Thursday, September 29, 2005
Newspapers' transformation in the new media landscape
"Fusion is only now coming to the newsroom, but the fusion has already taken place in the minds of the readers." Commenting on one of his most recent travails, the conversion of the Wall Street Journal's Asian and European editions to compact format, renowned newspaper designer Mario Garcia insists that newspapers need to integrate their online and print editions to suit the already changed habits of readers in a multimedia world. In this ever evolving world, "Some stories will lend themselves to a photo gallery, others will be told better through audio or video, and reporters will have to be clued into that...They will tell the stories in nine paragraphs for the newspaper and then in a multimedia format online," said Garcia.
Garcia's arguments are supported by The Middletown Media Studies II report as reported in Revolution Magazine. The study conducted by Ball State University Center for Media Design found that people spend nine hours a day with various media and a third of it using more two or more media at the same time. Television was by far the most popular medium but computer use continued to grow making it the second most used medium.
And with traditional media companies such as Viacom, TimeWarner and NewsCorps buying up Internet properties left and right, as noted by the Wall Street Journal, the percentage of computer use is certain to keep soaring over the next few years. The main drive for these companies' acquisitions has been the rocketing online advertising market whose sales grew 33% last year.
But alas, the Internet giants that survived the dotcom bubble burst are leagues ahead of conventional players when it comes to the world's fastest growing medium. Banc of America Securities is quoted in Forbes as declaring that Yahoo! and Google are "poised to be the biggest beneficiaries" of the booming online advertising which, according to The Guardian, is being fueled by search-based advertising which makes up about 40% of total online revenues. This market is also certain to continue blossoming as more advertisers realize the advantages of being able to track the effectiveness of their advertising through 'click' tallies.
This Internet advertising news does not bode well for the printed word. Although Banc of America predicts that "the shift to the Internet will be slow," much of the advertising dollars moving to the Internet are being taken from newspapers, not to mention classified ads. On the other hand, the investment services company sees newspaper online advertising revenue making up 10% of total newspaper advertising within the next two years, a significant increase from its current 3-4%. With this forecast, Mr. Garcia's newspaper 'fusion' model will have the necessary financial backing.
But perhaps the biggest threat to newspapers and other traditional media companies, although it will take some years to determine, is the quest for original content by Internet companies. Yahoo!, which to date has been merely an aggregator of other sources' news, is aggressively developing its own media wing, sending a journalist to create multimedia presentations in war zones and hiring up to 30 writers to produce original financial content. Many in the news industry scoff at this venture under the impression that a non-news player will never be able to compete with the quality journalism they produce.
The fact of the matter, however, is that Yahoo! has hired prominent journalists, those who have worked in print and television for years. As Internet advertising grows, Yahoo! and other Internet players will have even more money to spend on hiring star journalists. If print advertising begins to slump seriously, newspapers will have even less money to spend on their own reporting, already a problem highlighted by several major newspapers' newsroom job cuts last week.
Staff cuts, along with growing newspaper online advertising and threats from purely Internet companies further support Garcia's 'fusion' model. For years people have complained that newspaper websites are simply reproductions of their print editions and that newspapers should have innovated their coverage by taking advantage of the multimedia opportunities the Internet provides. Newspaper online sites were frequented because there was no other option, as noted by media expert Bob Cauthorn.
Now there are options, and more are certain to keep popping up. Although major papers are cutting staff which has been declared by some to be the beginning of the end, they are waking up to (although well past the dawn of) the Internet era in that they have not been cutting online journalists. Furthermore, many papers have begun joining their print and online staffs. This trend needs time to develop so that the two staffs learn how to work together and more newspaper journalists learn how to produce multimedia content for the Internet as Yahoo! has just begun to do.
Another key to the future success of newspapers, according to Garcia, is Internet linking. Instead of stubbornly protecting their brand, newspapers should link to other sources to allow the reader to dig deeper or to get another view. Newspaper readers are not just readers anymore. They want to experience a story on every level of media. Readers will always appreciate a well investigated and comprehensive article but in the new media world, they do not want to stop there. Garcia summed up his vision of this new media world by saying, "There will be survival of every medium, but survival will come by fusing the different mediums and by sending readers from one medium to another."
Newspapers will be with us long into the future, but the manner in which they function and in which they are consumed are bound to transform to fit the new media landscape.
Friday, September 16, 2005
News designers flock to VisualEditors
Online Journalism Review has an article on Chicago Sun-Times news design editor Robb Montgomery's side project, VisualEditors.com. To Robb's surprise, the design-dedicated site has quickly become much more than a side project, boasting more than a million page views a month! Apart from providing the best forum for newspaper design on the Web, over the summer Robb added podcasts to the mix which became immediately popular. "I’m always tinkering with my own limits. It’s about always changing, always getting better. It’s about thinking: How can I make the site more intuitive – more informative?" Congrats to Robb on his willingness to experiment and excellent site!
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
US: How the NYT could best adapt to "the new consumer realities of the 21st century"
Jonah Bloom, executive editor of Advertising Age is sure that the New York Times is a 'beloved institution' and he admires its reporting. But even a newspaper like this has to adapt to "the new consumer realities of the 21st century." Bloom asked four designers to rethink the Grey Lady (the complete answers are published on AdAge.com).
Brian Collins is Executive creative director at Ogilvy, an international advertising, marketing and PR agency and a reader of the NYT. He is convinced that it's not his generation that will drive the need for design evolution but the generation that is now in the seventh grade. Given total license he would launch a T magazine that attracts young readers. It would include personal essays and blog excerpts. He would launch branded coffee stores alongside the magazine where readers could meet and discuss. And a website would include blogs to express passion and concerns.
Lucie Lacava is an award-winning newspaper architect. She thinks that the newspaper of the future has to have options for readers to chose which section they want to receive or whether they prefer a tabloid or a compact version. Lacava said on AdAge.com: "The same consumer who is getting used to having convenient on-demand options in all their other media and entertainment is also a newspaper reader, so you have to design newspapers to be bought a la carte." Another problem she mentions is that the NYT has no clear story hierarchy and therefore should develop a better menu on the cover so that readers could find stories of interest easily. She also suggest that it should get leaner through moving stock listings etc. to the Internet.
Pelle Anderson is a newspaper designer. He stresses that newspapers, including the NYT, will have to compete on a time-market. Anderson is convinced that the size of newspapers will shrink from broadsheet to tabloid to half-Berliner and A4: "I think the future will make a liar out of Sulzberger. The New York Times will certainly be transformed into a compact format ... The derogatory term 'tabloid journalism' has largely lost its meaning in the rest of the world, and it will do so in New York as well, when the time comes for the grey old lady to slim dow."
Seth Banks is Director of global design at GE Healthcare. He would like to eliminate paper altogether. While he still wants print on Sunday, he looks for something more dynamic and easier to use during the week: ?I would eliminate paper and go to a newly developed organic liquid-crystal flexible display. One presentation page that could be plugged in and updated prior to leaving the house, and everything would be downloaded into the memory." Such a new way of reading would be accompanied by a new payment system, "effectively more of a subscription system, but it?d let you pay lots of different existing newspapers for their content, so that I could select several newspapers." He is also thinking of animated graphics.
Such opinions concerning one of the most influential American newspapers could indicate that major changes in newspapers are inevitable. The four above designers have touched upon some pertinent issues, but more innovations will certainly surface as the media landscape evolves. How would you like to see your favorite daily newspaper designed when you pick it up five years from now?
Monday, September 05, 2005
UK: new format and new fonts for The Guardian next week
Thanks to Jemima Kiss, dotjournalism, for this analysis regarding the shift from broadsheet to berliner for The Guardian on Monday 12 September: "The Guardian newspaper's imminent relaunch is partly a response to the ever widening gap between its online and print audiences said editor Alan Rusbridger. Plummeting newspaper sales per issue reached a 27-year low this July at 358,345, while the Guardian Unlimited website was read by 11,220,372 in the same month."
According to Guardian Newspapers, which has spent £80m on the move including new presses in east London and Manchester, said the new-look Guardian would be the only full-colour national paper in the UK when it hits the newsstands a week on Monday.
I am also very curious to see the new fonts created for the "new" Guardian. Because the new design has been created by an in-house team led by the paper's creative editor, Mark Porter, and uses a new typeface, Guardian Egyptian. Long life to these new fonts!
Friday, July 01, 2005
Mario Garcia to redesign Wall Street Journal's international editions
Having announced in May that it was to launch its European and Asian versions in compact format, Dow Jones & Co. announced Thursday that it was to re-hire Mario Garcia to do the design. Garcia was the brains behind WSJ's last redesign of its international sisters in 2000 as well as its flagship's makeover in 2002, which facilitated front page navigation and added color. Garcia is a proponent of mixing the best qualities of both print and online versions and predicts that his work for WSJ "will result in a truly innovative and indispensable offering that's never been seen before." The Journal's senior vice president for international and development, Penelope Muse Abernathy, hopes that the papers will be redesigned in such a way as to "be relevant 5 to 10 years from now." The new editions are due for launch in October.
Source: Editor & Publisher
The regional newspaper of the future II: interview with the executive editor of the San Jose Mercury News
In case you missed our previous posting, the San Jose Mercury News has recently undergone a change in format, organizing local, national and world news, traditionally separated in distinct sections, into Section A. The front page contains a news rail which directs readers to major stories inside the paper and more emphasis is placed on local news. The Editors Weblog asked the Merc's executive editor, Susan Goldberg, about the paper's transformation in an email interview:
1. What prompted you to try this new format? How much did the impact of immediate news provided by the Internet influence your decision? John, first, I'll have to quibble with the way you framed your original posting. "Bunching them up into one big A section" isn't how I'd characterize it. The local, national and world news is clearly organized and labeled, with local news appearing first. And, of course, we still have important world and national stories on the front page. Although our typical front page is/has/has been 75% locally produced stories, this week we've also had front-page pieces on the Supreme Court's rulings, President Bush's speech on Iraq, Bush approving a shake-up of the nation's intelligence services and Afghans fearing the Taliban is behind new violence there.
We're emphasizing local news because it's what makes us unique -- what we can give our readers that they can't get elsewhere. And by local I don't just mean neighborhood news: I mean significant watchdog reporting on state and local officials, in-depth stories about area technology companies and examinations of our culture and our institutions. The trick is to do all that without diminishing other coverage. In fact, we've added space to our international report, given pages clearer labels and provided 1A news rail to guide readers to the top news inside the paper.
And, yes, the Internet and 24-hour television news were among the drivers for us. We hear from readers on a regular basis -- in e-mails, in person, in focus groups, in scientific studies -- that they already know our big national and international news headlines by the time they pick up the paper in the morning. We felt we needed to react to that -- here in tech-savvy Silicon Valley, especially.
2. Has this decision changed your job as an editor? What about other editors in the newsroom?
Well, it sure has for the last week or so: I have spent a lot of time answering reader mail! But beyond that, our new approach is forcing us to hone our news judgment. A car bomb in the Middle East that our readers have heard about the day before, isn't an automatic front-page story for us. It's allowing us to broaden our definition of news. It's also leading us to better plan our local report. When we made the commitment to emphasize local news, it became imperative that we have a string of front-of-the-book worthy contenders, from watchdog reports on city hall and Sacramento, to profiles of interesting people in Silicon Valley.
3. Has the new format changed the way in which you newsroom works? How has your staff responded?
The staff has been great. It took a total newsroom effort to shape and launch these changes, from assigning editors, to copy editors, to designers, reporters, photographers and photo editors, artists and our Web staff. It takes more planning and collaboration to produce this paper now.
4. Why the emphasis on local news? Has this emphasis changed the dynamic of your website as well? Are you considering including citizen journalists to cover local news?
As I said, local news is our niche. It's the kind of news that readers cannot get elsewhere and what makes the Mercury News unique in this market.
Yes, our Web site has played a key role in this new approach. More of our reporters and columnists are writing blogs or online Q&A columns, including me:
And our Friday Arts and Entertainment Interactive section has a corresponding blog where readers can post their own reviews and comment on those reviews.
We print a sampling of the best in the paper. Within the first week, we've had more than 11,000 unique visitors. There's also an area for teens to post their reviews. Here's how one person responded to a teen review of "Batman Begins":
"Wow...Nice review kiddo...I was going to wait until Monday but I may see it tonight...If I can get tickets."
As far as citizen journalists covering news, we have no plans to do that at the moment, though we do have a teen page where area high schoolers cover stories each week.
5. Considering the negative reader responses, do you think you?ll have to return to the traditional format? Will this impede upon any future plans you have for the paper?
Not all of the response has been negative, John. Some readers tell us they prefer having their local, national and world news organized into one meaty news section, and a number have said they like the emphasis on local news. The 1A rail is a hit, and so is the Calendar section on Monday, which lists that week's community events. The interactive features are getting a lot of attention from readers, and we've had very positive responses to the new Real Estate and House+Home section. I do think it has been important for me to respond to the readers who don't like the changes, and I've tried to be very up front about doing that, addressing their concerns both in print and in my online Q&A. It would be a little self-serving if I only highlighted the positive comments.
We're committed to this approach for now. We don't have plans to return to a separate local section.
And as for the future, well, I don't see how this would impede us at all. This newsroom has never shied away from making bold moves. Stay tuned.
Friday, May 13, 2005
US: Chicago Tribune consults its readers via internet before printing
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Chicago Tribune is involving its readers in its editorial process. Working with Communispace Corp., a company that organizes online panels. The Tribune has shown photos, layouts and headlines to groups of readers before publishing them, the process they used to test two new sections that were unveiled last week. Although most of the content the online panel sees has already been published, the trend of seeking readers’ advice could become widespread practice as newspapers struggle with attracting new readers. But advice doesn’t come cheap. Communispace’s bill for online consumer groups is upwards of USD 300,000. However, as we’ve said before, sacrificing huge profit margins to invest in research and development may be the only way in which the newspaper survives.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Posted by john burke on May 13, 2005 at 06:51 PM in b. Alliances and partnerships, d. Design and infographics , h. Young readers / New readers, m. Improving editorial quality, n. Online strategies, q. Regional and ethnic newspapers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Friday, May 06, 2005
US: why young people don't read the newspaper
We all know that younger generations are not reading newspapers. But has anyone gone to the source to ask why? Greg Gatlin of the Boston Herald recently paid a visit to an American college to talk to a journalism class, but ended up asking them about their own media habits. His findings were somewhat surprising. It's seems that younger people aren't allergic to newspapers so much as they; 1. don't want to pay for it, and 2. demand more convenient access. Most students don't apply to a newspaper unless required by their classes, and even then they find them inconvenient because they are usually forced to walk to the bookstore to pick it up. Essentially, American college students, a cherished demographic, ask themselves, "Why pay for something that I can only pick up by walking all the way across campus when I could get the same product on my computer for free five seconds after I roll out of bed?" Realizing this, newspapers are targeting campuses. Some universities now pay for the paper to be distributed on their campuses and others have the paper sponsored by outside organizations. Still, it seems that newspaper classifieds may never come back, as the large majority of students said that when it comes to looking for a job they turn to the internet. And as so far as appeal goes, younger people still find newspapers lacking. They want their news to be "more opinionated, fun, colorful, and (engaging)."
Source: Boston Herald
Posted by john burke on May 6, 2005 at 05:54 PM in d. Design and infographics , h. Young readers / New readers, n. Online strategies, q. Regional and ethnic newspapers, r. Revenues and business models | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Advice on the tabloid trend from the experts
Garcia Media, an information design firm, has recently published a report about compact conversions that is sure to be the go-to document for all papers considering the switch. The 23-page PDF includes a detailed history of conversions worldwide, a summary of free papers, reasons for transforming your paper, and advice on how to do so. Mario Garcia and Co. have worked with 16 broadsheets around the world who decided to shrink in size to appeal to the changing habits of their readers. Read the report at Garcia Media (top right hand corner of page).
Posted by john burke on April 28, 2005 at 04:23 PM in d. Design and infographics , e. Compact vs. broadsheet, g. Photojournalism, h. Young readers / New readers, q. Regional and ethnic newspapers | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Europe: the tabloid trend trumps all
"With the generalization of the tabloid format, some feel we are undergoing a graphic homogeny of newspapers. This is false. When you put all these papers side by side, you can see that their templates are almost infinite," commented German newspaper designer Norbert Kupper in Belgium's La Libre. The consensus at the Sixth European Newspaper Congress, held last week in Vienna, Austria was one of compact praise. In attracting young readers and curbing circulation declines, the more than 300 editors-in-chief that gathered for the conference realized that compact formats were creating success stories all over the continent. Specific examples included Holland's Het Parool, whose reformed business model seeks to attract young readers made it the only Dutch daily to gain readers, and Germany's Die Welt whose launch of a reduced-price compact bucked industry trends in adding readers. Other schemes to attract readers including the development of "services" such as music and dating, and the addition of various topic-specific supplements. But the switch to compact, most notably felt by design departments and artistic directors who have become increasingly important to Europe's innovative papers, certainly won the congress' blue ribbon.
Source: La Libre
Posted by john burke on April 19, 2005 at 03:16 PM in d. Design and infographics , e. Compact vs. broadsheet, h. Young readers / New readers, m. Improving editorial quality, q. Regional and ethnic newspapers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack