Posted tagged ‘newspaper’

Some Cheese for that Whine… Newspapers (Part 1): Changing Distribution

February 28, 2009

dog-newspaper-21I recently finished a series of “Some cheese for that whine” on the book industry. Now, it’s time to turn our focus to an arguably more doomed industry: the newspaper industry. There are a lot of major issues facing the news world today, and competing with the internet is among the most demanding.

The image of a young boy with a baseball cap, riding a bike with a satchel of newspapers is a pretty American image – but the movement toward digital media may mean no more newspaper boys, and no more having fido fetch the paper (though who gets to tell them they’re fired?)

Newspapers have been threatened before. They were said to be doomed with the birth of radio… and again with the birth of TV. However, this time is different.

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Basically… people are lazy

January 28, 2009

Basically, people are lazy. Publishers forget this. Even I did. They want “content” – no matter what the format – delivered to where ever they are already reading things. They don’t want to have to go looking for something to read – they’d rather it be delivered to their doorstep, to their inbox or to their blackberry/iphone etc.

However, as a recent post on MediaPost Magazines mentions,

“I realized that what I like about Time, or any print vehicle for that matter – be it magazine or newspaper or broadsheet or pamphlet – is that I am exposed to tidbits of information and long-form thought pieces that I don’t necessarily want to fetch.”

It is this quality that magazines, newspapers and print producers of every kind need to remember. If they choose their market, they can provide things that that market didn’t know it wanted to read – but that they will find interesting, nonetheless. While, essentially, this is what “cookies” (web sites use cookies to track what you look at to provide you ads you are most likely to be receptive to) do for advertising, nothing currently exists that can bring together different written content and deliver it in an interesting package and deliver it to the consumer – without them having to do a lick of work.

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Print in a Digital World

August 4, 2008

Sony’s eBook reader and Amazon’s Kindle are evidence that the publishing industry sees the need to convert to digital. However, what are the newspaper and magazine industries doing to adapt?

Well, according to The International Herald Tribune, newspaper publishers in France are testing a new device – Read & Go – it comes in a black rectangular box with a screen half the size of a sheet of copy paper and links to several French newspapers, with black on gray type mimicking ink on newsprint.

There are two problems I see with this – although I think it is a HUGE step in the right direction. We had someone in to talk to our Financial Aspects of Publishing Class last fall from a major paper and we discussed this possibility. However, he said it would never go over with advertisers because they want the same size ads, and essentially this is cutting down their ad size. It is also worth noting that the Kindle already allows downloads of 19 newspapers from around the world (and will soon be available in non-US markets). Unlike the Kindle, the Read & Go includes ads, but the article doesn’t mention how advertisers will take the size change. It is assumed they will be added to the electronic version without eliminating them from the print, and the Read & Go is still in the testing phase, so they may not know yet.

The second problem I see with this is people like newspapers because they are flexible. You can fold them up and toss them in your bag – you don’t have to worry if you leave them on the train; etc. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m very much in favor of newspapers going digital. I just think that it probably won’t go mainstream unless either they develop a large (so ads aren’t resized) digital paper that can be folded without breaking its screen or a major newspaper publisher provides their subscribers with a copy each, that automatically updates whichever papers the person subscribes to. Or both.

The advantage should, say, the New York Times adopt this method, is that subscribers could leave it in their bag – they would still get it delivered to their device; they wouldn’t miss a day’s paper because they were traveling or out-of-town. The disadvantage is they wouldn’t be able to clip out articles – although that would provide a new reason to post the article archives on the web, and might even drive up archive sales.

Even Esquire is adopting E-ink; their new anniversary cover, for their September issue reportedly will flash “the 21st century begins now.” This seems to indicate that magazines too will eventually push into the new technology.

The FCC – Newspapers going flat update

December 19, 2007

In a very controversial move, the FCC voted to remove the ban on broadcast/newspaper cross-ownership. If you haven’t heard, I recommend checking it out. I have two quick comments on this decision:

First, it is getting harder and harder to draw the line between the media industries. Take blogs for example; in most ways they are similar to a newspaper, but video content and feeds can easily be added. Can a broadcast company have a website that publishes news? Or is that too close to having an electronic ‘newspaper’? Can a newspaper have a website with video content or things that typically fall under ‘broadcast’ categories? The line was already getting blurry, although it hadn’t caused any serious problems yet (that I’m aware of).

Second, we discussed in my Financial Aspects of Publishing class that many newspaper companies are merging to limit the number of reporters they need to pay, since they aren’t earning as much any more for their product. This is would allow broadcast news companies to further merge with newspaper companies or radio companies. I know its wishful thinking, but with multiple budgets is possible to hire better reporters and allow them to go more in depth, isn’t it? I think this is probably what Kevin Martin had in mind. I’m skeptical about its likelihood but I’m willing to recognize it as a possibility.

All in all, I’m not as opposed to the decision as many others out there seem to be. I think that something needs to be done; I agree with many of the problems they see in todays media; but I don’t think that fighting change will fix the problems. The question is coming up with the right solution. I’m sure the FCC is open to suggestions – any one have any?

I’d love to hear comments on the decision that were more analytical and less bashing.