The New York Times tells the story of International Data Group’s (IDG) successful transition from the print to the online model, proving that it can be done (full disclosure: I worked for IDG for 15 years). IDG still has a lot of print publications, but the print component of its publishing revenue model has dropped from 86% in 2002 to 48% online today. The Web has not only picked up the slack but is actually driving growth of 10% annually, according to CEO Pat McGovern.

This story focuses on Infoworld, which was once a top technology title in the U.S. Buffeted by the rapid shift of its techie readers from print to the Web, Infoworld shut down its print edition a year ago. Today, it’s bringing in just as much money online as it did in print, only lthe margins are much better.

The technology trade media market is unique in several ways, but publishers should take heart that an online business model really does exist and that you really can get there.

Stirring Story From the Heartland

When The Times of Liberal, Ks., cut back from daily to three days a week last fall, readers took it as a slap in the face. The proud town of 20,000 thought it deserved better. So the publisher of the Times packed up, took 70% of his staff with him and launched the High Plains Daily Leader, a new daily newspaper (yes, you read that right) that distributed its first 7,000 copies on Sunday. Key details are unclear; the paper has no website yet and the AP report says nothing about who’s funding the venture. But its kind of thrilling to see that entrepreneurial spirit and reader advocacy are alive and well amid the pervasive gloom in the industry.

Labor Struggle Amid the Palms

The Santa Barbara News-Press laid off 10 employees last week, including two newsroom managers, in part because of financial damage caused by a Teamsters boycott. The trouble started two years ago, when most of the top editors collectively quit over allegations that the owner was interfering with editorial coverage. The owner shot back that all she was doing was preventing the editors from injecting their opinions into their reporting. So the editors voted to organize, the owner resisted, the Teamsters urged readers to cancel their subscriptions and apparently a lot of them did. Now we supposed the next move is up to the union. It’s hard to imagine all this unrest in such a pretty Pacific coast town.

Update: Craig Smith offers a lengthy perspective on the  News-Press‘ problems, laying the blame squarely at the feet of owner Wendy McCaw. Smith says McCaw has run the paper like a personal blog, micro-managing the editors and using threats and intimidation to keep staff in line. The large number of recent stories about animals is a consequence of McCaw’s passion for animal rights, he claims. Staff members live in fear.

Veteran Editors Sound Off on Industry Woes

Doug Fisher does what a good columnist should and challenges conventional wisdom by arguing that the newspaper industry should stop panicking and starting finding out where the readers are. Reporters and editors are too inclined to make assumptions, says Fisher, and a lot of the headlong rush to online delivery is driven by their gut belief that readers prefer to get their news that way. In fact, Fisher believes a lot of readers would gladly start taking a daily newspaper again if publishers could figure out how to make the product more useful.


Veteran editor Jerry Ceppos says it’s time for the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) and the Associated Press Managing Editors (APME) organizations to merge. The existence of two groups with similar charters and declining memberships is weakening both, says Ceppos, who’s a past APME president. He describes attendance at the recent ASNE meeting as being the worst he’s seen in 25 years. In writing this Poynter opinion piece, Ceppos ran the merger idea by officials from both groups. The APME basically trashed it while the ASNE sounded interested. The best part of the article is excerpts from the groups’ mission statements, which read like they were written on the back of cocktail napkins.

Survey Reveals Editors Realistic About Industry’s Future

The results of the annual Newsroom Barometer survey of 700 editors from around the world was just released, and it’s worth a scan at Editors Weblog. We found few big surprises in the numbers. Most editors believe news will be free in the future, the Internet will be the preferred delivery platform and journalists will need to use every medium at their disposal to tell a story. Nearly 60% think the decline in young readership is the industry’s biggest threat. Almost two-thirds expect some editorial operations to be outsourced.

If anything is remarkable about this survey, it’s that a significant minority of editors continues to curse the darkness. Nearly a third still believe that print “will be the most common way of reading the news in your country” in a decade. One-third also believe that readers will pay for news (although the ambiguous wording of this question may have skewed the results). Sadly, only 45% believe the quality of journalism will improve over the next decade, down from 50% in 2006. The research was conducted by Zogby International and commissioned by the World Editors Forum and Reuters.

And Finally…

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 6th, 2008 at 7:35 am and is filed under Advertising, BusinessModel, Demographics, Journalism, Layoffs, Local news, NewMedia, OnlineMedia, Solutions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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  1. May 6, 2008 @ 4:42 pm



    Interesting how the more newspapers ignore their core product and their core constituencies the more they lose circulation. Maybe if they tried harder to be a newspaper for their city, rather than a Web site or an Internet portal, they’d find better results in penetration, readership and ad revenue.
    Newspapers keep throwing money at the Internet to what end? None so far.

    Posted by Eddie