Archive for August, 2009

Newspapers’ decline steeper

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Print and online advertising revenue dropped at American newspapers in the second quarter at a steeper rate than in the first three months of the year, according to figures from the Newspaper Association of America.

Revenue fell by 29 percent through the first half of the year, says the Associated Press. “It’s the deepest downturn yet during a three-year free fall in advertising revenue — newspapers’ main source of income.”

In the second quarter, print advertising fell 30 percent to $6.16 billion year-to-year, and online ads dropped by 16 percent to $653 million.

Ad sales dropped 28 percent in the first quarter to $6.62 billion, according to Bloomberg’s report on the new figures.

The statistics served as a stark reminder of the crisis facing newspapers as they try to cope with a brutal recession and advertising trends that have shifted more marketing dollars to the Internet,” the AP says.

“When the economy eventually begins its recovery, advertisers will return to spending, and newspapers will find themselves extremely well positioned to harness the strength of their print and digital platforms to build a brighter future,” said John Sturm, the NAA’s chief executive.

UNC’s Daily Tar Heel ramps up social media

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

After taking suggestions and comments from various outlets, the University of North Carolina’s  Daily Tar Heel posted its new Web site Saturday with an emphasis on social media, blogging and reader-submitted content, College News reports.

Blogs will cover campus activities, parties, sports (of course), local elections, photography and other topics. Students studying abroad will contribute to the Dispatches blog, and UNC parents will write for The Home Team, dedicated to helping students and parents find their way around college.

The editors at the DTH have a two-and-a-half-minute YouTube video explaining the new site, and are on Facebook and Twitter. They are also promising links to other publications’ stories “if someone else does it better,” and that they want more reader submissions, story ideas and feedback, including photos e-mailed, uploaded to Flickr or posted to their Facebook page.

The print version of the newspaper has also been redesigned, according to College News.

Says College News: “In an ever-adapting media world, it’s fantastic to see a school newspaper really take the reigns of social media and online content to improve circulation for its print component. Maybe the professional newspapers should take note.”

Atlanta offers automated ad campaigns

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

In a move that could threaten newspaper sales positions in addition to the few ad designers left,  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has launched an automated newspaper advertising system aimed at small- and medium-sized businesses, Editor & Publisher reports.

MyAds is “a self-serve platform that helps advertisers target a campaign, create an ad through templates, plan a buy starting at $350 for a week, and track the ads.”

For now it is for online ads only, but by year’s end it is to be used to create print and direct mail advertising, E&P says.

Miami paper targets blogger

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

The Miami Herald, a McClatchy newspaper, says a local blogger who used two photos from the newspaper in an August 18 post is stealing from the paper.

“The Herald’s lawyer alleges that I am stealing Herald content,” says Bill, a photographer from Miami Beach who writes the Random Pixels blog. “He also alleges that I derive income from ads on my blog and that using Herald content helps drive traffic to my blog.”

The letter from Herald attorney Ian Ballon (posted here and here) alleges that the blog has run full articles from the Herald as well as large photos, which is a violation of Fair Use. The paper does not object to “short excerpts” from articles, “thumbnail reproductions of photographs” or “continued commentary on the paper, including criticism,”  the letter says.

Random Pixels had a wrap-up of the argument so far with comments from other Florida  lawyers suggesting this is a waste of The Herald’s time and money (plus a claim that the blog actually drives traffic to the newspaper’s site and that the controversy is increasing traffic at the blog). The blogger denies running full Herald articles.

News Corp. leads talks of pay-for-content

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Executives from Ruport Murdoch’s News Corp. have been meeting with other publishers about forming a consortium to charge for news content online, says the L.A. Times’ Company Town blog.

Publishers contacted include New York Times Co., Washington Post Co., Hearst Corp. and Tribune Co., publisher of the Los Angeles Times. News Corp.’s holdings include Wall Street Journal Online, which boasts more than 1 million paying subscribers.

“News Corp.’s solution is the latest proposal to publishers seeking to wring money from Internet readers to offset double-digit drops in print and online revenue,” the blog says. “Steve Brill’s Journalism Online initiative garnered attention this spring when it announced plans to create the tools to allow publishers to collect fees for digital distribution, and recently announced that more than 500 newspapers had joined.”

Publications like the WSJ and Financial Times have succeeded with a paid-for-content model in part, the blog says, because financial traders need the timely information they provide. Whether readers will pay for general news, sports and entertainment content is a different matter. “It’s probably going to be small dollars,” said Edward Atorino, media analyst at Benchmark Co. “For a big media company, it’s going to add a little bit to a giant pile.”

Bigger not necessarily better online

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

The placement and shape of an online ad has more to do with its effectiveness than its size, according to a study by Dynamic Logic.

“The ad-effectiveness measurement firm crunched results from 4,800 campaigns and found the best-performing ad unit, in terms of metrics such as brand awareness, recall and purchase intent, was the humble 180-pixel-by-150-pixel rectangle ad,” says Advertising Age.

Ads that surround content – well-worn skyscraper and leaderboard units – are the least effective, as people have developed “banner blindness,” Ken Mallon, senior VP-custom solutions at Dynamic Logic, told the magazine.

The No. 1 factor of ad effectiveness, according to Dynamic Logic, is creative. “In the digital world, lots of time is spent optimizing targeting and campaign frequency, but the most important factor is starting with a good ad,” Mallon said. “Just about any size will work better than a bad ad that’s huge.”

Video comes to print advertising

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

CBS on Wednesday unveiled a print advertisement with a small, embedded video screen that will enable some readers of Entertainment Weekly to sample 40 minutes of its upcoming shows.

The video player will be inserted into subscription copies of Entertainment Weekly’s September 18 Fall TV Preview in New York and Los Angeles.

Cuts alone won’t sustain newspapers

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

The Wall Street Journal says that despite gains from cutting expenses, the prognosis for newspapers “remains troubled.”

Reporter Martin Peers ticks off the now-familiar savings moves – layoffs, pay freezes or cuts, shrunken newsprint and ink costs as advertising supports fewer pages – and says it all could work out if advertising stabilized. “But, … it is probably safer to bet that newspaper advertising will remain under long-term pressure.

“All this argues for avoiding newspaper companies with heavy debt loads, where the margin for error is still thin. That group includes McClatchy and Lee.”

Other publishers, like Gannett, E.W. Scripps and A.H. Belo, have healthier balance sheets, Peers adds.

Update: Ryan Chittum at the Columbia Journalism Review says inflation-adjusted numbers show papers are even worse off than you think.

CareerBuilder jumps into social media

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

CareerBuilder, the online jobs board, has revealed the launch of, a social networking site based on users’ professions.

Like LinkedIn, which debuted in 2003 and claims more than 45 million members, BrightFuse allows users to “highlight their talent through customizable profiles that reflect their backgrounds, skills and specialties. In addition to basic personal and professional information, workers can add recommendations from contacts, community activities, Twitter updates, RSS feeds to a blog or Web site, and much more to their profiles,” says a release from the company.

The August 19 release notes the official launch of BrightFuse and says it has 1.6 million members, while the site’s About page says it has been in operation since February 2008.

CareerBuilder is owned by The McClatchy Company, Gannett Co., Inc., Tribune Company and Microsoft Corp.

Media Jobs Daily searched BrightFuse for CareerBuilder employees and found only a few perfunctory profiles. “Do you really need another networking site? Apparently not even CareerBuilder thinks so.”

“One thing BrightFuse seems to offer, unlike LinkedIn, is that it’s free to search by company,” Media Jobs Daily says. “(LinkedIn users need to subscribe to view the full names of people who work for a certain company.) This feature may make the service more attractive to recruiters – if anyone gets on the site and uses the dang thing.”

The next threat: digital coupons

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

The Sunday newspaper still dominates, but a new study of coupon usage by Scarborough Research finds that virtual coupons in the form of text messages and e-mail are becoming more popular, says Media Daily News.

Scarborough says 8.6 million households get coupons via text messages or e-mail, equaling about 8 percent of U.S. households; 7 percent get their coupons from Web sites. That’s a long way from the 51 percent of households that get coupons from the Sunday newspaper, or the 35 percent that rely on in-store coupons but, says Media Daily News, “The demographic characteristics of digital coupon users are also quite attractive. Consumers who get coupons via e-mail or text messages are 51 percent more likely than the mainstream population to be college graduates (or hold a post-graduate degree) and also skew younger.”

The survey also found that digital couponing is more popular in college towns.