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Friday, February 27, 2004

Reader feedback versus editorial judgment

Just received from Felipe T. Edwards, deputy editor of El Mercurio, the Chilean quality newspaper... A sharp thinking on "finding the balance between the reader feedback and the pure editorial judgment". Don't hesitate to send us comments.

Felipe T. Edwards posting:

"Should editors listen to readers and give them what they want. Or should we exercise what many view as our professional obligation and print what we think they should read. The answer, surely, must lie somewhere between these extremes, but it seems that most of us lean too heavily towards one or the other end of that spectrum.

I suspect that most of us follow the age old practice of running what seems ?newsworthy?, what years of experience as reporters and editors tell us will affect our readers lives or pique their interest. Whether we run front pages of penetrating political analysis for a quality broadsheet or salacious revelations of a local television starlet for a mass market tabloid, our choice will be dictated by a combination of tradition and instinct.
For this group reader surveys or other market investigation tools are generally treated as background noise, toys used by administrative types to which are paid little more than lip service, lest we anger the publisher and seem uncooperative with the business side of our business.

There exists another group, smaller (dare I say younger?) who take market studies and reshape the entire content of their papers to respond to its results. Some can take extensive measurements, like the marvelously detailed Reader Behavior Scores undertaken by the Readership Institute of Northwestern University, and use them as a guide for allotting space between sections. Others have used hits on their web pages as an indicator of reader interest, and to great effect. Las Ultimas Noticias, a national circulation tabloid in Chile is in its second year of 30% circulation growth which it attributes in no small degree to a careful study of readership trends in its web page.

My point is that we need both, research and intuition, but tend to rely too heavily on one or the other. I urge the traditionalists to take a second, more serious look at those market studies: you might well find new sales in those dry pages. And survey addicts could very possibly benefit from occasionally flouting their numbers and attempting some creative destruction of their own models. The results for both could be surprising."

Felipe T. Edwards e-mail: felipe.edwards@mercurio.cl

Posted by Bertrand Pecquerie on February 27, 2004 at 06:56 PM in d. Design and infographics , h. Young readers / New readers, i. Future of print | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Should newspapers go into mobile marketing now?

"Is the time right for mobile?" asked Frode Ugland, Head of Mobile Development, Telenor, Norway, at the 2004 World Newspaper Advertising Conference & Expo organised in Amsterdam, Netherlands by the World Association of Newspapers. Mr Ugland, who works for Norway’s largest and most forward-looking mobile telephone service, said that the increasing use of colour and pictures on mobile telephones means the time is right for newspapers to get into the business.

Excerpts of the Frode Ugland speech:

?There is nothing worse in business like being right at the wrong time,? said Mr Ugland, who raised the question: ?Should newspapers go into mobile marketing now, or wait a little bit??

?It has been said that we?re a competitor to the newspaper business, but of course we?re not,? he says. ?We?re great at distribution and even better at billing, but we don?t have the content. The business won?t grow without your participation.?

With the colour revolution which has occurred in the past year, and the increasing availability of MMS to send pictures by phone, ?the possibility to distribute your news is even better on mobile phones. This is what you do really well -- it?s pictures and text, and it?s easily accessible for the
user,? he said.

?Newspapers already have a broad media reach. At relatively low cost, you can market your content to mobile phone users. In my opinion, it?s a time of evolution. You can easily enter the market now. Do not wait for revolution -- do not wait for 3G or new technology to hit the market -- you already have the market.?

Source: Larry Kilman, World Association of Newspapers.

Posted by Bertrand Pecquerie on February 27, 2004 at 06:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mario Garcia has met the new "supersonic" reader

Impossible to ignore a Mario Garcia's statement. He is one of the world’s leading newspaper designers and he was a speaker at the 2004 World Newspaper Advertising Conference & Expo organised in Amsterdam, Netherlands by the World Association of Newspapers: "The influence of the internet on newspaper design cannot be underestimated.” Mr Garcia said. “It used to be, a person gave the page a 25-second look-over. That is now reduced to 10 seconds. Ten seconds -- that’s how much time they use to determine where to go. But there are now readers who are even faster than the scanner -- Mr Garcia called them “supersonic” readers, generally 18- to 20-years old, who see nothing but pictures and 100-point type."

Excerpts of the Mario Garcia's speech:

?There are two revolutions in newspapers, tremendously influenced by the internet. One is navigation -- you cannot have a newspaper that doesn?t include a summary that tells you what to read if you only have five to seven minutes. The second is positioning of advertising... We are dealing with the multitasker -- a reader who can obviously do several things simultaneously -- he has difficulty doing things one at a time... We must learn to create ads aimed at the multitasker. It will be a difficult task."

He presented the results of eye-tracking research to illustrate the difficulty. ?It used to be, a person gave the page a 25-second look-over. That is now reduced to 10 seconds. Ten seconds -- that?s how much time they use to determine where to go.?

That means they look at images, headlines, captions, briefs. But there are now readers who are even faster than the scanner -- Mr Garcia calls them ?supersonic? readers, generally 18- to 20-years old, who see nothing but pictures and 100-point type.

The changes coming will be an increased wrap-around ads covering the first page of newspapers, experimental treatments, and what he calls ?silent ads? on navigation columns and columns of briefs.

Silent ads come directly from the web -- they don?t sell anything but a brand, they?re small and they?re placed where the eye travels across the news columns.

?They pop up in places where you don?t expect the advertisement to appear,? said Mr Garcia. ?They?re integrated into the design of the newspaper. They?re labeled as advertising, they don?t jump at you or break away from the colour palate of the newspaper.?

The ads, which are often disliked by editorial staff and have not been accepted everywhere, are premium priced. Mr Garcia said they will become more widespread despite the controversy.

Source: Larry Kilman, World Association of Newspapers.

Posted by Bertrand Pecquerie on February 27, 2004 at 06:27 PM in g. Photojournalism, i. Future of print | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Spanish audiovisual: lack of open political debate

In Spain, a number of writers, academics, singers, journalists and actors have set up a platform to lament the absence of open political debate. "The Spanish press is filled with silences," freelance journalist Emilio Silva said. Though there are many newspapers, each has a distinctive political bias. But though this is common in the privately-owned media, Spain's public broadcaster, too, has come under fire. In January, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe cited Spain's public radio and television channels as an example of "news manipulation". At Television Espanola itself, over half the employees formed an independent Advisory Council.

Source: European Journalism Centre and Expatica/BBC. See also (in Spanish) Periodistas 21 from Juan Varela.

Posted by Bertrand Pecquerie on February 27, 2004 at 03:52 PM in o. Ethics and Press Freedom | Permalink | TrackBack

Is timesofindia.com one of the most popular news sites in the US?

Don't know if it is serious: in the US, the Internet edition of The Times of India would have broken into the category of the most popular news sites. It has been the fifth most-visited print news and media site in America (rating based on the entire population of the US). Leading the group, and ranked as No 1, is the web version of The New York Times. On the No. 2 spot is The Washington Post , the leading newspaper from America's capital city, followed by USA Today and CNN's Sports Illustrated . The rankings were done by online tracking agency Hitwise, which tracks and analyses how 25 million people from around the world interact with 450,000 websites.

Source: Times of India.

Posted by Bertrand Pecquerie on February 27, 2004 at 03:40 PM in q. Regional and ethnic newspapers | Permalink | TrackBack

New York Times statement about Jayson Blair

To read in the New York Times an intriguing paper: "Jayson Blair, the former New York Times reporter who was found last year to have fabricated or plagiarized portions of more than three dozen articles, admits many of his deceptions in a forthcoming memoir but writes that they were fueled by ambition, cocaine and alcohol abuse and an undiagnosed condition of manic depression. In the book, Burning Down My Masters' House, scheduled for publication March 6, Mr. Blair writes of a path to what he calls his "self-destruction." He is at various points contemplative, introspective and piqued... But Mr. Blair, 27, expresses little remorse for the pain his actions caused."

Source: Jacques Steinberg, NYT.

Posted by Bertrand Pecquerie on February 27, 2004 at 03:21 PM in o. Ethics and Press Freedom | Permalink | TrackBack

Leading Arab journalist named as Al-Arabiya director general

Abdul Rahman al-Rashid is just named as the new director general of the Al-Arabiya, the Arab satellite television network said. Rashid, a Saudi national, was previously the chief editor of the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat for five until the end of 2003. He resigned, but remained a contributor to the paper's opinion and editorial section. The newspaper is published in London and owned by Saudi Research and Marketing Group, a company controlled by the Saudi government.

Source: AFP

Excerpts of the newswire:

"Rashid is a major Arab journalism and media talent and by joining the group he will further Al-Arabiya's success over the past year," Ali al-Hedeithy, the general supervisor of Al-Arabiya and its sister MBC television, said in a statement. Prior to that, the US-educated Rashid was chief editor of the weekly Al-Majalla, which along with Asharq Al-Awsat is published in London and owned by a company controlled by the Saudi government.

Dubai-based Al-Arabiya was launched a year ago by its Saudi owners as an alternative to Al-Jazeera. Like its Qatar-based rival, it has broadcast messages and videotapes attributed to ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and his deputies.

Al-Arabiya broadcast Tuesday a purported recording from Al-Qaeda's number two Ayman al-Zawahiri in which he condemns France for banning Muslim headscarves in public schools. It's broadcast of a purported Saddam tape on November 23 led Iraq's Governing Council to ban it from reporting from the country for almost two months charging it with "inciting murder. The council lifted the ban on January 28 saying that the "channel has promised to work in a professional manner."

Posted by Bertrand Pecquerie on February 27, 2004 at 03:11 PM in j. Staff changes | Permalink | TrackBack

BBC and La Opinión launch online partnership

The BBC and La Opinión, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the U.S., have made the content of their online sites mutually available via a hyperlink agreement. The agreement will bring readers of bbcmundo.com closer to news about the large and influential Hispanic community in the U.S. with a direct access to laopinion.com, while the visitors to the La Opinión website will find links to bbcmundo.com homepage, sports, science and economy sections.

Source: noticias.info press release.

Excerpts of the press release:

Julia Zapata, Head of the BBC Spanish American Service, said: ?We are delighted to be associated with America?s most respected Hispanic newspaper. I am sure the agreement with La Opini?n will be of great mutual benefit and reinforce the BBC brand positioning among the US Hispanic community, which is very important to us.?

Patricio Zamorano, Online Editor of La Opini?n Digitalt adds, ?We are proud to work with one of the most prestigious news leaders of the world and to provide our users with quality content. La Opini?n and BBC Mundo share the same principles of quality journalism and focus on the information needs of people. We are happy that BBC Mundo users will use us as their window to Spanish-language journalism in the U.S.?

For more information contact:

Carlos Villalobos, Business Development Executive, Americas Region, BBC World Service +44(0)207557 7508; carlos.villalobos@bbc.co.uk

Soizic Sacrez, Online Marketing Manager, La Opini?n Digital
+1 213 896 3616; soizic.sacrez@laopinion.com

Notes to Editors:

BBC World Service broadcasts programmes around the world in 43 languages and is available on radio and online at bbcworldservice.com. It has a global audience of 150 million listeners while its websites receive 100 million page impressions each month.

BBC Spanish American service is rebroadcast by over 100 stations to 5.6 million people in Latin America. Its online site bbcmundo.com is updated 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provides a wide range of information on international news and current affairs, world economy, science, technology, arts, entertainment, offers chat forums and the opportunity to learn English.

La Opini?n Digital is responsible for the creation and online publication of www.laopinion.com a premier Spanish-language website, which serves the online U.S. Hispanic community. Everyday, laopinion.com provides the Hispanic community with national, international, and local news as well as sports, entertainment, life and style, health and business content which reflect the interests and is presented from the perspective of Latinos living in the United States. By leveraging the resources of La Opini?n, the nation?s largest Spanish-language newspaper, and augmenting those resources with features and exclusive online content, laopinion.com provides Hispanics with unparalleled content and a superior online experience. In addition, La Opini?n Digital provides the Latino community with a marketplace to seek jobs, sell and buy automobiles and real estate, and locate apartment rentals. La Opini?n is owned and operated by impreMedia LLC, the first national Spanish-language newspaper company. impreMedia also owns El Diario/La Prensa in New York.

Note from the editor: The publisher and chief executive officer of the Spanish-language daily newspaper La Opinion has just received a humanitarian award from The Salvadoran Committee El Piche, which aids poor communities in El Salvador and Los Angeles. Monica Lozano was honored for her leadership in the Hispanic community and her work promoting health care, education and culture.

Posted by Bertrand Pecquerie on February 27, 2004 at 11:43 AM in k. Circulation and newspaper launches, n. Online strategies | Permalink | TrackBack

UK: how launching a newspaper when global sales are in decline

Brian MacArthur from The Times suggests that the Glover’s project of creating a British Le Monde is more difficult than expected. "Trying to start a newspaper in a period when sales of all newspapers are in decline is a challenge. Over the six months to January, year-on-year sales of the five broadsheets fell by 122,000 (4.5 per cent). In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, sales of the Financial Times, the most austere of the broadsheets and the closest to Glover’s model, fell by 14,000."

Source: The Times.

Posted by Bertrand Pecquerie on February 27, 2004 at 11:26 AM in k. Circulation and newspaper launches | Permalink | TrackBack

Passion around The Passion of the Christ

Seen on Slate: Robert Alter considers The Passion of the Christ - the Mel Gison's movie - is bad for Jews and worst for Christians. An interesting American point of view.

Posted by Bertrand Pecquerie on February 27, 2004 at 10:55 AM in n. Online strategies | Permalink | TrackBack