Posts about lastpresses

Commodity presses

Demonstrating that the very thing that made publishing privileged — presses — are now just a commodity and a cost center, the Telegraph is jobbing its printing out to competitor News Corp. in the UK, improving the quality of its output and reducing its investment. Smart move. Presses aren’t what make you special anymore.

The light at the end of the press

Here is required reading for every news executive — editorial or business: Colin Crawford, svp of online at IDG, blogs that his company is now over the hump. It’s more an online company than a print company. Sure, I can hear you say, trade and niche are easier than mass. But only by degrees and timing. Says Crawford:

. . . Today the absolute dollar growth of our online revenues now exceeds the decline in our print revenues. This occurred in the US in 2006 and in Europe during the last quarter.

With this change in the revenue mix and the higher margins from our online businesses – the company is more profitabl[e] today than it has been previously. . . .

In the US, our online revenue now accounts for over 35% of our total US publishing revenues. Next year, for many brands online revenues will be greater than print revenues, if fact they already are at some of our key brands and by 2009 – approximately 50% of IDG’s US revenues will come from online.

Let’s write that on the whiteboard: Online will account for more than a third of revenue and for some businesses more than half. Online’s growth is more than making up for print’s decline. And the company is more profitable today.

See, it can be done. It is being done.

To drive this change and to focus on online revenue we’ve changed the business mission of our organization away from print. Going forward IDG Communications will define itself as a web centric information company complemented by expos, events and print publications.

I can hear some crying: That’s cheating. Expos. That’s not publishing. But publishing isn’t publishing anymore. It’s about information and connections, so you need to find many new ways to make them. And, no, it’s not easy. But it’s about reinvention:

The brutal reality that we’re facing today is the costly process of dismantling and replacing legacy operations and cultures and business models with ones with new and yet to be fully proven business models. However, we face greater risks if we don’t transform our organization and take some chances.

In the past media organizations controlled content and pushed it out to subscribers, today’s media has to deal with a world of social connections, networking and collective actions enabled by the Internet.

The more enlightened in our media world will figure how to allow their audiences freedom to create and share their knowledge and content and to mash it up in a way that engages users.

We have to become facilitators as much as content creators – our brands are trusted, they have quality content and loyal audiences – these are our competitive advantages but we’ll only hold onto those assets if we truly listen to our communities and provide appropriate environments for user initiated conversations and user created content

Figuring out the transformation from print to online is only the start. The information we produce, facilitate and aggregate increasingly will be viewed on a number of screens – the Computer, the TV, the smart mobile phone, the iPod and other portable entertainment devices. Many of these screens are more suited to video and audio than text. Even more new skills for our organization to master!

We’re in an exciting growth industry. Let’s shake off the image of being in a beleaguered print industry and seize the opportunities afforded to us by the digital revolution.

Standing O! Shout amen! This is your Moses and that’s the promised land. It is not a land of milking money. It is a kingdom of connections. (Sorry, I’ll stop now.)

This is a most impressive post not just because it encapsulates where (I think) media must go but because it proves that it can work. [via PaidContent]

Newspapers: Find your essence

Moments after posting the news about the the Daily Mail doing without a TV critic (below), I read Lucas Grindley on another paper getting rid of its movie critic and NFL writer, among others, . . . because they are not local and newspapers, at their essence, must be local. Amen to that.

The managing editor for the Winston-Salem Journal was faced with the need to cut his budget. And when looking around the newsroom, he saw the same thing all of us do. Duplication of efforts. So the Journal’s film critic and NFL writer were laid off.

Local film critics for national movies are a vestige of different times. For most markets, there’s no local angle to Mission Impossible 3.

Reassign your reporter now, before it’s too late, to something that might attract new readers. I wonder what the Journal’s managing editor would have covered if he had reassigned that film critic a year ago.

Maybe you’re the film critic. Don’t wait around for this same fate. Convince your editor to use wire copy so you can cover something else. Because when it comes time for the editor to look around the room for cost savings, your beat needs to be local and indispensable.

Sports writers, listen up. If you’re not writing something more than the game story, then you’re next. An editor can get that same gamer from the wire.

Features writers, if what you’re covering is on the wire regularly, then your beat isn’t local enough. Food is a national topic. Travel is a national topic.

Business writers, you’re not immune either. Prominent media types are already advising newspapers to “outsource” all types of coverage.

Death by a thousand cuts. A slow death is happening as newspapers lose writers. Don’t let positions get cut because you didn’t have enough foresight to realize they were being wasted. Maybe circulation declines wouldn’t be so steep today if we’d ensured every beat in the room was local, and couldn’t be replaced by wire copy.

Now read the managing editor of the paper, Ken Otterbourg, writing on his blog about the cutbacks:

We were one of the smallest newspapers to have a full-time film critic, and we enjoyed that distinction. But there’s plenty of excellent film criticism out there that we can use for nationally released movies. We’ll still occasionally review movies with a local tie-in. By contrast, nobody else is covering the local board of education or the city council. It’s unique content. So in making our decisions, we were guided by our belief that what we can do best is cover Winston-Salem, Forsyth County and Northwest North Carolina. That’s where we think our future lies, being a metro paper with a strong community focus.

Here are a few posts where I’ve been pushing newspapers to boil themselves to their essence. But Lucas Grindley is right: This is about making shifts and investments now, before it’s too late.

The outsourced newspaper

The Daily Express decides to outsource its business section to the Press Association, the UK wire service (its Associated Press), cutting a tenth of the paper’s 350-strong staff.

It makes sense, as far as it goes. When I was Sunday editor of the New York Daily News, I worked to outsource our TV grids and book. Papers have long since done this with financial tables. Why not whole sections? If I ran a chain like Gannett or McClatchy (no thanks), I’d consolidate or outsource all kinds of editing. Yes, it makes sense on paper.

But what about off paper and online? There, if you don’t want to go to the expense of having a business section, if it’s not core to what you do, then you can link to one. And that forces you to decide what is core. What is it that just you can do and that can’t be outsourced?

When you’ve answered that question, then, finally, you’ve decided what your news organization is really all about.

Les derniers journaux

The troubles hitting big media are hardly restricted to the U.S. In France, media mogul Arnaud Lagadère warns, “The press has ten years left. Production costs will become unsustainable.” Editors Weblog quotes him saying that the the press has “little future in its present state” and that “we’re moving towards the dismantling of its traditional support structure.” I’m hoping that this quote lost something in the translation, because I sure can’t figure out what he’s saying:

As for new media, Lagadère said that “Our adaptation will not consist of making a systematic and mechanic transfer of our press to the Internet. That would be a mistake. Our advantage will remain in the richness of our content. We will not submit to the mutation of modes of consumption; on the other hand we will play a part in their evolution.”