Business

Publishers’ ‘mobile gap’ with revenues painfully persists

The Wall Street Journal

The mobile conundrum persists with traditional and online publishers: nice audience growth, sluggish revenues.

“News and information outlets ranging from the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to Business Insider and About.com all can point to rapid growth in mobile usage,” The Wall Street Journal writes Monday. “Time spent on publishers’ mobile offerings jumped 40% in the 12 months through July and now accounts for 55% of total time spent on their properties, up from 42% two years ago, according to estimates by measurement specialist comScore.”

But reports, earnings calls and interviews all underscore how “revenue isn’t keeping pace—by a long shot—creating what industry executives are calling a ‘mobile gap.’”

The act of hawking ads on mobile devices is no simple task. Read more

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Newspaper industry lost 3,800 full-time editorial professionals in 2014

The American Society of News Editors annual newsroom census, released this morning, found that job losses accelerated in 2014, falling by more than 10 percent in a single year.

The net job loss of 3,800 brings the total number of news professionals to 32,900 — with additional losses clearly taking place so far in 2015.  That total is down just over 40 per cent from a pre-recession peak of 55,000 in 2006.

It’s the biggest single year drop since the industry was shedding more than 10,000 jobs in 2007 and 2008.  The comparable figure for 2013 was 1,300 jobs and 2,600 in 2012.

total

The survey began in 1978 to track progress in improving diversity in newspapers’ newsrooms and leadership ranks and continues to embrace that mission. Read more

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Print advertising slump bites digitally oriented Advance too

As Advance publications began dropping print frequency and betting its newspapers’ future on digital ad sales five years ago, part of the premise was that print advertising would only continue to decline — and by a lot, not a little.

Correct. But the industry’s particularly nasty level of print losses in the first half of 2015 have nipped financial results at Advance along with the rest. In his latest biannual letter to employees, Advance Local President Randy Siegel backed off his claim of six months ago that digital ad gains this year will surpass print losses.

He concedes in the letter that newspaper declines have been “steeper than we budgeted for.” Siegel told me in a phone interview that the goal for growing ad revenue overall remains and some of Advance’s 25 markets will experience the revenue crossover, but added “I can’t guarantee that we will get it done in all of them.”

In the letter, dated July 15, Siegel continues:

The proverbial “silver lining” here is that as more of our readers and advertisers transition to digital platforms and products, we are better positioned than ever to meet their diverse needs.

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McClatchy reports precipitous print ad declines again for second quarter

McClatchy, in the doghouse with investors for most of the year, reported another disappointing quarter today, eking out a profit of $98,000 on $262 million in revenues.

Despite growing digital ad revenues, holding circulation revenues even and reducing debt and interest payments compared to the same quarter a year ago, the results were dragged down by a 12.5 percent decline in total advertising revenues.

McClatchy is first among the public newspapers to report for the second quarter so drops of nearly the same magnitude seem likely at other companies.  As Gannett (which will report Wednesday) indicated as it spun off to a separate newspaper company a month ago, second quarter ad revenues have been weak there as well.

McClatchy said print advertising declines for the quarter were 16.3 percent. Read more

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5 quick thoughts on the sale of the Financial Times — a logical deal now that we see it

Most big-deal acquisitions, however unexpected, make sense once they are in place. And the sale of the Financial Times, though quickly consummated since first reports Sunday, was not all that surprising.

Here are my quick thoughts on why Japanese Nikkei won the trophy newspaper and what may happen next:

  • No longer a fit: As Pearson has become an education company with smaller news holdings, it needs to concentrate on its primary business. The FT group has some specialized financial products but nothing on the scale of Bloomberg, Dow Jones, Thomson Reuters — or Nikkei for that matter. There are few synergies with the education unit.In retrospect, the sale may have been telegraphed two years ago when CEO John Fallon, who had been running the education unit’s international business, succeeded American-born Marjorie Scardino, whose roots were in publishing, particularly The Economist (in which Pearson retains a 50 percent interest for now).
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How Grist has been able to flourish as a nonprofit news site

This is the fourth of four profiles of journalists at nonprofit news startups.

Chip Giller

Chip Giller

Chip Giller started Grist 16 years ago, when, he says, there was nothing in the world like it. His creation quickly caught on with its snarky environmental news stories, hipster storytelling, and an excellent advice column, “Ask Umbra.” Hundreds and then thousands of readers signed up for Grist’s email newsletter, and then finally, hundreds of thousands found its website: at the beginning of 2015, the site had more than 1.5 million unique visitors per month, according to Quantcast, and another half a million including Twitter and Facebook followers.

Giller wanted Grist to make a difference. He had been an environmentalist since he was a child and says he grew up to be a “very earnest” undergraduate student at Brown. Read more

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How MATTER succeeded in spite of itself

This is the first of four profiles of journalists at nonprofit news startups – the dreams, the struggles, the lessons learned. An abundance of studies have tried to assess the revenue strategies that can make digital news startups sustainable, typically focusing on successes like The Texas Tribune and the range of possible revenue sources.  Freelancer Naomi Lubick approached the question from the opposite direction as part of her work as a Scripps Environmental Journalism fellow at the University of Colorado over the last academic year.  She spoke to four science and environmental journalists who have experimented with a novel idea and tried to make it work.  Their adventures – and mixed results – are recounted in the four interview/case studies that will be published here this week. Read more

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Mid-year report: The newspaper industry’s billion dollar challenge

US Newspaper Advertising Revenue (Newspaper Association of America published data)

US Newspaper Advertising Revenue
(Newspaper Association of America published data)

Here is one way to look at the business-model challenge for newspaper organizations: every year that print advertising revenues fall a billion dollars or more, the companies need to generate a billion or more in other revenue growth to stay even.

Mid summer, 2015 is shaping up as another such year, and it again seems unlikely that that much new revenue can be found.  The math is daunting.

Consider paywalls. Phased in at different times over the last five years at different companies, digital subscriptions and price increases for print seem to typically have generated a 10 percent circulation revenue gain, even as print circulation volume declines.

Project that 10 percent industry wide on total circulation revenue of about $11 billion and that’s enough to cover a billion or more in print advertising losses.   Read more

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News outlets vie for global audiences with translated stories

The New York Times published a two-part investigation into the city's nail salons in four languages.

The New York Times published a two-part investigation into the city’s nail salons in four languages.

In May, after more than a year of planning, investigating, writing and editing, The New York Times was almost ready to publish an investigation from reporter Sarah Maslin Nir that would reveal ghastly working conditions in nail salons throughout New York City. Almost.

It was the eve of publication. Elisabeth Goodridge, the deputy editor for the paper’s metro section, was lingering in the newsroom, waiting for the last elements of the story to come in. The article had been translated into three languages — Korean, Chinese and Spanish — but Goodridge had not yet received everything required for the finished product. She finally left The Times’ Manhattan headquarters at around 10 p.m. Read more

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Philly contract deal: company hikes health payments, gets concessions on layoffs and raises

A tentative contract for Philadelphia’s major newspapers includes greater healthcare contributions by management but concessions on whether it must heed traditional seniority rules when it comes to layoffs.

The deal does not include any raise in basic wages. It was bargained shortly before a Saturday deadline. Details were discussed in several sessions with Newspaper Guild members on Monday.

In all, about 500 Guild members are covered by two separate contracts: one covering workers at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, while the other covers about 50 people at Philly.com

The two most heated issues were health care contributions and use of seniority in layoffs.

With layoffs, management will be able to exempt certain individuals “deemed to be essential to the company’s operations” from seniority-driven layoffs. Read more

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