Steve Dempsey: Despite digital, print news may still be publishers’ cash cow

Source:independent.ie/business

This week saw people celebrating the 25th anniversary of Tim Berners-Lee making the world wide web available for worldwide use. Ever since it was invited to the party, the world hasn’t looked back.

Actually that’s not universally true. Some industries might look over their shoulders at a pre-internet era with considerable yearning. And one of them is the newspaper industry.

Most newspapers’ print products have suffered dwindling sales in recent years. At the same time, their digital offerings have yet to turn into cash cows. But despite their inability to create a sustainable online business model, there’s still a wide-standing perception that print is on its last legs and online on the up.

But perhaps the digital future isn’t as bright as initially thought.

‘Reality Check’ is a recent study of multiplatform newspaper readership in the United States. It analyses the online and print readership of 51 American newspapers. The results? Printed news still reaches more readers than online news in the papers’ home markets – even among younger readers. On average, print editions reach 29pc of local adults, with online editions reaching only 10pc.

Iris Chyi, one of the study’s authors and an associate professor at the School of Journalism at the University of Texas, was surprised by the near universal pattern that held true for all the papers examined.

“Without even one exception, all 51 newspapers’ print reach is higher than their online reach,” she says. “Also without a single exception, online edition readers’ propensity [to read] the print edition is higher than the general public’s propensity [to read] the print edition – by a wide margin.”

But there are some quirks. For example, the Washington Post and the Austin American- Statesman were the only publications that have ever reached 20pc of their market through digital channels. “The Washington Post has devoted lots of resources to its online operations since day one,” says Chyi. “So washingtonpost.com is not a typical metro newspaper site. As for the Austin American-Statesman, I think there are several factors: Austin has been one of the most wired cities in the US; its population consists of a great number of professionals working in the high-tech industry, state government employees, and college students; and the newspaper has also been pretty proactive with its online operations.”

Another interesting quirk is a dip in online news reach since 2011, which may be down to American publishers’ erection of paywalls. But perhaps paywalls aren’t the only culprits.

“Papers with paywalls on average lost 0.9pc of online reach since 2011, while papers without paywalls lost 0.4pc,” says Chyi. “So paywalls seemed to make some difference. But I think the continuous oversupply of information and entertainment online in recent years naturally reduced newspaper sites’ attention share in a hyper-competitive online market. And if you think about it, things can only get worse in the future.”

So it seems that fewer people are getting their news from dedicated news sources. Instead they are getting their news-fix from aggregators and social channels. “News aggregators like Yahoo News have been proven for years as the most important online news destination,” Chyi says. “Most people don’t go to Facebook to seek news but lots of news is certainly consumed on Facebook. Twitter is more ‘newsful’ than Facebook, but it is heavily used by journalists – not the general public. So, yes, increasingly, online audiences are getting their news from major news aggregators and Facebook, not newspaper sites.”

So how should newspaper executives respond to this research? Chyi believes a critical re-examination of unchecked assumptions about the future of newspapers is called for.

“Newspaper executives assumed that print would die because young people hate print, and that by going online, they could reach young readers effectively,” she says. “These assumptions turned out to be so wrong.

“Many newspapers started their digital experiment in the 1990s on a positive note. Then they gradually got lost in the digital jungle. Then, the recession hit and eroded their print revenue stream, leading most to believe that there is no future for print newspapers, so they must try harder to transform digitally. No one ever stopped for a second to review what’s been done and what went wrong.”

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Papers at risk if made to pay Multi-Material BC

The Regional District of Central Kootenay is calling on the province to make the newspaper industryjoin a provincial recycling stewardship program. However, an industry executive says if they are forced to pay proposed fees, a number of papers would have to shut down to meet the costs.

“We simply can not afford the millions of dollars this would cost the newspaper industry,” John Hinds, the CEO ofNewspapers Canada, an industry group, told the Star. “It would put a significant number of newspapers at risk if wewere forced to pay the Multi-Material BC (MMBC) fees as they stand. Look at what happened in Nanaimo andKamloops [where newspapers recently closed]. Look at what is happening around the country.”

The RDCK board passed a motion in February to urge BC’s environment minister to pressure the industry to complywith regulations that require producers of paper and packaging to pay for the recycling of their products.

MMBC is the non-profit stewardship organization tasked with getting BC industries, rather than taxpayers, to pay forrecycling the paper and packaging it produces. MMBC collects, processes, and sells recycled material, and about 1,300producers of paper and packaging in BC pay them to do this. (MMBC collects Nelson’s recycling, but it’s not noticeablebecause the organization contracts the work to the city.)

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2016 John Belcarz and Dan Zeidler post-secondary education/training memorial scholarships

Dear Local President,

I am pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for the John Belcarz and Dan Zeidler post-secondary education/training memorial scholarships. Two scholarships of $1,000 each are available.

The accompanying attachments contain a poster and application form in both English and French (also available on our website: http://www.cwa-scacanada.ca). Please circulate this information to your members.

In solidarity,
Martin O’Hanlon
President, CWA/SCA Canada

Applications in PDF format to download below

Application Français 

English Application

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DAVID S. BARR AWARD FOR STUDENT JOURNALISM

DAVID S. BARR AWARD FOR STUDENT JOURNALISM

DAVID S. BARR was much more than a lawyer to those privileged to know and work with him. He was the Guild’s mentor, advisor, role model, institutional memory and friend. Before starting his own practice and representing our union and others, Barr was a National Labor Relations Board attorney. He was passionate about justice and fairness and viewed journalists as agents of those virtues. In his name, The NewsGuild-CWA awards annual scholarships to one high school and one college student journalist whose work focuses on issues of social justice. Barr had represented the Guild for more than 20 years when he died of a heart attack in 1997 at the age of 61.

MISSION OF THE DAVID S. BARR CONTEST

* To inspire a new generation of journalists by recognizing work that contributes to the pursuit of justice and fairness.

* To promote issues of importance to working people.

* To serve as a lasting memorial and tribute to David S. Barr.

DEADLINE

All entries must be postmarked by Jan. 31, 2016. 

Only entries published or broadcast between Jan. 1, 2015, and Dec. 31, 2015 are eligible.

APPLICATION FOR ENTRY

Download it HERE.

ELIGIBILITY

The contest is open to high school students, including those enrolled in vocational, technical or special education programs; and part-time or full-time college students, including those in community colleges and in graduate programs.

Students who have worked or are working as professional journalists – excluding internships — are not eligible to enter.

AWARDS

High school winner: $1,000

College winner: $1,500

JUDGING

Entries will be judged by a panel of at least three professional journalists.

RULES FOR ENTRY

Each student journalist is limited to one entry.

Entries must be accompanied by a summary of the work being submitted.

One original copy of the entry must be submitted, if it was published in print, along with four photocopies.

For entries published online only, submit five good-quality printouts/copies.

For broadcast entries, submit five copies in digital format (flash drives/DVDs).

The publication date of each entry must be clearly visible.

For all entries, if the work is still available online, please include the link in your summary.

A signed, official application form must be attached to each copy of each entry.

Failure to provide all documents as described will result in ineligibility.

All entries become the property of the David S. Barr Award Committee.

SEND ENTRIES TO:

David S. Barr Award

The NewsGuild-CWA

501 Third Street, N.W.

Washington DC  20001-2797

QUESTIONS?

Call us at (202) 434-7177.

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Vote the Issues that Affect You!

Dear fellow CWA Canada members,

 

We’re less than a month away from the federal election – an election that will be pivotal to us and to our families as working people and as Canadians. It is vital that we all understand the issues in this campaign so that we can make informed choices.

 

Do we want a government that supports workers, decent pay, good pensions, fair working conditions, and public broadcasting? Or do we want legislation and policies that drive down wages, delay old-age pension, hurt workers, and threaten the very existence of the CBC?

 

Do we want a Canada where we work for the common good, build each other up, and respect democracy?

 

As a leader who represents thousands of journalists, I cannot support one political party over another. But that doesn’t mean I must sit idly back when a government, political party or any group threatens journalism, the democratic process, or the economic interest of our members.

 

Please take a minute to look at the four key issues below of special interest to us all.

 

Please also take a minute to share with your friends, through social media or otherwise, the importance of electing a government that will strengthen Canada by supporting decent wages, stronger pensions, fair working conditions – and public broadcasting.

 

All the best,

Martin

 

 

Martin O’Hanlon

President, CWA/SCA Canada

 

ELECTION ISSUES

 

1) Save the CBC

We have lost 2,000 jobs at the CBC in the last five years. Unless we get a government that will provide adequate funding, the survival of our public broadcaster is in doubt.

That unthinkable prospect would be a huge blow to Canadian culture and it would mean the loss of CBC News, with far fewer journalists to keep an eye on government, politicians and corporate power brokers, and to tell the stories of Canadians. Does anyone think that’s good for democracy? For society? For the economy?

 

Even the president of the CBC is finally admitting that he should have sounded the alarm earlier. In a speech last week, Hubert Lacroix admitted that “like the proverbial frog put in cold water that is slowly heated, we’ve resisted telling people that we risk being boiled to death.”

Each of the three opposition parties has promised to reverse the $115 million the Conservative government cut from the CBC budget. The Conservatives have not responded to our request for their position.

Here is a link listing each party’s commitment on the CBC:

And here is a link to our Save the CBC campaign webpage:

http://www.cmg.ca/en/champion-public-broadcasting/

 

2) Anti-union Bill C-377

It took two years for the Conservative government to force this fundamentally flawed bill through Parliament. It’s so bad that it was originally defeated in the Senate last year – with the help of some Conservative senators.

The Harper PMO was finally able to ram it through this year, but only after having Tory senators overrule longtime Senate rules.

The Conservatives say Bill C-377, which is a copy of anti-union Republican legislation in the U.S., is about making union finances more transparent. That is a lie. Union finances are already transparent. Our books are audited and any member can see them. But union financial information is for members – not for the public. It’s telling that the bill does not apply to any other member organizations like lawyers and doctors groups.

The bill’s real intent is to tie up unions with red tape and make suck out financial and other information for right-wing propaganda.

It is an intrusive, unfair, unnecessary and ideologically motivated piece of rubbish that will cost taxpayers millions of dollars a year to administer and yield no benefit to society. It is unconstitutional and we will challenge it in court if the Conservatives are re-elected.

The opposition parties have said they will repeal the bill.

For more information:

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/11/04/an_open_pmo_door_for_a_private_antiunion_bill_tim_harper.html

 

3) Secret police Bill C-51

Bill C-51 gives the government unprecedented and intrusive new powers, which, in the words of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) “presents disturbing implications for free speech, privacy, the powers of government, including CSIS, and the protection of civil liberties in Canada.”

We strongly support a Charter challenge against Bill C-51 which has been launched by CJFE and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA).

The NDP has said they will repeal the bill; the Liberals have said they will change it.

For more information:

http://cjfe.org/resources/media_releases/ccla-and-cjfe-mount-charter-challenge-against-bill-c-51

 

4) Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

The TPP is a huge international trade deal being negotiated by the federal government – in secret – with plenty of input from multinational corporations, but nothing from labour leaders, environmentalists and other experts. Even our MPs don’t know what’s in it.

It’s actually far more than a trade deal. It’s a corporate rights deal that would give multinational corporations the power to override Canadian sovereignty by suing governments under secretive trade tribunals — rather than through the courts — if they feel our labour, environmental, health or other standards contravene the TPP and could lead to a loss of profits.

Canada would lose thousands more jobs under the TPP as companies move manufacturing and other jobs to low-wage countries such as Vietnam.

The TPP would have a major impact on Canada, yet almost no one is talking about it. How can there be so little debate – and information – in a democracy about such a huge deal?

Please educate yourself. For more information:

On Facebook, check out: Trade Justice Network

On Twitter, follow: @TradeJusticeNet

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British Columbia