Category Archives: News Paper & Publishing

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

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 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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News Leader Pictorial staff on strike in Duncan


Twelve employees at the Cowichan News Leader Pictorial newspaper in Duncan took to the picket lines on Monday in a dispute over proposed changes to their pay structure.

The strike is about blocking the implementation of a two-tier wage system by management, said Unifor Local 2000 representative Peter McQuade.

Right now, employees’ wages increase over time through a classification system. Management is trying to eliminate the top wage classifications for any new employees coming in, McQuade said.

Employees voted 100 per cent in favour of strike action.

McQuade said it was possible the paper would not be able to put out an edition for Wednesday. He had no indication when the strike might be over.

Calls to the News Leader Pictorial’s editor and publisher were not returned Monday morning.

– See more at:

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Black Press shuts down Abbotsford/Mission Times


Black Press Media has shut down the Abbotsford/Mission Times, a little more than a month after purchasing the B.C. paper from Glacier Media. The company also took down the newspaper’s website and closed its Twitter account.

When asked why the company was shutting down a newspaper it considered a worthy purchase in October, Rick O’Connor, president and CEO of Black Media, told J-Source the newspaper was losing “too much revenue” and not making enough money on advertisements.

“The losses were far greater than we had expected,” he said. “We’re not miracle workers … there is only so much we can do.”

O’Connor said most of the Times staff took the severance package offered by Glacier Media, leaving only four of the original 13 staff. “You can’t do the same work when a significant majority is gone.” Black Press will discuss future options for the remaining staff within the company.

As part of the sale from Glacier Media, Black Press also purchased the Chilliwack Times, which O’Connor said continues to operate for now alongside its competitor, Chilliwack Progress. He would not, however, comment on its financial viability.

“It was our belief that it didn’t make sense for readers to receive two community newspapers in the Abbotsford, Mission and Chilliwack markets on the same publishing days with tremendous duplication of content,” said Randy Blair, president of the Black Press Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island divisions, in a statement. “In light of this, Black Press has harmonized publication days in the Chilliwack market so that the Chilliwack Times and the Chilliwack Progress will publish on different days.”

Black Press also owns the Abbotsford News, which will continue to publish.

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Postmedia to close Kennedy Heights plant


The Kennedy Heights printing plant will be put up for sale immediately and operations there will cease sometime in 2015, the union was told today by Paul Godfrey, CEO of Postmedia.

The company presented two possible options going forward. One is contracting out the work currently done at Kennedy Heights. The company has “entered into a contract with Transcontinental” to print papers effective early 2015, Godfrey told Local 2000 representatives.

The other option is the union and company reaching an agreement to open a new plant that would cost substantially less to operate than Kennedy Heights. Godfrey explained that the contract between Postmedia and Transcontinental will not go into effect if the company and union reach a deal before Nov. 18, 2013 that reduces costs at a new plant by 70-75 percent.

Our current contract language says “there will be no involuntary loss of employment of any regular employee during the life of the contract as a result of” contracting out.

Union officers will be consulting with our legal counsel and meeting with members to discuss our next steps.

The company said it was hoping to have further discussions soon.

Postmedia also announced today that it is selling the Calgary Herald building and land and will be contracting out printing beginning in November.


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California newspaper defies industry wisdom to stay alive – and prospers


Orange County Register shocked the crisis-stricken industry with an ambitious experiment. One year later, the paper is celebrating Conventional media wisdom posits several ways for a newspaper to commit suicide. It can drive up costs by multiplying staff and pagination. It can prioritise print over digital. It can erect a hard paywall to seal itself from the internet. click here to read the entire story

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