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Representatives from a Who’s Who of major newspapers will gather on Saturday for a daylong event in Washington focused on finding new revenue solutions to the newspaper crisis.

Calling itself Revenue Two Point Zero, the group says it’s fed up with all the talk and  is going to focus on solutions.  “We reject the belief that media companies should pursue models based on pay-for-content plans or philanthropy,” the group’s manifesto says.  “Instead, we believe the best hope for media companies to make money is the old-fashioned way — by earning it from advertising.”

The group has several examples of how it hopes to do this, including mobile advertising, better classifieds and a stronger appeal to small businesses.  About 20 representatives of major publications will be there, and the Society for News Design has joined the parade. A post on the society’s blog asks people to volunteer criticism, comments and inspiration in the spirit that “everyone in the industry agrees that radical changes needed.”  You can follow the action via tweets from Logan Molen, VP of Interactive Media at the Bakersfield Californian. He’s at rev2oh.

New Ideas

Speaking of Bakersfield, the Californian is the lead in a BusinessWeek story about how newspapers are trying to develop new revenue streams.  In an industry where nearly everyone is sinking, the Californian is actually growing.  One of the secrets is Baktopia.com, an online social network aimed at young people that publishes the best of the Web in print.  “Advertisers pay full rate,” says the company’s digital products manager.

printcasting logoThe story further talks about the Californian‘s launch of Printcasting.com, a Web venture that lets anybody create a digital magazine.  The best stuff is turned into a print publication supported by advertising. Money in print? It’s true.

The rest of the BusinessWeek article mainly covers companies and technologies we’ve written about here before, including blog aggregator Outside.in, micro-payments start up Kachingle and community content provider Helium.  Almost no one quoted in the article is actually making much money with these ventures, but at least they’re thinking differently. That counts for a lot these days.

Seattle Times Still In Deep Weeds

You’d think the closure of its largest rival would be a boost to the Seattle Times, but Seattle’s other paper is still struggling to make ends meet. That news comes from Doug Henderson, an economist with the Joint Council of Teamsters No. 28, who was allowed to have a look at the paper’s financial data available as part of the owner’s request to slash 12% of its workforce. Henderson said that despite having already laid off 25% of its employees, the Times‘ “financial status is still serious” and it “needs to consider either selling off some operations or shutter some. However, with the economic climate being in utter chaos, the opportunity to sell any type of operation is very slim.”

The news should come as no surprise to surveyors of the Seattle scene. The Times‘ financial position is so perilous that many people were surprised when it was the Post-Intelligencer that  pulled the plug. The Blethen family, which owns the Times, has been unable to sell a money-losing chain of newspapers in Maine. Less than three months ago, Senior Vice President Alayne Fardella admitted that the company’s situation is “dire,” and added that “It has been and continues to be a long and difficult fight for our survival.”

Miscellany

News & Observer Publishing Co. said it will lay off 27 people in the Raleigh News & Observer newsroom, reduce wages and implement unpaid furloughs as part of an overall reduction of  11 percent of its work force, or 78 people. Management added that the N&O will also “increase cooperation with the Charlotte [Observer] newspaper and will speed its transition to a narrower format to save on production costs.” Both the Raleigh and Charlotte papers are owned by McClatchy. The local ABC affiliate has a news story about the N&O’s problems bluntly titled “N&O struggles to survive.”  Says reporter Larry Stogner: “No one wants to talk about when the ax will fall again – and on whose neck.” Managing Editor John Drescher says a subscription model to the paper’s website is under consideration.


Former Flint Journal reporter Jim Smith said last week that publishers at the Flint Journal, Bay City Times and Saginaw News were are expected to call together their staffs this week to announce:

 

  • They’ll reduce the publishing schedule to three days a week: Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday;
  • They won’t honor a “lifetime” employment pledge of parent companies Newhouse Newspapers and Booth Newspapers;
  • An unspecified number of layoffs;
  • Reduced pay and benefits for remaining employees;
  • Consolidation of printing and copy desk functions and content-sharing among the three titles.

No word yet on whether Smith is right.

And Finally…

criggo adWe don’t know who’s behind Criggo.com – the owner’s name is disguised and the site is registered to a fax number in Los Angeles – but we hope he or she never stops tending the site. Even as classified advertising has shriveled, newspaper ads continue to deliver a seemingly unending stream of entertaining and bizarre humor. Very often, what’s funny isn’t the double entendres or typos; it’s in the fascinating stories that must underly these truncated missives to the world. Aren’t you just dying to know what’s going on behind closed doors at the house that placed this ad?

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 at 6:00 am and is filed under Advertising, Business News, Citizen Journalism, Future of Journalism, Layoffs, NewMedia, Newspapers, Solutions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Comments

  1. March 18, 2009 @ 9:29 am



    Thought you’d like to hear about some newspapers that are actually going strong…I edit the Hudson Reporter chain in Hoboken, North Jersey, a chain of nine news-packed weeklies right across from midtown Manhattan. Here in Sopranosland there is so much to cover – and a shrinking variety of newspapers to do it. We compete with the daily Jersey Jounal, which announced two months ago that they may or may not fold in April. Over the last 10 years it has fallen to some community newspapers like ours to fill in cracks in coverage and at times take the lead, but weeklies are sometimes going out of print as well. In an area with so much hard-hitting news, it’s worrisome that newspapers here have gone out of business in the last few decades. Who is going to keep an eye on things if journalists aren’t here to do it?? Blogs don’t have the resources to track down sources and find out information, although they certainly get some of the news out there and get people talking. This is a problem across the country, so I just wanted to say that I hope the remaining newspapers stay strong and adapt to the current times! We recently redesigned our website so hopefully that will draw more readers to comment and care about local government and their community.

    Posted by CM
  2. March 18, 2009 @ 9:30 am



    This is what I wrote on the RevenueTwoPointZero blog:

    The problem as I see it _not_ “how do we create content?”

    We’re experts at content creation and message massage.

    Its just that we’ve never been paid for it. _Never_.

    Our message, our medium if you’ll pardon the McCluhanism, has always been carried and paid for by the advertisers. They gave us a ride, but only grudgingly.

    If we had credibility, they liked our reporting when it was favorable and could take comfort that our alleged media effects were just that, alleged. We were living proof that, as Leibnitz said, “the power of the press belongs to those who own one.”

    Now we have some real competition, not for the fruits of our journalistic and entertainment labors, but for the dead trees that we used to print them on. (Yes, we can even extend the metaphor to any physical product which embodies any kind of message, textual, audio, video…)

    So lets restate the problem as “How can we deliver a message and get paid?”

    That is something quite novel since the actual product of the creation, design, writing, fact checking and editing is the _process_ of content creation and has always been hidden behind the delivered goods.

    We have to become far more open about the work, the process, that goes into the creation. No more cliquish awards hidden behind red velvet ropes. We have to be quite visible, bold in our byline, instead of being relegated to moldering in a bibliographical reference.

    So, to reiterate, how can we deliver a message and get paid?

    By allying ourselves with a service, an existing service, which delivers billions of messages, everyday, all over the planet, for trifling sums.

    I refer of course to the international postal services, which in many countries already function as non-lending, non-interest paying ‘cash-flow’ banks. (Stamps and Postal Money Orders are as good as cash, though of limited use. Some postal services accept cash from their customers for the payment of certain bills and will issue cash to their customers for the settlement of certain obligations.)

    Now just authorize the postal service for the collection for and delivery of on-line content.

    They can take care of collections and delivery of RSS packaged data, regardless of the actual form and format, and issue payments to the originators (say a news organization.)

    This would require no changes in their systems or their charters and make the post offices relevant again, apart from the delivery of bad news, bills and junk mail.

    Posted by msbpodcast
  3. March 19, 2009 @ 4:14 pm



    Re classifieds: Seen in the Dallas Times Herald when I was a young lass: “Pet turkey free to good home. Must promise not to kill.”

    Posted by Quixotic Chick