Tag Archives: newspapers

Newspapers are still dying. Honest

By Stephen Rhodes

Ross Dawson, a self-described leading futurist, entrepreneur, keynote speaker and best-selling author says newspapers, as we know them today, have one foot in the grave and the other poised for resurrection,  on an iPad or similar device.

His speaking notes as the keynote speaker at Newspaper Publishers Association Future Forum conference in Sydney include these points.

  • By 2022 newspapers as we know them will be irrelevant in Australia. However the leading newspaper publishers of today may have transformed themselves to thrive in what will be a flourishing media industry.
  • Media revenues will soar but will be unevenly distributed. We are shifting to a “media economy” dominated by content and social connection. Yet established media organisations will need to reinvent themselves to participate in that growth.
  • The successors to the iPad will be our primary news interfaces. Australians will most commonly consume news on portable devices, of which the iPad will be recognised as the forerunner.
  • Digital news readers will cost less than $10. By 2020 entry-level devices to read the news will cost less than $10 and often be given away. More sophisticated news readers will be foldable or rollable, gesture controlled and fully interactive.
  • Journalism will be increasingly crowdsourced. Substantial parts of investigative journalism, writing and news production will be ‘crowdsourced’ to hordes of amateurs overseen by professionals.
  • The reputation of individual journalists will drive audiences. Many journalists, most leading experts in their fields, will still be employed in Australia, with public reputation measures guiding audiences on how much to trust their work.

2022 is a clever prediction. Most of the baby boomers will be retired.

What smart people, including Ross Dawson,  understand is that despite what you read, or how, content is king. Without it, you will be looking at a blank screen on your iPad.

The challenge, as always, is how do you get people to pay for newspaper content repurposed online, when for 10 years it has been free.

Would you pay?

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No one will pay for Twitter

By Stephen Rhodes

Millions of Americans use Twitter — but they won’t pay for it according to the annual study of the impact of the Internet on Americans by the Center for the Digital Future.

Some 49 percent of Internet users said they have used  Twitter, but when asked if they would be willing to pay for Twitter, zero percent said yes.

The report illustrates the struggle that media companies, who have been providing free content from the beginning, have in trying to transition to the Internet. Once free, it’s nearly impossible to get people to pay for it.

The study found that half of Internet users never click on Web advertising, and 70 percent said that Internet advertising is “annoying. ” However,  55 percent of users said they would rather see Web advertising than pay for content.

And more trouble for media companies, in particular newspapers. Newspapers rank below the Internet and television as primary sources of information. Only 56 percent of Internet users ranked newspapers as important or very important sources of information.

Now here’s the strange stuff. Sixty-one percent of users said that only half or less of online information is reliable — a new low level for the Digital Future Project.  And  14 percent of Internet users said that only a small portion or none of the information online is reliable.

So why? Convenience?  Delivery method?

Is it better to have information that is reliable half the time delivered to your Smart Phone as it happens rather than wait for the morning newspaper to be delivered? Is speed the determining factor?

Undoubtedly, that’s part of the equation. What do you think?

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Radio ain’t dead, but newspapers?

By Stephen Rhodes

Ok radio ain’t dead; we missed that one. And it appears we might have been a little premature on the demise of  newspapers.

Canwest’s publishing division, which includes the National Post and several of the Canada’s other big daily newspapers, reported an operating profit of $41-million, up 28% from a year earlier.

An improving advertising market and lower costs helped propel Canwest Global Communications Corp. to a big increase in second-quarter earnings.

Overall the Winnipeg-based media conglomerate said it earned $94-million from operations in its fiscal second quarter, a 750% jump over the $11-million operating profit it posted a year earlier. Top-line revenue from continuing operations for the quarter, which ended on Feb. 28, increased slightly to $479-million.

So, rumours of a dying industry just months ago seem to be premature. Bad economies typically contribute to reduced spending in advertising and advertising pays the bills in the newspaper industry.

But the bounce back also tells another story. Advertisers are still confident that newspapers can deliver their primary target audience – Baby Boomers. This 50 something and up group, while engaged in new tech, TV and the Internet, still likes the tactile experience of newspapers. One cup of coffee, one armchair and the daily newspaper. Perhaps not as fresh as it once was but it’s like and old shoe – familiar and comfortable.

So while TV struggles to figure out how it fits in the 24 hour universe of the Internet and radio finds some resurgence in satellite broadcasting, newspapers have  a little breathing room, at least while the economy is strong and the Boomers are alive.

Long live the tree.

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The death of newspapers

s-chicago-tribune-largeBy Stephen Rhodes

The Chicago Tribune plans to cut another 20% of its newsroom staff in yet another bid to reduce expenses amid continuing advertising declines, Huffington Post reported yesterday.

The expected cuts are the latest attempt to reduce expenses at the paper, whose parent Tribune Co. filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors in December.

The declining economy has accelerated the demise of newspapers, which rely on advertising revenue to pay the bills.

One of my Twitter friends Todd Defren of Shift Communications, conducted an informal poll in Twitterland about the state of the newpaper industry. “Hardly any of ’em seemed to care about the Death of Newspapers,” he says in a recent blog post.

Todd says you might expect the Twitter Universe to be digitally biased, however, “the majority of respondents to my anecdotal survey were very anxious about the fate of Journalism.”

“Everyone sees a need for unbiased, investigative journalism.  They just don’t care about the format.  And regardless of the format, they don’t seem to want to pay for it,” says Todd.

Our insatiable need for information has spawned gavel to gavel television news, in the moment streaming RSS feeds, Facebook and Twitter. No one depends on newspapers for breaking news anymore but newspapers are better at providing detailed coverage and  investigative journalism.

Newspapers have been in transition for some time. The economy is accelerating the process from print to online delivery. In the interim there will be a culling and some titles won’t survive.

In many smaller communities, the newspaper is still the primary source of local news. The online service has either not yet developed or is not yet sophisticated enough to replace the local news coverage in the community newspaper. It will happen.

The common denominator here is the journalist.  The success of these online services, and their ability to grow revenue, will depend on the quality of the content they provide.

Do you still read newspapers? Do you subscribe to an online news service? I am interested in your viewpoint.

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The really thin market

By Stephen Rhodes

A friend of mine and former colleague in the newspaper world used to train advertising sales people in the value of repetitive advertising, a concept he called The Thin Market, not to be confused with a thin market in the financial marketplace.

cash-reg-for-thin-mktWhen I met Dan Gaynor, he was a former trainer with the Thomson Newspaper empire. He later went on to be a Publisher of several daily newspapers. He developed this “thin market” training program and rolled it out coast to coast in Canada during the early 90s, the last recession.

The thin market says there are consumers ready to buy your product or service every minute of every day in your town, your country and, in this global marketplace, even worldwide. And even in a recesssion.

Dan’s program brought the notion and importance of branding to small daily newspapers struggling to keep advertisers engaged in a slumping economy. The message to advertisers -go small but go every day because someone is always poised to buy.

Strong brands with good market share always survive. Be poised and ready every day and don’t forget the thin market. Keep marketing.

Dan is now President at Gaynor Consulting Inc.

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