Wednesday, October 12, 2005
A way for newspapers to improve content and increase circulation?
The BBC Magazine asks, "How can papers afford to give away DVDs?" The answer as attributed to media critic Roy Greenslade: "They can't, at least not if they want to make money." The article goes on to say that DVD giveaways and like promotions are mere ploys for "very short circulation spikes." Where "Editors hope people will buy the paper for the DVD and become loyal readers, leading to long-term stability," most people seem to be buying the paper solely for the giveaway. "It's getting to the stage in a few years where you'll get a free newspaper with your CD or DVD," continued Greenslade. So from this article, it seems that giveaways are not the answer to maintaining or attracting more of a readership.
But the format of the article itself gives insight into a way in which newspapers could attract readers.
It was printed on the BBC's website in a section called "Who, What, Why?" which allows reader feedback and questions, some of which are answered by the BBC for further investigation into a story. Feedback for this particular article, for instance, included a suggestion that the BBC do a piece on the DVD retail market. Some was quite telling of how consumers feel about newspaper promotions; people get annoyed at having to watch the advertising at the beginning of the DVD and real news readers hate finding their paper full of inserts and giveaways. One said straight out, "Perhaps they should stop giving away freebies and start concentrating on content."
That is what it comes down to: is a newspaper's function to publish outstanding content or is it to sell papers through any means necessary? Maybe by including their readers in such a way as the BBC has done, newspapers will improve content by learning what their readers or potential readers really want and will conversely be able to sell more papers through this attention to public desire instead of luring them briefly with giveaways.
Newspapers offer Japanese puzzle for play on mobile phones
The Japanese puzzle Sudoku, a current newspaper fad (see previous posting), is coming to mobile phones. The Swiss newspaper Le Temps just introduced a service where it offers the puzzles for downloading to mobile phones, reports Werbewoche. The puzzles work on most modern mobile phones. A set of 10 puzzles costs 9 Swiss francs (about 5,80 Euro), which can be paid directly via mobile phone bill. Since July, the paper has offered the puzzles in its print edition.
The Times in the UK was the first to introduce such a service. The paper started a similar Sudoku mobile phone version in May, reports Media Centre. The Times also uses the service to promote its print edition, every time the game starts up on the mobile phone, the player is reminded to buy the newspaper.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Why newspapers could profit from new podcast search
Yesterday, Yahoo launched its podcasts search. The search is "intended to enable people to easily search podcasts through keywords, categories or user-generated topic tags. The beta site also highlights podcasts of note, those that are particularly popular and user recommendations and ratings", reports News.com. Eventually, Yahoo will even offer tools to produce own podcasts later on. Yahoo is not the first to offer such a service. Sites like Odeo.com and Podcast.net already offer podcast searches.
The Wall Street Journal described the podcast phenomenon: "Bruised by earlier failures to embrace new technologies, big media companies are rushing into the two-year-old field of podcasting - audio programs for downloading onto computers or portable music players. The high-stakes goal: grab young listeners, even at the risk of cannibalizing existing audiences or wasting time and money on a technology that may never go mainstream."
Some newspapers have picked up the podcast fad and more could follow (see also this article). Newspapers that have started to offer podcasts could profit from the launch of the Yahoo search. As the Yahoo search is likely to reach many people, newspapers that integrate podcasts in their news could reach new audiences, especially younger ones, through Yahoo.
US: New York Times to launch entertainment magazine for moviegoers
The New York Times plans to launch OnMovies, an entertainment magazine, in December, reports AdAge. It will be distributed 18 times a year at Loews cinemas in several cities, such as New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas and Boston. The New York Times pays Loews to distribute the magazine. One half of the magazine will consist of editorial content from the New York Times, the other half of advertising.
The magazine is part of a strategy to increase the paper's print reach and its ad revenue through finding new readers, especially young readers, as well as new advertisers. It is also an attempt to fight for movie ads, which are in decline for the main paper.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Germany: Publisher predicts that "Free papers will bring big financial losses"
German publisher Axel Springer recently announced that it would launch a free paper called Gratissimo in the case that Schibsted or any other publisher launches a free paper in Germany (see previous posting). We asked Christian Nienhaus, managing director of Axel Springer´s Bild publishing group, a few questions in an email-interview about this project.
1. Considering the popularity of free papers in other countries, why is Axel Springer against the publication of free papers in Germany?
Our maxim is: Every day without a free paper is a good day. Journalistic quality has a price and therefore we don’t think highly of free papers. Moreover, we are convinced that there would not be only one free paper in the German market. Because of the enormous competition all participating publishers will face big financial losses.
2. What will be the content of the 24-page Gratissimo? How does Springer plan to differentiate Gratissimo's content from other publishers' free papers?
We are easily able to launch an excellent paper thanks to our broad experience, our editorial resources and our extensive network of correspondents. We have developed a reader-friendly and news-accenting editorial concept for Gratissimo.
3. If Gratissimo is ready to be launched, why doesn?t Springer print it before other publishers enter the market? Does Gratissimo pose a potential threat to Springer paid papers?
Again, we do not want a free paper! But if a competitor starts a free paper, we will not leave the market to him. The danger for our paid-for newspapers would, however, be rather small. Firstly, free papers would not offer the same amount of content and background information and secondly, free papers would only appear in major cities, where only a small percentage of our papers are sold.
4. Apart from price, what will be the difference in content between Gratissimo and Welt Kompakt? Will the two papers be complements or substitutes?
Gratissimo has a completely new and different editorial concept than Welt Kompakt, hence title and target group would not overlap.
5. Do you think that a free paper could help to attract younger readers to newspapers? If launched, will Gratissimo be accompanied by a website and other new media such as podcasting, popular among younger generations?
Whether free papers bring young people to reading newspapers still needs to be proven. We rather trust in the quality and experience of our existing papers. One could call Bild that reaches about 2 million young readers aged 14 to 29 every day one of the biggest youth newspaper in Europe. To maintain our hold on the youth market, we continue to offer a mixture of subjects that are of interest to young readers. Our excellent sport section plays a major role in this, because it is relevant for every generation. Furthermore, other various products of ours, such as the magazines Computer Bild and Computer Bild Spiele, as well as our merchandising activities like the Bild Comic Bibliothek (a series of comic books that are sold under the Bild brand) attract even more new target groups.
Friday, October 07, 2005
UK: Young blog their way and challenge old media
Very good synthesis from Owen Gibson, media correspondent, The Guardian about the extent of the personal publishing revolution in the UK. The article is backed by a Guardian/ICM poll showing that a third of all young people online have launched their own blog or website.
"Millions of young people who have grown up with the internet and mobile phones are no longer content with the one-way traffic of traditional media and are publishing and aggregating their own content, according to the exclusive survey of those aged between 14 and 21.
A generation has grown up using the internet as its primary means of communication, thanks to an early grasp of online communities and messaging services as well as simple technology allowing web users to launch a personal weblog, or blog, without any specialist technical knowledge. On average, people between 14 and 21 spend almost eight hours a week online, but it is far from a solitary activity. There are signs of a significant generation gap, and rather than using the internet as their parents do - as an information source, to shop or to read newspapers online - most young people are using it to communicate with one another."
About half of that time is spent chatting to friends in online communities or using messaging services, while another hour is spent emailing. The internet may be a window into their personal realm, but it is not a window on the world for young people: only one in 10 say they use it to keep up with news and current affairs."
... "Some will have started personal sites with rudimentary personal information or centred around music or sport, while others have become mini publishing magnates before leaving school. Earlier this year, the tracking site Technorati revealed that a new blog was created every second.
The results also lay bare the bewildering pace of change in media consumption among young people and outline the challenge faced by traditional publishers and broadcasters to remain relevant."
Monday, October 03, 2005
Can localizing news save newspapers?
Many newspapers are currently struggling as they are facing declines in readership and also advertising. One way to win back readers could be to focus on local news - something that lies at the heart of newspapers', at least regional and local newspapers', competence. The idea is currently often cited and newspapers start to experiment with it. The Birmingham Mail just started its new relaunched and localized edition. Gannett's editors agreed on the importance of local news in their papers at their meeting last week and online strategist Steve Yelvington praised the advantages of hyperlocal community sites at the Ifra Newsroom summit last week.
Steve Dyson says that "the way to fight the threat from national newspapers and the internet is to focus on what the regional press does best - focus on local news", reports The Guardian. Dyson, the new editor of the Birmingham Mail, an "oil tanker heading nowhere" because it is currently the worst performing metropolitan paper in Britain, plans to turn his paper into the best performing one by focusing on local news.
Starting today, the paper changed its name from Birmingham Evening Mail to its former name Birmingham Mail, which was last used in 1967. The redesigned paper focuses more on local news and lifestyle. Four new local editions were added. So the paper now publishes seven local editions instead of the previous three timed editions. But because the different editions will appear at different times in the city, the paper will be able to publish timed editions as well. Dyson said in The Guardian: "We're going back to the grassroots with a more detailed focus on local areas. People can get breaking news in most places - that's the real challenge for evening papers. We've got to remind them how essential we can be by concentrating on what we're good at - reflecting people's local lives." Local news, that was traditionally only covered on the inside pages, will begin to appear on the front page as well. Dyson also said that it was not easy to persuade publisher Trinity Mirror to invest in a "failing" paper.
Although regional papers of Trinity Mirror, like the Western Mail, the Newcastle Evening Chronicle and the Liverpool Daily Post, could increase sales recently, the overall trend for regional papers in the UK is downward. According to ABC figures, paid-for regional papers lost 8% between 1999 and 2004. Evening papers are performing especially bad.
"Newspapering ain't what it used to be, although in some ways it is, can and should be everything it used to be", was the message of the Gannett Editors Meeting last week, reports Tuscon Citizen (the paper is also owned by Gannett). David Daugherty, Gannett Vice President of Research said,"Local coverage is important. Local/local coverage is more important. Local/local/local coverage is even more important. Covering 'me' and 'my agenda' is most important."
And local newspapers should become "hyperlocal community sites" if they are willing to succeed in the digital age, was the advise of online strategist Steve Yelvington at the Ifra Newsroom summit in London last week. According to Journalism.co.uk, Yelvington "told delegates that the long decline in newspaper readership has been caused not just by the internet, but by a complex accumulation of social and technological influences including radio, TV, cable and satellite alternatives. In response, news sites need to focus the personal, social and local interest at the heart of their local communities. A successful web publication needs to reinforce rather than compete with its print partner, so publishers must construct a new vision for their online proposition."
Yelvington cited the example of US local newspaper BlufftonToday . Its site BlufftonToday publishes news alongside photo galleries, an events calendar and different blogs, all open to contributions from residents. Fittingly, the paper's slogan is "It's what people are talking about!" Four months after the launch of BlufftonToday , the site had 1000 blog posts, 5600 comments and 4000 photos uploaded. Most notably, also print readership has risen. While there are still problems, like educating staff for the site or monetizing the different site elements, the site is certainly a good example to take advantage of the internet. Yelvington's advice is: "Have clear goals for your site and tell users about those goals, invite them to participate and ask for their help and don't be afraid to lead the conversation or intervene when necessary."
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Conference: Newspapers Win Back Young Readers
Larry Kilman, Director of Communications at WAN, reporting from Argentina:
It is time for newspaper professionals to stop being defensive about their medium. That was the underlying message from the 6th World Young Reader Conference (see also former posting), which challenged the contention that children don't read and showed what the world's most innovative newspapers are doing to capture their loyalty.
"No more excuses about the vehicle we have chosen to make our living," said Marcelo Rech, Editor of the Zero Hora newspaper in southern Brazil. "The problem is not the newspaper as a medium - it's in our heads. We need to constantly innovate and at times produce a true revolution in our products rather than be content with mere survival."
The conference, which ended Wednesday, provided dozens of examples of what newspapers are doing to capture the young, and challenged the conventional wisdom that young people are exclusively loyal to electronic media. Summaries of all conference presentations are available from the World Association of Newspapers.
Zero Hora shows how newspapers can win back young readers in a multimedia world. One-third of its 190 journalists are under 30-years old. Nineteen journalism students fulfil support functions in the newsroom and "are a permanent focus group to challenge us," said Mr Rech. Forty-two percent of Zero Hora's readers are between 10- and 29-years old.
The conventional wisdom, however, says the young people don't read. "This is false," said Ricardo Kirschbaum, the Chief Editor of Argentina's Clarin daily. "They don't read as we did when we were young, but they do read." The problem is, today's young people did not grow up reading newspapers and have not developed loyalty to their local papers. But newspapers can and do create this loyalty.
Clarin, for example, has adopted a "life cycle" strategy in which the reading habit is created at a very young age - the newspaper publishes a pre-school magazine for children as young as 4-years old. It then provides a
wide variety of products, both within the newspaper and as separate publications, to appeal to readers of all ages. The "life cycle" strategy has been successful in many different markets, and will be examined in depth at the World Editor & Marketeer Conference, to be held in Athens, Greece, on 17 and 18 November.
The World Young Reader Conference, which drew more than 300 participants from 66 countries to Buenos Aires, Argentina, did not ignore digital media. As Dani?le Fonck, the Deputy Chief Executive of Editpress Group in Luxembourg put it, "How on earth can we reach youngsters if we don't use their tools, particularly mobile phones?"
But rather than accept the contention that digital media are a threat to newspapers, the conference looked at how young people actually use them. A new study in nine European countries and Canada shows they are not necessarily using them to open up to the wider world. The study, conducted for the European Union by the French Education Ministry's media and education research agency, CLEMI, finds that teen-agers
are using internet, mobile telephones and other devices primarily to communicate with a small group of friends.
"They are tribal," said Evelyne B?vort, Deputy Director of CLEMI, who described a closed communication loop using internet, SMS messaging, blogs and other media - but mostly to stay connected with a small group, and mostly to talk about themselves.
The Young Reader Conference examined the wide variety of ways newspapers attract young people, in large markets and small, rich and poor. It looked at Newspapers in Education programs, special sections and supplements, games and quizzes, literacy programmes, integration of digital and paper media, total "youth think", and many other strategies.
"At the World Association of Newspapers, we believe that whatever newspapers are doing in this area is valuable," said Aralynn McMane, Director of Education and Development for WAN, which organised the event. "There is no single approach. Even if a newspaper can only afford to do small things, they are worth doing."
5 Lessons from the 6th World Young Reader Conference
"Young think" - Jennifer Carroll, Director of News Development at Gannett Co. described the company's strategy of "including young adults as regular sources." Gannett's research found that young readers' interests vary tremendously and that a paper needs to take into account all of these interests when attracting young readers.
Daniele Fonck, Deputy Chief Executive of the Luxembourg publisher Editpress told of her company's plan that includes youth-oriented content in every section of the paper. The strategy helped raise youth readership over 2.5% in one year.
Marcelo Rech, editor of Brazilian paper Zero Hora explained that 40% of the paper's readership is between the ages of 10 and 29, a feat it accomplished by hiring journalists under 30 for a third of its newsroom staff and including 60 interactive features between the print and web versions per week.
Calling it a "metro for children," Carlos Echeverry, Editor and Publisher of Bolivia's Mi Super Diario described his paper's success - tripling circulation since its introduction in 2003 - by distributing the colorful and graphic filled pages exclusively in grammar schools.
Francis Dufour, editor and founder of the French children's publisher Play Bac Presse suggested that papers aimed at young readers "do news for the young" stick to shorter sentences and stories and include lots of color and maps in their papers.
Associated Press youth initiative provides opportunities for newspapers
Aimed at the 70 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 34, asap, the Associated Press' initiative to bring young people back to newspapers, began on September 19 (see previous posting) with the slogan "Connect with the next news generation." About 200 American papers are said to have signed up for the service which will provide updated news, entertainment, lifestlyes, sports, and a money & gadgets section for both online and print editions on a daily basis. The focus, however, seems to be on the website, as a promotional video (found at Cyberjournalist) emphasizes that asap's multimedia reports and interactivity are to be the project's core.
The homepage is decorated with an Associated Press news ticker under the banner, followed progressively by the site's main feature, exclusive features (such as an AP journalist's bike ride at President Bush's Texas ranch), advertising and the five above-mentioned sections. Browsing the site, one finds fairly short, to the point articles accompanied by a photo or two and the occasional multimedia feature such as sound bytes or a quick video.
According to asap's editor, Ted Anthony, these interactive qualities will gradually improve, even integrating a means of allowing concerned readers' questions to be nationally polled. Anthony said in his first note to the public (which will eventually morph into a blog) that asap is looking for a "third route" next to that of the mainstream media and the blogoshpere, "one that blends the best parts of tradition with the exciting revolution of the past decade," and one in which stories will be told with audio, video, and images but that will maintain print as a "powerful tool (that) should be deployed as assertively and exuberantly as any other modern media."
Keeping this in mind, here are three problems that newspapers and asap will have to work out as the project develops:
1. Service subscription: each individual paper that signs up for the service will pay a fee to AP depending on the circulation of their paper. It may, however, make more sense for the AP to charge according to a paper's young readership, with a special emphasis on online readership since asap seems to be primarily an Internet-based service and will more than likely attract most through the Web.
2. Newspaper revenues: Not one paper to date plans to charge readers for asap, which is a good idea because not many 18-34 year-olds pay for news. However, asap provides newspapers with an alternative source of advertising which could prove profitable if individual papers launch promotional campaigns for asap in their area in order to entice potential young readers to buy the paper or connect to asap through the paper's website.
3. Brand name recognition: Perhaps the biggest problem is that asap does not yet seem to be able to create further awareness of individual newspapers. As of the time of this posting, AP's website lists five newspapers that have adopted the service which when clicked on bring the reader to the same asap homepage. The only difference is the individual newspaper's name displayed minimally and without even a link to the paper's website within the larger asap main banner. On the other hand, the service may end up spreading awareness of the Associated Press among the elusive demographic, once again drawing attention to the idea that news agencies will increasingly bypass newspapers, interacting directly with readers through their websites.
Overall, asap has potential for newspapers, but it will take some hard work and patience for them to capitalize on its advantages.