Look at it this way: the days of the daily newspaper as a mass medium are waning. Not over, but waning. As daily and Sunday circulation sprial downward, they are largely be replaced by the daily habit of quick, web reading. We're a quick-reading, check-in kind of people, now. When you look at who's using the major news aggregators -- Yahoo! News, MSNBC, CNN, Google News and more -- their demographics are across the board. Young, not-so-young (!), monied, starting out, women and men. The new news aggregators are becoming the new mass medium, with one in four Americans checking a GYM news site more than once a day and one in two at least daily, according to a report I did earlier this year for Outsell.
So the smarter newspaper companies are pulling as much cash out of mass as long as they can, while making increasing bets on niche, making bets on all kinds of local supplements from real estate (empty nester, first-time buyer, remodeler) to health care (neonates to dotage). Those niches are largely been presented in that old stand-by, newsprint.
Today's Times notes plans by both Gannett's USAToday and Dow Jones to add glossy magazines to their mix. USAToday's monthly would focus on advertiser-friendly topics like boating, hiking, fishing -- all areas that attract lots of discrtionary, higher-end spending. The publication will start in October. Dow Jones is at an earlier stage, planning a new supplement for its Saturday Journal. It's undoubtedly mining Personal Journal territory here, seeing which of the upper-demo lifestyle categories it assiduously covers is best suited for shiny advertising. It's the Weekend and Personal Journals that are ascendant in these new niches.
It's ironic of course that newspapers are moving into glossy magazine markets at the same time as those markets are as mature (or more) than daily newspaper ones. In this case, it is print getting into the other guy's print. The boundaries between newspapers and magazine companies are blurring.
That's much like the blurring that is going on in local sites. Newspaper sites still dominate, but broadcast sites -- powered by networks like Internet Broadcasting, Broadcast Interactive and WorldNow -- are coming at them. And of course, they are coming at, among other things, their classifieds. Yes, classifieds are shrinking at a signifcant rate. But they are still worth more than $15 billion a year, so broadcasters want their nibble, and online they can bite.
Newspaper people trying to take business away from magazines and Yellow Pages publishers. Broadcasters taking business away from newspaper people. Google inching its way into all those markets, through print and broadcast rep deals. The boundaries have clearly been breached, and it's a scramble for every dollar out there.