looking at digital media from the same perspective it is not economically or environmentally sustainable either. During 2006 energy consumption from data centers and servers consumed 61billion kilowatt hours of electricity. The consumption rate for data centers doubled from 2000-2006 and is set to double again in 2010. Additionally, e-waste now constitutes the most significant toxic waste stream in our landfills and it is the single largest toxic waste export. We are about to witness a veritable tsunami of toxic e-waste as people turn in their CRT TV’s and buy new HD digital sets to cope with the FCC’s analog to digital mandate.

RI: Ok, that wasn’t the last question. After you mentioned exporting toxic waste to other countries I’m wondering; what are the global implications of publishers switching to new media /new medium?
DC: Thinking that we can transition from books to ebooks, and satisfy the fundamental needs of all 6.7 billion people on the planet is a fallacy. We don’t have clean water in many countries, let alone 3G towers to feed our Kindle’s today’s newspaper news. 2 billion people don’t have clean water in the world. As publishers, advertisers, and consumers, we have to find ways to encourage development of both sustainable print and digital media supply chain management technologies. We need to reframe the issue. Today’s print vs. digital media debates are a zero sum game. Regardless of which media wins the war of words we all lose. The fact is we will need both print and digital media for many years to come and we need them to both become far more sustainable than they are today.

RI: Thank you for sharing your ideas with metaprinter regarding news media innovation, convergence and sustainability. When is your next upcoming conference and what can people learn there?
DC: SustainCommWorld’s next Green Media Conferences will be held on June 9, 2009 in Washington DC and on June 23 in Chicago. The Green Media Conference website has detailed program information on it and the Green Media Connect Social networking site is where attendees can network, blog and share information before during and after the events. In addition, I post news items and exchange tweets with the thousands of people who follow me on twitter each day. Thank you for taking time to speak with me about this important topic. I look forward to seeing you and your readers at the Green Media Conferences in June.

Source: Metaprinter

Monday, March 23, 2009

Daily Mail group cuts 1,000 jobs

The Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) is to cut 1,000 jobs as the advertising slump continues to hurt newspapers.

THE job cuts at its regional arm Northcliffe Media are more than double what it estimated last November, the media company said.
Northcliffe Media publishes 113 papers in England and Wales, selling 4.1 million copies a week.
It said it had a "difficult quarter" so far and expects a "substantial fall" in profits in the first half of 2009.
The "vast majority" of the job cuts have already taken place or are currently under consultation, said a company spokesman.
Northcliffe Media's newspapers include the Leicester Mercury, Hull Daily Mail and the Bristol Evening Post.

Newspapers battered
The company said in its trading update that further costs were being cut in all departments at its newspaper division, which includes the Daily Mail and free newssheet the Metro.
The DMGT said the job cuts would result in exceptional operating costs of about £20m in the group's half year results to 29 March, to be announced in May.
The company said it expected advertising revenue at its newspapers during the three months to March to drop by an underlying 24%, and to fall at Northcliffe Media as a whole by 37%.
Shares in DMGT rose 2% to 238.5 pence.
DMGT sold the London Evening Standard newspaper in January to Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev for the sum of £1.
The recession has hit advertisers and newspapers hard, with local publishers being especially affected.

National impact
Local newspaper group Archant, which owns the Eastern Daily Press and Evening News, said this month it is planning to cut 34 jobs in Norfolk.
And up to a quarter of 276 editorial staff at the Glasgow-based Daily Record and Sunday Mail newspapers are to lose their jobs under plans to merge their newsrooms.
Observer Standard Newspapers in Worcestershire, with a staff of 150, went into administration earlier this month.
The government has said that preserving the future of local news was a priority. Culture minister Barbara Follett said the government would "work tirelessly to secure news for local communities".
National newspapers have also been hurt badly, with the Independent cutting back on staff and moving its staff to the Daily Mail's offices in Kensington, west London.
The Financial Times last week told staff that it planned to streamline its editing staff and cut back from three editions per day to two, and the Daily Express and Sunday Express plan to cut staff as well this year.
The phenomenon is not restricted to the UK.

US papers
There is much talk of a crisis in the US newspaper industry as many cities see their households titles in trouble.
The 146-year-old Seattle Post-Intelligencer this month became the first US paper to stop a print edition and go online only, with an editorial team of 20 as compared to 150 previously.
Last month the San Francisco Chronicle said the paper could be sold or closed down if it could not meet cost-cutting targets.

The Tribune Company, which owns the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun and many other titles, filed for bankruptcy in December.

Source: BBC News

Andrew Keen: British papers take note and begin to think the unthinkable

LAST week, America's digerati were abuzz with the gloomy words of a couple of the country's most lucid internet prophets. First, came a speech by the author Steven Johnson at the South By Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, then came an online essay by New York University digital media scholar Clay Shirky. Their words addressed the future of digital news; and both men delivered the bleakest of news to print journalists already under siege from the economic crisis afflicting almost all US newspapers.
Their media may have been different, but their shocking messages were the same: newspapers are history, the two visionaries agreed. The traditional business is no longer viable, Shirky and Johnson both announced; newspapers are being replaced by digital news networks that, in all likelihood, will hardly look like their archaic print ancestors.
Johnson, the author of the sparklingly provocative Everything Bad is Good for You, a polemic in defence of the educational value of video gaming, entitled his speech "Old Growth Media and the Future of News". But most of Johnson's media growth lay 10 years hence – a couple of centuries in internet time. In the short term, his prognosis was dire. Things are "ugly" right now, he acknowledged, and "they are going to get uglier". Johnson, who is also a member of the founding team at the neighbourhood news site Outside.in, not only predicted that "great journalists and editors will lose their jobs", but also that entire American cities will lose their papers.
But compared with Clay Shirky, Johnson was positively sunny is in his outlook. Shirky's self-published online essay, entitled "Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable", tears into the convenient lies to which many "fabulist" newspaper executives continue to cling. "Society doesn't need newspapers. What we need is journalism," he writes, with delicious venom. The old newspaper business model of paid content can't be neatly and painlessly exported into new media. "Nothing, nothing will work", Shirky argues, in a sickly newspaper culture that has become "faith-based"; there is "no general model" that will allow newspapers to transform themselves from print businesses into digital enterprises.
Like Johnson, Shirky is hopeful that eventually new digital models will come to replace the broken print newspaper business. But his future is even more science fictional than Johnson's. "For the next few decades", Shirky writes, various new publishing businesses – represented by innovative models ranging from the non-profit ProPublica and WikiLeaks to the for-profit Consumer Reports website – will seek to reinvent a viable journalism. "Many of these models will fail," he predicts. And even in the long term, Shirky says, there is no certainty of success.
Meanwhile, the real world continues to validate the accuracy of their depressing analysis. Last week, for example, Hearst Corporation announced the closure of Seattle's oldest newspaper, the Post-Intelligencer. And there were more staff cuts at a number of other newspapers, including the San Diego Union-Tribune. Meanwhile Time magazine identified the 10 most doomed regional papers, a chilling list which included such historically august publications as The Boston Globe and the San Francisco Chronicle.
As Shirky writes, "this is what real revolutions are like", bloody and chaotic events in which "the old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place." British journalists, publishers and editors should take note and, like the unsentimental Shirky and Johnson, dare to think the unthinkable and imagine the unimaginable.

Source: The Independent

The New York Times Slaps Another Web Wrist

JUST in case any of you Web publishers haven’t picked up on it yet: The New York Times (NYT) would like you to stop using the stuff it pays to produce.
The Times is still struggling to figure out how to adapt its business model to the Web era. But it seems to have have embarked on a campaign against after sites that lift too much of its content–a strategy that chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. alluded to in a speech last week.

The Times has already had reached out to aggregators Newser, the Huffington Post and Silicon Alley Insider to complain about various incidents. In the case of Newser, it sent a boilerplate letter threatening legal action.
The latest example: Apartment Therapy, a New York-based design/consumption blog network, says the paper has sent it a takedown notice, citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, demanding that the site remove “all the pictures we’ve blogged from them in 2009.”
In a post, co-founder Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan complains that the Times doesn’t understand that his sites reprint the paper’s photos because they think they’re great.
“We’ll fully admit to loving their pictures, but we’ve been very conscious to never take too much from them, only blogging a visual “taste” of an article and then pushing readers to get the rest on their site. In other words, our editorial policy has been to quote, not appropriate, just like we were all taught in high school.”
Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis declined to comment.
I can already hear the blogosphere getting ready to denounce the paper for “not getting” the “culture” of the Web, where everybody reposts everyone else’s work, and everyone in the “link-based economy” benefits. But like the Newser incident earlier this year, this one seems pretty clear: The paper doesn’t want other people–or at least commercial sites–using its photos without permission.

Source: mediamemo.allthingsd.com

Time Spent at Newspaper Sites Stalling?

THE average time spent on newspaper Web sits stalled if not dropped in February. Many sites still maintain single-digit averages for an entire month.
The data is the latest from Nielsen Online. Nielsen defines time spent as the average time spent per person at a site during the month.
There were a handful of notable exceptions with some Web sites doubling the amount of time people linger. Boston.com, the site of The Boston Globe, grew its average time by almost 11 minutes to 19 minutes and 29 seconds compared to the same period last year.
In Phoenix at the Azcentral.com, visitors spent on average 24 minutes and 34 seconds in February up from 11 minutes and 43 seconds in February 2008.
The Detroit Free Press increased the average time spent per visitor to almost 18 minutes compared to about 15 minutes during the same month last year. The Free Press and its sister the Detroit News will drop its home delivery by four days at the end of March.
Newsday almost hit double-digit territory in February. The average time spent was 9 minutes and 24 seconds, up from 3 minutes and 49 in February last year.
There are many reasons why the average time spent per person can vary including news events or even the number of visitors. A big spike in uniques -- more people attracted to the site -- could account for a lower a time spent per person.
Below is the list for the top 10 newspapers ranked by uniques in February provided by Nielsen Online (owned by E&P's parent company).

Newspaper Web site -- Feb. '09 (hour:minute:second) -- Feb. '08

NYTimes.com -- 0:35:42 -- 0:33:29
USATODAY.com -- 0:14:53 -- 0:14:16
washingtonpost.com -- 0:16:53 -- 0:17:30
LA Times -- 0:08:55 -- 0:07:16
Wall Street Journal Online -- 0:09:51 -- 0:09:59
Boston.com -- 0:19:29 -- 0:07:47
New York Post -- 0:09:15 -- 0:09:46
Daily News Online Edition -- 0:05:52 -- 0:06:46
Chicago Tribune -- 0:08:25 -- 0:09:42
Politico -- 0:07:45 -- 0:12:29

Source: Editor & Publisher

Sky News: Integration and innovation in the newsroom

WALKING into Sky's newsroom for the first time, you can't miss the studio: no walls, remote camera operation and its circular shape have removed barriers between the everyday presenting faces of the channel and the news operation behind it.
The open plan newsroom, which puts senior editors and producers on the same 'eye-level' as reporting teams, was part of a series of constant innovations in the organisation's 20-year history.
Bulletins were originally broadcast from a cupboard space, I'm told during a tour of the Osterley headquarters. More space was required, the cupboard left behind, and presenters began sitting in the round.
Closer integration of all newsgathering operations and outputs, from mobile and Sky Active to online, led to the compact, concentric layout around the 'studio' space.
Geography is everything: from its former home secreted on another floor, the online team are now in earshot of bulletins as they are broadcast and can grab producers and new news angles as the cameras roll.
Live feeds from the newsroom floor are broadcast from between desks, where online news chats are being carefully moderated – on my visit the topic of discussion being whether a mother should pay for sex for her Down's syndrome son.
Taking part in this is the recently appointed, and much-discussed, Sky News Twitter correspondent – another innovation by the team driven by experimentation and a desire to reach new audiences [listen to executive producer Julian March's thoughts on this below].
"We lucky in that we have a culture in the newsroom where we are not afraid to fail," March tells Journalism.co.uk.
Perhaps even more fortuitous is the team of developers overseen by head of technology Steve Bennedik, residing in an upstairs office.
New features of the website and flash templates are being built by a dedicated team, says Marsh, that other broadcasters would kill to have.
While building flash templates is an investment in the long-term, the site is keen to continue experimenting and exploiting the undefined boundaries of online journalism, says Marsh.
Current projects include a data mash-up of the UK's job crisis, multimedia coverage of Pakistan week, Dermot Murnaghan's 'Economic Cycle' and plans for a backpack journalist to cover a project in China 'free of the encumbrances of broadcasting'.
New ways of storytelling are very much the focus of developments, which - thanks to the site's relaunch last summer - are now all the more possible:

Source: Journalism.co.uk

New media laws to shield journalists over sources

JUDGES will be given discretion not to jail journalists who refuse to divulge their sources under new laws to be introduced today by federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland.

THE laws will force judges to consider the public interest in a free press and the impact on a journalist's reputation of revealing their source, when deciding whether to order a journalist to take the witness stand.
This will be weighed against other factors, including proper administration of justice.
But media experts said the changes were a "Clayton's protection" that would do little to stop journalists from being jailed for refusing to reveal a source.
This is because the law will not create a presumption in favour of protecting a journalist's source.
Foreshadowing the changes yesterday, Mr McClelland said the laws would protect journalists.
"It's going to be a matter for the discretion of the court," he told Sky News. "Certainly it will be far more likely that journalists will be able to protect their source."
The Australian can reveal that the protection will be extended to all cases in which a person has been charged with a commonwealth offence, even if it is being heard in a state court.
The protection will be available even if the information was leaked illegally by a public servant.
Previously, if information was obtained illegally, all protection was removed automatically. Now this will be just one factor for a judge to consider.
In addition, national security will be one factor for a judge to consider, rather than the most important factor.
Media lawyer Justin Quill, from Melbourne firm Kelly Hazell Quill, said he was disappointed with the changes. "Any step forward is a good step, but there needs to be a presumption in favour of the protection of journalists' sources," he said.
"Without that presumption, the protection is really no protection at all - it's a Clayton's protection."
He said this was because the onus was on journalists to prove their source should be protected - rather than putting the person seeking the information to prove it was necessary in the interests of justice.
"In any area of law, the person who bears the onus has a tough hurdle to get over," he said.
Mr Quill acted for Herald Sun journalists Gerard McManus and Michael Harvey, who were fined $7000 each by the County Court after pleading guilty to contempt charges.
They had declined to name the source of a story during a hearing for public servant Desmond Kelly, accused of leaking information. Mr Kelly was eventually acquitted.
Press Council chairman Ken McKinnon said the new shield laws would give little comfort to people such as McManus and Harvey.
"It is so weak that it won't have any positive effect at all," Professor McKinnon said. "The presumption of the court should be that journalists are not called upon or put in the dock in a vulnerable position in which they're required to reveal their sources unless it is absolutely essential in the interests of justice."
But News Limited, publisher of The Australian, welcomed the changes.
"The proposed reforms will give judges the flexibility they need to make sensible decisions about whether revealing the identity of a source is or isn't in the public interest," a spokeswoman said.

Source: The Australian

Advertising spend collapses as economy grinds to a halt

Ad revenues fall by a tenth in the last quarter of 2008, with more declines expected

AN unprecedented plunge in advertising in the UK saw spending fall by almost a tenth in the final three months of last year, new figures revealed yesterday, with the economic crisis set to prompt even steeper falls in 2009.
The total spent on advertising in the UK in 2008 was down by 3.9 per cent on 2007, according to figures compiled by the World Advertising Research Center (WARC) on behalf of the Advertising Association. But the research reveals an astonishing increase in the rate of decline in the final quarter of the year, when spending was 9.6 per cent lower than in the same period of the previous year.
Colin Macleod, research director at WARC, said: "The fourth quarter was the worst of the year, and was tied in with the arrival of the recession. It was a sharp turnaround. The quarter is comparable to the levels seen in the economic downturn of 1991."
He warned that spending would fall further, but offered some hope to the beleaguered industry. "There is a feeling that advertising spending will go down quite sharply again, although it should pick up by the end of the year."
Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of the advertising agency WPP, said the numbers were likely to be repeated over the next few months. "The first half of 2009 will be very difficult around the world," he warned. "There will be some recovery in the second half in relation to the first, and it should then get better in 2010." Sir Martin named the US and western Europe as the toughest markets for advertising in the current environment.
WARC said the decline in the UK had accelerated throughout the year. "In the UK, the amount of money spent, especially on display and classified advertising, tends to be driven by changes in consumer expenditure as well as the levels of corporate profitability," Mr Macleod said. "Both of those have been hit and that will bring spending down right across the industry."
The research reveals that spending is falling faster on newspaper advertising than any other category, down 12 per cent in 2008 over the previous year. Over the same period television advertising fell by 4.9 per cent
In the last quarter alone, the newspaper industry's ad revenues fell 18.9 per cent, with only magazines performing worse, down 19.2 per cent.
Mr Macleod added: "The newspapers, especially the regional ones, were particularly affected by the loss of classified advertising, with money moving online." One analyst estimated that advertising makes up 80 per cent of regional newspaper revenues, and of that 80 per cent is through the classifieds.
Classified adverts are dominated by the recruitment, property and motor vehicle sectors, all of which have been smashed by the onset of the credit crunch. Lorna Tilbian, head of media research at Numis, said: "Those industries are right in the eye of the storm." She added: "In a downturn, classified advertising always does worse than display."
Johnston Press, which owns The Scotsman and the Yorkshire Evening Post, announced last week that advertising revenues fell 17 per cent in the UK in 2008 and 23 per cent in Ireland. So far this year its total advertising revenues are down 36 per cent.
Other regional publishers including Northcliffe Media, owned by the Daily Mail & General Trust, and Trinity Mirror, which has a portfolio of local papers, have also suffered. The Local Media Alliance, which includes all three companies, has approached the Government for help.
The entire newspaper industry has been struck by the plunge in advertising, as companies across the UK slash costs and reduce headcount. But newspaper advertising still had the largest share of spending, with a quarter of the total spent last year.
Television advertising makes up 23 per cent and the internet accounts for 20 per cent. Online advertising was the only sector to enjoy positive growth in 2008, with spending estimated to be up 17.3 per cent. But even that was tempered, as it slowed from 39.5 per cent the previous year.
Mr Macleod said: "The growth rates on the internet are slowing. The more it has grown the harder it is to grow further, but it is also being affected by the wider economic issues."

Source: The Independent

Maybe what your news organization needs is a 'spontaneous bashing together of ideas'

RATHER than take a hipshot off those headlines, though, we're going to be proactive on OJR this week, starting with this piece from Eric Ulken, who offers a roadmap for established news organizations to enliven their online efforts.]
In a nondescript training room in the BBC's White City building in West London, about 80 people are huddled around tables with placards bearing names like "Dr. Who" and "Top Gear" [BBC TV show titles], engaged in discussions on topics ranging from user-generated content to alternate-reality gaming.
The assembled thinkers and tinkerers represent many different arms of the British media behemoth, from radio news to Web production to technology. About the only things they have in common besides an employer are an interest in innovation and an eye to the future.
They're taking part in the second BeeBCamp, an "unconference" in the tradition of BarCamp (and partly inspired by the Guardian's GameCamp) that aims to bring together forward-thinking staffers and a few outsiders to talk about themes loosely related to the future of the BBC. [Disclosure: I was one of those outsiders, and, in the everybody-pitches-in spirit of the unconference, I talked about my work in data journalism at the L.A. Times.]
BeeBCamp, according to the BBC blog's write-up of the event, "is designed as a collective, spontaneous bashing together of ideas, with no set structure to the day." A whiteboard goes up first thing in the morning, and anybody who has an idea for a discussion or presentation claims a spot on the schedule. For example, one participant wrote: "We own twitter.com/bbc. What should we do with it?" (Some ideas here.)
I'm a little late with this post, as it's been almost a month since the Feb. 18 gathering. There's already ample coverage of the discussions and presentations (plus tags on Twitter and Flickr), so I won't rehash all that. Instead I'd like to consider the broader idea of BeeBCamp and similar gatherings as they relate to the need to foster innovation in traditional media organizations. BeeBCamp and events like it are great examples of how "big media" — often seen as bureaucratic and impenetrable — can break down walls, open themselves up and facilitate the development of new ideas.

Why might a media company want to host an event like this? Some reasons:

Silo-busting: BeeBCamp brings together staffers from disparate parts of a huge institution — folks who might never have a business reason to talk to one another but whose goals and interests mesh, often in unexpected ways. (I got the feeling a number of the BeeBCamp participants had never met before.) The interdisciplinary nature of the gathering is what makes it so useful, as experts apply their unique perspectives and skills to common problems.
Openness: Everything at BeeBCamp is on the record, unless somebody holds up a sign that says "unbloggable". This means a lot of what is said will get rebroadcast and commented on by people outside the organization, which is, at the least, a way of showing the world that the BBC is thinking and talking about the future, and at best a way to engage in an informal dialogue with the audience.
Innovation: Sometimes it's useful to get away from the desk for a while and talk informally with colleagues. Not the ones you sit next to, but the folks across the building (or across town, or across the country) whom you wouldn't ordinarily interact with. Crazy, silly ideas flow, which beget less silly ideas, which occasionally lead to completely sane and doable ideas. And because people are free to blog the discussions, there's a good record of what's said, which can be a useful starting point for follow-up discussion and action.

BeeBCamp is just one example of how media organizations are opening up the process of innovation. Here are some formats that have been used:

Hack day: This concept, which originated at Yahoo, typically calls for giving techies (often working in concert with product and content folks) 24 hours to build an idea into a functional prototype. After trying out the format internally in 2005, Yahoo conducted the first open hack day in 2006 and continues to do both internal and public hack days. Matt McAlister, one of the instigators of hack day at Yahoo, is now at the Guardian, which did its own internal hack day (with a few outside guests) last year. McAlister has a round-up of the results, complete with video highlight reel, on his blog. (I'd be interested in hearing if other media have hosted hack days.)
Meetup: The Chicago Tribune has been making good use of meetups (or tweetups, i.e., meetups organized via Twitter) to engage in informal dialogue with readers. It works like this: The Trib (in the persona of Colonel Tribune) invites local bloggers, twitterers and interested readers of all stripes to meet – no agenda — usually at a local bar. The result: Ideas direct from readers, kudos in the blogosphere and good karma all around. Last year the Trib also invited local bloggers to tour the paper.
Unconference: BeeBCamp, BarCamp and the recent regional NewsInnovation BarCamps fall into this category. Here's how you might organize an unconference in your organization: Find interested colleagues. Bring in some clever outsiders. Get them talking about the future and see what happens. Make it clear to people that what's said is on the record. You want folks to feel free to blog and comment about what they see and hear, for reasons mentioned above.

Source: Knight Digital Media Center

News International titles open own TV and audio studios

NEWS International has given Press Gazette a glimpse inside its new state-of-the-art multimedia studios for The Sun, News of the World and Times.
The studios provide new facilities for journalists to create their own packages and provide TV interviews. They are believed to involve an investment of around £1m.
The studios include their own green room and make-up area as well as video and audio editing suites.

They are based in the main News International building at Wapping and are already being used by the News of the World to produce its own film review programme.
News International is not the only UK newspaper publisher to make a major investment in broadcasting technology in recent months.
At the end of last year, Guardian News and Media moved into new offices in King's Cross in London which include a major multimedia hub, with facilities which editor Alan Rusbridger claims are as good as any in the UK.
In common with other British national newspapers, News International titles have been more than making up for their loss of print readership by increasing their web traffic.
In February, web traffic for the Sun increased by 64.5 per cent year on year to 21.9m unique users a month and traffic for The Times rose by 51.8 per cent to 22.9m, according to ABCe.

Source: Press Gazzette

Newspaper Sites See Big Gains in Uniques

MORE than half of the top 30 newspaper Web sites gained double-digit percentages of visitors in February, according to new data from Nielsen Online.
The number of unique visitors grew 36% year-over-year to 8.4 million at the Los Angeles Times.
USAToday.com said in a release that its 25% increase of readers in February was due to the Tech section of the site and popular stories. Visitors to the Tech section rose 100% to 1.9 million, according to USA Today. It also cites its coverage of the economic stimulus package, the Octuplet mom and Rihanna for drawing in readers.
The number of uniques at the Orlando Sentinel spiked 57% to 1.5 million. At the N.Y. Daily News, the number of visitors increased 38% to 4.9 million.
For those keeping track of the Web sites of the Seattle Times and its former sister the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: The number of uniques at the P-I fell 19% to 1.8 million users. The Seattle Times lost 25% of its visitors year-over-year with a total of 1.5 million uniques in February.
Kansas.com, the web site of The Wichita Eagle, made an appearance on the list in February with 2.7 million uniques.
Below is the latest list of top 10 newspaper Web sites based on U.S. panels and ranked by unique users for February. The percent change compares February 2009 to February 2008. Also keep in mind there are several reasons why traffic fluctuates, including news events.

NYTimes.com -- 20,126,000 -- 6%
USATODAY.com -- 13,430,000 -- 27%
washingtonpost.com -- 9,240,000 -- (-12%)
LA Times -- 8,421,000 -- 36%
Wall Street Journal Online -- 6,842,000 -- 13%
Boston.com -- 5,659,000 -- 15%
New York Post -- 5,121,000 -- 23%
N.Y. Daily News Online Edition -- 4,924,000 -- 38%
Chicago Tribune -- 4,016,000 -- 22%
Politico -- 3,726,000 -- 29%

Source: Editor & Publisher

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Newspapers do matter, Princeton study finds

THE shutdown of a newspaper has an immediate and measurable impact on local political engagement, according to a new study by economists at Princeton University.
Assessing the consequences of the closing of the Cincinnati Post at the end of 2007, the researchers found that fewer people voted in subsequent elections, fewer candidates ran in opposition to the incumbents and that, as a result, the incumbents had a better chance of being returned to office.
"If voter turnout, a broad choice of candidates and accountability for incumbents are important to democracy, we side with those who lament" the decline of newspapers, said economists Sam Schulhofer-Wohl and Miguel Garrido, who conducted the study.
As a onetime reporter and copyeditor who forsook journalism for a PhD in economics, Schulhofer-Wohl might be accused of having a soft spot for newspapers.
But he and his colleague ran a detailed, hard-nosed analysis of news coverage and voting patterns to determine that the political landscape in the Kentucky counties across the Ohio River from Cincinnati changed significantly after the Post ceased publication on Dec. 31, 2007.
“This paper offers a case study of the consequences of closing a newspaper,” wrote the authors here in describing their findings. “The closing was particularly important in the northern Kentucky suburbs, where the Post historically dominated circulation and, as we document, provided more than 80% of the combined local news coverage” between itself and the surviving Cincinnati Enquirer.
With the Post out of the picture, said the economists, “its absence appears to have made local elections less competitive along several dimensions: incumbent advantage, voter turnout and the number of candidates for office.”
Even though the Post sold only about 27,000 copies daily vs. 200,000 for the Enquirer, the Post contributed to making “local politics more vibrant” than they are today, concluded the study.
"By revealing incumbents' misdeeds or making it easier for challengers to get their message out, a newspaper may reduce incumbent advantage," said the researchers. "Newspaper stories could also raise interest in politics, inspiring more people to vote or run for office."
Although competing publications or other media such as TV, radio and blogs may take up some of the slack when a newspaper closes, said the researchers, "none of these appears so far to have fully filled the Post's role in municipal politics in northern Kentucky."

Source: newsosour.blogspot.com

Newspapers continue fight to beat the crunch

THE TV news channels and national media continue to be awash with depressing tales of mass-scale redundancies, recessions and a global credit crisis.
But in a bid to fight back, more local and regional papers are continuing to battle for their own communities and bolster business on their doorstep.
HoldtheFrontPage has reported on several campaigns across the UK press in recent weeks and here are a few more.
Newsquest daily The Press is running York Means Business and making a big deal of those local companies which are bucking the downward trend.
Recent good news story for the East and North Yorkshire area include the creation of new packing factory worth 100 jobs, HSBC's £300m proposal to build a new data centre creating 2,000 construction jobs, the expansion of the University of York and 50 new posts at a growing local law firm.
The Press says it will do everything it can to promote the York area as a centre of business excellence and also help unemployed people find fresh employment.
And Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote an exclusive first-person piece for The Press about his support for the campaign.
Not content with helping Southampton's unemployed get back to work, the Southern Daily Echo has now launched Buy Local, Shop Local.
As the name suggests, the Echo wants Hampshire shoppers to stay local and support butchers, greengrocers and local cafes and restaurants.
To launch the campaign, Echo reporters and staff took to streets with campaign posters for local business to display in their shop windows.
Buy Local, Shop Local follows on from the Echo's Sell Yourself campaign which it launched in January.
The paper offered unemployed people the chance to show off their skills for free in a special in-paper supplement, in the hope local firms would offer them an interview.
The independently-owned Henley Standard has been garnering support from north of the border for its 'Think Local' campaign launched earlier this month.
After featuring on the BBC Breakfast news programme, the Standard was contacted by Strathaven Echo editor Bill Howat who said he would launch his own campaign after his after seeing the piece on TV.
The Standard's campaign is highlight local businesses, groups and individuals going out of their way to help other members of the community.
The Southport Visiter has joined forces with other local media to promote 'I Love Southport' – a campaign run by Southport Business Enterprise, a body responsible for maintaining the town centre.
The campaign is being run in conjunction with the Visiter's own 'Shop Local' initiative which it launched before Christmas to encourage people to shop in the Merseyside town.
I Love Southport is aimed specifically at boosting the resort's retail and hospitality trade and, as part of the campaign, a loyalty scheme has been set up with local businesses.
The lucky winner will receive £1,000 in cash just for using local shops regularly while the Visiter and other newspapers will be running competitions to win short breaks and shopping experiences in the town.

Source: HoldtheFrontPage.co.uk

Journalism: Core value have to be there for the product to perform

IN a country where a free press is enshrined by constitutional amendment and newspapers measure success by Pulitzer prizes as well as profits, concern about failing titles is coupled with anxiety about what impact the industry’s financial troubles will have on journalism.
American journalism is “under enormous stress”, Arthur Sulzberger, chairman of The New York Times, recently told a university audience. Quality reporting, whether on local government or Iraq, was becoming harder to pay for and “the immediate future looks, at minimum, grim”.
The damage already done to newsroom resources is spelt out in a report by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, released on Monday. By the end of 2009, US dailies will employ 20-25 per cent fewer journalists than in 2001; foreign staff have suffered even deeper cuts; and half of the states in the country no longer have a newspaper covering Congress.
While some online-only newsrooms offered “solid journalism in niche areas of interest”, these and the new voices of citizen journalists and bloggers are in aggregate “far from compensating for the losses in coverage in traditional newsrooms”. The limited resources of most online news organisations could be finished off by a single lawsuit.
Not everyone is alarmed by the changes. A separate Pew study last week found that only 43 per cent of Americans thought that losing their local newspaper would hurt civic life in their community a lot. A similar number – 42 per cent – said they would not miss their local paper at all if it were to disappear, even though newspapers remain the second largest source of local news after television, well ahead of radio and the internet.
The dilemma for proprietors is that cutting editorial costs, while often a necessary response to falling revenues, risks alienating more customers. “The core journalistic values have to be there for the product to perform,” cautions Anthea Stratigos, a publishing consultant. This can still be achieved, other analysts say, if news organisations focus their limited resources well.
Pew offers one piece of positive news for “legacy” news providers, whose online audiences grew far more last year than did those for new media. “The old norms of traditional journalism continue to have value,” it concludes.
But it has one further demoralising message: “Journalism, deluded by its profitability and fearful of technology, let others outside the industry steal chance after chance online,” it says. Journalists, in other words, do not even have the consolation of being able to blame others for their woes.

Source: FT.com

When newspapers fold

THE death of a modern newspaper is a real-time, multimedia event. When journalists on the Rocky Mountain News were summoned to their Denver newsroom on February 26 to be told they were working on their final edition, they relayed the announcement through live blogs, online videos, slide shows of tearful colleagues and a minute-by-minute stream of updates on Twitter. “It’s odd to cover your own funeral,” read one tweet.
Bad news about America’s newspapers is tumbling out too fast for their presses to keep up. The closure of “the Rocky” after 150 years capped a week in which the Journal Register Company and the 180-year-old Philadelphia Inquirer joined the owners of the Chicago Tribune and Minneapolis Star Tribune in bankruptcy proceedings.
Hearst is threatening to close the San Francisco Chronicle – and on Monday said it would make the Seattle Post-Intelligencer an online-only publication. Gannett, owner of USA Today, has followed The New York Times in slashing its dividend to preserve cash. Titles from the venerable Cincinnati Post to the six-year-old New York Sun have folded.
Obituaries for the news business are being written in newsrooms around the world as advertising revenues that long subsidised the cost of newsgathering shrink, just as digital media usurp print’s role as intermediary between advertisers and customers. The crisis is affecting not just newsprint: most news magazines, broadcast news outlets and newswires are also suffering.
Nowhere, however, has the impact been greater than in the US newspaper industry, where civic identity and an often monopolistic grip over local classified advertising had sustained an array of titles with journalistic resources envied by many national newspapers in other countries. Dwindling circulation and advertising are nothing new – but until recently the hope was that newspapers might be saved by private ownership or cost-saving roll-ups of titles under fewer, stronger corporate umbrellas.
The bankruptcies and closures prompted by a near one-third decline in advertising revenues since their 2005 peak have shattered those theories, leaving owners looking for new ideas. But what prospect is there of a solution when Barclays Capital predicts a further 21 per cent fall in newspaper advertising revenues this year alone?
A debate playing out in the pages of the properties it most concerns has focused on two new hopes: that charitable endowments may replace commercial business models and that readers who have grown accustomed to finding news for free online can be made to pay. “Enlightened philanthropists must act now or watch a vital component of American democracy fade into irrelevance,” David Swensen and Michael Schmidt from Yale University’s endowment argued in The New York Times this year. The more than $200m (£143m, €155m) annual cost of its newsroom could be covered, they estimated, by a $5bn endowment that would guarantee its independence. Extrapolating from Yale’s calculations, the Nieman Journalism Lab estimated that it might cost $114bn to subsidise every US paper.
Charitable models exist already: ProPublica, producing “investigative journalism in the public interest”, is supported by the Sandler Foundation and other trusts. MinnPost.com was set up in Minneapolis-St Paul with funding from local families and foundations.
Outside the US, the state is at times stepping in. France is injecting €600m ($776m, £554m) over three years by doubling government advertising in newspapers and offering tax breaks for publishers’ digital investments. UK local publishers are lobbying for looser competition rules to allow consolidation.
The idea of charitable or state assistance makes many uneasy. Subsidies could create unfair competition for commercial rivals. In any event, many endowments are already suffering market-driven declines. “The idea of charitable endowments is a bit of a red herring,” says Alan Mutter, a veteran newspaper editor who writes the influential Reflections of a Newsosaur blog.
Two prominent US newspapers are supposedly sheltered by not-for-profit parents, he says, but The Christian Science Monitor has abandoned its print edition and the Poynter Institute is selling the Congressional Quarterly to support its St Petersburg Times flagship: “There’s nothing about that form of ownership that insulates you.”
Instead, the notion of charging for news online is gathering momentum after a cover story by a self-confessed “old print junkie” in Time magazine. Walter Isaacson returned to the title where he was once managing editor to argue that news should no longer be free online.
Until now, only specialised news organisations such as the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and trade publications have succeeded in generating meaningful online subscription revenues. With online advertising growth stalling, Mr Isaacson wrote, general news outlets needed to create “an iTunes-easy method of micropayment”, offering their product for a nickel an article or a dime a day in the same way as Apple’s music store sells tracks and albums. Past attempts to charge for individual stories have gone nowhere, but his call came as many owners were concluding that their decision to chase online advertising rather than subscription revenues was not paying off.
Cablevision, the owner of Newsday, and Hearst, publisher of the Houston Chronicle, have both said they will start charging readers of their websites. Arthur Sulzberger, chairman of The New York Times, hinted last week that it would revive attempts to charge for content, 18 months after ending such an initiative. “We have renewed our analysis of how paid content can augment our core advertising business,” he told a university audience.
With the typical item on the Google News home page linking to hundreds of similar – free – stories about the same subject, charging for most news will be difficult “unless the product dramatically changes”, says Anthea Stratigos of Outsell, a publishing research firm. To succeed, papers will therefore have to provide content that readers find more valuable than the mass of commoditised information.
“We must put staff resources behind building those channels of interest that have the greatest potential: those built around pro sports teams, moms and high school sports, to name a few,” Steven Swartz, president of Hearst Newspapers, told staff. Bluffton Today, launched by Morris Communications after it shut the Carolina Morning News, is seen as one way forward: it is hyper-local, with reader-written blogs on its website. But as one of a handful of online initiatives to have spawned a successful print iteration, it represents a model that could have new followers.
Collaboration between publishers on an iTunes for news may, however, be one of several remedies impossible under antitrust restrictions designed in an era where policymakers were more worried about over-mighty media owners colluding than the fragility of the fourth estate. Mergers of neighbouring newspapers, or between print and broadcast owners in the same market, have been blocked for decades.
Media owners express little hope that this will change under President Barack Obama, who campaigned on diversifying media ownership. “It is as if regulators went to sleep during the Eisenhower administration and woke up staring blankly at an iPhone,” John Chachas, co-head of the media practice at Lazard, which is advising on several newspaper restructurings, told the Dallas Morning News last month. Newspapers should be exempted from antitrust restrictions for long enough to establish “an industry-wide system to track and charge for the reuse of their content” by online aggregators, he argued.
Charging for news online could help publishers’ top lines but that would address only one of their problems. The spate of dire news shows the industry’s challenges fall into three broad categories: the mismatch between costs and revenues; inappropriate capital structures; and oversupply. Any hope of a durable news business rests on tackling all three.
"One inescapable conclusion of our study is that our cost base is significantly out of line with the revenue available in our business today,” Mr Swartz told his staff: “It is equally inescapable that during good times our industry developed business practices that were at best inefficient.”


Jonathan Knee, director of the media programme at Columbia Business School, likens newspapers’ “antiquated” cost structures to those in the airline industry. Labour unions, the inefficient use of printing plants and distribution networks and journalists’ frequent reluctance to ask whether what they want to cover serves the interests of readers have all kept costs high, he argues.
The industry is having to rethink its assumptions, outsourcing printing and distribution and carrying advertising on front pages that long resisted it. The cuts to costs have been sweeping. McClatchy, which owns the Miami Herald, has announced three restructuring plans since June, involving more than 4,000 job cuts in all. A concern voiced by union leaders and investors alike is that indiscriminate cuts will only make it harder to produce content valued by consumers, in print or online.
Several publishers are cutting national or foreign coverage to focus on local areas, relying on newswires for the rest. Five papers in New York and New Jersey plan to share articles and pictures. Again, competition law may complicate further collaboration.
But it is servicing debt that represents one of the largest costs for many publishers. A Moody’s analysis of six large operators in November found all but Gannett had debts above four times their earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. In Tribune’s case, the multiple was 12.3. “A number of these newspaper companies are still reasonably good businesses but the problem is they took on too much debt,” says Mr Mutter.
Others estimate that industry profitability is even higher. Mr Knee says newspapers enjoy margins well above those of film studios or music labels – providing a cushion against falling revenues. But to reduce debt multiples to a more sustainable 2-3 times ebitda, tough restructuring will be required. “In some cases bankruptcy may be a good option,” Ms Stratigos says, because it allows publishers to deal with union contracts, pension liabilities and other operational costs.

For some publishers, closing more titles will be the only viable option. The disappearance of some competitors from an oversupplied and shrinking market may help the industry, however. Dean Singleton, owner of Denver’s other paper, said when the Rocky closed: “This dramatically improves the finances of the Denver Post.”
The prospect of fewer, more narrowly focused titles facing less competition, employing fewer journalists and charging readers who once enjoyed their content for free is an unpalatable one for many. It may also be a troubled industry’s best hope.

Source: FT.com