Efforts to sustain
Published 2:38 pm Sunday, April 12, 2009
the newspaper industry
We are delighted that San Diego served as host city to this year’s annual gathering of newspaper publishers, sponsored by the Newspaper Association of America.
This year is particularly noteworthy: In all my years working for newspapers, I have never seen so many front-page stories pegged to the future of newspapers. Some are truly heart-breaking accounts, as was the closing of the 150-year-old Rocky Mountain News in Denver. That announcement was followed by the decision to shut down the print operation of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer after 146 years in favor of an online-only news product.
The changing business models of newspapers was a major topic of discussion at the NAA meeting, which started last Sunday and ran through Tuesday, and we looked forward to hearing from some of our colleagues who already have adapted these strategies in a concerted effort to thrive in this difficult environment. One of the most recent implementations comes from Detroit, where just last week the Free Press and the News reduced home delivery to three days a week, while continuing to produce a daily single-copy edition and a seven-day electronic edition.
Are these cost-cutting measures? Absolutely. But talk to the editors and publishers in Detroit and elsewhere, and you’ll hear a common motivation: growth and prosperity.
Detroit’s David Hunke put it this way: “We are creating a hybrid solution that puts us on a growth curve; it’s a bold move that will help us prosper.”
Prosper? That’s right. Prosper.
Newspapers are doing more and more every day to remain vibrant and trusted parts of their communities and society at large. They are building on their core values of credibility, quality and consumer engagement; leveraging new revenue streams such as digital platforms; monetizing value that used to be taken for granted.
Consider some facts that newspaper critics and promoters of other media tend to overlook:
Print newspapers remain one of the largest and most vital communications media around — more than 100 million Americans read a daily paper. In today’s world of fragmented media, that’s a huge and loyal audience. In addition, 75 million adults visit newspaper Web sites every month, representing more than four in 10 active Internet users.
Newspaper advertising works. Smart advertisers such as Macy’s and Kohl’s continue to invest in newspaper media because it drives results. Google’s own research showed that 56 percent of consumers researched or purchased products they saw advertised in a newspaper.
Digital revenues are already an important part of newspapers’ sustaining business model. In 2008, newspapers’ digital revenues reached $3 billion, a number expected to grow as innovations continue.
We are energized by the new wave of enthusiasm that celebrates the enduring values and value of the news organizations we have built, that concedes how important it is to everyday living to be able to access the information, reviews and other data in newspapers and hosted on newspaper Web sites. All of this, without even a mention of the critical value to our society and how we govern ourselves.
As an industry, we are committed to maintain that trust and connection, while we find new ways to prosper, in service to consumers, to advertisers, to our communities and to our readers and users — ways that will carry us together into the future.