Networking, Ad Revenue and Reinvention

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We received a comment that I want to return to because it says, very well, one of the challenges facing journalists, publishers and new media evangelists/

From Vibinc out of Memphis:

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, particularly as it relates to regional/local newspapers. How do these newspapers survive and thrive in an environment where so much of what we’ve come to view as “news” is freely available online, and the long held finance streams (classified ads, etc.) fall away?

I don’t have a comprehensive answer for the financial streams, but as far a content goes, the focus has to be on providing unique content. Newspapers are increasingly unable to afford the AP, and, to my way of thinking, their reliance on the AP to fill column inches is part of the problem with decreasing readership. Readers can get the AP feed ANYWHERE. The answer is localizing the content to a degree far greater than in the past. This content has to both be deeper and wider than ever before. If newspapers provide comprehensive content unavailable anywhere else, more people will see the value of subscriptions and the eyeballs will come back. With that brings back some of the advertising revenue streams.

I understand that it is expensive to pay larger reporting staffs, and that with many locales, tracking down the stories may be more of a challenge, but for most newspapers to survive they are going to have to make a big bet instead of playing defense by feverishly hanging on to long-held business models that are slowly fading away.

The issue, and believe me I’m trying to figure it out myself, is what to keep with old business models and how to reinvent them.

It’s daunting for newspapers as well other forms of media. The reality is that advertising revenue is down everywhere. The issue to tackle is creating a product that people feel worthy of buying. The other thing to remember is that we no longer live in the days of Walter Conkrite where you had one-stop news shopping at the end of every day. As Vibinc said, readers can get news anywhere. Back when I was in radio news, I had the only AP wire in the county. Now everyone has one on their home computer.

The question arises of where is the most news mined by the public. Twitter? The web? Television? Newsprint?

Journalists, in this new world of media, must remain relevant and create relationships that are different than what was done in the past.

Suzanne Yada has some ideas as well on resolutions for journalists, or anyone on the web quite frankly that I encourage you to read.

One of her main solutions: Networking.

I believe all of these ideas have a root system and are connected.

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  1. Suzanne said January 4, 2009 | Permalink

    Thanks for the shout-out! It’s true, it’s all connected. The more you network and build your personal brand, the better chance you as a journalist — and journalism itself, really — will be able to survive these dire days.

  2. lovable liberal said January 4, 2009 | Permalink

    Well, ‘Coma, you’ve made me spend the whole damn Sunday afternoon writing on this subject. Curse you, ‘Coma (in the voice of Jon Stewart).

  3. Mediaverse said January 7, 2009 | Permalink

    It’s natural to focus on journalists as key to the future of newspapers but I’m of the mind now that the focus is skewed.

    Don’t simply focus on content. The AP? Yeah, that’s an issue but it’s not THE issue. Localizing content is important but it’s not at the top of the hierarchy of needs.

    It took me awhile to see this but newspapers have to reinvent themselves with advertisers in mind first and foremost. Advertising is what keeps a newspaper functioning, not its ability to generate content. We may think that if newspapers could sell their content then it would increase their revenues–but only slightly. They couldn’t charge enough per article or per subscription for it to matter. Advertisers pay a high price for access–and it doesn’t matter to them whether that access comes through good journalism or not.

    I’m just sayin, to look at newspapers, you have to break it down and see it for what it is. Newspapers still deliver a tremendous amount of access and that’s why they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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