Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bulletin! Print isn't dead

Print -- even newspapers -- isn't dead, according to a long takeout on the Editor & Publisher website. Even with daily newspaper circulation off 10.6 percent, higher prices and content cuts, the report finds reasons for optimism. Every time I see figures like that, I think of media analyst Alex Jones' comment that the above figures actually show the medium's strength -- 90% of newspaper readers are willing to pay more for less content for something they can get free on the Internet. If I were a newspaper publisher, I'd be throwing those number at advertisers (or former advertisers). He's absolutely correct, and it shows that the print model works.

Of further importance, buried in the story is a finding that directly ties content to readers. One study found a direct tie of price and content. "When asked about the perception of content
in tandem with price increases, the survey found a 4-to-1 gap in price versus defection. For example, if the paper raised the subscription price but readers felt they were getting more content, the fall-off in volume would be around 10%. At the same price, if readers felt like they were getting less content, volume would fall by 40%," E&P reported.

Of course, newspapers still have to deliver the paper. The Journal Sentinel announced it was cutting 39 more jobs, most in circulation. This comes after the mishandled newspaper dramatically reduced its content producers, sales personnel (doesn't it sort of make sense that you might want to strengthen sales if that's a problem, not cut the staff so badly that regular accounts are complaining not to mention all the potential accounts that aren't being contacted?), and the rest of the company (except, of course, for executives; after all, the company felt it had to give CEO Steven Smith a retention bonus last year since the market for CEOs who watch 90 percent of a company's value disappear is so large). That the continued cuts are hurting has showed the past few days when its website wasn't operating properly on some browsers and, so far at least, no one at the paper has noticed.

But, mismanagement aside, the print platform continues strong, and it's the job of print media to start telling their story effectively.

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