by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:

Newspapers Buy Ads To Talk About How Great Newspapers Are

from the you're-doing-it-wrong dept

It's no secret that the newspaper business has been going through a rocky patch lately, and hasn't done a very good job coping with a changing marketplace. However, it does seem a bit odd to respond to that, not necessarily with new business models, but with an advertising campaign about how great newspapers are. Specifically, they put out an ad this week to claim that more people read newspapers than watched the Superbowl. As Jeff Nolan notes at the link above, that's missing the point. Nobody denies that people read newspapers. The problem is that newspapers haven't been able to figure out how to effectively build a new, sustainable business model around that community (and, if you want to understand part of the problem, it's that they're still focused on "people" and not "community.")

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  • identicon
    AJ, 4 Feb 2009 @ 4:32am

    GREAT news

    We all know their loss of readers has nothing to do with content or bias. Its everyone else's fault.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tyler!, 4 Feb 2009 @ 4:54am

    A different approach

    One idea that might add life to an existing publisher's print media would be to offer a web-service that would allow subscribers to list all their favorite RSS feeds from anywhere, prioritize them, and then for the publisher to print those feeds for that subscriber in a monthly journal.

    Of course, this wouldn't work for newspapers, and there's a good chance you'd have to scrap your current staff of journalists since embracing this model would be an acknowledgment at how irrelevant they'd become. Plus, it would require some additional expense since a publisher would be printing a specialized magazine or journal for every single subscriber. However, suddenly advertising becomes relevant to the reader since they can be targeted with more accurate demographics - something that hasn't ever actually been reliable in print media - since the subscribers are literally choosing their topics (and authors) of interest. And relevant/targeted advertising means more revenue for the publisher.

    I don't believe this would be a sustainable model though. Plus it requires creativity and risk, which are two things I don't think print media can afford these days. Print media is simply on its way out. Even if you could bring all the benefits of blogs and RSS feeds to your print, you still have to print it and distribute it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Johnfordummies (profile), 4 Feb 2009 @ 5:38am

    Eventually all business models will give way to newer models. But there will always be hold outs clinging desperately to "what has always worked", no matter how broken it is. Markets change. People's expectations change.

    I used to live in an area where the local paper is published just ONCE a week, and to this day, they have no website. By the time the paper would hit the stands most people had already read everything in it from other sources (other newspapers and various sites on the web), there is no reason for them to buy the paper anymore, and sales are declining. I had a talk with the paper's owner one time, asking him if he'd ever consider going on line, his response--"No one is going to pay for our paper if they get it all for free." I tried to explain to him that most of his content was already available online from other sources, and you don't have to completely copy word for word what is in that week's edition--that they could co-exist and enhance each other, that he could be more dynamic and timely with the news they delivered, and even generate new revenue streams online... but he wouldn't hear anything of it, "We're a newsPAPER", he said. They did purchase the domain name for their paper, for two reasons: 1) for their email, and 2) so that no cyber-squatter could get their hands on it.

    When businesses ignore their customers' needs they go out of business. Newspapers are no different.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    TriZz, 4 Feb 2009 @ 5:53am

    I don't see the dirt here...

    ...doesn't Budweiser and Coca-Cola and Doritos and everyone else, don't they buy ads to talk about how great their product is? I thought that was the point of ads.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Fushta, 4 Feb 2009 @ 6:00am

    Adding Value

    The newspapers need to add value which "headline news online" cannot provide. You know how people go to see a movie (i.e. online news), but cannot wait to read the book (i.e. newspaper) on which it was based? The book has value that the movie could never provide (greater character development, etc). The newspaper should be trying to capture that feeling. People would be saying, "Did you see that online news blog about scientists debunking the global warming myth? I can't wait to read about it in the newspaper tomorrow. There will be a much more thorough and in-depth article."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dan, 4 Feb 2009 @ 6:55am

    Business Model for Newspapers

    Well not really a business model for newspapers, but a business model for NEWS. Just a thought I had while reading:

    Consider newspapers to be analogous to record labels, publishers, and other middlemen whose roles were essential to types of media when media was bound to physical objects like paper or vinyl.

    What if each journalist just kept their own online column, or a column with others based on a similar topic? Kind of like how every musician has their own myspace and business professionals have a linkedIn.

    People could subscribe to the journalists or topics that interest them, and get the articles automatically online in an rss reader. We don't really need paper. Editing and layout and stuff can be handled through css layouts or by web designers. It would be ad supported. People could get all the news they want, when they want. Journalists could make a good living doing what they do. Newspaper printing presses will go the way of the steam engine... cause we don't need them anymore except for the odd grocery store spam mailing or for birdcage liners from the few local rags that persist.

    Oh, wait, I just invented the blogosphere! What a nifty idea!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Twinrova, 4 Feb 2009 @ 8:54am

    These newspaper blogs are pissing me off.

    ...it's that they're still focused on "people" and not "community."
    Once again, we see Techdirt hint newspapers should focus on community, rather than people, but continues to dismiss the fact there are several newspapers in an area, especially larger cities.

    So, let's have all these newspapers focus on community where it's impossible to tell one from the other all so they can "survive" in the information delivery world.

    What, should they each take a community section so consumers must buy all the newspapers to get their fill or should they draw straws to figure out who goes and who stays?

    I'm curious to see how Techdirt resolves this issue, instead of wasting time telling us again and again how these industries fail to "move forward" while trying to find a new niche, which certainly can't be easy for them to do when competing with online venues who already took this idea and ran forward with it.

    Or is it Techdirt just wants the entire newspaper business to just go away to save trees?

    Place your rebuttal here →

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    melodyof1974, 4 Feb 2009 @ 12:00pm

    Another Lost Soul

    I currently work at a newspaper and have another month before myself and 70 others will be out of a job.

    In our paper ran an ad by our newspaper "We are hiring, NOT LAYING OFF". This may be true, the newspaper is not laying us off but showing us the door.

    One job will not be sending my resume to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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