IFRA Trend Report for December 2008
BusinessNewsprint prices have increased by more than 40 per cent compared to last year. While reducing pages, page-size, or both, newspaper publishers are trying their best to cut costs and meet the challenge. Interestingly, Ireland has found significant success with newspaper recycling. Many newspaper publishers are outsourcing editorial and ad production work to India to cut costs. In Japan, Asahi Shimbun and Yomiuri Shimbun are collaborating on printing to economise.
One cost-cutting measure newspaper companies are adopting to tide over the global financial meltdown is reducing the number of staff. Many senior journalists have lost jobs. However, is it a wise thing to sacrifice experience?
Here is a newspaper trying out a novel experiment to retain readers and serve them better. The News Journal of Pensacola is publishing two different front pages per issue – one to cater to a home-delivery audience comprising of a conservative adult population, and the other for single-copy users most of whom are youngsters looking for vibrancy in the paper.
A survey of online content users in the United States by Online Publishers Association reveals that portals, newspapers and television lead as far as satisfaction with local coverage is concerned. Local newspaper and television sites rank highest on trust for advertising, and users rely a lot on local sites for basic information.
Do newspapers really understand what readers want? Does the newsroom have the pulse of the reader? Today, newspapers can scarcely afford to ignore community needs and factors that enliven communities. In the years ahead, the accent should be more on ‘local’ if newspapers wish to survive.
Online readers want simple, breaking news, while newspaper readers look for in-depth analysis. This finding based on audience research indicates that newspaper readers and online users are different entities. And the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Evening Star are treating them as such.
According to a media expert from the University of Amsterdam, the newspaper industry is vulnerable to recession. The future looks particularly depressing for free newspapers as well as newspapers that publish in the afternoon. With Metro International reporting a huge drop in operating profit for the second quarter this year, frees might need to organise themselves under one umbrella or look for new markets. As fears about the demise of newspapers continue, the digital revolution might not mean the end of newspapers as long as publishers embrace online and appreciate that digital media is critical to today’s news publishing businesses.
Do newspapers need to change in today’s world? Yes, while retaining reporting, editing and presentation skills as well as credibility, they need to diversify, converge and integrate or reorganise. With a variety of media available, news gets stale quickly and reporting news of the previous day will not have many takers. Also, newspapers need to focus and build on their strengths, report local news, instead of trying to compete with the Internet. Online video on newspaper Web sites, learning from Google, and giving space to bloggers on printed pages or Web sites may be the best way to go.
Outsourcing copy-editing, design, advertising, distribution and other aspects of newspaper operations are quite common today. But, is outsourcing newsroom operations good for the newspaper, considering the effect it may have on its quality standards?
The world online classified industry is estimated to grow to $15 billion. However, if classifieds are not searchable, they have little value. This is demonstrated by the fact that a quarter of the traffic to U.S. classified sites come from search engines.
The newspaper industry is unlikely to look up in the coming few years. For newspapers, this year has been the worst year yet for advertising revenue, and things could get worse. Even online display advertising for newspapers has slowed down considerably.
TechnologyIt uses the E Ink’s technology that Sony’s eReader and Amazon.com’s Kindle does, but it is thinner and has a larger screen, almost the size of a sheet of paper. Plastic Logic’s version of the electronic newspaper reader can be updated wirelessly and store hundreds of pages documents. A similar product is the iRex reader 1000 from iRex Technologies. Research and development is on in Cambridge to produce the next generation of all-colour e-paper that will provide users with video as well.
If mobile content is all about ‘snack, speed and snip’, creativity counts when it is all about driving traffic to mobiles. Having an effective mobile strategy is key for media companies considering that mobile is an important media platform of the future.
Electronic ink is an option for the printing industry in future. Taking the lead is Esquire magazine. Its special October issue contained pages printed using electronic ink.