Dramatic Changes In The Business Of News

Linked-In had an interesting analysis on industry trends over the past five years wherein the traditional newspaper business was listed as one of the nation’s fastest shrinking industries. And according to a new report on “The State of the News Media 2011” by Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism, readership for online journalism has surpassed that of its ink & paper counterparts:

“Financially the tipping point also has come,” wrote Tom Rosenstiel and Amy Mitchell in the report. “When the final tally is in, online ad revenue in 2010 is projected to surpass print newspaper ad revenue for the first time. The problem for news is that by far the largest share of that online ad revenue goes to non-news sources, particularly to aggregators,” such as Google and Yahoo news.

The Financial Times has also declared as “bleak” the status American newspapers but cites instances where various companies are trying new approaches in order to not only survive but thrive:

Advocates such as Press+ say that publishers that have adopted “metered” models allowing free access to a limited number of articles have not seen the loss in online advertising revenues many feared. Such models have “somewhat shored up print” circulation, adds Alan Mutter, a newspaper analyst and blogger.

But the industry is far from agreeing on a single model. “Fifteen years into the digital transition, executives still feel they are in the early stages of figuring out how to proceed,” Pew found.

Caroline Little, chief executive of the Newspaper Association of America, says: “I don’t think there is one silver bullet. I think paywalls are helping.” Her job is not to preserve print, she adds. “The preservation of journalism is what’s important. Print will continue to decline.”

Newspapers were collaborating more to find solutions such as Newsright, an initiative to enable easy rights clearance for websites republishing news content online, Ms Little says. Others are sharing costs, analyst and blogger Mr Mutter says, pointing to the fact that the Chicago Tribune now prints and distributes the rival Chicago Sun-Times.

The growing success of AOL’s Patch network of hyperlocal news sites may be a harbinger of things to come. As RedMassGroup (RMG) editor Rob Eno has noted in a recent post, the Patch approach can create some interesting ripples in the community it serves in ways that its traditional rivals find difficult to replicate. The main question regarding said network is its ability to monetize its content.

People from both ends of the political spectrum have lost faith in the objectivity of the mainstream media & as a result are seeking alternative sources of news. It’s no surprise that BlueMassGroup (BMG) attracts a substantial amount of eyeballs to check out its output. RMG has the ability to do so too. What both sites need to do is to develop original content in order to take their respective organizations to the next step. RMG’s recent dustup with Gregory Bialecki, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development in Massachusetts, is a hopeful sign that online blog sites are moving beyond commenting on content produced locally by the Globe, the Herald, &/or the Phoenix. The future success of RMG & BMG will depend on how important the public views them in producing unique newsworthy content.

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