1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Fixing this mess

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Xodus, Jul 5, 2008.

  1. Xodus

    Xodus Member

    I'm a sports writer graduating in Dec. and I'm tired of reading about layoffs, buy-outs and Jessica DaSilva (who actually works/ed at the same student paper I do. I, in sports and her, in news. I pray people in the business don't think we're all as short-sighted brown-nosers).

    There are too many intelligent people working in the newspaper business for them to think that slashing jobs is a way to save this business. And the continuing emphasis on sending everyone over to the website before they, you know, figure out how to make money with their respective websites is insane. How anyone believes that giving away a product for free is a smart business practice is beyond me.

    I think changing the way newspapers go about using their online ads is the key. Google makes tons of money in ads everyday and one of the reasons is the ads cater to what a person just searched for. When you go on a newspaper site the ads are completely random and of no interest to me.

    Another solution is (obviously) no longer giving the product away for free on the web. What motivation is there to buy or subscribe if you can go online and read the paper for free? Maybe something like a $5 or $10 a month subscription fee for
    reading a story online. It could work kind of like ESPN Insider where you get the first graf or two for free, but you've got to pay for the rest.

    I don't know if any of these ideas would work, but it's better than hyperlocal and having no beat writers.

    Any more ideas out there?
  2. pressmurphy

    pressmurphy Member

    Try to mix some business courses into the class schedule for your final semester.

    No one has a stranglehold on assembling and disseminating information. If the newspaper in a mid-size market chooses to charge for online access, there will still be four TV stations, a 24-hour news channel from the cable system, an alternative weekly, a suburban weekly and a news radio station still shoveling it online for free.

    None of their reporting will be as good as that of the daily newspaper, but the the competitors can still generate their page views and thusly sell ads (without the overhead of a 150-person newsroom or the upkeep on a $65 million printing plant) because users will gravitate to "free."

    End of story, more or less.
  3. Xodus

    Xodus Member

    I guess the subscription thing probably wouldn't work, but I think changing the way ads are used online needs to be changed. By trying to use a wider variety of ads catered to what pages readers are currently reading you could hopefully bring in more advertisers and boost revenues. For example, someone reading the sports section could should be seeing ads for the latest sports video games, sneakers, etc. I'm obviously not an advertising major but it makes no sense to me that when I'm reading a sports section online the ads on the side or top of the page are real-estate or about plastic surgery.
  4. pressmurphy

    pressmurphy Member

    Ah, now you're cooking. Short answer is, yes, many newspapers still suck at targeting ads. Longer answe is that even the ones that are better at search optimization and ad targeting are not able to pull in enough revenue to offset that amount of money that the print part of the operation and no longer pulling in.
  5. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    For advertisers, the entire basis of the relationship with the local paper is that the local paper offers them access to the largest audience in that market. Having their ads targeted only to readers of specific stories is the equivalent of that shop owner moving his store off Main Street (or out of the mall) and onto a side street very few people drive on. There is a reason why the A section has the most ads. Targeting ads to a narrow audience makes sense for retailers trolling for national and international e-commerce, but it makes zero sense for local businesses. And local advertising is the bulk of a newspaper's revenue.
  6. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    We don't. We're usually discerning enough not to do so. Our problem is that, unfortunately, the same cannot necessarily be said of some readers.

    Despite the uproar/indignation over DaSilva's blogs and her lack of sensitivity/insight/smarts, we are, by and large, tough but intelligent, perceptive, empathetic and pretty forgiving people most of the time.

    You, from the looks of your post, have nothing to fear.
  7. Xodus

    Xodus Member

    Well there has to be someway to boost advertising revenue. It's time that there are solutions out there other than firing 10 people every few months and hyperlocal garbage.
  8. leo1

    leo1 Active Member

    there are tons of companies out there that do nothing but sell web sites programs that target specific ads to specific viewers. even perfectly targeted ads are unlikely to return the newspaper industry to its glory years.
  9. Jake_Taylor

    Jake_Taylor Well-Known Member

    I'm starting to believe that the climate of newspapers will get better when some of the larger newspaper companies finally fail. I don't think we're ever going to be able to produce the kind of profits that the current stockholders demand. My hope dream is that new ownership will then step in and be satisfied with paper/Web operations that make a modest profit.
  10. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I don't think it can be fixed anymore. I don't think it had to be this way, I think half the wounds were self-inflicted, most of them in the past year. But all the reporting on the industry's woes and all the cutbacks have convinced most people that they are not going to be getting their money's worth if they subscribe. I think I could hit the lottery tonight, buy a newspaper two weeks later, immediately triple the newsroom budget and people who aren't reading it now still would perceive that the paper has gone into the crapper. That's the most damaging thing, the perception that they'd be buying something that'll be extinct in two years. And I don't see a way around that.
  11. I'm at a 22,000-circ shop and we've had a pay web site for about three years now, and maybe longer. If I'm not mistaken, the online subscription-only was about 600 or 700 strong. A good chuk of that comes from the immediate area. But about 25 percent of it comes from around the state, country and world, including at least one subscription from London from a former resident who keeps up on things here.

    The publishers had the "why give it away for nothing" thought a few years ago and started the pay site. There was some angry people at first, but never anything to consider changing back to the old way.

    Now I don't know how much sense this makes, but the publishers are also very much against information on the web site that is not found in the paper. We don't break stories online and we don't do anything special other than give you a link of every story that is in the paper. We also offer the whole paper in PDF format which I'm hearing is becoming more and more popular.

    I think in our situation it has worked. I don't know why because I'm not smart enough to figure it out. But I'll say this, our newspaper circulation has risen every year for the last five years and we've only had two newsroom positions that were not filled when they opened up in the last five years.
  12. I live Xodus' thinking. I just graduated in May and have been looking for a job since then. Granted, I have a pretty sweet part-time gig but have had three interviews and have used enthusiasm as a way to win people over. I understand the business is not very good right now, but instead of listening to grumpy, old sports writers, I am listening to myself. Newspapers are suffering, but sitting around and feeling sorry for ourselves is not doing anything. Enthusiasm is the key. Newspapers will make a comeback, just like Michael Jordan. Call me foolish, but optimism will fix any problem.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page