newspaper business

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You’ve heard it said before “Boston is s young city.” Demographically that is.  Lots of college kids, lots of city stuff – it’s a big draw for Millennials and younger adults.   The New York Times is selling off the Boston Globe.  The New York Times, after taking a major shot in the chops, has pulled its financials together under the guise of the old marketing saw “focus,” and been selling a  number of non-core properties – About.com was let loose a while ago.

Here’s the thing, The New York Times is a brilliant newspaper and news property. One of a kind. The Boston Globe is also quite good.  But the captains of industry in Boston are reading the Times. The problem with the newspaper business is kids aren’t reading paper papers. Walk around Boston and count how many upward mobes are carrying newspapers. They have smarties and iPads but no paper.

The NY Times has to see this and plan a generation ahead – and it know this.  The NYT is in the news business, not the paper business – and it knows this. The company can take all the Mexican bailout money it wants to right the ship but the future is the future and it’s coming. Knowing and doing are two different things. Don’t follow the new financial statements, look out the window.

Selling the Boston Globe may fund innovation but this news property needs to demonstrate it is looking and planning beyond the dashboard. Peace.

 

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I am so disappointed in Newsday’s redesigned website I could yak. It looks like they took the old site, put it into a cocktail shaker, added blue dye and poured it into a smaller glass.

 

Earlier this year Newsday went on record as saying it was going to charge users for its website content. A bold, smart and edgy move. In order to charge, though, it needed to create a site that offered readers and users real value. Because Newsday is owned by Cablevision, it actually has the resources to put together a paid for service of unparalleled proportion. Instead, it acted like a newspaper. Cablevision sells Long Islander more forms of media and entertainment than I can even list here. With a little cross-silo vision it could have reinvented Newsday.com, creating a revenue stream that would dwarf the paper paper.

 

Not this year. I guess they’ll wait for Rupert Murdoch to do it first. Or, one of his kids. Peace!

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I write a good deal about newspapers and how that business is changing. I do so because there’s a big newspaper close to home, Newsday, that has great potential, but, as is the case with many papers, is nervous about real change.

 

What paper newspapers don’t seem to understand is that their online properties are really poised to win the news and local information war. Why? Because they have the content and the ability to deliver it (fact-checked) in near real time across a lot of media platforms: video, audio, pictures, feeds, and written word.  

 

I haven’t looked behind Newsday’s curtain and know there are smart people with money doing innovative things, but at the end of the day I think they’ll take the paper paper, turn it into flash and HTML, and debate the monetization issue.  Along with News Corp., Cablevision (owner of Newsday) is one of the few companies with the resources and footprint to reinvent the online news business…but they need to lose the fear and think different. In 10 years online news sites will be the sites of choice. Peace!  

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The newspaper business is in trouble and therefore print journalism is in trouble. To compound the problem, David Carr of The New York Times today implies that some journalists are getting a bit lazy. Thanks to the Internet and easy access to data and sources, and ability to quickly search anything, he suggested journalists may not be leaving the building as they once did in pursuit of stories.  

 

Ad revenue is down, circulation is down, college kids aren’t reading paper papers and the model needs to change. The news business is about reporting and distribution. Newspapers aren’t efficient because they deliver a lot of waste — stories we don’t read. Same with TV, but we can always change the channel. The net is somewhat better because we can focus our search, but the results are often citizen journalism which is hit and mostly miss. The solution lies in a system that allows us to select the type of professional news we want, from the journalists we prefer, delivered in the medium of our choice. What might that look like? Stay tuned.

 

 

 

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Newsday Online

 

 

It’s time for newspapers to fight back. It’s time for them to make readers pay for the online product. The advertising-supported model is just not sufficient.  If you subscribe to the paper paper, you should get the online edition free. If you want online-only your subscription should be discounted. If you are a subscriber and a poster (a content creator/contributor) your subscription should be further reduced.

 

Newsday, who is owned by Cablevision, who owns the NY Knicks (inside joke), is moving to a “paid for” model which will really tork off some people.  But now is the time to make the move. The free lunch in online news needs to stop to maintain the sanctity of the product. News is important. People pay for important stuff. Newsday just needs to figure a way to charge while dialing up the value of the online property.  It will be a hard road for them, but it’s doable and is the right road. The pioneers take the arrows, as they say. Peace.

 

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In an effort to bail his sinking ship, Samuel Zell, new owner of the Tribune Company, has decided that all Tribune Company newspapers must aim for a 50-50 split between editorial and advertising (notwithstanding classifieds and supplements.) Are you kiddng me? 
 
A real estate guy, Mr. Zell may understand this loose analogy: It’s like dictating that all buildings rented must be 50% business and 50% residential.  It’s crazy and arbitrary. His decision is not based on newspaper reality, it’s based on money. 
 
Mr. Zell’s idea will kill his papers. (I hope Charles and Jim Dolan aren’t listening.)
 
Two points for Mr. Zell: This decision is being made during an economic down turn while ad revenue is eroding; so he will erode editorial strength as a tactic not a strategy. Secondly, as the economy softens, people are going to read more newspapers. Newspapers are one of the world’s most amazing values. As people conserve, they become more thoughtful and analytical. Reading a newspaper from cover to cover is an inexpensive way to get smarter, kill a couple of hours, and not spend money.  My head hurts.
 

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Is it any wonder that the New York Times is letting go 100 plus reporter from its editorial staff? Look at the Business section of today’s paper and count the ads. Businesses are, indeed, in a funk. The entire section is 12 pages long. Most of the stories are about the poor economy. There are two 2 col. X 7 inch black and white ads (watch and shirts), a 2/3rd page National Geographic color ad, and two full-page NY Times house ads.

 

Fifteen writers were by-lined for the stories in the section, not including the page of obituary writers. Here’s the math:

 

Less ads, less revenue, less column inches, less business readers, less business intelligence, less smart business decisions.  Oy.

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