By paulgillin | June 17, 2014 - 4:31 pm - Posted in Fake News

Observers of the cratering newspaper industries in the US and Europe may be surprised at this news: Print newspaper circulation around the world actually increased 2% in 2013 compared to 2012. The pocket of strength comes from rapidly maturing economies in Asia and Latin America, where people who a generation ago might have used newspapers mainly for kindling are now finding them to be valuable for the purposes for which they were intended.

That’s the highlights from the latest World Press Trends survey, which was released last by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers. The survey includes data from more than 90% of the news organizations that make up the industry’s total value.

There was no good news report in North America and Europe, where with print circulation dropped 5.3% last year and 10.3% over the last five years. Print ad revenues in North America are down a sickening 29.6% over five years. In Europe, print circulation declines have been even greater – 23% over five years – although advertising dollars have not fallen as quickly.

It’s quite a different story in Asia/Pacific, where print circulation is up 6.7% over the last five years and ad revenues have nudged ahead 3.3% during that time. Latin America is booming. Print circulation is up 6.3% over five years and ad revenues are up a stunning 50%.

It all adds up to an industry that’s a lot more stable on a global basis that many people thought. While overall revenue annual is down about 13% since 2008, results in 2013 were essentially flat, indicating that the industry’s freefall has slowed.

This is no time to celebrate, however. The last two years have shown that the developing world is migrating quickly to electronic media the expense of print, which still delivers 90% of the global industry revenues. While publishers report some success with packaged print and digital subscriptions (single-copy sales are down 26% worldwide but subscription sales are only down 8%), no one has yet solved the revenue problem.

Print Newspaper Circulation and Advertising Trends

 

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By paulgillin | April 23, 2014 - 12:12 pm - Posted in Fake News

Circulation revenue for U.S. newspapers grew for the second consecutive year, rising 3.7% to $10.87 billion in 2013, according to preliminary data from the Newspaper Association of America.

However, that wasn’t enough to offset continuing deterioration in the advertising business. Total revenues for the industry were $37.59 billion, off 2.6% from 2012. The good news is that the rate of decline appears to be slowing. The bad news is that digital advertising is growing more slowly for newspapers than it is for the industry as a whole. The U.S. online ad market grew by 17% year-over-year in 2013, but newspapers’ digital ad revenues increased by just 1.5%. Digital advertising now accounts for 12% of total industry revenue. It’s not clear how native advertising is being factored into those numbers.

Incidentally, online ad spending  surpassed broadcast TV revenue for the first time last year, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

An interesting new area of growth is digital agency marketing services, in which media companies help local businesses build a digital marketing presence through services like online advertising and direct mail. That business grew 43% last year, although from a very small base.

Declines in traditional print advertising continued their numbing downward trend, falling 8.6% from the previous year. Classified advertising was off 10.5%.

An interesting factor in circulation revenue growth is the success of digital-only circulation revenue, which was up 47%. Bundled print and digital circulation packages increased 108%. However, print-only circulation revenue dropped 20%.

Read more on MediaLife.

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By paulgillin | - 12:12 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

Circulation revenue for U.S. newspapers grew for the second consecutive year, rising 3.7% to $10.87 billion in 2013, according to preliminary data from the Newspaper Association of America.


However, that wasn’t enough to offset continuing deterioration in the advertising business. Total revenues for the industry were $37.59 billion, off 2.6% from 2012. The good news is that the rate of decline appears to be slowing. The bad news is that digital advertising is growing more slowly for newspapers than it is for the industry as a whole. The U.S. online ad market grew by 17% year-over-year in 2013, but newspapers’ digital ad revenues increased by just 1.5%. Digital advertising now accounts for 12% of total industry revenue. It’s not clear how native advertising is being factored into those numbers.
Incidentally, online ad spending  surpassed broadcast TV revenue for the first time last year, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
An interesting new area of growth is digital agency marketing services, in which media companies help local businesses build a digital marketing presence through services like online advertising and direct mail. That business grew 43% last year, although from a very small base.
Declines in traditional print advertising continued their numbing downward trend, falling 8.6% from the previous year. Classified advertising was off 10.5%.
An interesting factor in circulation revenue growth is the success of digital-only circulation revenue, which was up 47%. Bundled print and digital circulation packages increased 108%. However, print-only circulation revenue dropped 20%.
Read more on MediaLife.

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By paulgillin | November 27, 2013 - 6:47 am - Posted in Fake News

ImageJeff Bezos (right) may be the most prominent rich person to buy into the newspaper industry recently, but he’s not the only one. Billionaires have been opening their checkbooks with astonishing frequency lately to invest in an industry that many people think is dying.

Warren Buffett owns more than 60 newspapers and says he’ll buy more. Billionaire Boston Red Sox owner John Henry just ponied up $70 million for the Boston Globe. Serial entrepreneur and multimillionaire Aaron Kushner bought the Orange County Register a year ago and has been plowing money into reporters and circulation. There’s evidence that the strategy is paying off.

What do these savvy investors see that others don’t? I think three things.

Value. At a basic level they see business opportunity. Henry purchased the Globe for just 6% of what the New York Times Co. paid for the newspaper 20 years ago. Media properties are so beaten down right now that value investors see nowhere to go but up. Newspaper subscribers still have some of the best demographics of any audience. More than half earn more than $50,000 a year and 22% earn six figures or more, according to the Newspaper Association of America (NAA).

Although the audience is dwindling, more than 60% of US adults read a newspaper in print or online each week, according to the NAA. There are more ways to monetize that audience than just advertising, and these new investors are the kind of out-of-the-box thinkers who will figure them out.

Market Stability. Mainstream media plays a critical watchdog function that greases the wheels of democracy and commerce. Reporters pounding the beat at city hall and scrutinizing the records of regulators keep public officials honest and playing fields level. They also provide valuable intelligence on competition.

The press corps at some state capitols has been drawn down so much that some legislators have actually complained they miss the repartee with journalists. That has to alarm anybody who has millions invested in the market. Most rich people don’t care who’s in office as long as they know someone’s keeping an eye on them. And by the way, Bezos, Henry and Buffett  were avid newspaper readers long before they were media tycoons.

Trust. The great paradox of the newspaper industry bust is that readership of newspaper content is at an all-time high in the U.S. The problem isn’t the product, it’s the business model. Media democratization has been a great thing, but it’s also created a crisis of trust. We are less and less confident in who to believe.

Trusted media brands have a vital role to fulfill in this regard. We trust them to sweat the details and nail down the facts. Misinformation flourishes when everyone is the media, as we saw in the Boston Marathon bombings and Hurricane  Sandy. Mainstream media is expected to be accurate, at least most of the time. That’s why we instinctively turn to them when messages conflict.

I don’t want to imply that the actions of these super-rich investors are entirely altruistic, but smart people know a developing crisis when they see it. Trusted media is too important to the functioning of our society to be allowed to just die on the vine. If Jeff Bezos can put up 1% of his net worth to rescue the Post from disaster, he hasn’t sacrificed much.

Fumbled Opportunity

The newspaper industry has fumbled for a solution to its problems for decades with little to show for it. That’s mainly because the wrong people were in charge. Newspapering has traditionally been a stable, profitable and boring business, characterized by monopoly or duopoly markets, high subscriber loyalty and advertiser lock-in. The people who flourished in that environment where bean counters who knew how to wring costs out of an operation.

When the industry entered walked off the cliff in 2006, these people did what they knew best: Hacked away at expenses. But you don’t cost cut your way out of a fundamental shift in your market. Until just a couple of years ago, newspaper still earned 80% of their revenue from advertising, a business that has been in freefall for years. They’ve done a terrible job of diversifying their revenue streams, although some are beginning to turn the corner.

The Washington Post is a microcosm of the industry’s troubles. The paper was one of the first to go online in the pre-Web days, but it chose to build a proprietary platform that was quickly rendered obsolete. The Post has failed to come up with a workable way to derive more revenue from readers, as The New York Times has done. Many staffers reportedly sneered at The Politico when it launched in 2007. Today, it’s a must-read on Capitol Hill

The Washington Post Co. has diversified its business but failed to invest aggressively in new-media opportunities. The company’s Kaplan education division actually contributes the majority of its revenue and profit, but WaPo has been unable to duplicate that success in other markets.

Its most famous misstep was when CEO Donald Graham failed to pursue a 2005 handshake agreement to invest $6 million in a fledgling social network called Facebook. Accel Partners got the deal instead. Had Graham pressed his advantage, the Post’s stake could be worth $7 billion today, wrote Jeff Bercovici in Forbes.

But why invest? Newspaper owners have never had incentive to be aggressive. The industry has rewarded caution and conservatism, and that’s a big reason why it’s in such a mess today. The good news about the arrival of wealthy entrepreneurs on the scene is that they have nothing invested in the way things used to be done. People like Jeff Bezos are set to break the rules, and that’s exactly what the industry needs.

This article originally appears on Social Media Today.

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By paulgillin | June 11, 2013 - 10:44 am - Posted in Fake News

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) released an upbeat report on the state of newspapers worldwide, pointing to growing readership levels in emerging economies but cautioning that engagement levels are still low.

The report includes data from 70 countries that account for more than 90% of the industry’s value. It shows:

  • More than half the world’s adult population reads a daily newspaper, with 2.5 billion reading in print and more than 600 million consuming in digital form.
  • The newspaper industry generates more than US$200 billion of revenue worldwide each year. However, that figure is down 2% from last year and 22% since 2008. The numbers are dragged down by plummeting ad sales in the U.S., which has seen print advertising revenues fall 42% since 2008. The good news is that ad revenues are up 9.1% in Latin America, 3.6% in Asia and 2.3% in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Newspaper circulation remains high, through stagnant, globally. Circulation declined only .9% worldwide in 2012 from a year earlier, primarily due to  rising circulations in Asia. Circulation is down 2.2% globally since 2008, with the steepest declines in Europe.
  • While newspapers are a vital information source, they aren’t engaging online audiences very effectively. Newspapers accounted for only 7% of visits, only 1.3% of time spent online and only .9% of total pages visited.
  • U.S. newspaper publishers now generate 27% of their revenues from non-traditional sources, such as digital advertising, services and ancillary products.

While the report can be seen as a glass-half-full scenario, we think it’s encouraging to see publishers diversifying their revenue sources. The industry’s historic dependence on print advertising in general – and classified advertising in particular – is at the root of its problems. The rapid decline of those revenue sources is prompting some publishers to get creative about finding new revenues. Those that succeed will be stronger for it.

 

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By paulgillin | April 23, 2013 - 7:49 am - Posted in Fake News

Citing newspaper closures, high stress and low pay, CareerCast has rated newspaper reporter as the worst job in the nation, behind lumberjack, oil rig worker and meter reader.

The ratings, which the jobs portal has published annually since 1988, factor in criteria like income, growth opportunity, environmental factors, stress and physical demands in ranking 200 jobs annually. Newspaper reporter was ranked #126 in the first published report 25 years ago. However, the last decade has seen ad revenues shrink 60% and reporting staffs dwindle by 30%. At the same time, deadlines have become shorter while demands for output have increased.

The job of newspaper reporter “has attracted many aspiring writers, been romanticized in movies and helped bring down corrupt presidents,” the company said in a press release. However, Publisher Tony Lee said people who like to write are better off seeking careers in advertising, public relations or online publishing these days.

The three top-ranked jobs in the nation are actuary, biomedical engineer and software engineer, the survey said. The rankings aren’t necessarily intuitive. For example, “senior corporate executive” is rated #155, attorney #117 and air traffic controller #170. Mining, a job that many people would say is the worst in the nation, isn’t ranked at all. You can find a list of all 200 rated jobs here.

The the 10 biggest losers, with approximate pay levels, are below.
200. Newspaper Reporter – $36,000
199. Lumberjack – $32,870
198. Enlisted Military Personnel – $41,998
197. Actor – $17.44/hour
196. Oil Rig Worker – $37,640
195. Dairy Farmer – $60,750
194. Meter Reader – $36,400
193. Mail Carrier – $53,090
192. Roofer – $34,220
191. Flight Attendant – $37,74

 

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By paulgillin | June 19, 2012 - 10:37 am - Posted in Fake News

Stuff we’ve bookmarked recently.

Warren Buffett Buying Newspapers by the Bushel

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett
(New York Times photo)

The world’s ultimate value investor – Warren Buffett – has apparently decided that there’s untapped value in newspapers. His Berkshire Hathaway has just purchased 63 of them along with a 3% stake in Lee Enterprises, and Buffett says he plans to buy more. Newspaper lovers should applaud Buffett’s interest. A self-described newspaper “addict,” he believes in an intensely local editorial focus and a sustainable business model. His interest in the newspaper industry could be a boost for paywalls. “The original instinct of newspapers was to offer free in digital form what they were charging for in print. This is an unsustainable model and certain of our papers are already making progress in moving to something that makes more sense,” he wrote in a letter to publishers.

The New York Times traveled to Buffalo to check out The Buffalo News, which Buffett has owned since 1977. It found a profitable operation that has scaled down intelligently over the years through buyouts rather than layoffs. Buffett has little personal involvement in daily operations, but his philosophy of investing in local coverage and skimping on overhead is evident everywhere. Media Audit says The Buffalo News has the second highest audience penetration of any newspaper in the country. Part of this could be because the Rust Belt population of the area is older than the typical demographic, but it’s still remarkable that more than 70% of Buffalo households have read the paper within the last month.

If anyone can figure out how to make a newspaper profitable, it’s Warren Buffett. He built an estimated net worth of $44 billion by buying distressed businesses at the bottom. His interest in this industry would indicate that there are better days ahead.

US Newspaper Ad Revenue Continues Sickening Plunge; Online Growth All But Halted

First-quarter 2012 total expenditures totaled $5.18 billion, down 6.86% from $5.56 billion a year earlier. Online revenues grew by just 1% to $816 million, which was the smallest for any quarter since 2009 and not nearly enough to offset the 8.2% drop in print revenues, to $4.36 billion. The Newspaper Association of America previously revealed that print revenues (in absolute dollars) fell by half between 2005 and 2011. And there is no end in sight.

Oregon Publisher Puts Happy Face on Frequency Cut

“There are a lot of new things to like about today’s Observer,” writes Kari Borgen, publisher of the Observer of Union and Wallowa counties in Oregon. Borgen goes on to celebrate the Observer‘s new design, added features and bonus puzzles, among other goodies. What she fails to dwell upon is the fact that the issue that “seems bigger and feels heavier to you today” is that way because frequency has been cut from five days to three. The Observer eliminated Tuesday and Thursday editions and now publishes only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. No one has yet gotten around to updating the About page with this information.

Tribune Co. Edges Closer to Bankruptcy Exit

Details of the legal wrangling between stakeholders, negotiations with the FCC and the likelihood of judicial approval of a restructuring plan will leave your eyes crossed, but the bottom line is that the company’s three-year stay in Hotel Chapter 11 may finally be nearing a conclusion. There’s still regulatory and legal wrangling to be resolved, including a petition to transfer Tribune Co.’s broadcast licenses to a group of banks and hedge funds that will own the company. There’s also a challenge from a group of junior bondholders who are challenging the restructuring plan and who might sue 35,000 former Tribune Co. shareholders to recover more than $2 billion in claims.

Whatever happens, the likely outcome is that Tribune Co. will be carved up and sold off piecemeal by the banks and hedge funds that assume ownership. The real value of the company is in its portfolio of 23 TV stations and some other equity investments. The newspaper business is barely a rounding error on the balance sheet. The story in the Tribune notes, “Before the Zell deal, Tribune Co. entertained offers topping $2 billion for the Los Angeles Times alone, but today, according to a recent valuation analysis by Tribune adviser Lazard Freres & Co. the entire publishing group of eight newspapers, including the Times and Tribune, is worth about $623 million.”

By the way, the Chicago Tribune is considering a novel approach to paywalls. Instead of charging for access beyond a certain number of articles per month, the paper would charge for bonus content, as ESPN does. The tactic has worked well for sports addicts, but observers question whether it can succeed in local news. It hasn’t done so anywhere yet.

Blowing Up the Article

The always-provocative Mathew Ingram writes about why we need to reconsider the concept of the article in publishing. This traditional approach to packaging information is rooted in the limitations of printed media where hyperlinking was impossible. Now, however, we have the ability to deliver only what’s new and link to the rest.  Jeff Jarvis has been beating this drum for some time and in a post entitled “News articles as assets and paths,” he suggests that articles will devolve into component parts that can be mixed and matched according to need.  Why reinvent the wheel with hundreds of words of background every time we update a story? Simply provide the new information and link to the rest. Jarvis has even suggested that new kinds of media organizations could emerge that specialize in different kinds of assets, such as news, multimedia or background. An example of the latter is Wikipedia, which is a great source of background information for many timely events. Reddit is building this model with its Ask Me Anything forum, which has become a coveted destination for book authors. Basically, Reddit is becoming a specialist in Q&A assets.

Media Consolidation: The Infographic

Everyone is doing infographics these days, and we’ve never seen a bandwagon we couldn’t hop on. This one was actually created by Frugal Dad last November, but it popped up on Business Insider last week. Some of the information is out of date. For example, GE no longer owns NBC, so the sixth company is now Comcast. And Time Warner got rid of AOL. But the main point still holds: Media consolidation has reached a pinnacle, with only six corporations controlling 90% of media in America. And 250 million bloggers and Twitter users controlling the rest.

Media Consolidation

 

Source: Frugal dad

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By paulgillin | January 12, 2012 - 10:40 am - Posted in Fake News

Two-thirds of Michigan households will be unable to get daily newspaper delivery after the end of this month, notes Alan Mutter in his column in Editor & Publisher. Michigan is only the most dramatic example of a quiet yet dramatic change that is sweeping the U.S. newspaper industry as publishers make the most painful cut of all and trim distribution schedules.

Newspapers on doorstepThe most visible manifestation of this trend is the experiment in Detroit in which the two major dailies, which operate as a partnership, cut home delivery to three days per week in early 2009. Mutter notes that the daily circulation of the Free Press and the Detroit News both fell by more than half between March, 2008 and March, 2011. Sunday circulation of the Free Press, which is the only game in town on that day, is down 21.6%.

Newspapers in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, and Jackson are set to scale back home delivery from seven days to three in February. The newspapers will still be published daily but will only be delivered to doorsteps on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. As in Detroit, publisher Advance Publications said the move is part of a shift to a “digital first” strategy. It’s also a cost-cutting measure, as evidenced by Erica Smith’s estimate of more than 360 layoffs.

Mutter notes that many other dailies have quietly cut back publication schedules. We heard the total was more than 100 two years ago, but no one tracks this trend to our knowledge. Reducing frequency is the last and most painful cutback to make, but few publishers have any choice as advertising revenues have dwindled by more than half over the last six years.

In the Michigan examples, publishers are still able to claim that there newspapers are “daily,” even though many fewer people read them. It’s notable that the economics of the industry now dictate that the biggest savings are gained from cutting back on delivery trucks and drivers rather than presses and paper. Trucker unions, whose bargaining power has been eviscerated by concessions over the last three years, have little leverage and can only hope to retain the dwindling number of jobs that are left.

We noted recently that forecasts that 1,400 daily newspapers could disappear over the next five years are perhaps not overstated. That doesn’t mean these titles will disappear from the earth but rather they won’t publish on a daily schedule. But does daily frequency even matter anymore? The daily newspaper as we know it was designed for an age when people consumed their news at the same time every day. Thanks to the profusion of computers in the workplace and smart phones in the pocket, people now access news whenever it’s convenient for them. The news organizations that survive will move to a “digital first” strategy with all deliberate speed. In that respect, the Michigan experiments may represent the leading edge of where the entire industry is going.

The most troubling aspect of the Detroit experiment is that circulation has fallen across the board, including the profitable Thursday and Sunday editions. This accelerates the death spiral in which circulation declines lead to cutbacks in editorial content, which spark further circulation declines. Newspapers that sacrifice their daily status are thus ever more pressed to move to profitable digital models.

Miscellany

Newspaper layoffs have created a lot of empty office space, so in Philadelphia they’ve come up with a novel experiment to put it to good use. Philadelphia Media Network, owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News is hosting three media-related startups in space once occupied by staff journalists. The trade-off for the tech firms is that they must give Philadelphia Media an early look at what they’re building. The media company also hopes that staffers at the publishing company will learn a few things by rubbing shoulders with entrepreneurs who are focused on creating profitable businesses quickly. A similar experiment is underway at the Boston Globe.


It was only a matter of time before publishers started giving away e-readers in exchange for subscriptions. Barnes & Noble, which is struggling to compete in the tablet market against a newly aggressive Amazon, is giving away a free black & white Nook reader to people who buy a one-year subscription to The New York Times. Alternatively, subscribers can opt to buy a color Nook reader for $99, which is $150 below the retail price.

By paulgillin | August 19, 2010 - 7:11 am - Posted in Fake News

Only 25% of Americans say they have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in either newspapers or TV news, according to a Gallup survey. That puts mainstream media on par with banks and slightly better than health maintenance organizations on the trust barometer. The stats are from Gallup’s annual Confidence in Institutions survey. At the top of the trust heap? The military. And at the bottom? Congress.

Gallup confidence survey

The results varied significantly by age. Nearly half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 said they had confidence in newspapers. However, disillusionment evidently sets in early, as the confidence level dropped to 16% among 30- to 49-year-olds, making them the most cynical group. Even liberals, who have traditionally been a stronghold of support for mainstream media, expressed support to the tune of  only 35%. It’s important to keep the results in perspective, though. Gallup has been conducting this survey annually for the last 20 years, and confidence in newspapers has never exceeded 39% during that time. However, confidence dipped from the low 30s to the low 20s about four years ago and has been stuck there ever since.

Good News for Hyperlocals

Hot new DC news startup TBD “resembles a sleek, coolly designed, high-tech house with several unfurnished rooms — and a market value yet to be determined,” writes Howard Kurtz in a generally favorable review of the most ambitious hyperlocal launch of the year. The site, which has 15 reporters buttressed by an army of 127 local bloggers, “has a voice, a sense of fun and a knack for packaging short items that creates the appearance of flow and momentum,” Kurtz writes. It also has some good political reporting, although the staff seems to be more focused on local news than national or global politics. TBD has been closely watched as a potential model for hyperlocal startups because of its inclusive approach to community journalism and its backing by a major media company, Allbritton Communications, which also owns The Politico, as well as a collection of regional television stations

Also on the hyperlocal front, BringMeTheNews, an aggregation and podcasting venture founded by former Twin Cities news anchor Rick Kupchella (right), just raised $1 million from two local investors. The site has an interesting business model and has reportedly been profitable since day one. It aggregates headlines and summaries from “hundreds of online news and non-traditional sources” around Minnesota and publishes them on its website. It also produces audio news summaries that are picked up by Minnesota radio stations and broadcast to about 1.5 million listeners each day. At the moment, the site produces no original content.

The advertising model is also novel: The site carries no more than four paid sponsors, who buy contracts of at least six months’ duration. Sponsors are also expected to “provide informational advertising of interest to our audience.” According to MinnPost, “Sponsored copy is integrated into the links BringMeTheNews curates, and carries the sponsor’s logo. Theoretically, the copy is useful information for readers (Explore Minnesota tourist guides, OptumHealth wellness tips) while still advancing the sponsor’s interest.”

Despite having only one-eighth the traffic of MinnPost, BringMeTheNews has apparently hit upon a revenue model that works, even at low volume levels. Kupchella said the business would still be viable without the radio component.

Miscellany

The Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette will begin charging up to $15/mo. for access to local news articles. Non-print subscribers will be able to read 10 stories for free before the paywall goes up. The T&G is owned by The New York Times Co., which plans to build a paywall at its flagship newspaper in January. The Worcester experiment may be a pricing trial balloon. If a lot of people will pay $15/mo. to read the T&G, it’s good news for the Times. We doubt it, though.


More good news: PaidContent.org is hiring reporters. If you are  “deep into areas like online video or digital advertising or gaming,” “can pick apart a media company’s balance sheet” and/or “are dogged and enterprising,” drop a line to jobs@paidcontent.org. You’d better have expertise in media, though. That’s a given.


Having driven Tribune Co. into the ground in record time, Sam Zell now wants his money back. The Chicago real estate mogul invested $315 million in Tribune Co. back in 2007, which was arguably the worst time in history to invest in a newspaper company. He then demonstrated near-total ignorance of the business challenges facing the $6 billion company that he designated himself to run, and succeeded at steering the company into bankruptcy in a little more than 18 months. Well, that was fun, but now it’s time to cash out and go home. Chicago Business sorts through all the legalese, if you’re interested.

And Finally…

As if to underline the shrinking attention span of the American news consumer, American Public Media’s Marketplace Radio devoted all of six sentences to summarizing the world financial situation last week. The idea came about during a daily news meeting, when staffers were boiling down the factors underlying the global financial crisis and thought it would be funny to express them as simply as possible. Megan Garber has the background on Nieman Journalism Lab. We snipped out the 90-second segment below for your listening pleasure.

[audio:/2010/08/marketplace_clip.mp3]
By paulgillin | - 7:11 am - Posted in Uncategorized

Only 25% of Americans say they have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in either newspapers or TV news, according to a Gallup survey. That puts mainstream media on par with banks and slightly better than health maintenance organizations on the trust barometer. The stats are from Gallup’s annual Confidence in Institutions survey. At the top of the trust heap? The military. And at the bottom? Congress.

Gallup confidence survey

The results varied significantly by age. Nearly half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 said they had confidence in newspapers. However, disillusionment evidently sets in early, as the confidence level dropped to 16% among 30- to 49-year-olds, making them the most cynical group. Even liberals, who have traditionally been a stronghold of support for mainstream media, expressed support to the tune of  only 35%. It’s important to keep the results in perspective, though. Gallup has been conducting this survey annually for the last 20 years, and confidence in newspapers has never exceeded 39% during that time. However, confidence dipped from the low 30s to the low 20s about four years ago and has been stuck there ever since.

Good News for Hyperlocals

Hot new DC news startup TBD “resembles a sleek, coolly designed, high-tech house with several unfurnished rooms — and a market value yet to be determined,” writes Howard Kurtz in a generally favorable review of the most ambitious hyperlocal launch of the year. The site, which has 15 reporters buttressed by an army of 127 local bloggers, “has a voice, a sense of fun and a knack for packaging short items that creates the appearance of flow and momentum,” Kurtz writes. It also has some good political reporting, although the staff seems to be more focused on local news than national or global politics. TBD has been closely watched as a potential model for hyperlocal startups because of its inclusive approach to community journalism and its backing by a major media company, Allbritton Communications, which also owns The Politico, as well as a collection of regional television stations
Also on the hyperlocal front, BringMeTheNews, an aggregation and podcasting venture founded by former Twin Cities news anchor Rick Kupchella (right), just raised $1 million from two local investors. The site has an interesting business model and has reportedly been profitable since day one. It aggregates headlines and summaries from “hundreds of online news and non-traditional sources” around Minnesota and publishes them on its website. It also produces audio news summaries that are picked up by Minnesota radio stations and broadcast to about 1.5 million listeners each day. At the moment, the site produces no original content.
The advertising model is also novel: The site carries no more than four paid sponsors, who buy contracts of at least six months’ duration. Sponsors are also expected to “provide informational advertising of interest to our audience.” According to MinnPost, “Sponsored copy is integrated into the links BringMeTheNews curates, and carries the sponsor’s logo. Theoretically, the copy is useful information for readers (Explore Minnesota tourist guides, OptumHealth wellness tips) while still advancing the sponsor’s interest.”
Despite having only one-eighth the traffic of MinnPost, BringMeTheNews has apparently hit upon a revenue model that works, even at low volume levels. Kupchella said the business would still be viable without the radio component.

Miscellany

The Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette will begin charging up to $15/mo. for access to local news articles. Non-print subscribers will be able to read 10 stories for free before the paywall goes up. The T&G is owned by The New York Times Co., which plans to build a paywall at its flagship newspaper in January. The Worcester experiment may be a pricing trial balloon. If a lot of people will pay $15/mo. to read the T&G, it’s good news for the Times. We doubt it, though.


More good news: PaidContent.org is hiring reporters. If you are  “deep into areas like online video or digital advertising or gaming,” “can pick apart a media company’s balance sheet” and/or “are dogged and enterprising,” drop a line to jobs@paidcontent.org. You’d better have expertise in media, though. That’s a given.


Having driven Tribune Co. into the ground in record time, Sam Zell now wants his money back. The Chicago real estate mogul invested $315 million in Tribune Co. back in 2007, which was arguably the worst time in history to invest in a newspaper company. He then demonstrated near-total ignorance of the business challenges facing the $6 billion company that he designated himself to run, and succeeded at steering the company into bankruptcy in a little more than 18 months. Well, that was fun, but now it’s time to cash out and go home. Chicago Business sorts through all the legalese, if you’re interested.

And Finally…

As if to underline the shrinking attention span of the American news consumer, American Public Media’s Marketplace Radio devoted all of six sentences to summarizing the world financial situation last week. The idea came about during a daily news meeting, when staffers were boiling down the factors underlying the global financial crisis and thought it would be funny to express them as simply as possible. Megan Garber has the background on Nieman Journalism Lab. We snipped out the 90-second segment below for your listening pleasure.
[audio:/2010/08/marketplace_clip.mp3]