Communication Leadership Blog
The MediaNews Group has set up its new strategy to revitalize its newspapers. The company's vision includes three major changes: First, MediaNews will begin to charge for its online news. Subscribers to the physical newspaper will have free online access, but all others will be directed to a pay vehicle. Second, the company will move to differentiate the newspaper from its online version. It will continue to utilize material from its printed source but "will also have user-generated content, community involvement and third party content." Finally, it will create a locus of local information with various resources, including shopping information and user content.
Perhaps because of all the media hype, Twitter had more unique visitors in the month of April than did the online versions of the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. Twitter had 19.4 million visitors, compared with 15.6 and 12.2 million for the newspapers, respectively. These findings are consistent with previous announcements that Twitter gained 5 million new users in March.
The New York Times has launched Times Wire, a minute-by-minute update of the newspapers' articles and blog posts as they are posted on the web. While TechCrunch worries that the new feature won't do anything to address the problem of the newspaper's slow reporting speed, it does admit: "As an overview of the entire NYT site, it's actually quite interesting."
Thomson Reuters is revamping its mobile applications. They will include video and market data as well as headlines. The applications are adapted to better suit the needs of iPhone or Blackberry users -- the former supplies more video and the latter focuses on business data. While the overhauled apps will remain free for now, the company has indicated that this is the first step in a transition to charging for the mobile content.
The New York Times is re-evaluating its TimesSelect experiment, which introduced micropayments for some of the paper's content, and thinking of instituting a tiered membership scheme. The idea is akin to the American Express model, with different levels, from platinum to gold. The paper is also investigating other types of revenue, such as selling research to Fortune 500 companies. As of now, the newspaper has rejected raising the endowment or seeking individual donations as viable options.
Online advertisements are often measured (and paid for) in terms of clicks. Companies usually buy ads at CPMs (or cost per thousand clicks). But publishers are starting to turn to engagement advertising, which focuses on the level of engagement with a product or ad rather than the number of click-throughs. It remains difficult, however, to measure engagement, and the industry has traditionally relied upon time as the measure. There are still obstacles to overcome, but industry experts expect engagement ads to be the future of online advertising.
As The New York Times struggles under the burdens of debt and the general decline of newspapers, Richard Siklos of Fortune reports that former Hollywood mogul David Geffen offered to purchase a 19 percent stake in the newspaper from Harbinger Capital Partners. The deal did not go through. Siklos also has a good summary of the challenges facing the so-called the Grey Lady.
At the White House Correspondents Dinner, a traditionally humorous gathering of politicians and press, President Obama ended his satirical speech with an earnest support of newspapers: "a government without newspapers, a government without a tough and vibrant media is not an option for the United States of America." This statement has led some to conclude that the president is preparing for a government bailout of newspapers. Read the Editors Weblog post. -- May 11, 2009.
Papermotion might be the start of an entirely new way to consume newspaper advertising. Created by a French company, Total Immersion, and an Australian firm, the Dreamscape Group, this new technology uses a printed image. When put in front of a webcam, it creates a three-dimensional image on the computer, complete with music. 20th Century Fox is the first major company to employ this type of advertising for their upcoming film, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.
The problem with news charts, maps and databases is that they all require maintenance in order to stay relevant. Without continual updating, they quickly become irrelevant and sometimes misleading. One way to prevent this, without allocating staff, is to have the charts pull directly from the available information as it is released, so that the chart is quickly updated (The Raleigh News and Observer does this with their crime graphs, culling information from law enforcement databases). Another helpful tool might be Wolfram Alpha, a powerful search engine that will answer queries and compute information.