We all know the sad song: newspapers are dying. Some even say they should, as soon as possible. Yes, we can get our “news” – whatever the slippery definition of it may now be – in more efficient and interactive ways. But what do we lose if the newspaper goes away?
Digital may be the future when it comes to publishing, but the problem today is that online publishing — and advertising specifically — doesn't make enough money.
Conde Nast, the publisher of magazines such as Glamour and Wired, recently gave advertisers metrics concerning tablet editions of its January issues. It now plans to give advertisers data on each new issue about 10 weeks after it comes out.
LinkedIn and the Council of Economic Advisors mapped the fastest-growing and fastest-shrinking industries since 2007, the year the Great Recession started. Renewables are at the top and newspapers are at the bottom.
If you’re tired of seeing the same news as everyone else, The Washington Post is now experimenting with personalized headlines. That experiment is called Personal Post, and it’s available at personal.washingtonpost.com, where you’ll see a river of content that you can customize.
ON a Sunday in early December, Marcus Brauchli, the executive editor of The Washington Post, summoned some of the newspaper’s most celebrated journalists to a lunch at his home, a red brick arts-and-crafts style in the suburb of Bethesda, Md. The Post faces the same problems as other daily newspapers, whose revenues have sunk as the Web and the tough economy have sapped advertising. But in some ways, its situation is even more daunting.
When Ridley Scott created Apple's iconic "1984," the company's board didn't want it to air. Newly hired CEO John Sculley, veteran of many a Super Bowl ad as CEO of Pepsi-Cola Co., agreed with the consensus: It's a waste to run an ad that doesn't even show the product. Apple ended up selling off some of its planned Super Bowl ad time and ran "1984" in the 60-second slot it couldn't unload. The rest, as they say, is history. The Macintosh did change the world as Steve Jobs said it would, and Apple is the most valuable company on the planet.
IF the future of media is digital, who would want to buy a newspaper? Many people, it turns out. The notion of newspaper pages whipping through printing presses, then being bundled with twine and tossed onto street corners might be considered romantic by some while others view it as bad business. But while newspaper companies can be bought on the cheap these days, some investors seem persuaded they can turn a quick profit while others may view owning a paper as a civic duty.
The New York Times raised its daily price to $2.50 today. I thought back to the penny press at the turn of the last century and wondered what such a paper would cost today, inflation adjusted. Answer: a quarter. So, in inflation-adjusted current pennies, The New York Times today costs 10 times more than a newspaper in 1890. Granted, Today’s Times is better than a product of the penny press. But is it worth 10x? Should it cost 10x?
39% of people surveyed said they would feel no impact if their local newspapers shut down. 30% said it would have a minor impact, but only 28% said the impact would be major, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. About three-quarters of respondents to the survey of 2,251 U.S. adults said they wouldn't be willing to pay anything for online news if their newspapers failed to survive.
The frustration that the country’s magazine and newspaper publishers feel toward Apple can sound a lot like a variation on the old relationship gripe, “can’t live with ’em, may get left behind without ’em.”
If you want to know what paid content on the web can do for newspapers' paid circulation, keep your eye on places such as Lima, Ohio and Bend, Ore. If pay walls can't make it in these environments, they probably can't make it anywhere else.
The reality facing American newspaper publishers continues to look stark, as figures released Monday show deep circulation declines, with average weekday sales down almost 9 percent since last year. In the six-month period ending March 31, the Audit Bureau of Circulations reported Sunday sales dropping 6.5 percent and weekday sales 8.7 percent. The figures are based on reports filed by hundreds of individual papers.
Online newspapers face two seemingly insurmountable challenges: getting customers used to paying for content and getting the industry used to charging for it. But in fact airlines have faced a similar, albeit simpler, situation with respect to baggage.
Gannett Co., the largest U.S. newspaper publisher, said Monday it turned a profit in the fourth quarter, helped by a drop in one-time costs and a smaller decline in ad sales. The earnings report showed Gannett has been able to slash expenses enough to stay profitable despite steady revenue declines. Other big publishers, such as Miami Herald owner McClatchy Co., have followed a similar course in trimming staff and consolidating printing and delivery operations.
With the new tablet device that is debuting next week, Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs is betting he can reshape businesses like textbooks, newspapers and television much the way his iPod revamped the music industry—and expand Apple's influence and revenue as a content middleman. In developing the device, Apple focused on the role the gadget could play in homes and in classrooms, say people familiar with the situation. The company envisions that the tablet can be shared by multiple family members to read news and check email in homes, these people say.
The AP lists the status of six newspaper companies that have declared bankruptcy: Tribune, Freedom, Philadelphia, Sun-Times, Journal Register, Star-Tribune, representing 66 daily newspapers among them. Mostly they are using bankruptcy merely to restructure the debt they shouldn’t have gotten themselves into in the first place — the debt that nearly killed them. Often they are leaving in place vestiges of the legacy management that made those bad decisions and did not make the brave strategic moves the digital age demanded. Tragically, none of them has used the great if difficult opportunity bankruptcy gives them to reinvent their businesses and themselves.
It's the year 2015. The compact device in my hand delivers me the world, one news story at a time. I flip through my favorite papers and magazines, the images as crisp as in print, without a maddening wait for each page to load. Even better, the device knows who I am, what I like, and what I have already read. So while I get all the news and comment, I also see stories tailored for my interests. I zip through a health story in The Wall Street Journal and a piece about Iraq from Egypt's Al Gomhuria, translated automatically from Arabic to English. I tap my finger on the screen, telling the computer brains underneath it got this suggestion right.
Microsoft’s top search technology executive on Wednesday all but dismissed the likelihood that the company would pay newspaper owners and other publishers for removing their content from Google. His comments came a week after it emerged that Microsoft had been in talks over a News Corp-led initiative that would have paid publishers to leave Google as a way to boost Microsoft’s own search engine, Bing.
Governments can best help the news industry save itself by getting out of its way, Rupert Murdoch said on Tuesday, as he used a Washington podium to call for a relaxation of US media ownership rules. Unsuccessful publishers should be allowed to fail just as “a carmaker who makes cars no one wants to buy should fail,” the News Corp chairman and chief executive said, adding that government assistance “subsidises the failures and penalises the successes”.
As newspapers and old media companies have seen their revenues shrink, they have essentially done one of two things: found ways to embrace the web or blamed Google for their problems. Now with the heat being turned up on Google (Google) by News Corp and Rupert Murdoch, the search giant has decided to appease angry media outlets and give them more control over how their links are treated in Google Search and Google News.
Stories from US newspapers are being copied without permission on the internet on average 4.4 times, rising to as much as 15 times for the largest national publishers, according to a study that forms the basis of an industry push to get paid more for online content. A month-long study of how 101,000 articles published by 157 newspapers proliferated around the internet found that more than 75,000 sites reused 112,000 almost exact copies without authorisation. A further 520,000 articles were reprinted in part.
The Washington Post is closing the last domestic bureaux it had outside its home town, in a tacit admission that it will no longer attempt to compete with the few US titles attempting to be national newspapers. The one-time home of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, whose investigative reporting on the Watergate scandal hastened the resignation of President Richard Nixon, will shut its offices in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles at the end of the year.
National news outlets' battle to provide local news and win local advertisers is suddenly heating up fast. The Wall Street Journal's new weekly San Francisco Bay Area edition will appear for the first time tomorrow, confronting a similar Fridays-and-Sundays push from The New York Times that began there on Oct. 16. The Journal is simultaneously planning to hire new reporters for metro coverage of the New York area, according to insiders who confirmed a New York Times report breaking that news yesterday. And The Times plans to introduce a Chicago edition in the next few weeks, fed by a deal with the new Chicago News Cooperative.
Bank of America/Merrill Lynch took out a double-page spread in the Wall Street Journal last week to deliver what it must have felt was a very important message to its current and would-be customers. Nothing. The spread was mostly black ink. A conductor's hands appear in the lower-right corner, a header reads "Expertise and resources, seamlessly orchestrated," and two lines of mouseprint explain that "understanding the score" is important to providing lots of financial services. And we wonder why: - Nobody trusts financial firms anymore, and - Newspaper ads are a dying breed
I admit it. I’m old fashioned. That may seem a silly statement coming from someone as deeply steeped in the digital realm as I, but when it comes to certain things this Silicon Valley geek likes to roll old school. I believe in charcoal barbecues. I believe in hand-writing thank you notes. I believe that white shoes have no business being worn after Labor Day. Most of all though, and to the great amusement of many I know, I believe in daily newspapers.
In the first part of his analysis of the news business, BusinessWeek chief economist Michael Mandel equates bad news about news with the number of journalists employed. But there is the nub of a much bigger trend: the fall news as an industry paralleling the end of the industrial economy. That’s not just about shedding the means of production and distribution now that they are cost burdens rather than barriers to entry. It’s about the decentralization of journalism as an industrial complex, about news no longer being based solely on employment.
If the Newspaper Association of America and Google were to display their relationship on Facebook, the description would read “It’s complicated.” As newspaper revenues continue to tank, the NAA has stepped up its sort of passive-aggressive lashing out at the search giant for, well, essentially being more effective at monetizing the distribution of its content than they are. In a twist that’s probably a surprise to almost no one, the potential suitor for saving the newspapers from the bugaboo of Google might well be… Google. The company submitted a document indicating it is in the process of building a sophisticated micropayments system based on Google Checkout that would allow publishers to charge for individual pieces or bundles of content.
Google has an image problem – not a PR problem (that is, not with the public) but a press problem (with whining old media people). Google is trying hard – too hard, perhaps – not to argue with the guys who still buy ink by the barrel. Google is only causing them to buy fewer barrels. And newspaper people will use their last drops of ink to complain about Google’s success and try to blame it for their own failures rather than changing their own businesses. What should Google do? I think it needs to become news’ best friend.
Here is a question I took away from my reporting on craigslist: Why, given the site’s notorious shortcomings, has nobody ever succeeded in taking business away from it? Many people seem to believe that craigslist is hard to beat because they have a “first mover advantage.” Once a sufficient number of people put ads on craigslist, there is no need for users to go anywhere else.
We presented our CUNY New Business Models for News at the Aspen Institute and on the web yesterday. I’ve been sitting in meetings nonstop, so I haven’t had the chance to read all the reaction yet. But so far, we’ve met our goals: to get these models and specifics discussed and to inform that discussion.
Two years ago, when other media executives were convinced that the only way to succeed on the Web was to give away their content, “we were regarded as slightly freakish,” says John Ridding, chief executive of The Financial Times. The FT, which had charged readers for access to its Web site since 2002, stuck with that strategy, merely tweaking its system to try to draw in more readers. Now, with advertising showing few signs of rebounding from a deep slump and other publishers moving to imitate FT.com by erecting so-called pay walls, Mr. Ridding feels vindicated.
The office at Ninth Street and Broadway in Manhattan in the former Wanamaker’s department store has all of the trademarks of a well-financed digital start-up. Young people eat pizza and chat about applications while others are jammed into conference rooms discussing search optimization. The only oddity in the futuristic tableau comes when you step off the elevator to see three large letters: A O L.
Looking for alternate ways to make money as its advertising revenue plunges, The New York Times Company announced on Thursday that it was getting into the wine business. The new venture, called The New York Times Wine Club, will offer members a selection of wines at two price levels, $90 or $180 per six-bottle shipment, and customers can choose to have wine delivered every one, two or three months.
Does Rupert Murdoch have one more revolution in him? The man who took over newspapering in Australia and Britain, and upended the cable news business here, planted a new flag last week, pronouncing that, contrary to popular reports, information does not want to be free; it actually wants to be paid for.
For a moment last week, it seemed like paid content was really on the march. Rupert Murdoch announced his intention to charge for every News Corp. news site. DirecTV, the second-largest pay-TV provider, was found in talks to launch a web-video service -- for its paying subscribers. And a comprehensive new forecast reported that consumers were spending less time with media that's heavily subsidized by advertising -- and more with media they pay for.
The Web has long relegated advertising to the sidelines as part of a do-not-interrupt mandate that separated cyberspace venues from traditional media. That's slowly changing.
According to a new survey published by private equity company Veronis Suhler Stevenson, consumers are getting wise to advertising and are choosing to avoid it. In 2008, for the first time, people used more paid content than ad-supported stuff.
Of all the dismal and discouraging numbers to have emerged from the world of newspapers—the sharp plunges in circulation, the dizzying fall-off in revenues, the burgeoning debt, the mounting losses—none seems as sobering as the relentless march of layoffs and buyouts. According to the blog Paper Cuts, newspapers lost 15,974 jobs in 2008 and another 10,000 in the first half of 2009. That's 26,000 fewer reporters, editors, photographers, and columnists to cover the world, analyze political and economic affairs, root out corruption and abuse, and write about culture, entertainment, and sports.
Financial Times editor Lionel Barber predicted that “almost all” news organizations will be charging in a year just because they need to. Meanwhile, former McClatchy news exec Howard Weaver thinks that news orgs should get, oh, say, 10 percent of Google et al’s revenue because they, oh, should. Amazing how news people lose their sense when they talk about news.
A new Columbia Journalism Review opinion piece argues persuasively (in my view) that Google “owes” something to traditional journalism and news organizations. Google, typically, is a stand-in for “the internet” in these discussions. This notion of responsibility to publishers is unpopular among bloggers and Internet denizens more generally.
It's undeniable that the going rate for information on the internet is "free." That's meant big trouble for newspapers, which have seen nearly all of their traditional roles usurped by better, faster, free online services over the past few years. If a newspaper doesn't make its content available gratis on the Web, it's irrelevant. If it does, it's got nothing left to sell but fishwrap and inkstains.
If you are reading this, I am doing my job. Roughly speaking, that is the compact that has underpinned the ties that bind those who write the news to those who read it.
At this point, I don't need to lament anymore the ailments of the print-newspaper industry. It's a well-chronicled and covered story.
The Newport Daily News in Rhode Island has a new digital strategy: close its free, ad-supported site and sell an electronic edition that costs more than twice as much as getting the print paper in your driveway. It's a bold move that just might work. So why isn't every newspaper so brave? What if every newspaper gated off everything tomorrow? What if newspapers embraced the idea of "going Galt"?
The traditional TV industry -- cable companies, networks and broadcasters -- is where the newspaper industry was about five years ago: in denial.
Ailing news organizations seeking to make money from both online readers and the Web sites that republish their stories are looking at the way music publishers collect a fraction of a cent for every song played in public, from the corner bowling alley to the stage of "American Idol."
With newspapers’ traditional business model in free fall, the top media minds at global design firm IDEO (designer of the Apple mouse, consultant to Fortune 500 companies) were asked to imagine: How will we get our news after the traditional model falls apart? Here's their answer.
Print is not aging well. Or, rather, its readers are aging rapidly. That's been suspected and alleged since digital media was born, of course, but the latest round of industrywide research revealed just how much has changed in the past five years.
Josh Young writes a fascinating and nicely written essay about the shape of news and competition around it in the Google (read: internet) age, but I think it badly needs a clear lede summarizing his point to prove his point. So I’ll summarize: He’s saying that Google is causing news to be reshaped so it can be found, now that it has been unbundled from the products we used to have no choice but to buy: our newspapers. He says that news is an “experience good” we can’t really know until we taste it. He says we need a new experience of news and it ain’t Google. I will argue, though, that this very post, the one you are reading now, is the antidote to what he sees, for I experienced his essay and I recommend it to you without Google while also giving you the search-engine-and-browsing-friendly summary - a reason to read - that we now expect before investing in content online. And there’s my point.
How much would you pay to read this page? At about 2,000 of the roughly 50,000 printed words in a typical copy of the Financial Times, it should in theory be worth about 4 per cent of the newspaper's cover price - 10 US cents, 17½ euro cents or eight pence. To readers particularly interested in the subject, perhaps, it may be worth more. To others, though no journalist would like to admit as much, it will be worth nothing. Similar questions are being asked with growing urgency in boardrooms across the news industry and the wider media sector, as stalling economies challenge the foundation on which most content owners' digital strategies have been built.
Newspapers have a future, both in print and online. They just have to find the money to get there. That’s the conclusion of a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, “Moving into Multiple Business Models: Outlook for Newspaper Publishing in the Digital Age,” which the consulting firm released Monday.
New reports have several companies on the verge of releasing large screen electronic readers designed specifically for reading newspaper content. The first such product may be unveiled as soon as this week — a large screen version of Amazon’s Kindle, which we first reported on last year. This is setting up a lot like the newspaper industry’s Hail Mary. And it’s a pass they won’t catch.
Myth: newspapers stuck their heads in the sand and just hoped the internet would go away. Reality: Newspapers took some of the biggest, earliest swings on the web, most turned out to be misses, and then got steamrolled by Google just like everyone else. The nation's print media may be on life support, but some are quietly building digital portfolios again -- albeit on a smaller scale -- and some are starting to bear fruit.
A few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine sent me an email telling me that she had shared my coordinates with a journalist friend of hers who had been recently laid off. She asked me if I would mind helping her friend explore career opportunities in corporate America. He was a Pulitzer finalist - so he can really write a report. At the same time as layoffs are more and more frequent in newsrooms, corporate America is hurting for people who can write valuable content. Many organizations may be holding off hiring at the moment, but this need is only going to increase for those companies that understand the value of content marketing to their bottom line.
Warren Buffett would not buy newspapers “at any price.” This from the owner of the Buffalo News and a board member of the Washington Post Company. And they call me a doomsayer.
It’s fate that GeoCities dies at the same moment that MySpace reshuffles and reboots its management in the face of no growth (which, on the internet, is the same as shrinkage). What they have in common, of course, is that they are platforms for creating content.
I’ve been pretending in my head that I’m a newspaper exec. When I do that I keep beating myself around the face. Why? Because the newspaper industry keeps giving the geeks free meals. Do they have anything left to give away?
While we casually discussed our most current endeavors and experiences, the dancing shifted to deep conversation, ultimately transcending into a zeitgeist for the future of journalism in the era of socialized media with one simple question, “are newspapers worth saving?” Walt thought for no more than two seconds and assertively replied, “It’s the wrong question to ask. The real question we should ask is if whether or not we can save good journalism.” He continued, “Think about it. Of the hundreds, thousands, of newspapers around the country, there are really only a few that matter. Good journalism and journalists, on the other hand, are worth saving.”
It’s no coincidence that the fifth and final season of the HBO cult hit The Wire—one of the smartest and toughest dramas to hit the small screen in decades—focused on the floundering of the city newspaper in the struggling city of Baltimore.
Newspapers across the country may be scaling back to survive, but online video appears to be one area where they are expanding aggressively. An analysis of 187 U.S. newspaper Web sites by Web video provider Brightcove shows a surge in their video-related activity last year.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt walked into the lion's den Tuesday as the closing keynote speaker of the Newspaper Association of America's annual conference and got a polite reception from publishers who often blame him for their ongoing economic woes. He addressed head on publishers' criticisms that Google unfairly makes money off other people's content, reminded the news executives they have the absolute power to keep their content out of the search giant's mix and told them, as nicely as he could, that they stopped innovating online more than a decade ago.
The Associated Press said Monday it is launching an initiative to better control its newspaper members' material online. Under the initiative, whose details are still being determined, the AP will work with Web portals and other digital partners to track -- and pursue legal action against -- publishers that use this content on the Web without a license.
The emerging war we’re seeing now is over change. I’m not talking about the post-9/11 resurgence of debate over Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations - though that’s certainly a front in this war. Instead, I’m talking about the clash over change within civilizations, the attempt by some to forestall its inevitability, and their attacks on those who enable, predict, and embrace change as if any of those actions cause change. It’s actually rather fatuous to set up a dispute between those who want and don’t want change, those who think change is good or bad. Change is inexorable. The question is not what you think about it but what you do about it.
Newspaper designer Jacek Utko suggests that it's time for a fresh, top-to-bottom rethink of the newspaper. (At this point, why not try it?) In his work, he's proved that good design can help readers reconnect with newspapers. A former architect, Utko took on the job of redesigning several newspapers in former Soviet Bloc nations, starting from basic principles.
I suddenly realized my problem with aggregators. When I configure my feeds, I want just about everything.
We're not convinced the best way newspaper companies such as Hearst, McClatchy and A.H. Belo can serve their various private and public shareholders is to try and win the online advertising game.
The New York Times. TV Guide. Clear Channel. NBC, Boxee, Yahoo. They tell the story. There is no longer a need to warn of a gathering Chaos Scenario, in which the yin of media and yang of marketing fly apart, symbiotic no more. There is no need to seed doubt about the internet's prospects as an advertising medium, nor otherwise be a prophet of doom.
Newspaper and magazine execs have long regretted making their crown jewels -- quality content -- available for free. No one has really been able to make a go of digital subscriptions. As the tangible media era ends, the media formerly known as print can't count on advertising alone to survive. They need to find healthy subscription revenues. Thankfully, an unusual white knight has emerged: the Amazon Kindle.
Thoughts upon the venerable Seattle daily becoming a Web-only operation.
These days, everyone knows that one of the hottest stories any newspaper can cover is that of its own demise. The collapse of print advertising and the downturn in sales, at the news stand and through subscriptions, has led to a frantic search for new ways to monetize content that’s often available online for free. Social media gives any business an interactive channel to communicate with its current and future customers. For newspapers, that channel can increase the chances of survival in a market where commoditized information has diminished the value of individual brands.
Back when I was a young media reporter fueled by indignation and suspicion, I often pictured the dark overlords of the newspaper industry gathering at a secret location to collude over cigars and Cognac, deciding how to set prices and the news agenda at the same time. It probably never happened, but now that I fear for the future of the world that they made, I’m hoping that meeting takes place. I’ll even buy the cigars.
Google began running small text ads on the pages of its Google News service this week, reviving a debate between the company and some struggling newspaper publishers, who have seen their businesses devastated by the shift of advertising to the Internet.
A future for newspapers? The French government has announced a ten-fold increase in its support for the country's print media, in an effort "...to make sure an independent, free and pluralistic press exists," according to President Nicholas Sarkozy. While there's some grumbling that Sarkozy's motivations might not be so pure, I understand the problem he's trying to address. One of the elements of that response is that the government will underwrite a year-long newspaper subscription for French citizens when they turn 18.
Years and years after some pundits began predicting the end of newspapers, the newspapers themselves are finally realizing that it's over. Huge debt, high costs, declining subscription rates, plummeting ad base--will the last one out please turn off the lights. On their way out, though, we're hearing a lot of, "you'll miss us when we're gone..." laments. If we make a list of newspaper attributes and features, which ones would you miss?
My friend David Carr poses a worthy challenge in his New York Times column this morning: How can newspapers—now hemorrhaging advertisers and circulation—steal a little of that Apple magic and invent an iTunes for news that will help restore their economic standing?
Remember that when iTunes began, the music industry was being decimated by file sharing. By coming up with an easy user interface and obtaining the cooperation of a broad swath of music companies, Mr. Jobs helped pull the business off the brink. Those of us who are in the newspaper business could not be blamed for hoping that someone like him convinces the millions of interested readers who get their news every day free on newspapers sites that it’s time to pay up.
While the New York Times was given an early death sentence this week by The Atlantic, Google CEO Eric Schmidt was asked by Fortune magazine what Google should do to save the ailing newspaper industry. He reiterated his previous “moral imperative” sentiment to do something, but failed to come up with any concrete solutions.
A moment of sympathy, please, for newspapers, whose readers and advertisers have been fleeing at a frightening rate. The industry has understood from the advent of AM radio in the 1920s that technology would eventually be its undoing and has always behaved accordingly.
The Web may be the future for magazine publishing, but in the present, ready revenue is winning out and Web writers are getting laid off left and right.
More unwelcome news for The New York Times Co.: A new report suggests the embattled newspaper would have to increase page views sixfold on its Web site--roughly on par with msnbc.com and Yahoo News--in order to equal revenues on the print side.
Newspaper and newspaper groups are likely to default on their debt and go out of business next year -- leaving "several cities" with no daily newspaper at all.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and that's where the newspaper business is right now. With profits slashed, unending layoffs, and online ad growth slowing, newspapers have to be open to new ideas that will help them deal with a media shift like no other.
In the digital age, we’re told, the critical difference between success and failure is human capital — those heartbeats and fast hands that can make a good business great. So are newspapers reacting to their downturn as Circuit City did?