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John Temple weighs in on rebuilding newspapers

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by SixToe, Jun 15, 2009.

  1. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member


    Some familiar topics, and this nugget:

    "Just as readers should be able to customize and personalize the services of a newspaper, so should advertisers. Newspapers need to be a resource to help businesses grow."

    Should newspapers help businesses grow, specifically, their advertisers, by allowing more input? He says they should not have input on content but that implication certainly rears its head.
  2. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Well, you know, he could be right. I do not think so. I do not think so very strongly. But I concede there is a possibility he could be right.

    I also acknowledge that his line of thinking might be an easier sell to a publisher than the line of thinking that I subscribe to.

    I agree with this guy, "Mr. Magazine," who runs the magazine journalism innovation center at the University of Mississippi:

    When you aim to go everywhere you are set to reach nowhere. That sums up the status of print and print-driven companies these days. The rush to be everywhere, to compete and compliment the new technologies and to blame the current slump in the business model on any and everything but the business model itself, will, in short, lead us to nowhere.

    You can call it self-destruction, or you can call it misguided information. In both of the aforementioned scenarios, the end result is the same: another death of a printed product and another praise for the power of digital in attracting everything print including, but not limited to, the print readers. Case in point the recent announcement of Viacom in shutting down Nickelodeon magazine. Joe Flint, writing in the LA Times said, “But like other magazines, Nickelodeon has suffered from the double whammy of more of its audience going to the Internet (darn those early adapters) and a prolonged advertising slump. Although the cable network remains dominant, the value the magazine provided as a marketing tool for it had faded over the last few years.”

    Did you see the real problem why the magazine is dead? It lost its “value as a marketing tool,” on one hand and on the other hand those “early adapters” are going to the internet. Try telling that to the folks at Highlights and Highlights High Five, Ranger Rick, Lady Bug, Ask and the tens of kids’ magazines that carry no advertising and their only marketing value is to deliver good educational and entertaining content to their readers. When your readers are your customers, you do not need your magazine to be a marketing tool, especially in the kids’ magazine market.

    The first step toward innovation should be Focus. We should stop and focus our efforts on the content of our publications and whether our products are serving the needs, wants and desires of their intended audience. Focusing on the relevant content in our relevant ink-on-paper product should be our first and most important step. Using print as a mere tool to direct traffic to the web or to be a marketing tool will not help our case of survival. Admit it to yourself that we are not the web, we are not television, we are not radio. We are a 400-years-plus technology and unless we use it for what it was invented to produce we are going to miss the point, struggle and die.

    Innovation in print must start first within the premise of print. Everything else will be the icing on the cake. Keep in mind if the cake is rotten, no matter how good the icing, nobody will take another bite.

    So, my friends, examine your recipe for the cake, check it once, and check twice. Mix the ingredients and bake on low heat in those high-pressure times. The end result will be a relevant printed magazine with a relevant audience who is not migrating to the internet because the cake you’ve baked can’t be found on the net.

  3. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Applause, Mr. Magazine.
  4. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    Ding. Ding. Ding.
  5. FuturaBold

    FuturaBold Member

    You mean content matters? There's a revelation...

    But what about Twitter and Facebook and starting a blog so I can be cool?
  6. goalmouth

    goalmouth Well-Known Member

    Mr. Magazine talks about the kids book, Highlights, but the only time I ever read it was as a kid waiting in the doctor's office, and I suspect many of those were freebie subs. I have never, ever seen it in someone's home.

    And I loved Goofus and Gallant.
  7. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    From today's entry from the Mr. Magazine blog. from the head of Mother Earth News, Utne Reader, etc.:

    My wife a few years ago for fun gave me a book full of the minutes from the Missouri Press Association between, I think it was between 1916 and 1928 or something like that…this massive book. And all it was the minutes of the annual meetings of the Missouri Press Association. And I’m flipping through this thing, it’s a wonderful piece of history, and every single year between 1916 and 1928, the subject, one of the major subjects of their annual meeting is why young people don’t read newspapers and what are we going to do? We are going to be run out of business. It’s true to a certain extent that young people just don’t form a bond with a print brand the way that people in their child-bearing years and later do. We try to be as important to our audience as we can possibly be. We try to segment the audience by degrees of passion and not to segment the audience by other criteria. We try not to think about the audience, frankly as being one age or another.

  8. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    We have it. Aunt gave it to my kid. She loves it.

    I can remember it as a tot, and that was 30-plus years ago. So they've managed to do something right, and without putting the Hidden Pictures on Twitter.
  9. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I don't know if anyone else has been following this guy's 10-part series on how to save newspapers, but I am increasingly believing that the former Rocky Mountain News publisher/editor is a lunatic.

    From today's post:

    Newspaper should shift away from the “staff” and “salary” model to a model where a core team works with independent contractors and freelancers who are rewarded based on what they sell or on the amount of traffic they drive.

    No doubt that "core team" would be composed of people like, well ... him ... that get nice salaries, vacation and insurance despite not having to sell an ad to the used-car dealer en route to covering the prep football game.

    Just lovely.

  10. DisembodiedOwlHead

    DisembodiedOwlHead Active Member

    This same Mr. Magazine opened an academic conference this year with a 5-minute profanity-laced joke, the equivalent of a journalistic "Aristocrats," that ended with the punch line, "... bunch of whores." That was followed by a solid 2 minutes of utter silence and gaped jaws. For what it's worth
  11. We get Highlights in our home. There's at least one of us. ;D
  12. goalmouth

    goalmouth Well-Known Member

    "Things I Learned After It Was Too Late"

    By John Temple
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