Archive for August, 2010

Dallas, ‘The State’ move to paid online

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Update: Dallas Morning News CEO Jim Moroney says the News & Tech report is “not accurate.”

Two major metropolitan dailies plan to put part of their online coverage behind pay walls, according to News & Technology.

The Dallas Morning News, the A.H. Belo Corp. flagship, in the next six months will wall off staff-written stories as well as content about the Dallas Cowboys. Wire service reports and breaking news stories with fewer than 150 words would be free, and seven-day-a-week print subscribers will continue to get it all without additional charges.

The Providence (R.I.) Journal, another Belo property, is also looking at limiting the amount of website content available to nonsubscribers, N&T said.

The N&T report did not say how much the Dallas paper would charge for website access.

McClatchy’s The State of Columbia, S.C., is making its site require a  membership costing $50 a year or $10 a month. Fans of University of South Carolina sports who agree to pay the $50 fee will receive one week for free, during which time they can opt out if they aren’t satisfied. Print subscribers get access for free.

USAT moves toward mobile, business interests

Monday, August 30th, 2010

USA Today, the nation’s second largest newspaper, has announced its most significant changes since its 1982 debut as it de-emphasizes print and ramps up availability via mobile devices. The move will include the elimination of  about 130 jobs and a breach of the church/state divide between news and business interests.

For starters, the newspaper will no longer have separate managing editors overseeing its News, Sports, Money and Life sections. “The newsroom instead will be broken up into a cluster of  ‘content rings’ each headed up by editors who will be appointed later this year,” the Associated Press says. The paper’s current Life ME will be executive editor of content.

USA Today’s restructuring will “usher in a new way of doing business that aligns sales efforts with the content we produce,” according to a slide show presented to USA Today’s staff, which The AP obtained.

The executive editor of content will have a “collaborative relationship” with USA Today’s newly appointed vice president of business development, according to one slide.

The paper will “focus less on print … and more on producing content for all platforms (Web, mobile, iPad and other digital formats),” the slide show said.

The AP says USA Today’s circulation has fallen from 2.3 million in 2007 to an average of 1.83 million during the six months ending in March. Advertising has fallen by about 50 percent between 2006 and the quarter ending this past June.

Here’s the news release.

Targeted ads to pace 2011 growth online

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Online ad spending should grow by 14 percent next year, with targeted display ads, social media and video streaming leading the way, says a new projection by Borrell Associates.

Total online spending should amount to $51.9 billion next year, according to Editor & Publisher’s reading of the study.

“The big driver will be targeted display (such as banner ads) advertising, which we expect to grow almost 60 percent in 2011, reaching $10.9 billion for national and local combined,” the memo says. Streaming video, now in reach of even the smallest advertisers, should also grow by 60 percent.

Run-of-site display advertising, which Borrell says is less productive, is expected to decline 14 percent next year to $8.2 billion in local and national spending. National paid search ads will also fall by double digits in 2011, the firm says.

How newspapers are – and aren’t – diversifying

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Media critic Alan Mutter uses a McClatchy newspaper as the negative example in a post on his Newsosaur blog about how large newspaper publishers are diversifying to survive in the new media world.

“While papers like the Kansas City Star continue to pursue the traditional model of publishing only the main title and a free once-a-week advertising product sent to the homes of non-subscribers, the ABC [Audit Bureau of Circulations] reports that papers like the Chicago Tribune and Dallas Morning News have created such a wide variety of products that the flagship paper produces just 56 percent of the average weekday circulation in each of their respective markets,” Mutter writes.

As circulations fall, “foresighted publishers are creating niche products to try to capture readers who historically were unlikely to buy the legacy newspaper – and, of course, the advertisers who covet them as customers,” he adds.

The Tribune and Morning News both publish periodicals aimed at young adults and those who prefer to read Spanish-language publications. The Tribune also publishes a free tabloid written by and for teenagers, and the Morning News delivers a free, weekly TMC, or total-market-coverage, advertising product, like many McClatchy papers produce.

Mutter predicts that the once flagship, general interest newspaper will eventually become simply one product among several niche publications that successful publishers produce.

McClatchy’s KR buy called ‘worst’ move

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Bloomberg is calling the McClatchy Company’s acquisition of the much bigger Knight Ridder newspaper chain the worst of the biggest takeovers made during the last mergers-and-acquisitions boom.

“McClatchy’s purchase of the Knight Ridder Inc. newspaper chain, for $4.1 billion in 2006, ranked the worst of the 100 on Bloomberg’s list, with McClatchy shares underperforming the Bloomberg Advertising Age AdMarket 50 Index by 93 percentage points,” the article says. “Sacramento, California-based McClatchy borrowed cash to buy the chain as newspaper real-estate advertising plunged. Elaine Lintecum, McClatchy’s treasurer, declined to comment.”

The move made McClatchy, which was the nation’s eighth-largest newspaper publisher, the nation’s third-largest chain (once it sold off some Knight Ridder papers), but saddled it with enormous debt just as the industry began its ongoing decline.

More than half of the 100 mergers and acquisitions should never have happened, Bloomberg says.

Nielsen spews nonsense about DVR commercials

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Media Daily News last Thursday posted an article about Nielsen ratings that says more people are using DVRs and are watching more commercials in their recordings. In the comments, readers call the latter claim laughable.

Nielsen says viewers watch between 40 percent and 50 percent of commercials during DVR playback,” Media Daily News says. “These numbers have climbed from previous estimates, where viewers were watching anywhere between 30 percent to 40 percent.”

As Richard Tamborrino, key accounts manager at The Miami Herald, says in his comment, “This contention is absolutely ridiculous…the whole concept of recording programming is for ‘on-demand’ entertainment…You can watch a one-hour drama in 44 minutes, and it’s being done with great regularity.”

Use of DVRs has risen 90 percent since 2007. “DVR penetration among (Nielsen’s) national people markets is at 37 percent, with local people meter markets at 41 percent,” the article says.

Better papers tap readers to build revenue

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Newsonomics author Ken Doctor finds that newspaper companies are turning to higher prices for the paper itself to battle revenue declines, rendering the traditional 80/20 ad-circulation split obsolete. And  the ones that are doing it well are getting away with charging readers more because they’ve made their papers better, he says.

“While the digital news world seems consumed with conversations about paywalls and memberships, it is old-fashioned print circulation revenue that is the gainer in the post-80/20 formulas,” Doctor writes for Nieman Journalism Lab. “Sure, advertising’s ski slope decline has greatly altered the 80/20. So has, though, the significant up-pricing of both subscriptions and single copies over the past three years.”

A leader in the trend is apparently The Dallas Morning News, which raised the price of monthly subscriptions from $18 to $30 and is earning 38 percent of its revenue from circulation, 54 percent from advertising, and 8 percent from “contract printing plus,” he says.

The Dallas paper’s parent, A.H. Belo, reported a 6.6 percent increase in circulation revenue in the second quarter, while The New York Times Company reported a 3.2 percent increase and Scripps had a 4.5 percent increase in the first quarter (Scripps’ 2Q report is due Monday).

“Significantly, I think, each of those companies may have done a better job of minimizing newsroom cuts and reinvesting — at least a little — in that now higher-priced product,” Doctor says.

Better than whom? Better than McClatchy, which reported a 2.5 percent circulation revenue decline in the second quarter (and has raised prices); Lee, which was down 4.4 percent; and Gatehouse, which was down 2.5 percent.

Doctor has the current splits for each of the four publishers, and for McClatchy, the one we follow, it’s pretty much the newly declared old-hat model of 20 percent circulation, 76 percent ads and 4 percent other.