Internet surpasses Newspapers as news source (US)

845664-media_httpwwwjamescogancomimagespewmediagif_qwfuvmlsInrakgkAccording to the latest Pew Research study, the Internet (in the U.S.) has overtaken Newspapers as a primary news source, Television next?

The internet, which emerged this year as a leading source for campaign news, has now surpassed all other media except television as a main source for national and international news.Currently, 40% say they get most of their news about national and international issues from the internet, up from just 24% in September 2007. For the first time in a Pew survey, more people say they rely mostly on the internet for news than cite newspapers (35%). Television continues to be cited most frequently as a main source for national and international news, at 70%.For young people, however, the internet now rivals television as a main source of national and international news. Nearly six-in-ten Americans younger than 30 (59%) say they get most of their national and international news online; an identical percentage cites television. In September 2007, twice as many young people said they relied mostly on television for news than mentioned the internet (68% vs. 34%).

via pew

Newspapers need to be ‘elitist’ to survive, says Meyer

A few years ago I penned a blog post about the future of newspapers and suggested that ‘prestige’ was one of the keys to unlocking a prosperous future for newsprint. So I thought it was pretty interesting to read an article today by Philip Meyer who suggested making the newspaper more ‘elitist’ would be a wise move.

Philip Meyer is one of the industry’s most lauded researchers and wrote an intriguing book called ‘The Vanishing Newspaper – Saving Journalism in the Information Age‘. Philip Meyer suggests a move away from printing newspapers on a daily basis combined with a stronger focus on visual presentation and what he describes as ‘evidence-based’ journalism.

One can infer several things from this viewpoint, the first of which is that daily newspapers need to be free. Secondly, by moving to a less frequent publishing schedule, you can focus more on providing content that digs deeper and thus has more value than what is currently being offered in the daily newspaper or blogs for that matter.

“Recently, I took another look at the readership data from the General Social Survey of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago and tried a different metric. Reasoning that you could still make a pretty good business from an audience reading less than daily, I tracked the percentage of adults who reported reading a newspaper at least once a week. That chart, from 1972 to 2002, shows a much clearer leveling off in the 1980s. Then, at the end of the decade, as though somebody blew a whistle and ordered a column-right march, the line snakes downward again. Now that information is so plentiful, we don’t need new information so much as help in processing what’s already available.

Just as the development of modern agriculture led to a demand for varieties of processed food, the information age has created a demand for processed information. We need someone to put it into context, give it theoretical framing and suggest ways to act on it. The raw material for this processing is evidence-based journalism, something that bloggers are not good at originating. Not all readers demand such quality, but the educated, opinion-leading, news-junkie core of the audience always will. They will insist on it as a defense against “persuasive communication,” the euphemism for advertising, public relations and spin that exploits the confusion of information overload.

Readers need and want to be equipped with truth-based defenses. Newspapers might have a chance if they can meet that need by holding on to the kind of content that gives them their natural community influence. To keep the resources for doing that, they will have to jettison the frivolous items in the content buffet.”

Mario Garcia, another industry heavyweight, sums it all up…

I think the future lies somewhere at this intersection, the one where a combination The New York Times/The Economist/Die Zeit meet a colorful free version of USAToday. Of course, a strong online edition is a vital requirement. The newspaper of the future – elite or free – is simply a companion to a robust and newsy online edition.

Dreaming of newspapers

I would love to get involved in the newspaper business right now. I realize that may sound crazy given the doom and gloom that is hovering over the entire industry like a black cloud. However, I see the current state of the newspaper business as a tremendous opportunity. Through my work in print for clients big and small and thus exposure to the industry, my mind is full of ideas and concepts on how the newspaper can evolve / change both from presentation and design, to new methods of creating additional revenue. It has become a closet fascination for me. Perhaps the biggest stumbling block in the newsprint business is a corporate culture that is not currently embracing innovation fast enough.

Meanwhile, the default attitude of newspaper management is still caution and probity. And if you point a gun to the head of caution and probity and say “innovate or die,” don’t expect wonderful things to happen. Instead, expect buzzwords. In short: we need more paint thrown at more walls. But there aren’t many true innovators out there yet in positions of authority, and those who are are struggling against an archaic institutional architecture that remains despite all the layoffs: everything from the strictures of AP style to the cluelessness of corporate overlords.

I don’t particularly like the use of the term ‘corporate overlords’ as it does not accurately convey the real challenges that every newspaper executive currently faces on a daily basis. From managing shareholder expectations to restructuring debts and corporate structure, using a term like ‘corporate overlord’ seems like a cop-out. Nonetheless the overall motif of that quote rings true. There is an inherent slow pace of evolution and change in the newspaper industry and that in and of itself may be cannibalizing its future more than anything else. This culture of ‘slow’ needs to change. The corporate newspaper culture needs an injection of fresh thinking, new ideas and this overall fear of experimentation must be cast aside before this perfect media storm quashes the relevance of the medium for good. What is this perfect media storm that is threatening newspapers?

Let’s take a look at some of the key factors that are eating away at the newspaper’s future.

a) Consumer attention crisis – Pre-internet newspaper readers may have spent 2 hours reading their daily paper, now that number is probably under 30 minutes. Consumers are pre-conditioned to want everything ‘now’. Combine shorter attention spans with a myriad of other options to consume media, and it’s no wonder newspapers are facing an attention crisis.

b) Advertisers are taking money off the newspaper table – And they’re spreading it out across more mediums and utilizing different marketing strategies. Not only are people spending less time reading newspapers, which has trimmed the value of newsprint ads, but advertisers also have so many other places to put their money these days. Yes, lots of print ad money is migrating to the web, but advertisers are also experimenting more, using strategies like direct-to-consumer and word of mouth marketing campaign

c) Consumers are producers – We’re moving from a few-to-many media spectrum to a many-to-many spectrum where anyone can grab a signal and be heard. Blogs and any form of user-generated content for that matter are fragmenting the media market. You don’t need to be a newspaper columnist to have influence and / or a large audienc

d) Investor fragmentation – The same way that consumers have so much more choice when consuming media, investors too have many more places to invest their money. Money also moves so much quicker today which only compounds and expedites the exodus of investment out of your company / industry if you can’t project a solid vision for the futur

e) Technology game – Media consumption has become very technology driven. How media is both created and transmitted has changed forever and technology is now driving this bus. Newsprint has not evolved, and many newspapers have been incredibly slow to embrace new technology as a whole. In some ways it starts from the inside-out. A change in DNA has to happen for newspapers. I’m not suggesting newspapers need to stock themselves full of technology geeks, but to some degree an internal shift has to happen. If you want to capture the attention of a younger, tech-savvy demographic, you are going to have to start looking and thinking like they do.

f) Market communism, the wall has come down for good – Pre-internet, newspapers had a protected market. Today, there is no such thing as a protected market. It’s now a fluid marketplace with no borders and barriers. You’re audience may be here today, and gone tomorrow. That’s realit

Those are the challenges facing the newspaper business today. Will the newspaper survive this new world of hyper-connectedness and hyper-short attention spans? I think they will, but the sooner newspapers start throwing paint at their walls, the better.

via The big die-off via

Anyone want to analyze the newspaper business? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

I’ll preface this by saying that the U.S. newspaper market is quite different than the Canadian market. Canadian newspapers have managed to hold on to what they had far better than their American compadres. However, the news on the newspaper biz continues to reflect an industry under tremendous duress. A recent article from Reuters indicates that the number of financial analysts who cover the newspaper industry are dropping like flies, and the ones that are still doing it sound like this…

“If I covered only the newspaper industry, first of all I would have been fired a long time ago; secondly, I would have had to kill myself,” Appert said.

Full article: Number of newspaper analysts dwindles

Philanthropist donates $8 million to solve newspaper’s future

Retired ex-newspaper exec Leonard Tow is donating $8 million dollars to two schools in a dual-effort to train journalism students in digital media and experiment with new business models for the newspaper business. Columbia University will receive $5 million for training, while City University of New York gets $3 million for research and development. While I think this is both generous and positive, I do wonder if $3 million will really have any impact or utility on testing new newspaper business models or technological concepts. Nonetheless, a really nice gift, but might MIT had been a better place for this kind of R&D investment?The newspaper biz does need all the help it can get and Dr. Tow is clearly focused on the notion that authentic, trained news reporting may be eroding.

Leonard Tow, a co-founder of the foundation, said the grants were a response to his “serious concerns about what is happening in the world of journalism.”“I thought it was time for us to think about addressing these new-media opportunities so what we as citizens receive from them is more an accurate reflection of what is going on in the world than some opinion


Newspapers continue to feel their way

I stumbled across an interesting article recently from the Miami Herald about the ongoing struggle to re-invent and re-invigorate the newspaper business. Some great commentary by Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. after news broke that upwards of 190 Herald employees may be let go.

Virtually every newspaper is going through the same thing: shrinking profit margins, declining circulation, staff cutbacks and morale at subterranean levels as journalists struggle to figure out how we can save the American newspaper. But I have come — reluctantly — to believe we can’t. We must blow it up instead. Doing otherwise is like trying to save record albums in an era where music is downloaded to iPods, trying to save film in an era where every camera is digital. People did not stop listening to music or taking pictures, but new methods of doing so evolved, and those who were in the business of selling music or pictures had to adapt or die.

We in the business of selling news have yet to adapt. Yes, every newspaper has a website now. Some, like The Herald, have TV and radio facilities as well. I’m talking about something more: a radical change of focus. We still tend to regard our websites as ancillary to our primary mission of producing newspapers. But I submit that our primary mission is to report and comment upon the news and that it is the newspaper itself that has become ancillary. So maybe we should regard the Internet not as an extra thing we do, but as the core thing we do.

Full article: Launch a fiery campaign to reinvent newspapers

Newspapers are dropping the ‘paper’

The sign of things to come? Is news on paper really dying? That depends on who you ask. I truly believe newspapers will be around for a long time yet. But they must evolve and embrace change. I added some flotsam and jetsam on this topic a few years ago. While debating the newspaper’s future is much traveled territory, one association is grabbing the bull by the horns. The International Newspaper Marketing Association has just announced that they are changing their name.

INMA is changing its name to reflect the evolution of its member newspapers and lead the newspaper industry toward its multi-media future.

Their new official name is: International Newspapermedia Marketing Association

“We are an association evolving to meet the evolving requirements of our members in a changing information landscape,” said Earl J. Wilkinson, executive director of the 1,300-member global association. “Our roots and our origins remain intact. Most of our members continue to make the preponderance of their revenues from print newspapers, and we believe this will resume growing in the future. Yet the online, mobile, digital, and niche publishing canvasses are vital, growing and important to news consumers and advertisers who want to reach them. We want to be an association inclusive of professionals in our larger industry not be tied specifically to those of one medium.”“We simply replaced five letters in our name to reflect the new realities of our business.”

Chrysler’s New Car Launch Spells Doom For Newspapers

Much has been written and said about how much Craigslist is contributing to the demise of the newspaper business. While Craigslist is single-handedly killing the print classifieds business, there are other storm clouds brewing that are just as worrisome for newspapers.

Car makers launching new models are increasingly putting more and more of their spend into digital platforms and newspapers are getting less and less. So it’s not just the auto classifieds that are disappearing, but the big newspaper display ads to introduce new models are becoming endangered species…

Chrysler is about to embark on a major launch campaign for a car called the Dodge Journey, but for the newspaper business they might as well nickname the car Dodge Doom. The upcoming advertising campaign serves as a microcosm on several fronts. It illustrates both why newspapers are seeing a drastic cut in revenues, and also why internet advertising revenues will continue to grow despite a weak economy.Chrysler is spending $35 million to launch the Dodge Journey which is the same amount they spent last year when they launched the Dodge Nitro. The big difference is not in the total ad spend, it’s where the money is going or not going. Two years ago, Chrysler allocated 5% of their launch budget to online/interactive media. This year, that number is 29% which marks the single largest online ad spend for Chrysler to date.

The reason the company likes online is that it gets so much direct feedback from web consumers — it says it has already made 400 changes to 2008 and 2009 models based on customer web feedback.

Television is still getting the most allocation at 54%, followed by 29% for online, 9% for print and 4% for radio. Of the 9% for print, the majority of it is going to magazines, not newspapers. Now you can begin to understand the gravity of the situation for the newspaper business. For a major automaker to spend $35 million to bring mass awareness to a new product and then subsequently choose (for the most part) to do it without targeting newspaper readers, is a major shift.

And let’s not forget Porsche is promoting its Boxster and Cayman sports cars this month. The campaign is using magazine ads, online banners, and micro sites. The company says that going into 2009 interactive and magazines will continue to be its focus. “Online is a big part of Porsche going forward,” said Marshall Ross, the chief creative officer of the Cramer-Krasselt agency developing the campaign. “If we can bring that personality online in a compelling way, you will see a lot more of it.”

Full article: Chrysler Is Spending Some $35 Million To Launch Its 2009 Dodge Journey Crossover Auto, But If Newspapers Are Lucky They May See Around $1 million Of That Spend

Stop the presses?

BusinessWeek has an article that focuses on the plight of newspapers, and specifically suggests that a wave of newspapers could/should consider quitting the paper business altogether and publish exclusively on the web. It’s an interesting perspective, but one I would argue is flawed.

Shutting down a diminishing or losing print business will save a media company plenty of dough on the expense side, but the paper business also represents (currently anyways) a much larger piece of the revenue pie than the internet side of the mainstream publishing business – and therein lies the rub. It’s not so simple to say, ‘stop the presses’, because doing so to a large degree also equates to ‘stop the cash flow’. In author Jon Fine’s point of view – it’s the San Francisco Chronicle that should be first in line to ditch paper, a notion that seems credible on the surface given that the Chronicle is currently losing approx. $1 million per week. Ouch, yes you read that correctly.

Vin Crosbie over at Corante has a good rebuttal to Jon’s ‘web-only’ newspaper fix. If newspapers ever do seriously consider making a web-only leap, they had better have a major strategy in place for brand extension on the web. As the web market continues to mature and saturate, you are going to want to have more than one brand-ball in play.

Historically speaking, broadcast mediums don’t die. Newspapers will be around for a long time yet, but the evolution process won’t come without its bumps, bruises, and inevitably, some casualties.

Toronto Star Gets More ‘User-Friendly’

845600-media_httpwwwjamescogancomimagesnewspapersjpg_jiizAcdrlrGckuCIn a state of constant flux, the newspaper industry continues to adapt and make proactive changes in an effort to cut costs and entice a new generation of readers. The Toronto Star announced today that they are shaving 4-inches off the width of their newspaper, a move that will take it from the current 50-inch broadsheet width to a leaner 46-inch format. This move accomplishes two things, it cuts printing costs, and it makes it more ‘user friendly’ for the next-gen newspaper reader. It’s a great move, and is consistent with an industry-wide trend to get smaller.

The Star is only the second newspaper in North America to adopt the 46-inch width, following North Dakota’s Bismarck Tribune which pioneered the format back in 2005. The Toronto Star deserves credit for being among the most aggressive industry-wide in changing formats. Back in 1992, the Toronto Star was the first newspaper in North America to cut its width from the traditional 54-inch broadsheet to a (current) modified 50-inches wide.On the heels of this news, I thought it would be interesting to re-visit a whimsical blog post I wrote back in February 2006 about the the future of newsprint and how famous newspaper designer Mario Garcia was orchestrating a major renovation of the Wall Street Journal.

845601-media_httpwwwdailypixelcomimagesnewspapergif_eblrfzggGwfiqBqI’ve long been fascinated with media as a delivery mechanism of information and in particular how that mechanism is designed. Anyone who has talked to me about the traditional/broadsheet newspaper knows that I’m bearish on its long-term viability, at least in its current form. It’s my belief that for traditional newspapers to survive the permanent movement to microcontent and micro-attention-spans, a substantial rethink on how a newspaper is designed, printed and marketed is required. If newspapers evolve the way I think they will need to, we may see the price of some daily newspapers skyrocket into the $5-$15 range.

Recently I stumbled across an interesting article about Mario Garcia and his current effort to redesign the Wall Street Journal. Mario Garcia is among the world’s most famous newspaper designers and when an authoritative agent for change walks into a very old-school publication and ‘moves furniture around’ the process must be both frustrating and incredibly interesting. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks there is little life left in the broadsheet newspaper. Still, the Journal likely won’t adopt the one idea Garcia thinks all newspapers will eventually embrace: a conversion to tabloid size.

If not tabloid, perhaps the berliner format (a bit taller and wider than tabloid – think Le Monde, but still considerably more compact than broadsheet) will eventually gain in popularity amongst newspaper publications. Garcia looks ahead and clearly sees the writing on the wall – the front-end of the Echo generation is getting older, and soon they will be within the crosshairs of a newspaper-subscriber demographic. Garcia reasons that an audience raised on cable TV and the Internet needs a more portable, navigable newspaper.

“In five years, you will hit a generation of readers who don’t remember life without the Internet,” said Garcia, a 59-year-old father of four who enjoys youth-oriented tabloids such as the Times. “People who are coming from . . . the screen of the Internet are used to reading within the confines of a smaller place and transfer more quickly to the tabloid.”

Today newspapers are in a real tough spot, they have to cater to their loyal (sorry to be blunt, but older) readers while trying to make the paper something a younger reader would want to buy. Unfortunately, that’s an extremely, if not impossible thing to do because of how divergent the wants and needs of those demographics are. If people think the newspaper business is undergoing a transformation now, just wait, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

As the Echos age and hit their 30’s newspapers will have no choice but to cast aside the needs of the dwindling older few in an attempt to make news on paper something the Internet generation really wants in their hands.

“What we know about the reader is that he or she today is very tech savvy,” he said. “They’re surrounded with iPods and cameras and all of this, and the second thing is impatience. They don’t give you a lot of time. They don’t read the newspaper like Grandpa used to read – page by page, waiting patiently to get to sports. They look at Page 1, they see a story about Tino Martinez hitting a home run, well, (they) want to see it – immediately.””…no one is acknowledging yet that people spend 20 to 30 minutes a day with them, and we’re still editing and designing this stuff as if people are spending two or three hours a day with it. Newspapers have largely been produced for the satisfaction of other journalists, and the jig is up now.” says Gaspard of the Las Vegas Sun.

How will newsprint survive in the long run? In one word: prestige.

Newspapers may become status symbols. Not everyone will be able to afford one. If you’re carrying around a newspaper, it will have to say something about who you are. How many people would plunk down $10 for a Tuesday newspaper? Not many, perhaps. But the newsprint of the future, printed and presented in revolutionary ways, may best be morphed into a symbol for wealth and chic. News for the masses on paper? It appears to be dying, and I’m not convinced the net-savvy Echos will ever embrace it enough to revive the medium under that premise.

However, the Echos are the most brand-conscious cohort the world has ever seen. Convince the Echos that a newspaper is something they want to ‘be seen’ carrying, in essence by turning the newspaper into something as trivial as an accessory it may actually give it more importance and appeal to the readers of the future. Sound crazy? Well, this is the same generation that has turned a communications device into chocolate candy.

Everything from earrings and pendants to radios are now being sold in phone-shaped versions. When five months ago began offering gold cell-phone charms adorned with topaz and diamonds, it tapped into a gold mine. In early March, the retailer sold more than 100 at $69.99 each during a TV segment lasting less than two minutes.The cell phone is rapidly becoming one of the most powerful symbols for all that’s cool, young, and on the move. It’s “a cultural icon,” says Victor Chu, fashion technologist at Parsons School of Design in New York.

“It’s way beyond a piece of technology now.”

Nearly half of the U.S. population (2002) now owns a cell phone. For kids and adults alike, a phone-shaped accessory carries a clear message.

“What’s hanging off your wrist is a way to communicate who you are, that you are open to communication,” says Steven Goldsmith, general merchandising manager at, owned by ValueVision Media (VVTV ).

Think about this line in that quote: “It’s way beyond a piece of technology now.” To survive the Echo wave, we may describe the newspaper of the future this way:

“It’s way beyond the news now.”

Think about it. What would a newspaper have to be, have to look like, have to feel like, to fit that description?

Toronto Star Announces New Look, New Size [CNW]
His mission: to redesign with today’s readers in mind [St. Petersburg Times]
Dialing into Cellphone Chic [Business Week]
Q&A with Mario Garcia [Poynter Onlin]