Archive for May, 2009

NYT create Social Media Editor role

May 28, 2009

ANOTHER job title has been added to the newspaper vernacular after the New York Times appointed possibly the world’s first Social Media Editor on Tuesday.

Jennifer Preston announced – fittingly via Twitter – her new role, in which she will push the paper’s journalism out to new audiences through sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Digg.

An internal memo about Ms Preston’s appointment said:

An awful lot of people are finding our work not by coming to our homepage or looking at our newspaper but through alerts and recommendations from their friends and colleagues.

Jennifer will work closely with editors, reporters, bloggers and others to use social tools to find sources, track trends, and break news as well as to gather it.

NYT bosses might be hoping Ms Preston’s ‘ear-to-the-ground’ role will help the paper get ahead of its competitors with breaking news – especially after it was revealed this week that one of its reporters knew about the famous Watergate scandal before the Washington Post latched onto the story that has since entered investigative journalism folklore.

Online bosses speak out on ABC hyperlocal sites

May 26, 2009

REGIONAL newspapers have hit back against the threat from a proposed roll-out of localised ABC news websites, The Australian reported.

Representatives from the digital arms of APN News & Media and Fairfax Media warned of the possible commercial competition the hyperlocal sites could put up against their current properties, in a mirror image of the situation in the UK where the BBC was forced to scrap its own plans for a network of more than 60 sites.

Warren Lee of APN Online said: “You’re not dealing with markets that are massive or that have millions of dollars. The danger is that [the proposed ABC network] sucks the oxygen out of the marketplace for private investors.”

Fairfax Digital’s Jack Matthews said: “Clearly we, like most commercial folks, would have mixed views. I think the Government needs to be careful not to use taxpayers’ dollars to compete with commercial operators in the marketplace.”

PANPA launches 2009 awards

May 17, 2009

THE PRESTIGIOUS Newspaper of the Year Awards for the Asia-Pacific region have opened with revitalised categories and refreshed criteria to reflect today’s industry.

More than 40 awards are on offer for newspapers of every size. They include:

Newspaper of the Year – Sponsored by Norske Skog
Nine print awards – Sponsored by DIC
Photograph of the Year – Sponsored by Canon
• An amazing 32 marketing awards
Environment, Health  and Safety – Sponsored by the Publishers’ National Environment Bureau
Innovation – Sponsored by Atex ; and
• The Hegarty Award for a young newspaper executive.

PLUS: News Site of the Year & Sunday Newspaper of the Year

Entries close on Friday July 17, at 5pm AEST.

Industry executives have slimmed down the demands for the Newspaper of the Year criteria to focus on future strategy, journalism and cross-company collaboration to deliver readers and advertisers the very best newspaper.

News Site of the Year replaces Online Newspaper of the Year, reflecting the market demand for breaking news on the web. In the National and Metropolitan categories, 50 percent of criteria is dedicated to news-breaking skills, commitment and achievement.

A new award has been created for speciality sites – giving news organisations the opportunity to showcase and win accolades for news-driven microsites, and larger endeavours such as sites dedicated to specific sports, or on-going news events, like the global financial crisis, or a more local issue.

“The challenge of business transformation make these awards the most fascinating for years,” said Mark Hollands, chief executive of PANPA.

“The leading executives who reviewed this year’s criteria are strongly of the view that newspapers must not only demonstrate past triumphs but also their capacity to adapt and thrive in the new realities of our industry.”

Among the overseas judges for this year’s awards is the Wall St Journal’s new Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Gerry Baker.

Entry has been simplified with the use of digital technology. It is no longer compulsory to provide hard-copy posters of entries for Newspaper of the Year and Marketing.

Instead, PANPA is encouraging web-based entries using four methods – Online Entry through our partner Workstream Solutions, or templates built in PDF, Abode InDesign or QuarkXpress. Those who want to enter in hard copy may do so.

PANPA will create a Digital Showcase, following the success of the showcase for the recent Advertising Awards, providing all colleagues and the public with the ability to see the very best of the newspaper publishing industry.

“Winners gain enormous prestige from winning a PANPA award,” said Mr Hollands.

“This year, the need to show advertisers and readers evidence of our commitment to excellence has never been greater. We had nearly 400 entries in 08 – and I expect this year to be even bigger.”

McCarthy disappointed at S&P rating

May 14, 2009

FAIRFAX boss Brian McCarthy this morning expressed disappointment at a credit downgrade by Standard & Poor’s.

The company now rates Fairfax Media as a stable stock at BB+.

Earlier this week, Fairfax forecast that it would make a full year profit of A$600 million, following a half-year operational profit of A$370 million.

Mr McCarthy, the chief executive of Fairfax, said: “We are confident that our diversified market positions, strong balance sheet and operational focus will allow us to weather the current economic conditions and to take advantage of any upturn when it occurs.

“The company remains comfortably within its various financial covenants.”

The impact of the S&P rating increases some fiscal charges for Fairfax.

Australian Associated Press reported the impact on increased interest charges would be in the vicinity of A$10 million.

Swedish publisher pulls pin on US

May 12, 2009

LEADING Swedish publisher Metro International is selling up and getting out of America’s newspaper business.

It has jettisoning its stake in free newspapers in New York and Philadelphia, plus a joint venture with the Boston Globe, whose future is under a cloud pending agreement to US$20 million in cuts to offset a prospective loss of US$55 million this year.

The loss-making newspapers have been sold to Sea Bay Media. No financial details have been released, although the legals are due to be completed by June 1.

Associated Press reported separately that Metro was likely to be only US$2 million out of pocket on the deal.

Metro has made a global splash by launching free commuter newspapers across 22 countries. Currently, it runs 81 communter newspapers, similar in style to mX, owned by News Ltd and published in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

The company is also closing up shop in Spain and it has moved its head office back to Stockholm from London – all moves designed to cut costs.

New magazine starts editor’s transformation

May 11, 2009

BIG changes have been promised at the West Australian, with the introduction of a weekly music magazine and a revamp of the website.

New editor Brett McCarthy said he would transform Perth’s metropolitan newspaper into an integrated media company, according to a report in his own newspaper.

The music magazine, The Wire, would launch on May 28, he told a breakfast meeting of the city’s senior business leaders.

He said he had no intention of turning The West Australian into a newspaper that looked like News Ltd’s top tabloids, Melbourne’s Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph, of Sydney. 

The Herald Sun is a PANPA newspaper of the year.

Mr McCarthy said that quality journalism in the online world could not operate without strong revenue streams but indicated more resources would be put into the paper’s website, thewest.com.au.

The West Australian’s website is third in the market place currently, placing clearly behind Fairfax Media’s watoday.

His newspaper quoted him as saying: “We are going through the process of building a new website — one that I am confident when finished will be a far superior offering to what we have now,” he said.

“We intend to be the number one news website in Western Australia and we intend to do that quickly.”

News gets motional about newspapers

May 11, 2009

NEWS Limited’s paper are today featuring the promotion of  Papermotion, which is billed to revolutionise traditional print media by “transforming one-dimensional print content and bringing it alive in 3D with animation”. 

“Papermotion will give our readers a totally new way to interact with newspapers. It will provide an unrivalled sense of movement to print media,” said Joe Talcott, group marketing director, News Limited.

 Dreamscape, an Australian operation, has commercialised the technology developed by French company Total Immersion.

“This incredible technology will allow advertising content on the page to come alive as moving pictures and sound – it will change the way advertisers think about newspapers,” said Mr Talcott.

Papermotion uses Total Immersion’s special animation technology to trigger interactive content.

The content is activated when readers visit a specific website and present the image via a webcam. The technology then triggers animated content including rich media such as video clips, music, mini-sites, games and 3D animation.

The first News Ltd Papermotion campaign will be launched on Sunday, 17th May with 20th Century Fox for their new film Night At The Museum 2, which is released in cinemas on 21st May.

The technology for the consumer campaign was built by Total Immersion and Fox Digital in Los Angeles.

 A national teaser campaign will be launched to showcase Papermotion to readers on Tuesday, 12th May. Outdoor mobile kiosks provided by outdoor media company Ooh Media and webcam provider Logitech will be located in key city locations for readers to experience this new technology.

PANPA shows off the industry’s best ads online

May 8, 2009

ONE hundred of the most inspiring newspaper advertising ideas of the last year have been published online by the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers’ Association (PANPA).

To celebrate the success of the 2009 Ad Awards, PANPA has created a Digital Showcase of entries that is now available at the association’s website.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE DIGITAL SHOWCASE PAGE

PANPA chief executive Mark Hollands said: “We believe this is unprecedented. We don’t know of any other awards of this kind in the world that has had almost all of its entries put on show for everyone to see.

“The Digital Showcase allows our members, and the wider industry, to share ideas, be inspired, and celebrate excellence.”

The Showcase – hosted by Realview Technologies – features entries that were submitted through the new online system provided by Workstream Solutions. PANPA accepted further entries by other means that were judged as normal.

Judges’ comments have been included in the Showcase for the featured categories.

“This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of entries and categories – we’ve only included those that fit the format and add to the Showcase’s appeal,” Mr Hollands said.

“We tried a new way of entering this year and the Showcase is just one benefit of the templated, automated system.”

PANPA’s annual Newspaper of the Year awards program is set to launch next week.

Third price hike in 2 years for NYT

May 7, 2009

THE cost of buying the New York Times six days a week has doubled in less than two years following the publisher’s decision to ratchet up the cover price for a third time in two years.

From June 1, the New York Times will cost US1.50 – a 33 percent increase in price, according to reports from Associated Press.

The price has risen 25c for the two previous increases.

The New York Times is the third largest-selling newspaper in America after USA Today and the Wall St Journal. It has a circulation of just over 1.1 million.

The Sunday edition will cost US$5 in the New York area – a rise of US$1.

Outside of its home state, Americans will have to pay US$6 – again, a rise of US$1.

The home delivery fees remain unchanged.

The economic slump and structural changes have forced the New York Times to make these price hikes.

For years, newspapers have been too cheap. It is ridiculous a newspaper costs less than half the price of a cup of coffee.

The value of a good newspaper is far, far in excess of its cover price.

Perhaps one might argue that it is a great pity newspaper companies have failed to address this issue in the good times. Which, of course, is when they all should have done so.

For the New York Times to move amid the worst economic downturn in America for 60 years opens its management up to criticism for its lack of pricing strategy, and risking its circulation when it is most under threat.

But then, one must consider where management has positioned the company: US$1.1  billion of debt, forced to sell and lease back much of its iconic Times Sq building, and threatening to shut a newspaper that it spent US$1.1 billion to buy in 1993. Not brilliant.

However… As any cost-focused manager would tell you: if you drop your circulation but make more money from a higher cover price, then you win two ways: you print fewer papers (cheaper newsprint costs) to print and put more money in the till.

Try telling that to the advertisers, though. The equation may work for selling widgets, but it doesn’t for media. Falling circulation simply lights up for the exit sign for advertisers.

We need to pay close attention to what happens in America as the papers put up their cover prices and risk their circulation, which collectively fell 7 percent across the nation from October 08 to March 31, 09.
Mark Hollands

Kindle2: Great white hope at the pink FT?

May 7, 2009

THE Kindle – a electronic book-reading device launched by Amazon.com – could help pull newspapers out of their plight, according to the chief executive of the Financial Times in London.

John Ridding said his newspaper might investigate whether to deploy a publishing strategy for the Kindle, which is currently sold only in the United States and costs US$359.

“The severe double whammy of the recession and the structural shift to the Internet has created an urgency that has rightly focused attention on these devices,” Mr Ridding is reported by UPI to have said.

The United Press International report said the Kindle2 had a “paper display” feature, which mimics how lighting hits the front of a newspaper, instead of the back lighting that is associated with a computer screen.

The report also quotes an IT pundit from Techcrunch saying that the CEO of the Financial Times was “clutching at straws”.

Got to agree.

If a chief executive of a newspaper wants to speculate about the future of this industry, then perhaps it would be best to give it some solid thought so their statements – which, by the way reflect not just their company but the quality of the industry as a whole – demonstrate some intellectual capacity and true corporate direction.

Tech gadgets come and go – all the time.

Surely no one seriously thinks Kindle can rescue anything. E-Readers have been around for an age and continually undeliver in terms of adoption rates.

The only way to turn that trend around is for some serious media players to through their weight behind development of a reader for newspapers, and then continuing creating a roadmap to continually improve not just the device but the flexibility and quality of the content that feeds its.

Among the publishers that are said to be looking into the form of publish are News Corporation and the US-based Hearst Group. Rumours continue that Apple and Sony both sense the change in the wind for print and are developing their own versions for newspapers.

However, there does not appear to be any hard evidence of their products yet. Both Apple and Sony are working on full-colour tablets with wireless connection. Having played around with a Kindle, it has black type on a grey background – a display not dissimilar to a quartz watch made in the 70s. It’s very uninspiring, but it might be a start.
Mark Hollands