Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

04/30/2013

Mix Newspapers + Digital + Metered Paywalls and Shake Well! – Hot Mixture or Not?


Newspapers have danced with ups and downs in the past few years. But, as I have posted on periodically in the past, this segment of publishing was one of the first to analyze its options in the new tech environment, embrace change, initiate appropriate training and launch new business models that have included digital and associated mobiles, etc.

This brought about a big learning curve (that is still active) – but, what has shaken out thus far looks promising and has resulted in positive growth in digital circulation and stopped the bleeding in print circulation and even turned print around a little.

Now, let’s drill down and get into some numbers provided by AAM (Alliance of Audited Media) that will tell us for sure if the ‘newspapers + digital + metered paywalls’ mix is a hot mixture or not.

Matthew Flamm reports on the semi-annual newspaper AAM numbers for Crain’s New York Business:

 

New York Times overtakes USA Today as No. 2

The Grey Lady gains 18% in circulation in the past year as metered paywall pays off. The Wall Street Journal jumps 12% in the much-anticipated semi-annual industry audit.

The New York Times has moved into the No. 2 spot in newspaper circulation, ahead of USA Today, as the addition of more than 300,000 digital subscriptions gave the paper an average weekday circulation of 1.9 million print and digital copies in the six months ending March 31.

The number marked a nearly 18% circulation gain compared to a year ago, with digital gaining enough to more than offset print losses, according to the Alliance of Audited Media, which released its semi-annual newspaper survey on Tuesday.

The alliance includes in its digital count subscriptions to the online paper distributed to tablets, iPhones and through its website. 

The Wall Street Journal, in first place, was up 12% in combined weekday circulation, to 2.4 million print and digital copies. Both papers relied on digital circulation for growth. The Journal‘s print edition fell 5% to 1.5 million copies, while the Times‘ slid 6% to 731,000. 

USA Today dropped 8%, to 1.7 million copies, of which only 250,000 were digital.

On Sundays, the Times remains the clear No. 1, with total circulation of 2.3 million copies, up 16% from a year ago. Its print edition slid less than 1% to 1.25 million copies.

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02/13/2010

USA Today Reminds Staff What "Furloughed" Means

Filed under: gannettt,gci,journalism,media,newspapers,usa today — gator1965 @ 5:24 pm

Some interesting statistics and accounting figures inside one of the biggest newspaper (USA Today) publishers: Gannett Company.

Jonathan Beer of Daily Finance reports:

Employees at Gannett Co.’s (GCI) USA Today must be insanely dedicated.

Why else would the nation’s largest newspaper publisher need to explain to the workers at its flagship paper what it means to be forced to take a week off. But that’s exactly what Publisher Dave Hunke decided his depressed workforce needed to hear.

“To be clear, a furlough means no one will be permitted to work while on furlough and no one will be exempt, except for business necessity,” he wrote in a memo to employees that was leaked to the press. “That means when you are on furlough, there is no work, no office phone calls, no voice mail, no e-mail and no PDA checking.”

This raises all sorts of depressing questions. Why is Gannett so worried about employees working for free on their own time? How is this going to be enforced? Should reporters hang up on sources who phone them at home or screen their calls? What if they find Lindsay Lohan and Warren Buffett having a romantic dinner? Should they avert their eyes, or just phone the National Enquirer?

No Longer No. 1

As the independent Gannett Blog noted, other company papers are already doing furloughs, and at least 26 USA Today employees were recently laid off. A one-year wage freeze at the national newspaper, which was scheduled to end April 1, will be extended for another 90 days because business still stinks. Fourth-quarter paid advertising pages at USA Today fell 10.5%, to 705 from 788 a year earlier. Company-wide publishing advertising revenue fell 17.9% to $790.8 million in the fourth quarter.

Last year, USA Today lost its spot as the nation’s No. 1 newspaper after its circulation fell a mind-numbing 17.5%. That was the biggest circulation decline in the 27 year history of the publication that earned the unflattering nickname McPaper. Shares of the McLean, Va.-based company have soared more than 212% over the past year, coming back from record lows as investors bet that the company’s cost-cutting would pay off. Some big shareholders, though, are now unloading shares, according to the Gannett Blog.

To be sure, newspapers have nowhere to go but up. Analysts Borrell Associates expects newspaper advertising revenue to reverse its 2009 decline and post a modest 2.4% gain this year. The forecasters expect newspaper ad sales to be up about 8.7% over 2009 levels in 2014. (Yes, you read that right.)

By the time the publishing industry makes its tepid comeback, the companies will be a rotting shell of their former selves. Workers won’t need to be told what it means to be on a furlough. They will be painfully aware of it.

Jonathan Berr is a former reporter with Bloomberg News whose work has appeared in The New York Times, BusinessWeek and The Philadelphia Inquirer. In 2000, he won the Gerald Loeb Award, one of the most prestigious prizes in business journalism.

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