Saturday, 1 November 2008

Things aren't looking too good are they? Are we in fact on the brink?

I just completed my own narrative of Friday, 31st October 2008 and there are things that worry me a great deal more than the future of newspapers.

But on the media side, things aren't looking too good are they?
An ex-executive editor of the International Herald Tribune told me this week that he had something called a BQ (for blog quotient) and that it was pretty full. He reads HuffPost, RealClearPolitics, the Daily Beast, and one private one.

I noted he didn't read Porfolio, if we can call it a blog, which I suppose we can if we can call HuffPost one; below is some info on the dodgy future of Portfolio.

What interested me most is that the blogs this ex-IHT boss mentioned aren't really blogs (like this one) but simply non-MSM on the Internet. He might not be reading a lot (and I don't know what his MSM quotient is) but he's reading it. A MSM guy to the core and he's not in his 20s.
If we take the advertising forecasts for '09, let alone '10 which no one is daring to even speak of I note, and we add in these sea change reading habits, I just can't see how the NYT/IHT are going to get by without some really smart thinking and some pretty smart thinking right now.
In today's IHT, the op-ed page, for the first time used the term 'Afghanistan on the Brink'.
Well, if you've been reading your IHT carefully this year, it's a wonder to you probably why it's taken until the beginning of November for such op-ed pieces to appear under such a headline.
I feel much the same way about the NYT/IHT strategy. We are at an 'on the brink' moment for the future of two newspapers that I and many readers of this blog love.
What I don't see is an acknowledgement of that. But I'm well on the outside, so don't give that idea too much weight. Who knows what their smart Ivys and MBAers in R&D and Strat Plan have up their sleeves?
However, sitting there in their huge (and massively expensive and bottom-line useless/mistake) H.Q building in Manhattan, with a million circulation, being the number one newspaper site and just immersed in the incredible self-belief of American, sorry, NYT, exceptionalism, it's not difficult to see how that headline might not appear in your head: "NYT on the brink".
But I'm pretty sure that's exactly where it is.
Ironically, NYT Company stock, having dipped below the '$10-for-me-on-the-brink-price', ended the month exactly, to the cent, there: it closed out Friday at $10. A 22% drop in the last three months.

New York Times Co
(NYT:NYQ)
NYT on other Exchanges
10.00 USD Last
+0.07 +0.70% Change
Data as of October 31, 2008 16:03 exchange time.
I'm going to take a break from Think! next week, elections being one reason, my wife being in Australia and me looking after my two boys being another.
I'll be back. I think.









Condé Nast cuts profile of 2 magazines
By Richard Pérez-Peña
Friday, October 31, 2008
Condé Nast Publications will make deep staff cuts at two magazines, Portfolio and Men's Vogue, and publish them less often while cutting budgets across the company by 5 percent, company executives said Thursday.
Men's Vogue will all but disappear as a separate operation. It will be folded into Vogue and will be published twice a year instead of 10 times, the company said. Employees said they were told Thursday that most of the magazine's staff would be laid off.
The business magazine Portfolio will be published 10 times a year instead of 12. Employees said they were told Thursday that most of Portfolio's Web site staff would be dismissed and that much of the content unique to the site would be dropped.
The company's official position was that it had not yet determined where it would cut Portfolio, or how deeply, but executives who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to go into detail said they expected that 15 to 20 percent of the magazine's jobs would be eliminated. Some of the cuts will involve Portfolio's online operations, including advertising sales, which will be folded into those of Wired magazine.
The cuts at Condé Nast demonstrate that the belt-tightening at American magazines has reached even those that rely on luxury product advertising — a segment of the industry that has held up better than most.
"We still like the magazines," said David Carey, a group president at Condé Nast who directs several magazines, including Portfolio. "What we don't like is the revenue trend across all sectors of the business."
Through the first nine months of the year, ad pages in all U.S. magazines were down 9.5 percent from the same period in 2007. Most magazines produced by Condé Nast — including Vogue, GQ, Architectural Digest and Wired — have had much smaller declines, but they are also among the most expensive magazines to produce.
Portfolio, started last year amid much fanfare, is Condé Nast's first business magazine and its most expensive new project in years. Executives said the company was willing to lose more than $100 million on it.
It had an average circulation of 415,000 in the first half of the year and 445 ad pages through nine months — good figures for a new magazine but still far short of profitability. It hired a staff of prominent editors and reporters at high salaries but has been roiled by internal disputes and high turnover. Men's Vogue, started in 2006, has circulation of almost 370,000 and 449 ad pages through nine months.
Condé Nast executives said spending had been under budget, with several positions unfilled, which would limit the effect of the 5 percent budget cut.
Aside from Men's Vogue and Portfolio, they said, staff cuts would mostly be achieved by attrition, though they said there would be some layoffs.






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LOOKING FOR A CHRISTMAS BOOK GIFT TO BUY?
"Books about cosmopolitan urbanites discovering the joys of country life are two a penny, but this one is worth a second glance. Walthew's vivid description of the moral stress induced by his job as a high-flying executive with the International Herald Tribune newspaper is worth the cover price alone…. Highly recommended."
The Oxford Times


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Business trip to the IHT in Paris or friends and family coming to visit you? Fed up with hotels? Bring the family (sleeps 6) to superb Montmartre apartment - weekend nights free of charge if minimum of 3 work nights booked;. Cable TV; wifi, free phone calls in France (landlines); large DVD and book library; kids toys, books, travel cot and beds; two double bedrooms; all mod cons; half an hour to Neuilly and 12 mins walk from Eurostar. T&E valid invoices.
10% Discount for NYT employees; 15% Discount for IHT Employees



International Herald Tribune
IHT
New York Times
The NYT Company

Friday, 31 October 2008

NYT Company Stock Price



New York Times Co
(NYT:NYQ)
NYT on other Exchanges
9.93 USD Last
+0.21 +2.16% Change
Data as of October 30, 2008 00:00 exchange time. Market data is delayed by at least 20 minutes

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"Books about cosmopolitan urbanites discovering the joys of country life are two a penny, but this one is worth a second glance. Walthew's vivid description of the moral stress induced by his job as a high-flying executive with the International Herald Tribune newspaper is worth the cover price alone…. Highly recommended."
The Oxford Times


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For more reviews visit ianwalthew.com



Business trip to the IHT in Paris or friends and family coming to visit you? Fed up with hotels? Bring the family (sleeps 6) to superb Montmartre apartment - weekend nights free of charge if minimum of 3 work nights booked; Cable TV; wifi, free phone calls in France (landlines); large DVD and book library; kids toys, books, travel cot and beds; two double bedrooms; all mod cons; half an hour to Neuilly and 12 mins walk from Eurostar. T&E valid invoices.


10% Discount for NYT employees; 15% Discount for IHT Employees




International Herald Tribune
IHT
New York Times
The NYT Company

WPP predicts "very tough" 2009 (IHT)

Reuters
Thursday, October 30, 2008
LONDON: WPP Group , the world's second-largest advertising firm, on Thursday predicted 2009 would be a very tough year after reporting third quarter revenue growth broadly in line with expectations.
The warning, including the acknowledgment that the Olympic Games had not produced the "Beijing Bounce" that was expected, follows similar dire predictions from other advertising groups such as Omnicom and Publicis .
WPP also said its headline operating margin was flat in the first nine months and said it would not now be easy to attain its margin target for 2008 of 15.5 percent.
WPP, whose agencies include JWT and Ogilvy & Mather, posted like-for-like revenue growth of 3 percent and reported revenue growth of 16.2 percent to 1.72 billion pounds.
Analysts had been expecting like-for-like revenue growth of 3.3 percent according to a Reuters poll of 7 analysts and reported revenues of 1.66 billion pounds.
WPP shares hit near 10-year lows in recent weeks on fears about the economic downturn and after Omnicom, the world's largest ad firm by market cap, reported retail and automotive clients beginning to push back and even cancel some ad plans.
"It is still likely that rates of like-for-like revenue growth, particularly by region, will vary significantly in 2009, as in 2008," the group said. "Whatever the pattern, it is not likely that our budget will reflect the Armageddon currently predicted by the fall in stock prices."
(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by David Cowell)







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"Books about cosmopolitan urbanites discovering the joys of country life are two a penny, but this one is worth a second glance. Walthew's vivid description of the moral stress induced by his job as a high-flying executive with the International Herald Tribune newspaper is worth the cover price alone…. Highly recommended."
The Oxford Times
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Thursday, 30 October 2008

How do we all feel about CSM? (And Kindle?)


Here's a comment below I received from a Think! reader (I don't post comments, only sometimes make a seperate posting of them, because so many of them cover the same ground). This one seems to catch the general vibe. NB Will that rolled up newspaper logo you can see below be changing any time soon? Paper thrown on floor, surrounded by fall leaves is it? Now there's a marketing thought....

While I was not a reader of the CSM, I must admit that I read most newspapers online myself. Sign of the times… Yet, I find it sad that the glory days of the printed newspaper are clearly history - some of the biggest dailies are struggling seriously. Soon we will carry our ‘Kindle’ to the coffeehouse. Not quite the same…




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LOOKING FOR A CHRISTMAS BOOK GIFT TO BUY?
"Books about cosmopolitan urbanites discovering the joys of country life are two a penny, but this one is worth a second glance. Walthew's vivid description of the moral stress induced by his job as a high-flying executive with the International Herald Tribune newspaper is worth the cover price alone…. Highly recommended."
The Oxford Times

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com
For more reviews visit ianwalthew.com


Business trip to the IHT in Paris or friends and family coming to visit you? Fed up with hotels? Bring the family (sleeps 6) to superb Montmartre apartment - weekend nights free of charge if minimum of 3 work nights booked;. Cable TV; wifi, free phone calls in France (landlines); large DVD and book library; kids toys, books, travel cot and beds; two double bedrooms; all mod cons; half an hour to Neuilly and 12 mins walk from Eurostar. T&E valid invoices.

Too much inventory: Internet advertising is over-rated and here's a look at the future.

"We think that a modest amount of advertising is the right thing because that's going to drive atypical results for marketers."
Web site's formula for success: TV content with fewer ads
By Brian Stelter
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
"THUMBS up" and "thumbs down" ratings for commercials. Choose-your-own-advertisement options before shows begin. Interactive games during advertising breaks.
In the last year these online advertising innovations have been popularized by Hulu, the online video Web site that will celebrate its first anniversary on Wednesday. For all that has been written about Hulu's easy-to-use, aesthetically pleasing interface, the advertising experience is equally important.
In the place of the long commercial pods that TV viewers have become accustomed to, only one ad is shown during each segment break on Hulu. Fewer ads make the ones on the site more memorable, Hulu executives say, allowing the site to charge higher prices for the ad units.
"The notion that less is more is absolutely playing out on Hulu," Jason Kilar, the chief executive of the site, said. "This is benefiting advertisers as much as it is benefiting users."
While Hulu was not the first site to serve up full-length television shows or create new advertising units, it now dominates the emerging market for ad-supported TV and movie streaming. It emerged in public beta form one year ago with 10 advertisers, made its official debut in March, and now counts more than 100 sponsors, from General Motors to Old Spice.
The site has grown steadily, providing 142 million streams to 6.3 million unique viewers in September, Nielsen Online reported last week. Hulu is now the sixth-most-popular online video brand in the United States, surpassing the online video networks operated by ESPN, CNN, MTV and Disney. (It ranks far below YouTube, which streams 20 times as many videos as any other brand in the United States, and behind sites owned by Yahoo, Fox, MSN and Nickelodeon.)
With a library of more than 1,000 television series and 400 feature-length films, Hulu attracts a wider audience than individual network Web sites or competitors like Veoh and Joost. Recently, the site's biggest hurdle has been a shortage of advertising amid a sudden increase in video viewing. The cause? "Tina Fey happened to do an unbelievably good impression of Sarah Palin," Kilar said, referring to the "Saturday Night Live" skits lampooning the Republican vice presidential nominee.
Buzz about the sketches drove millions to view them online. The first skit about Palin, on Sept. 13, was viewed 14.3 million times on Hulu and NBC.com and watched by 10.2 million on television. The second sketch, on Sept. 27, has been viewed 11.1 million times on the site after being watched by 7.9 million on TV. While the comparisons are inexact because online viewers could be watching more than once, "Saturday Night Streamed" may seem a more apt title for the show.
At the same time that "Saturday Night Live" helped spike Hulu's traffic, the fall premieres of many popular TV shows attracted more visitors. To match the advertising inventory to the rapid growth in video views, "we now have to go back out into the marketplace very quickly," Kilar said.
While the site, a joint venture of NBC Universal and News Corporation, is reportedly not yet profitable, it has won over many advertising executives. "I've been waiting for this for 10 years," Greg Smith, the chief operating officer of Neo@Ogilvy, an interactive agency of the Ogilvy Group, told Kilar during a product demonstration last November.
Smith now uses the site regularly. "Hulu takes TV content, which is the best long-form video content there is — the Web has yet to come up with something as good — and it just breaks it out of the tyranny of the schedule," he said in an interview.
In a customer survey commissioned by Hulu and conducted by Insight Express in July and August, 76 percent of nearly 18,000 respondents said that the site had the right amount of ads given the can't-be-beat cost of viewing (free). Just over 17 percent said there was less advertising than they expected. The survey also found a 22 percent bump in advertiser message association and a 28 percent increase in intent to purchase among users.
Kilar is an advocate of the fewer-ads approach. The half-hour comedies that are so popular on Hulu — "Family Guy" from Fox and "The Office" from NBC — have an average of eight minutes of commercial time on TV. On Hulu, where the sitcoms are especially popular, each show averages about two minutes of ads.
"We think that a modest amount of advertising is the right thing because that's going to drive atypical results for marketers," Kilar said. He said the site had no plans to increase the advertising load.
As effective as the ads may be, it must be hard to resist adding more. ABC, a unit of the Walt Disney Company, conducted focus groups with consumers last summer to gauge potential changes to the advertising load on its video Web site. The company is now analyzing the focus group findings, a spokeswoman said.
ABC.com was the first network Web site to introduce full-episode streaming in 2006. Research by ABC last January found that the one-ad-per-segment format resulted in a 54 percent ad recall rate. ABC and the other broadcast networks now make the recent episodes of almost every TV series available for streaming. NBC put the season premieres of "30 Rock" and other shows online a week before they were shown on TV this season.
Despite all the experimentation, it is still difficult to know exactly how many viewers are watching individual TV shows and movies online. Hulu ranks its most popular content, but unlike YouTube it doesn't show the view count for each video. Still, it is clear that millions of viewers are watching some shows online. The Season 3 premiere of "Heroes" in September was streamed 8.1 million times on Hulu and NBC.com, according to the network. (All online streams are not counted as equal, because on NBC.com each segment of an episode is counted as a stream, so a full episode could count as six streams. On Hulu, one episode equals one stream.)
It is easier to count the click-through rates for the video ads. On ABC.com, nearly one in four users participate when the ads are interactive, the network said. On Hulu, companies like Nissan have offered multiple versions of commercials for viewers to choose. The site is also experimenting with longer-form advertisements, sometimes letting users choose to watch a movie trailer in place of a 30-second spot.
Hiccups remain, Smith said, noting that technology sometimes limits innovation. "I'm still getting the same spot five times in an hourlong program sometimes," he said. "If I stop watching a movie and come back a few days later, it remembers where I stopped, which is great, but I wish it would remember which spots I was exposed to."
In a glimpse of the future of ad feedback, Hulu users are encouraged to click buttons indicating whether they like or dislike each ad they see. "As we collect more and more data, we can personalize the ad experience for you," Kilar said.




READ AN ALTERNATIVE IHT DAILY NARRATIVE AT
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LOOKING FOR A CHRISTMAS BOOK GIFT TO BUY?
"Books about cosmopolitan urbanites discovering the joys of country life are two a penny, but this one is worth a second glance. Walthew's vivid description of the moral stress induced by his job as a high-flying executive with the International Herald Tribune newspaper is worth the cover price alone…. Highly recommended."
The Oxford Times





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Amazon.com
For more reviews visit ianwalthew.com


Business trip to the IHT in Paris or friends and family coming to visit you? Fed up with hotels? Bring the family (sleeps 6) to superb Montmartre apartment - weekend nights free of charge if minimum of 3 work nights booked;. Cable TV; wifi, free phone calls in France (landlines); large DVD and book library; kids toys, books, travel cot and beds; two double bedrooms; all mod cons; half an hour to Neuilly and 12 mins walk from Eurostar. T&E invoices.


10% Discount for NYT employees; 15% Discount for IHT Employees





International Herald Tribune
IHT
New York Times
The NYT Company

Amazon, Kindle and MSM subscription prices


This, from fishbowlNY. And there was the NYT telling us that 90% of MSM revenue came from print circulation, so don't mess with it.

Not when it costs you nothing to produce it on P&D.

Wednesday, Oct 29
Amazon.com Practically Giving Away Newsweek SubscriptionsAmazon.com is offering a subscription to
Newsweek for $20 (90 percent off the cover price!) — 20 percent cheaper than the magazine's own Web site sells it. The mag chopped circulation figures in late 2007 and ad pages plummeted 22 percent in the first half of 2008, but as some point these desperate schemes to boost circ start to do more harm than good, don't they?



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LOOKING FOR A CHRISTMAS BOOK GIFT TO BUY?
"Books about cosmopolitan urbanites discovering the joys of country life are two a penny, but this one is worth a second glance. Walthew's vivid description of the moral stress induced by his job as a high-flying executive with the International Herald Tribune newspaper is worth the cover price alone…. Highly recommended."
The Oxford Times
Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

For more reviews visit www.ianwalthew.com

Throw some investment fund cash at Bill Keller and tell him to give it to promising editorial franchises.


Now this is interesting: the NYT has a 'special investment fund'.
Who holds the purse strings to the special investment fund and how can strategic planning and/or the IHT get hold of some of it?
And is specific investment in some promising verticals the same, in affect, as a sort of dismantling of The Grey Lady, especially when you throw in the word 'franchises'?

Special 'Investment Fund' to Increase Business Coverage at The Times?
by John Koblin October 28, 2008

At first, there was good news at New York Times executive editor Bill Keller’s semi-annual State of the Newsroom town hall meeting, the supposed informal name of which has now become official: “Throw Stuff at Bill.”

There would be no job cuts.
But of course, there’s a plenty big trade-off for protecting a staff.
For one, you’ve got to lose your stand-alone Metro and sports sections. It means new projects and some investigative projects are suspended. It also means that you might get “more exotic and garish species of advertisements,” said Mr. Keller.
And: “It will mean, I’m sure, that our hiring is even more selective than before.”
Hiring is already selective to begin with. Yes, The Times has been able to pluck away the likes of Peter Baker from The Washington Post and Jackie Calmes from The Wall Street Journal this year, but even Mr. Keller conceded, “There have been very few of those.”
And they were brought in to cover the election, for which the newspaper anyway gets a quadrennial shot of a special budget-plumping complex.
But cuts aren’t everything, and, as Bill Keller well knows, the remaining question is, what are you doing with what you’ve got? And the answer, it seems: taking care of Business Day.
Why, one questioner asked, was BizDay suddenly increasing in size while everyone else was being told they couldn’t hire?
“The new hiring we’ve done over the past six months to a year, I would say, certainly since the time of the buyouts and the layoffs, has been overwhelmingly for digital,” he said.
He continued: “It’s been money that comes from an investment fund, if you will, that was set up to try and expand some of the business verticals that the company hopes have the potential to make good money down the road.”
Last month, The Times did expand BizDay, at a moment that was timed eerily well (traffic in September, thanks to the financial world going nuts, was up 66 percent versus September 2007). The page added Personal Technology, Small Business, Your Money and Economy sections—the sort of stuff that generates lots and lots of traffic.
And traffic is everything in the executive suites of the Eighth Avenue Times Tower these days.
When those “channels” launched on the business page last month, a press release went out to investors and reporters. The release declared: “First of Many Steps to Enhance Online Business and Technology Coverage.”
In a conference call with investors, a call generally reserved to talk of dividends, debts and risk, CEO Janet Robinson trumpeted the section even more and said more reporters and editors will be hired!
“In the coming months, nytimes.com will expand its Small Business, Personal Technology and Your Money sections, introduce more journalists, deepen coverage in its DealBook franchise and continue to add more tools and multimedia features,” she said in the call.
And indeed the hiring has already begun.
Over the past six months, the paper has hired more than a dozen journalists to work for it, most recently plucking the New York Post’s mergers and acquisitions reporter, Zachery Kouwe, to come work under Andrew Ross Sorkin at DealBook. Other hires have included Ben White from the Financial Times, Vindu Goel, Sam Grobart, Claire Cain Miller and Ashlee Vance.
So—what’s this magical “investment fund,” and where can we get one?
“We’ve gotten money budgeted to invest in business verticals on the Web site this year—economics, green business, small business, expanded technology,” wrote Mr. Keller in an e-mail to Off the Record. “The money has gone to hire a small number of editors, reporters and producers. Most of the vertical expansions are already launched, and some of their work has appeared in the printed page as well.”
As far as where it comes from, he said: “The money is in the digital budget, which (as part of the integration of the newsroom) is merging with the newsroom budget.”
So … that’s the investment fund! So does this mean that digital products that produce traffic results are immune from the budgetary constraints of the rest of the paper? (And are we really asking a different question than Mr. Keller’s questioner asked?)
Not that it doesn’t make sense: In September—no doubt because of the credit crisis—the newly launched Economy section had four million page views in its debut month. But it does seem to indicate that the horse and the cart of print and Web have reached a new kind of accommodation.
“Nothing better validates the priority we have given to our journalists than our coverage of the financial crisis,” he said to staffers. “Because Larry Ingrassia has been building a stronger BizDay staff over the past few years when other newsrooms have been brutally downsizing, we have dominated this story with the best reporting team in journalism. That is not just sloganeering or paternal pride.”
He added: “Day after day, week after week, we have been quicker to the news, smarter and more lucid in explaining it, and better at conveying what it means to ordinary Americans than our competition—and, yes, that includes publications that live primarily to report on business.”



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"Books about cosmopolitan urbanites discovering the joys of country life are two a penny, but this one is worth a second glance. Walthew's vivid description of the moral stress induced by his job as a high-flying executive with the International Herald Tribune newspaper is worth the cover price alone…. Highly recommended."
The Oxford Times

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Vacation /Business Trip Furnished Rental Apartment in Paris

Circulation = Revenue and the Paid Content Dilemma (NYT)

Here are two quotes from a recent article in the NTT by David Carr.

"If more people are reading newspapers and magazines, why should we care whether they are printed on paper?
The answer is that paper is not just how news is delivered; it is how it is paid for."

The above being the case, isn't it about time old media started working out how to better monetize their content on digital platforms? Obvious question, obvious answer. So why haven't they managed to do it yet?

Here's another received MSM media wisdom:

"The blogosphere has had its share of news breaks, but absent a functioning mainstream media to annotate, it could be pretty darn quiet out there."

Thank you for your use of the conditional in that sentence, Mr. Carr, but you're just covering you basaes.

Question: Are you sure about that vision of the blogosphere Mr. Carr?

In the short term perhaps, more difficult to navigate perhaps, but in the long run it would function pretty damn well. Especially with so many collaborative blognetworks springing up, staffed by ex-MSM media journalists.



The Media Equation (NYT)
By
DAVID CARR
Published: October 28, 2008
The news that
Google settled two longstanding suits with book authors and publishers over its plans to digitize the world’s great libraries suggests that some level of détente could be reached between old media and newIf true, it can’t come soon enough for the news business.
It’s been an especially rotten few days for people who type on deadline. On Tuesday, The
Christian Science Monitor announced that, after a century, it would cease publishing a weekday paper. Time Inc., the Olympian home of Time magazine, Fortune, People and Sports Illustrated, announced that it was cutting 600 jobs and reorganizing its staff. And Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher in the country, compounded the grimness by announcing it was laying off 10 percent of its work force — up to 3,000 people.
Clearly, the sky is falling. The question now is how many people will be left to cover it.
It goes on. The day before, the
Tribune Company had declared that it would reduce the newsroom of The Los Angeles Times by 75 more people, leaving it approximately half the size it was just seven years ago.
The Star-Ledger of Newark, the 15th-largest paper in the country, which was threatened with closing, will apparently survive, but only after it was announced that the editorial staff would be reduced by 40 percent.
And two weeks ago, TV Guide, one of the famous brand names in magazines, was sold for one dollar, less than the price of a single copy.
The paradox of all these announcements is that newspapers and magazines do not have an audience problem — newspaper Web sites are a vital source of news, and growing — but they do have a consumer problem.
Stop and think about where you are reading this column. If you are one of the million or so people who are reading it in a newspaper that landed on your doorstop or that you picked up at the corner, you are in the minority. This same information is available to many more millions on this paper’s Web site, in RSS feeds, on hand-held devices, linked and summarized all over the Web.
Historically, people took an interest in the daily paper about the time they bought a home. Now they are checking their BlackBerrys for alerts about mortgage rates.
“The auto industry and the print industry have essentially the same problem,” said Clay Shirky, the author of “Here Comes Everybody.” “The older customers like the older products and the new customers like the new ones.”
For readers, the drastic diminishment of print raises an obvious question: if more people are reading newspapers and magazines, why should we care whether they are printed on paper?
The answer is that paper is not just how news is delivered; it is how it is paid for.
More than 90 percent of the newspaper industry’s revenue still derives from the print product, a legacy technology that attracts fewer consumers and advertisers every single day. A single newspaper ad might cost many thousands of dollars while an online ad might only bring in $20 for each 1,000 customers who see it.
The difference between print dollars and digital dimes — or sometimes pennies — is being taken out of the newsrooms that supply both. And while it is indeed tough all over in this economy, consider the consequences.
New Jersey, a petri dish of corruption, will have to make do with 40 percent fewer reporters at The Star-Ledger, one of the few remaining cops on the beat. The Los Angeles Times, which toils under Hollywood’s nose, has one movie reviewer left on staff. And dozens of communities served by Gannett will have fewer reporters and editors overseeing the deeds and misdeeds of local government and businesses.
The authors and book publishers looking for royalties from the Google deal may be the lucky ones in the old media sweepstakes. Print publishers are madly cutting, in part because the fourth quarter, postfinancial crisis, is going to be a miserable one. Advertising from the car industry, retail business and financial services — for years, the three sturdy legs of a stool that print once rested comfortably on — are in steep decline.
So who can still afford to pay for the phone calls that reporters have to make? USA Today was made exempt from the current rounds of cuts at Gannett but even national papers, including The New York Times, have resorted to modest staff cuts over the last year. The blogosphere has had its share of news breaks, but absent a functioning mainstream media to annotate, it could be pretty darn quiet out there.
At the recent American Magazine Conference, one of the speakers worried that if the great brands of journalism — the trusted news sources readers have relied on — were to vanish, then the Web itself would quickly become a “cesspool” of useless information. That kind of hand-wringing is a staple of industry gatherings.
But in this case, it wasn’t an old journalism hack lamenting his industry. It was Eric Schmidt, the chief executive of Google.




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The Oxford Times



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Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Advertising groups issue dire slowdown warnings (IHT)


Reuters
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
By Kate Holton and Paul Thomasch
Three of the world's largest ad groups have issued dire warnings about an industry slowdown, as economic upheaval throws planned spending on advertising from TV commercials to Web searches into doubt.
The forecasts from Publicis , Interpublic Group and Aegis on Tuesday followed solid-third quarter results by each of the groups, showing they have so far weathered the storm.
But with economic troubles deepening, the advertising market is now at risk of suffering its biggest slowdown since 2001.
France's Publicis, the world's third-largest ad group by market capitalisation, reported third-quarter results in line with expectations but forecast a difficult end to 2008 and worse for 2009.
U.S.-based Interpublic Group, the world's fourth-largest, posted higher-than-expected quarterly profit and strong organic growth, but warned that the financial crisis had jeopardized marketing budgets.
Britain's smaller peer Aegis completed the trio, reporting solid organic growth before saying it could no longer predict how much companies would spend on advertising and was therefore cautious on its full-year outlook.
"We believe our industry will face a difficult end of 2008 and a marked slowdown in 2009," Publicis Chairman and Chief Executive Maurice Levy said.
Interpublic Chief Executive Michael Roth said the group was still set to achieve its 2008 financial goals but noted that the impact of the "increasingly unsettled and volatile business environment" on the sector was not yet clear.
Last week, Omnicom Group , the world's largest advertising company, said retail and automotive clients were beginning to push back and even cancel some advertising plans.
The results follow moves by leading media buyers, such as ZenithOptimedia, to slash global advertising spend forecasts for 2008 and 2009.
STATE OF PLAY
At 1:38 p.m., shares in Publicis were up 3.5 percent at 16.35 euros, having recovered from an earlier fall, while shares in Aegis fell 9.1 percent to 57.75 pence in a higher market.
Shares in IPG were up 11 percent at $4.56, recovering a small portion of the 50 percent the stock lost in the last month on fears about the state of the advertising market.
WPP , the world's second-largest ad group which reports on Thursday, was up 3 percent after initially falling on the European companies' outlooks.
Publicis, whose clients include food group Nestle , energy giant Total and airline Emirates , pledged to tap the digital sector and emerging countries to grow market share and protect its margins.
Its sales rose 5.1 percent at constant exchange rates, with organic growth of 3.9 percent. The company said the third quarter had ended with higher organic growth than expected given the global financial crisis.
Interpublic posted third-quarter organic revenue growth, a closely watched figure that excludes the impact of recent acquisitions and foreign currency, of 7.6 percent and a rise in revenue of 11.5 percent to $1.74 billion (1.1 billion pounds).
Aegis, which posted 9-month organic revenue of 7.3 percent, said it would manage its cost base tightly and said it still expected to benefit from the strength of the euro and the U.S. dollar in relation to sterling.
"Clearly slowing growth is not intrinsically positive, but it is no surprise and we believe that these (Publicis) results and comments should prove reassuring relative to some concerns in the market," UBS analyst Alastair Reid wrote in a note.
Reid described the Aegis organic growth as robust but forecast full-year growth of 4.9 percent, implying a significant sharp slowdown in the fourth quarter.
"Aegis currently trades on around 7.5 times 2009 earnings, broadly inline with Publicis," he said. "Whilst this appears inexpensive ... we believe that with consensus earnings downgrades coming through and the lack of visibility for the company, the stock is likely to come under further pressure near-term."
(Additional reporting by James Regan and Cyril Altmeyer in Paris)
(Editing by Erica Billingham)



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The Oxford Times



NYT Stock Price

New York Times Co
(NYT:NYQ)
NYT on other Exchanges
10.08 USD Last
+0.57 +5.99% Change
-- Volume

Avg Volume (10 day)
1.7M
Fundamentals
Market Capitalization
1.4B
P/E Ratio (TTM)
20.1x
EPS (TTM)
0.50 USD
Dividend
0.92 USD
Yield
9.13%
Ex Dividend Date
08/28/08
Shares Outstanding
143.0M

People will pay for content and internet advertising is over-rated.


O.K, TimesSelect was a failure (sorry, a success, but an ad model was better) we are told. And there a lot of believers out there who want you to believe that there is no future in paid content.

I disagree.

On the reader side there is heaps of content I would pay for, content I shamelessly nick and post in full on this blog just to demonstrate the fact that there is content that I personally would pay for and don't have to.

On the ad side, a lot of these ad networks (300 by last count?) are delivering poor value to advertisers because their metrics systems are poor (at best).

And, back to the reader, they are often annoying, and for the advertiser don't offer the impact of print. Way, way too much inventory and poor industry pricing models.
There are people who don't run with the sheep, the FT is one of them.

Where we're at with the Internet and media is NOT a crisis point but THE VERY VERY BEGINNING of what will come: better thought out models - that exploit audience fragmentation, not fight against it; better technology for monetizing content; changing user demands and habits.

I hate the cliche carpe diem, but this is the day to go for it.

When is the NYT Company going to demonstrate they can do this?


FT.com focuses on "quality not quantity (Editors Weblog)
Posted by Alisa Zykova on October 28, 2008 at 10:29 AM

As we reported yesterday, FT.com has launched the Long Room page on the Alphaville blog. In an interview today, Managing Editor Robert Grimshaw reported that the website will not be participating in monthly traffic measures by the UK's Audit Bureau of Circulations Electronic (ABCes), because its focus is on "quality not quantity."





Grimshaw said that online news sources in the UK that have cut back on advertising and stopped charging for their content may experience difficulties in the future in the event of declines in advertising revenue. "We think it's philosophically right. We've produced some hugely valuable content and we know for a fact that our users are prepared to pay for it," says Grimshaw. "It's about using the flexibility of the access model and the business model overall."Grimshaw thinks that his site's competitors are too reliant on the advertising industry, whereas FT.com aspires to "carve out its own path online," according to Journalism.co.uk.

Long Room's content will adhere to FT.com's business structure and will be "high-level" and "intellectually charged", but will not propagate "expertise."

In March, the site attained 7.1 million users, although it is more interested in the 500,000 to a million senior users.
Source: Journalism.co.uk
http://www.editorsweblog.org/multimedia/2008/10/uk_ftcom_focuses_on_quality_not_quantity.php







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The Oxford Times
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CSMonitor shifts from print to Web-based strategy (CSM)


If you go to this link you can find a link to a video of CSM Monitor Editor John Yemma and Managing Publisher Jonathan Wells discussing the thinking behind the changes coming to the Monitor.

Monitor Editor John Yemma and Managing Publisher Jonathan Wells discuss the thinking behind the changes coming to the Monitor.


I've posted the CSM.com article about all this below, but first the note to their subscribers from the managing publisher. He's asking subscribers not to cancel during the transition -which has to be a bit of an ask, but there you go.

Clearly the NYT won't go weekly anytime soon, but the IHT going to Saturday only is an option for the NYT, with perhaps a daily International New York Times. I say Saturday only, because Sunday newspapers, ex-many Anglophone markets, are weak to non-existent; plus there aren't good distribution options available on a Sunday in many IHT markets, so hold that thought.
However www.iht.com being the focus in a CSM type strategy doesn't look likely given current plans to roll it into www.nytimes.com as of March '09.
What I find interesting about all this re. NYT/IHT is the first major manifestation of three trends that I've blogged on before, all of which could be in someway relevant to the NYT:
b) accepting reduced revenues and profits


A note to our subscribers from the managing publisher
posted October 28, 2008 at 1:30 p.m. EDT
Dear Reader,
We recently announced, as covered in today’s paper, that in April 2009 the daily print edition of The Christian Science Monitor will shift to a 24/7 daily Web publication. This will be combined with the launch of an attractive new weekly print publication that looks behind the headlines and helps readers understand global issues. Also we will launch a new daily e-news edition, delivered by e-mail.
As a result of these changes, the Monitor’s online edition will be more robust, which means you will be able to get updates on the news in minutes, not days. The new weekly print edition will be delivered to your home for the weekend – when many of our readers have indicated they have more time to enjoy longer articles and in-depth reporting. The newly developed e-news edition will deliver selected Monitor news and perspective to your e-mail inbox every day. These changes will enable the Monitor to better fulfill its mission by increasing its reach and affect on humanity while also becoming financially sustainable.
Our readers are our partners
For news, the coming months will be event-filled, and the Monitor promises to continue to be there in print and online covering these events with objective, unbiased analysis. We also need you, as readers and as partners, to continue to support the Monitor by renewing your current subscription to the daily newspaper. This partnership is essential to the success of The Christian Science Monitor.
Subscriptions
If you are a current print or Treeless subscriber, we ask you to stay with us through this transition. By doing so, you will be the first to learn about the exciting and important changes we have planned for later this year, as well as specifics about how your daily subscription will be transitioned to the weekly publication.
Thanks to all who love The Christian Science Monitor; we’re sure you’ll discover how CSMonitor.com, the new weekly print edition, and our daily e-news edition will continue to provide invaluable Monitor perspective to help you understand your world.
Jonathan Wells

Managing Publisher



Monitor shifts from print to Web-based strategy
In 2009, the Monitor will become the first nationally circulated newspaper to replace its daily print edition with its website; the 100 year-old news organization will also offer subscribers weekly print and daily e-mail editions.
By
David Cook Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
posted October 28, 2008 at 1:30 p.m. EDT
The Christian Science Monitor plans major changes in April 2009 that are expected to make it the first newspaper with a national audience to shift from a daily print format to an online publication that is updated continuously each day.
The changes at the Monitor will include enhancing the content on CSMonitor.com, starting weekly print and daily e-mail editions, and discontinuing the current daily print format.
This new, multiplatform strategy for the Monitor will "secure and enlarge the Monitor's role in its second century," said Mary Trammell, editor in chief of The Christian Science Publishing Society and a member of the Christian Science Board of Directors. Mrs. Trammell said that "journalism that seeks to bless humanity, not injure, and that shines light on the world's challenges in an effort to seek solutions, is at the center of Mary Baker Eddy's vision for the Monitor. The method of delivery and format are secondary" and need to be adjusted, given Mrs. Eddy's call to keep the Monitor "abreast of the times."
While the Monitor's print circulation, which is primarily delivered by US mail, has trended downward for nearly 40 years, "looking forward, the Monitor's Web readership clearly shows promise," said Judy Wolff, chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Christian Science Publishing Society. "We plan to take advantage of the Internet in order to deliver the Monitor's journalism more quickly, to improve the Monitor's timeliness and relevance, and to increase revenue and reduce costs. We can do this by changing the way the Monitor reaches its readers."
The coming changes, over two years in the planning stage, occur at a time of fundamental transition in news publishing and turn the page on a remarkable chapter in American journalism. The Monitor, which celebrates its 100th anniversary on Nov. 25, was launched at the direction of church founder Eddy, who had been the subject of a searing legal and journalistic attack by Joseph Pulitzer's New York World. Officials of her church had a professional news organization up and running in just over 100 days.
In the Monitor's first edition, Mrs. Eddy defined the scope and tone of the newspaper's journalistic mission, writing that it should "injure no man, but bless all mankind."
Since that time, generations of editorial and publishing workers have devoted themselves to the Monitor. While Mrs. Eddy's paper was initially greeted with skepticism, the Monitor won respect from its journalistic peers; it has been awarded seven Pulitzer Prizes and numerous other journalistic accolades. Three Monitor editors have been elected president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
Monitor editor John Yemma said that while the methods of publishing Monitor journalism have evolved over 100 years, the underlying motives and approach remain constant.
"In the Monitor's next century, as with its first century, it is committed to finding answers to the world's most important problems, asking the questions that matter and getting the story behind the news - all of which is staying true to Mrs. Eddy's unselfish, original vision," he said. "The Monitor's role is right there in its name. It's to monitor the world, to keep an eye on the world from a perspective of hope."
Mrs. Wolff cited three goals that drove what she called "our evolving strategy" for the Monitor:
• Producing a website that can be updated 24/7 and delivered instantaneously "better fulfills Mrs. Eddy's original vision" for the Monitor to be daily than does a five-day-a-week paper delivered by mail with frequent delays.
• Focusing resources on the fast-growing Web audience for news rather than on the economically troubled daily newspaper industry "increases the Monitor's reach and impact." The Monitor's website currently attracts about 1.5 million visitors a month.
• Eliminating the major production and distribution costs of a daily newspaper will allow the Monitor to "make progress toward achieving financial sustainability" while supporting its global news resources.
Attaining these goals over the next five years would provide stability and continuity for Monitor journalism over the long run, said Mr. Yemma, who took office as the Monitor's editor in July after holding a number of editorial positions at the Boston Globe. Throughout the news industry, he added, publications are struggling with the profound disruption brought on by the Internet and the rising costs of newsprint and transportation.
The Monitor has required a subsidy from the Christian Science church for most of its history. In the current budget year ending April 30, the Monitor in all forms is forecast to lose $18.9 million. The church will provide a subsidy of $12.1 million from its general fund, with earnings from the Monitor Endowment Fund and donor contributions to the Monitor's operating fund covering the balance. The changes in strategy are projected gradually to decrease the Monitor's net operating loss to $10.5 million in 2013, so the church general fund subsidy will be $3.7 million, said managing publisher Jonathan Wells.
"Changes in the industry - changes in the concept of news and the economics underlying the industry - hit the Monitor first," given its relatively small size and the complex logistics required for national distribution, Mr. Wells said. "We are sometimes forced to be an early change agent."
All three Monitor publications – website, weekly print edition, and daily e-mail edition – will be produced by the same editorial staff. The Monitor will continue to operate at its current level of international and domestic coverage, with bureaus throughout the globe, and a strong presence in Washington. Yemma and Wells said these bureaus represent a distinct competitive advantage for the Monitor at a time when other news organizations are cutting back on staff coverage from outside their circulation regions.
"A modest reduction" in the Monitor's 95-person editorial staff is likely, once the transition to the new product line-up is completed, Yemma said.
A new design for the Monitor's website is being phased in. It is the first step in what Yemma said would be "a much more robust Web presence." In addition to frequent updating with the latest news seven days a week, the plan is for the site to become a portal where editors will point visitors to other areas on the Web that are attempting journalism in the same spirit as the Monitor. Yemma said he wants to encourage much more two-way conversation between readers and Monitor staffers to "build a community of people who care about the values the Monitor stands for."
The Monitor's new weekly print edition will launch in April and be priced at $3.50 per copy or $89 for a year's subscription. A full-price subscription to the current daily print edition is $219. "We hope the people who subscribe to the daily will shift to the weekly and that many more who may not have had time to read the daily will find the weekly appeals to them," Yemma said.
Produced on high grade paper in a 10" by 12" size, the weekly will feature an in-depth cover story on a major global issue or trend; brief dispatches from Monitor correspondents around the globe; the best photographs of the week; special sections on innovation, the environment, and personal finance; as well as Home Forum essays and a single religious article, as has been the Monitor's practice since 1908.
Like the new print weekly, the new daily electronic edition will be offered by subscription. It will be a multipage PDF file sent by e-mail to subscribers Monday through Friday. The format makes it convenient for subscribers to print out the daily e-news edition at home. This publication will contain an original column by Monitor editors, the top Monitor stories of the day, links to other reports on the Monitor's website, and the daily religious article. Pricing has not been announced.
Reaching the improved financial targets in the Monitor's new business plan will depend on significant growth in Web traffic and on current subscribers to the daily paper transferring their subscriptions to the weekly edition and the daily e-mail edition, Wolff said. "If you are a current subscriber, we ask you to stay with us. If you do not subscribe, we hope you will subscribe to the Monitor now as it embarks on its second century."
This is a period of extreme financial difficulty for all news organizations. New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., for instance, was asked at a conference in California on Oct. 22 whether the Times would be a print product in 10 years. "The heart of the answer must be (that) we can't care," Sulzberger said. He added that he expects print to be around for a long time but "we must be where people want us for our information."
The cost, delay, and waste generated by daily print are huge hindrances, said Yemma. The Monitor can lead the way in providing news primarily online.
"The Christian Science Monitor finds itself uniquely positioned to take advantage of developing technologies, market conditions, and news consumption habits that can dramatically increase its relevance, reach, and utility; place it on a sound financial footing; and allow it to pursue its unique mission of providing global perspective and illuminating the human dimension behind international news," Yemma noted.




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The Oxford Times


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Another fishbowlNY Anti-Newspaper Poll

This time, FishbowlNY is asking which newspaper will stop printing on a daily basis.

(The previous poll which I posted on was about the future of the NYT, with an alarming number of Manhattan media community voting it not so rosy, a result that must now be weighed against the results of this latest poll.)

Results below are as of 10.58 CET (Paris) today.

Tuesday, Oct 28 2008 (FishbowlNY)
Which Newspaper Will Stop Publishing Daily Next?

The Christian Science Monitor announced it was switching to a weekly format in April to focus on its Web site. What will be the next paper to stop publishing every day?

None 7%
The New York Times 10%
The San Francisco Chronicle 29%
The Los Angeles Times 17%
Another one 38%




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LOOKING FOR A CHRISTMAS BOOK GIFT TO BUY?
"Books about cosmopolitan urbanites discovering the joys of country life are two a penny, but this one is worth a second glance. Walthew's vivid description of the moral stress induced by his job as a high-flying executive with the International Herald Tribune newspaper is worth the cover price alone…. Highly recommended."
The Oxford Times





Keller Says No Further Job Cuts at the Times (NYO)

I posted recently on the perils of cost cutting by a thousand cuts and how bad for staff morale it is. I also posted on Goldman Sach's analyst quite rightly connecting the dots between editorial cut backs and declining circulation.

So it's good to read the following about Mr. Keller on job cuts. However, I am perturbed by his use of the word 'horizon'.

Where exactly is the 'horizon' in the current newspaper industry/wider financial crisis?

Not very far away I would say and hearing about job cuts from him before Gawker is the same as saying you'll hear it from Mr. Keller 5 mins before Gawker or this blog.


None of which would make me put too much weight into his statement, honest and sincere as it no doubt it is, but things are moving fast.

P.S I don't know which is worse as a moniker: 'State of the Newsroom' (pompous) or 'Throw stuff at Bill' (dress down Friday corporate B.S for serious meetings)






Keller Says No Further Job Cuts at the Times (NYO)
by John Koblin October 27, 2008

"Throw Stuff at Bill" Keller
New York Times executive editor Bill Keller denied that there will be any further newsroom job cuts at the Times this morning at his State of the Newsroom meeting, "Throw Stuff at Bill." [Update, October 28th: The Times sessions are actually called "Throw Stuff at Bill."]
"The answer is no," said Mr. Keller, according to an attendee. "No, I do not see another round of newsroom staff reductions on the horizon."
He said that hiring will be "even more selective than before," but the goal is to avoid painful cuts that other newspapers have made.
Earlier this year, the Times cut 100 newsroom positions, leaving the total newsroom body count around 1200—bigger than any other single newspaper's newsroom in the country. At Mr. Keller's last newsroom address, back in February, he announced those job cuts, leaving many staffers wondering if more cuts would be announced again today.
Gawker had recently
reported a tip that the newsroom was planning on a 20 percent editorial staff reduction.
Mr. Keller dismissed that rumor by saying, "consider the source." He said that if cuts become necessary, "You will hear it from me before you hear it on Gawker."
According to our source, the sole question that Mr. Keller was asked today was about job cuts and "he answered it, several times."
UPDATE 12:28 pm: Our source clarified that Mr. Keller wasn't asked one question; he was asked several.

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The Oxford Times


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New York Times
The NYT Company


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