Saturday, February 25, 2012

Print newspapers most trusted for election news

A few years ago one of the speakers Marquette Journalism brought in to discuss our field's future talked about something newspaper had that, she said, was a unique and valuable asset. That was the trust of the industry's readers.

Now comes a survey of likely voters in the 2012 general election that shows she was correct -- the most trusted source of election information is print newspapers. At the same time, there appears little trust in blogs and social media. The report in the Christian Science Monitor quotes Ben Agger, director of the Center for Theory at the University of Texas, Arlington’s Sociology Department, as saying that people haven't trusted politicians since Watergate. Now, he says,“they don't trust news media to provide anything but infotainment,” with print newspapers trust numbers higher than the rest.

Boston newspaper eschews the Net -- and it pays

Meet the Boston Courant, a weekly of 40,000 readers and rising, one that is profitable and filled with advertising.

What doesn't it have: a website.

Nor does it have a Twitter feed, a Facebook page or anything else to do with the Internet.

It's not that publisher David Jacobs doesn't appreciate the Internet, Nieman Reports says, it's just that it doesn't seem to make business sense to him. To paraphrase, the current business model ain't broke, so why fix it? Jacobs is not alone in eschewing the Internet; many other weeklies aren't on the web. But he has spent more than $50,000 designing a web page (eight years ago), but just doesn't see the business model that would make exchanging his current system for a digital one work.

With paywalls thudding down all around, maybe he's right.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Gannett adds paywalls

Gannett announced plans to erect paywalls for "scores of local community newspapers nationwide," according to reports. Nine of its community papers already have paywalls, most of the rest will be getting them now.

But not USA Today -- at least for the present. The company said it had no plans to erect a paywall for its national newspaper.

Of course, money is the reason. The company said that print and broadcast advertising revenues were way down pushing it to find other revenue sources -- like paywalls for digital.

Wisconsin newspaper numbers hold up

Amid all the despair and gloom covering the traditional media business these days, it's nice to see a bit of facts thrown in that might dispel some of that dark cloud. The Wisconsin Newspaper Association reports that not only are there as many newspapers published in the state (similar to national reports), but readership is growing due to fast-growing digital readership.

Speaking of digital readership, sparking up a glum earnings report for the fourth quarter of last year, Milwaukee's Journal Communications, Inc., publisher of the Journal Sentinel, reported 8,800 digital-only subscribers in the month and a half since it erected a paywall with 75% of them outside the newspaper's print delivery area. Print and broadcast advertising declined, but digital advertising continues to grow.

The reader numbers -- and holding steady on number of newspapers -- isn't bad for a "dying" industry.