Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"Newspapers: print, online...who cares?"


Post title is in quotes because it comes from David Reich over at my 2 cents. Always give credit where credit is due. I've been fortunate to take part in David's musings on newspapers the last couple weeks. David is my new favorite blogger because he has a category labeled "newspapers" :) - And he's convinced they're not quite dead. I've also been fortunate to be in the newspaper business - circulation and marketing - for over 20 years.

In the post, David cites an article in Media Life which talks about newspaper readership growing if we include print AND online. The article talks about the "younger, affluent audience" being reached online. Then David asks a great question:

"Why aren't newspaper publishers aggressively pushing this positive and welcome news to the ad community?"
I am decidedly not a newspaper publisher - but I work for a great one! I can answer the question through my lens alone - give a touch of recent history and maybe forecast a little. Newspapers have long been established via ink on paper. In the last 3-5 years, their online presence has grown enormously. Now newspapers can be read via pixels on a page, too. And a lot more information can be placed on a website. But print on paper is still the farm. Print pays the rent. It's still delivered, its portable, and you don't need a wireless card to read it. Who cares? The community you live in! Just like the community of bloggers with which you read and interact. Don't kid yourself - if you're part of a blogging community and somebody stops posting...the community cares. This assumes the blogs have value and worth.

Advertisers are only just beginning to see the audience that is attracted to newspaper websites. Just like they are seeing audiences attracted to blogger sites. But advertisers demand results (along with profits) and online measurements of readers are not exactly concrete - although they are improving. Does the last 3-5 years coincide with anything that is happening with online tracking/measurement? Page views, impressions, click-thrus, traffic reports...these are all new terms. Can they be verified? In some ways - yes. Mostly its like the Gary Larson cartoon "what dogs say and what cats hear" - the meaning gets lost in the translation. Isn't it an education process?

For too long, the newspaper business has looked for a silver bullet to stop circulation declines. Searching for the Holy Grail - reminder, nobodies ever found it :) Doesn't stop us from looking for it. It ain't there. Fewer people buy the local paper but my hunch is people still read it. And certainly people still buy things - which is what the ad community really wants. Newspapers and online are not the same but they both demand interaction. Just like a true community.

Whether its print or online - newspapers matter in the community.

Here and here are previous posts on newspapers.



7 comments:

Robyn McMaster said...

You just can't beat sitting down at Starbucks with a real paper and a cup of great coffee. There's a place for each in my mind.

I love books. I can write in the margins and underline things I might enjoy coming back to consider.

Print isn't dead by any means. Each one has a place!

BobG said...

Thanks Robyn - I wholeheartedly agree with you. Each has its place. Reading is a good habit that some grab early and some - like me - later :) I firmly believe the seed was planted by watching adults when I was a kid - they read...hey that's pretty cool! Then you go through that stage where anything an adult does must be boring.

What I notice at the coffee shop is the frequency of people and laptops (notebooks?) :). First I wonder how the heck does that work? Are they reading the news? Are they blogging? Are they playing games? Schoolwork? Engaging in a community? There is a certain degree of cool in the wireless world.

When someone is rattling a paper you know their brains are engaging in current events - even if its the funny pages :)

David Reich said...

I've been swamped the past two days with client meetings, etc., so I'm only now getting over here to One Reader at a Time.

Like you, Bob, there are many of us who love the smell and the feel of a newspaper. But it's really about the content, and if the method of delivering that great content is shifting from ink to pixels, the people who market and sell ads for newspapers need to educate their customers (advertisers and agencies). I think the newspaper publishers trade groups also need to mount an aggressive p.r./marketing campaign targeted at the ad community, to tell them the positive story of newspapers' growth, to counter the negative "newspapers are dying" hype we keep hearing and reading.

I think (and hope) newspapers on newsprint will be around for quite a while so we can relax with them at Starbucks, on the commuter train or at home on a leisurely Sunday morning. It's hard to lay on the sofa as you scan the paper on your PC, and if you spill your coffee while reading the paper online, you risk frying your laptop. Tell THAT to the gloom & doomers.

CK said...

I'm so pleased you're enjoying David's new blog...he's been contributing to the community for nearly a year and recently took the leap to launch his own blog--and we're the beneficiaries ;-). It was his Book Club discussion that hooked him into how fun leading a discussion was (see how great books are?!)

David Reich said...

ck, almost as good as newspapers. Right Bob?

BobG said...

Almost, David :) -
yes, CK, I am digging David's blog. And the book club - excited to see how the Reis' book is gonna play out. It's sick with talking points!

viagra online said...

I think (and hope) newspapers on newsprint will be around for quite a while so we can relax with them at Starbucks, on the commuter train or at home on a leisurely Sunday morning. It's hard to lay on the sofa as you scan the paper on your PC, and if you spill your coffee while reading the paper online, you risk frying your laptop. Tell THAT to the gloom & doomers.