Friday, January 23, 2009

Flash! Where newspaper advertising isn't collapsing

It's in America's communities. A report by the Suburban Newspapers of America and the National Newspaper Association found that third quarter advertising revenue for their groups fell only 1.7% (that contrasts with 18% for overall newspaper advertising).  Given the almost utter collapse of the economy, that's great news.

The point is that targeted newspapers filling a need are doing OK. Let's hope the rest of the industry looks at these numbers and sees if it can learn anything.

French to aid newspapers

The French government promises financial aid to its ailing newspaper industry. It includes tax breaks, direct aid, and giving 18 year olds a free subscription to the publication of their choice. I don't know if the French versions of Cosmo or Maxim are covered. 

The newspaper is dead; read all about it

OK, I stole the line above from the marvelous look at newspaper history in the latest New Yorker magazine. Jill Lepore goes back to the founding of the republic to discuss ties between newspapers and liberty. She recounts other times when the demise of newspapers was trumpeted, as she says, "online, blog by blog, where the digital gloom over the death of an industry often veils, if thinly, a pallid glee." For those tempted to ignore history, Lepore gives us an excellent lesson of what might be lost.  Or maybe not.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tribune tab called "A Home Run"

Mark Fitzgerald of Editor & Publisher says the Chicago Tribune's newsstand tabloid edition is superior to the broadsheet edition delivered to subscribers. It's better organized, includes all the stories (without cutting) of the broadsheet, and makes better use of the alternative reporting techniques used.  

Exploring media's future: news weeklies

Let's look at what's happening in today's news media from a different perspective than is usual -- let's look at some of the changes in terms of an evolving media.  

For example, a New York Times story about news weeklies could be cast as more bad news -- they're slimming down with less news and more commentary and advertising is fleeing. But let's look at the issue from the future tense -- news weeklies may evolve into a medium where we serious news fans (and polls show that's most of us) can put that Internet news into perspective. I say may because no one knows what model the publishers will embrace. But, as a news consumer, I morn the loss of newspapers and serious magazines for their perspective more than their reporting since I can get that from the Internet, at least as long as there are content providers for the news aggregators to raid.

Let's hope they evolve in constructive ways.

A thoughtful essay on news media's future

Geneva Overholser and Geoffrey Cowan have written an excellent essay for the Los Angeles Times laying out the problems facing American media about as well as I've seen. Two points, neither new but the most important items to remember as we contemplate today's media landscape: (1) People not only are just as interested in news as in the past, but perhaps even more interested, and (2) the media delivery business model is broken.

So how do we reconcile the two? Overholser and Cowan suggest a few ways. I believe others will come to the fore as American society wrestles with the dilemma. A few weeks ago, Rupert Murdoch suggested that newspapers will survive, but not some of today's newspaper leaders. I believe he's correct -- especially for those who aren't embracing change (other than just to cut content).