The Future of Print

Michigan’s Ann Arbor News to close and be replaced by AnnArbor.com

Posted in Doom, Stop the presses by futureofprint on March 23, 2009

The Ann Arbor News today became the latest American newspaper to announce its closure. Editor Laurel Champion explained that the publication has been dealing with “steep losses”, but that there was nothing that staff “did or didn’t do that would have sustained our seven-day print business model”.

Daily print editions will continue throughout July, after which point the publication will move online and become AnnArbour.com, with print editions produced twice weekly. As well as local reporting the site will contain social networking and reader input features, and all journalists will be equipped and trained to report news as it happens.

Champion explained that the newspaper has gone through “very difficult times”, like many financially strained American newspapers. She also said that despite the decision demand for local news has never been stronger and that the News’ closure is “by no means the end of local journalism in Ann Arbor”.

via Michigan’s Ann Arbor News to close and be replaced by AnnArbor.com – Editors Weblog.

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Daily Mail group to cut 1,000 jobs

Posted in Doom by futureofprint on March 23, 2009

The Daily Mail and General Trust DMGT media group said Monday it would cut 1,000 jobs this year, over twice as many as previously forecast.

The job reductions, the latest blow to the ailing media sector, will hit its regional arm, although further cuts are planned “across all cost categories” at Associated Newspapers, owner of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday.

While the mass-market Daily Mail is its biggest brand, the group owns some 113 daily, weekly and free regional newspapers including The Leicester Mercury, the Bristol Evening Post and the Derby Telegraph.

The 1,000 job cuts, over twice as many as forecast in November, come as advertising revenues continue to collapse as advertisements increasingly go online.

In the first quarter of 2009, Associated Newspapers forecast a 24-percent decline in ad income on 2008.

Via Breibart

One Banker’s Plan to Save the Newspaper Industry – Deal Journal – WSJ

Posted in Boom by futureofprint on March 20, 2009

In the past few weeks, the newspaper industry has endured its own version of what happened to Wall Street after the fall of Lehman Brothers. The Rocky Mountain News? Gone. Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune? Filed for bankruptcy. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer? Now online only.

And just Wednesday, the San Diego Union-Tribune was sold to a private-equity firm.

Deal Journal spoke with Jonathan Knee, an investment banker who advised on the San Diego deal and who has covered the media industry for over 15 years. Knee is the director of the media program at the Columbia Business School and the co-author of “Curse of the Mogul: What’s Wrong with the World’s Leading Media Companies?”, which is to be published by Portfolio Books this year.

Highlights of Interview

  • Knee: Unfortunately people confuse dysfunctional capital structures with dysfunctional business models. The reason why most newspaper companies have gone bankrupt or appear perilously close to it is that they have too much debt, not that they have stopped being profitable. For the reasons I have already described, they are certainly less profitable than they used to be, but compared to most media businesses like movies and books, most newspapers still have higher profit margins. Unfortunately, many of these companies maxed out on available debt during a bubble in the debt market just before the debt bubble popped and their own profit margins precipitously declined. That does not mean that these companies cannot continue to generate significant cash flow once restructured into a sustainable capital structure.
  • Knee: There is widespread confusion and has always been regarding the source of the shocking historic profitability of many newspapers. The most profitable newspapers have tended to be monopoly markets with circulation of 20,000 to 100,000 readers. These are not sexy papers like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, which have historically have significantly low margins.
  • Knee: The good news is that the bloated cost structures that grew up in that environment of overwhelming plenty do allow for radical reductions that will help mitigate many of the challenges that are faced by the industry.
  • Knee: You have seen people outsource everything from printing to editorial and indeed, any kind of journalism where your scale in the local community does not provide you with an advantage should be gotten elsewhere.
  • Knee: You have to focus on your competitive advantage, which is local. When the smoke clears, the local newspaper, which may not be the sexiest part of the newspaper industry but is overwhelmingly the largest and most profitable part of the industry, will be a smaller and more-focused enterprise whose activities will be directed to those areas where their local presence gives them competitive advantage and they will continue to generate as a result better profits

Do It Yourself: How To Set Up An Auction Using Craigslist and Google Docs

Posted in Boom by futureofprint on March 20, 2009

Craigslist is a cool place to buy and sell stuff, it has a massive audience and you don’t have to pay the listing fees that Ebay charges. On the downside, though, Craigslist doesn’t have any method for conducting auctions, a proven way to get a good price for whatever you’re selling.

My friend Keith Teare solved that problem, though, by using a combination of a Craigslist listing for a computer he wanted to sell with a Google Docs spreadsheet and form to take bids on the item. Here’s how he did it.

Here’s the listing for his Power Mac G5. He points to a form created with Google Docs to accept bids, and a read-only spreadsheet showing the various bids. Each entry was timestamped, so he was able to cut off bids at the appropriate end time.

Bids ranged from $50 to $750 although the high bid came in too late. The final price was $690. A total of 11 bids were placed.

Via Techcrunch

Time offering ‘customized’ experimental magazine

Posted in Boom by futureofprint on March 20, 2009

US news weekly Time, which like other publications has been looking for ways to reinvent itself in print and on the Web, is allowing readers to put together their own personalized magazine.

The experiment, called “Mine,” allows readers to create a print or Web version of a magazine with content drawn from titles owned by Time and its partner in the venture, American Express Publishing.

The titles are Time, Sports Illustrated, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Money, InStyle, Golf, and Travel + Leisure.

Readers are being encouraged to log on to timeinc.com/mine to choose content from five of the eight titles to create their own free 36-page “customized” magazine, which can be received either in print or online.

Time said 231,000 print and online copies of each issue will be available and readers can receive a new issue of “Mine” magazine every two weeks for 10 weeks.

“We’re always looking at new ways to engage readers with our trusted content,” Stephanie George, a Time Inc. executive vice president, said in a statement.

Lexus is the sole advertiser for the magazine, which will feature four single-page ads for the luxury automaker.

“We’re excited to have a partner like Time Inc. who saw this as an opportunity to showcase their innovation and shake up the way magazines are read,” said David Nordstrom, Lexus vice president of marketing.

via Time offering ‘customized’ experimental magazine.

U.S. law chief open to antitrust aid for newspapers | Deals | Mergers & Acquisitions | Reuters

Posted in Boom by futureofprint on March 19, 2009

WASHINGTON, March 18 Reuters – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Wednesday preserving a healthy newspaper industry was important and he was open to adjusting antitrust policy if it could help.

“I’d like to think 20, 30, 40 years from now people will still be reading the newspaper,” Holder told reporters.

He was responding to a call by House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urging the Justice Department to give newspapers more leeway to merge or combine operations.

The industry is reeling from declining circulation, economic recession and a shift in advertising and reader attention to online media. Venerable newspapers have closed or — such as the Hearst Corp’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer this week — gone to Internet-only editions with reduced staff.

“I think it’s important for this nation to maintain a healthy newspaper industry. So to the extent that we have to look at our enforcement policies and conform them to the realities that that industry faces, that’s something that I’m going to be willing to do,” Holder said.

Some struggling newspapers in multiple-newspaper cities have limited antitrust immunity under the 1970 Newspaper Preservation Act, allowing them to combine business activities while maintaining separate news operations.

Via Reuters

Journalism.org- The State of the News Media 2009

Posted in Boom, Doom by futureofprint on March 19, 2009

The newspaper industry exited a harrowing 2008 and entered 2009 in something perilously close to free fall. Perhaps some parachutes will deploy, and maybe some tree limbs will cushion the descent, but for a third consecutive year the bottom is not in sight.

We still do not subscribe to the theory that the death of the industry is imminent. The industry over all in 2008 remained profitable.

But the deep recession already threatens the weakest papers. Nearly all are now cutting so deeply and rapidly that simply coping with the economic downturn has become a major distraction from efforts to reinvent the economics of the business. And even once the downturn ends, growing or stabilized revenues are no sure thing.

If the industry’s death isn’t imminent, the more pertinent question may be this: can newspapers beat the clock? Can they find a way to convert their growing audience online into sufficient revenue to sustain the industry before their shrinking revenues from print fall too far? And if some succeed and some don’t, what are the characteristics of a newspaper organization that survives and one that doesn’t?

Read the entire report on stateofthemedia.org

Pelosi goes to bat to keep Bay Area papers alive

Posted in Boom by futureofprint on March 17, 2009

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, worried about the fate of The Chronicle and other financially struggling newspapers, urged the Justice Department Monday to consider giving Bay Area papers more leeway to merge or consolidate business operations to stay afloat.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, released by Pelosi’s office late Monday, the San Francisco Democrat asked the department to weigh the public benefit of saving The Chronicle and other papers from closure against the agency’s antitrust mission to guard against anti-competitive behavior.

“We must ensure that our policies enable our news organizations to survive and to engage in the news gathering and analysis that the American people expect,” Pelosi wrote.

The speaker said the issue of newspapers’ survival and antitrust law will be the subject of a hearing soon before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy, chaired by Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga.

Via SFGate

Detroit newspaper readers to be offered the chance to rent Plastic Logic e-readers

Posted in Boom by futureofprint on March 16, 2009

etroit Media Partnership has announced that it will launch a trial with Plastic Logic to distribute the company’s e-reader as part of its plan to convert to a more web-centric distribution model on 30 March, reported NewsandTech.com. Although the product will not be released until 2010, DMP has obtained 100 of the large display e-readers which it will trial with readers of the electronic editions of The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press.

DMP CEO Dave Hunke said that the publisher is working with Plastic Logic to develop a lease plan that would enable DMP subscribers to rent the readers, and DMP will use the next few months to establish pricing and availability details.

via Detroit newspaper readers to be offered the chance to rent Plastic Logic e-readers – Editors Weblog.

State of the News Media 2009: bleakest ever, blaims industry

Posted in Doom by futureofprint on March 16, 2009

The “bleakest” ever report on the State of the News Media in the US has just been released by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. Although the traditional media have held on to their audience numbers and it seems that “the old norms of traditional journalism continue to have value,” the report comes to the same conclusion that we all have: the big problem is that of revenue.

One of the most important developments, states the report, is that audience migration to the Internet is now accelerating: according to one survey the number of Americans who regularly go online for news jumped 19% in the last two years and in 2008 alone traffic to the top 50 news sites rose 27%. This shift “means that the news industry has to reinvent itself sooner than it thought,” particularly in light of the worsening economy. Executives estimate that the recession at least doubled revenue losses in the news industry in 2008.

via State of the News Media 2009: bleakest ever, blaims industry – Editors Weblog.