Ad Age: Why So Many Media Companies Stumble Globally The few news brands that have succeeded, to greater or lesser degrees, arguably include CNN, Bloomberg, People, Thomson Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Financial Times and The Economist. Other contenders are the Associated Press, the BBC, ABC, NBC, maybe CBS, National Public Radio, News Corp. and the top U.K. dailies, said Ken Doctor, the newspaper veteran who's now an analyst at Outsell. "If a news-media organization sees itself as covering the wider world, sees it as its foundation, that in and of itself differentiates it from all the local media -- newspapers, TV, radio -- out there," he said. "If, in addition, it has substantial reporting and editing resources, then it can play. The tough part is the part we're in: Who wins the race to ubiquity and can make it pay off?"
NYT: If The Globe Were Sold, What Price? “The best guesstimate of the real price: a buck. The best of an announced price: between $50 and $100 million,” he wrote in an e-mail message. The devil will be in the details of the obligations that a buyer would assume, he said, adding that “a buck essentially represents a gentleman’s agreement: I take a liability, headache and a distraction off your hands.”
He said that the Times Company could hang on to some pension liabilities or other obligations in exchange for a higher purchase price, a number that would give the appearance that it was getting something for the more than $1 billion it paid 16 years ago. He added that no bank would be interested in financing a deal given how other deals have blown up, so “the owner’s own money is immediately at risk.”
BizTimes.com: Journal Sentinel faces daunting choices “There’s no strategy – this is panic. What we’re likely to see this year (around the country) and what we’ll see in Milwaukee too is (publishers asking) how much they need to cut back and how much they can do to still hold their place in the market. For publishers, it’s about ‘How do we stay alive and stay profitable until we can get to some sort of breathing period?’ (Economic) recovery will not bring back their old business, but it will give them some breathing room.”
AP: Threat to shut Boston Globe shows no paper is saf The threat to close the paper "sends a very clear message to all employees and unions of surviving newspapers — that this is not business as usual. This is uncharted territory....Newspapers all "have a sword over their heads," said Doctor. If the industry wants to survive, he said, "everyone has to give some blood."
New Detroit Daily: Nature (and Entrepreneurs) Fills Gaps
Ah, even the name is a rebuke: Detroit Daily Press.
Entrepreneurs Mark and Gary Stern announced today that, within 60 days, Detroiters will once again be able to get a newspaper delivered to their door seven days a week, though it will have neither the Detroit Free Press nor Detroit News name attached to it. The Sterns certainly have a mountain to climb to achieve the break-even, 150,000 circulation model they've set out as the goal.
The fact that the Stern brothers are even trying is what bears notice. It parallels a launch of another kind, a coast away. In March, Barbara Bry and Neil Senturia, wife and husband entrepreneurs, launched the San Diego News Network.
Yes, SDNN is an online site, while the Detroit Daily Press is a print product, with some secondary digital presence to come. Both, though, point to an emerging reality: The rapid shrinking of daily newspaper companies is beginning to leave vacuums in local markets and marketplaces. Entrepreneurs are assessing those gaps and moving to create products that will work -- profitably. Expect these announcement to only accelerate as we see an economic recovery take hold.
There's an irony in that, of course. Daily newspaper publishers have been making the point that the new economics of the news business simply won't pay for business (and staff and product) as usual. They are right, of course -- given their economics, but not necessarily the next guy's.
In making reductions, they've had to hit the panic button more often than the strategic switch, and that inevitably may have left them open to competitors of all kinds. They may not have protected their flanks well enough in cutting back. If the enterpreneurial pioneers turn into a parade, newspaper publishers will have a new headache: intensifying competition for the local ad dollar, and for readers' share of attention.
In Detroit, the exposed flank is home delivery. Publisher Dave Hunke may well have been right that the Detroit Newspaper Partnership was unsustainable in its traditional form, and that cutting whole days of home delivery made sense for Gannett and MediaNews. He exposed the flank though -- a big flank of maybe more than a 100,000 baby boomers and up (in age) who want the newspaper delivered to their home. They don't want an e-edition to be read on a computer, and they don't want to wait 'til they get trundled off to an old-age home (DNP has decided to keep up daily delivery to senior citizen facilities). They want a newspaper. Delivered.
Call it a Starbucks buy. Yes, you can get coffee in infinite ways, but if you want it brewed and handed to you in a handsome container, you are willing to overpay for it. Many baby boomers -- circulation price increases that continue unabated through the recession are testament to this -- are willing to overpay to feed their habit. Yes, baby boomers use the web for news, but not voraciously, and, for most, not as a first form of preference.
In San Diego, the flank is different. The Union-Tribune never was a great paper, but it was fine being a mediocre paper in a great market. Now, it is slimming rapidly -- over time its workforce had been cut from a high of 1422 to new-layoff-aided target of 850. Its news product is less than it was and its reach is less than it was. Its remaining staff isn't feeling all that positive about what's next.
In San Diego, in Detroit and in other cities as entrepreneurs join non-profit start-ups, like Voice of San Diego, expect new pressures on ad pricing. When dailies could deliver 50% of households on any given day, they could set pricing. As their reach has declined into the 30 percentiles in some areas and as online advertising poses its own competition, pricing is under pressure. Not only will the Detroit Daily Press move to sign on familiar (laid-off, bought-out) bylines and take readers from the two older dailies, it will aggressively price its advertising. If SDNN and Voice of San Diego, along with the broadcasters and the alternatives, continue to grow, they'll be taking business away from the Union-Tribune and leaving it with smaller margins on the business it is able to keep. (We can see the same process at work in Seattle as the remaining legacy daily, the Seattle Times, has to fight off a growing swarm of online and niche print competitors.)
While the barriers to publishing entry only get cheaper --- Internet production and distribution, outsourced printing and physical distribution -- apparently the barriers to traditional daily demise only get lower.
Barbara Bry, Dave Hunke, Detroit Daily News, Detroit News Partnership, Gannett, Gary Stern, Mark Stern, Media News, Neil Senturia, San Diego News Network, San Diego Union Tribune, Voice of San Diego