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Grim times for newspapers call for bigger changes

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.
Watch this video about the closing of the Rocky Mountain News. Read the news about the San Francisco Chronicle. Watch the clock tick on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Collectively, this week should be a call to action for newsrooms across the country. Deeper, more fundamental changes are needed. More experimentation. Bolder leadership. Time to stop playing defense and invest in growth, new people, new products. It can be done if newsrooms are willing to go past incremental change and fundamentally reinvent themselves.

What are you waiting for? What are we waiting for?

Let’s never have to watch a video likes this again.


7 Responses

  1. Not sure if I totally agree with the INMA guy, a few points are spot on, but overall I don’t think it’s as fixable as he tries to make it seem

  2. Yes, just reading the INMA report now. Very interesting take!

  3. The INMA issued an interesting alternate look at the newspaper situation: http://www.inma.org/2009-inma-iceberg.cfm

  4. Heavy, what else can you say? Here’s the real story, what it does to the people who have devoted so much to the cause of news. Thanks Chris, again, for keeping us up to date.

  5. According to a report from The Kelsey Group http://www.kelseygroup.com/press/pr090226.asp by the end of 2013 , the overall size of the local advertising market will be considerably smaller than it was at the end of 2008.“Within the local advertising sector, there will be a real share shift, and the players most ready to leverage and adopt interactive models will achieve greater success going forward”. “The share shift could actually be more pronounced if the major traditional media are not able to integrate new interactive products into their bundle. Successful integration will require considerable attention to business models, product innovation and sales channel evolution.”U.S. local advertising revenues will decline from $155.3 billion in 2008 to $144.4 billion in 2013, representing a negative 1.4 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Only the local interactive segment will show growth throughout the forecast period. All other local media will experience marginal to rapid declines in the next 18 to 36 months. A small number of traditional media will rebound with a revived economy beginning in 2011, though most traditional media will continue to decline, albeit at a slower pace.“As the shift to online accelerates, and the demand for accountability metrics grows, there is an increased urgency for traditional media companies to develop and embrace new business models that incorporate digital strategies in order to drive business over the next decade.”The interactive share of local ad spending is forecast to more than double from 9 percent in 2008 to 22.2 percent in 2013. According to the forecast, the interactive segment (encompassing mobile, Internet Yellow Pages, local search, online verticals and classifieds, voice search, e-mail marketing and other interactive revenues generated by traditional media players) will grow from $14 billion in 2008 to $32.1 billion in 2013 (at a CAGR of 18%), while the traditional segment (encompassing newspapers, direct mail, television, radio, print Yellow Pages, out of home (non-digital), cable television and magazines) will decrease from $141.3 billion in 2008 to $112.4 billion in 2013 (CAGR of -4.5%).

  6. CLyde,Thank you for the link.The INMA report is a great reality sandwich for the “end of Print” meme. As a Print evangelist, I’ve had to live with this for years. The problem has been1. The blinders that keep the discussion about Print/Newspapers firmly rooted in the American experience. A long standing problem for Americans. and2. The web has been so cool and has attracted so much talk, that a longer range view has not been possible until now.Here’s what I take as the crux from the story:”A Swiss publisher put it another way: “ My view of what’s happening in the U.S. is that newspapers have milked advertisers and readers until that model no longer works. The minute it became difficult, they moved entirely in a different direction.” That “different direction” is the all-digital future. The Swiss publisher believes in two scenarios: a) there will be a return to print advertising post-recession; or b) the U.S. model isn’t entirely translatable to other national newspaper industries that don’t rely so heavily on advertising in their business models.”To me the implication is to get off the advertising drug. Nice high when it’s there. Bad withdrawal when it isn’t. And focus on geographic locations where real people live. The NYT or Wapo as national papers? As long as they don’t expect to make money, that’s ok. This seems exactly what is emerging from the ground. At this point there are too many examples to even list.I think that once the folks on the ground can recognize the best uses of Print on paper, they’ll connect to new commercial models. As that happens we can move past the “what should we do” stage. And into the “how fast can we do what works” stage.

  7. Maybe. But I’m not convinced. Google brought over 1,000,000 new small advertisers into the market. The buzz has been about redirecting already existing advertising dollars from one bin into an other. But the real story is that the size of the market radically increased. It’s a typical disruptive innovation competing against nothing, at first.I don’t know the following, but I do believe it: Google made it very easy and appropriately priced for people who never advertised to advertise. Once they built critical mass, the big boys got involved. The same dynamic will work for local papers. The trick is to make it easy and affordable. Printcasting is experimenting doing just that.In my humble, the problem for newspaper enterprises – as opposed to journalists, who have a different problem – is to reinvent advertising sales, so they can tap the ever renewing market of local enterprise. Commercial – small local business. and non commercial – hospitals, schools, non profits.No doubt, the growth rate of online is going to be large. But without considering what contribution that growing sector has to overall revenue growth, it’s only one side of the story.

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