Read ’em and weep


There is not much good news for newspaper people as suggested by the bleak title of this Poynter Institute commentary, “Newspapers at Mid-year: Even Online the News is Not So Good.”




In this report business analyst Rick Edmonds notes that:




  • -the growth of online revenues from newspaper web sites has slowed from 35 percent to 20 percent;
  • most of the online sales thus far enjoyed by newspaper web sites are upsells of their print ads (as opposed to new accounts); and
  • management does not understand how to account for online revenues, in other words how to apportion the online share of overhead costs for housing the web site under the paper’s economic roof of the newspaper;
  • nor conversely do owners know how to factor in the long-term expense reduction as news operations convert to electronic distribution, lowering costs for paper, printing and delivery.

Edmond looks in vain for silver linings:




“. . . in 2007, real estate classifieds — a bright spot in 2005 and 2006 — have fallen sharply, about 15 percent. Automotive and employment classifieds continue to decline at a rate of roughly 10 percent. So, even in a year of staff cuts and very soft newsprint prices, newspaper companies are showing declines in earnings, profit margins and earnings per share.”

Crossovers of Print/Online Readers a Boon for Newspapers? Eight out of 10 newspaper web site readers also read the paper in print form. That according to a MediaPost article that summarizes a study from Scarborough Research. Among the findings:


  • 96% of crossover users said they use newspaper Web sites for breaking news, and 85% to find articles seen previously. Other popular uses were for weather updates (75%), finding things to do (72%) and community events (70%).

  • (crossover users are) more prone to click on links for additional information (93%), and to view or listen to online video and audio (61%)

  • 52% of crossover users also read or write blogs. This finding suggests that newspaper Web sites have a large cohort of online ambassadors who will cite their articles–and thus increase their reach–in online discussions and debates.