You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘1’ category.

Amazon announced this week that it’s going to release a larger version of its apparently popular Kindle. I say apparently because Amazon doesn’t release sales figures for Kindle. This new version is supposed to be more suitable for newspapers because it’ll have a larger reading surface. Also, this new, bigger Kindle version could hit the market later this year — before the much-hyped Plastic Logic e-reader. No one really knows when the under-the-radar First Paper e-reader — the one backed by Hearst — will launch.

I think that Kindle will have a hard time attracting newspapers and magazines to be engaged with a bigger Kindle product. Kindle completely controls its product — you buy it through Amazon, which sets subscription costs for newspapers and then keeps a lion’s share of the money. If Plastic Logic or First Paper can come up with a more equitable revenue share that offers a better distribution model, I see media companies flocking to them, first. (Of course, newspapers will always want to be on Kindle because of the extra exposure. Kindle just won’t be the primary option.)

What do you think?

Media companies should pay heed to two products that could help solve the woes that ail newspapers.

The products — e-readers — promise to be a flexible, portable, and electronic version of the current paper products — provided they work. The say they’ll be 8 ½ by 11, significantly larger than the current crop of e-readers like the Kindle, which are more suited for reading books. A larger screen could be more suited to a newspaper’s design.

Detroit recently announced a trial with one of the e-readers, the one made by Plastic Logic. Plastic Logic, through its website, is aggressively marketing its device. Unfortunately, there’s precious little information about exactly how it will work, when it will be available in trials and general release, how much it will cost, and the content distribution model. I recently attended a Plastic Logic demonstration, and it was clear the company is still trying to figure out the details while it touts its product.

More quietly, the Hearst-backed First Paper promises to come out with a similar product. While Plastic Logic is making as much industry noise as it can, First Paper is taking the opposite approach — it’s flying under the radar, sort of like the stealth reader.

Despite a number of important, unanswered questions, the media industry is buzzing about the potential of both products. A flexible, wireless device with a large-screen display that can accommodate a newspaper does have a certain appeal. (The devices also say users can add subscriptions to other newspapers and magazines, and check their email, too).

That appeal gets stronger as media companies look for ways to increase revenue and cut costs. Theoretically, if the adoption rate of these e-readers take off, newspapers can cut paper and distribution costs.

But I think that’s a ways off. In the interim, media companies should learn as much about these new digital devices as they can. They should be ahead of the game, like Detroit, and not bring up the rear. There are number of avenues for learning about the potential of these devices and whether they hold true promise for the industry, I’ll be blogging about these readers often.

There’s a lot of discussion about whether e-paper sites should charge for online content. Reflections of a Newsosaur reports that a group of publishers recently, and very quietly, met to lay the groundwork for charging for at least some of their online content. This is going on at the same time the Associated Press has gone guns-a-blazin’ against what it sees as content piracy online (more on that on my next blog)

Revenue 2.0 takes a different approach, and says charging for online content isn’t the way to financial stability. It offers a four-step approach for e-paper sites.

I side with the very smart people participating in Revenue 2.0. I’ve said before that some in the industry are lurching toward a paid content model that we’ve already proved doesn’t work. Instead, we need another approach. While Revenue 2.0 is on the right track, we need to take another step.

We need to clearly differentiate our free and paid content, and use all of our digital platforms to push users, as best we can, to paid.

Here’s the problem. Many newspapers take their content and put it on all of their platforms. So what’s in the newspaper is also online and also on mobile.

That’s a mistake.

Newspapers readers are different from online users who are different from mobile users. They don’t want the same things and they don’t want the same amount of information. Newspaper readers want longer pieces and features. Online users want breaking news and updates. Mobile users want specific bits of information in small, 140 character bites.

What we should do is better differentiate between content, give our users the content they need based on platform, and push those free users to paid.

Online, let’s give short updates and breaking news, and push users to print for more details. If you take a look at your online metrics, you’ll probably see that users don’t spend much time with more in-depth pieces. So let’s stop giving it to them. Push them to the paying newspaper for that information.

Same with mobile. Users might use their phones for a specific sports score, a specific stock, a specific weather forecast. Figure out those three or so pieces of information they want, give it to them, and push them to paid.

There’s not one solution to the problems we face. The ideas from Revenue 2.0 are one piece. Differentiation could well be another.

Every now and then, I’ll highlight what other blogs are saying, in a mostly twitter short form. Here’s a first pass. Let me know if you’d like to see other blogs highlighted here

Steve Yelvington says small talk helps build online communities. (www.yelvington.com)

Chris McMahon has posted powerpoints on using technology to cover your beat, and to get a job (http://www.chrismcmahonmsj.com)

Robert Ivan and Peter Zollman are blogging from the America East technology conference

Alan Mutter writes about how publishers are zeroing in on plans to charge for content (http://newsosaur.blogspot.com/2009/04/publishers-zero-in-on-charging-for.html)

Those are just of the few interesting pieces I’ve read. More to come

(This blog post has been picked up by the Aim Group (www.aimgroup.com) and Inland Press Association (www.inlandpress.org) sites. But hasn’t been posted here .. until now)

Would you spend less than sixty cents a day to know what’s going on in your community?

Most people would. That’s the approximate cost of an average home delivered American newspaper. It costs less than most anything Americans splurge money on. Less than a soda. Less than a hot dog. Less than a bag of chips.

So why aren’t Ameicans making this small investment? Because they’re bombarded, daily, with the message that newspapers are dying. They read about newspapers cutting days of service, cutting staff, cutting pay, and they go elsewhere for their news.

What’s so amazing about this: media companies, the ones that inform the public, have lost the debate on the importance of newspapers. They have let the negative message overtake them, and now they’re playing defense instead of offense.

It’s time to go on the offensive.

Newspaper companies need to be more like PBS. Public broadcasting does a masterful job of telling its users why it’s important. Newspapers need to do the same. We need to list, point by point, all of the good we do a community — and that goes beyond the stories that inform. We need to tell people that we contributed money to local arts groups and support local programs. We need to tell them about the free ad space we give to local non-profits. We need to tell them about the stories we do on boy scouts, the kid with cancer, the triumph over adversity, the stories that describe, in vivid detail, the fabric of community.

And about those stories. We need to tell them what they’ve learned. I’m an avid reader of the New York Times, and on a recent Sunday, I was reminded that the economic downtown in American effects children in Haiti, since their fathers have lost their jobs here and can’t send money back home. I read an indepth piece of he importance of Joe Biden in the Obama administration. And I learned about Sprit Airlines revenue model and the lessons others are learning about it.

Newspapers are not good at shameless self-promotion. But they need to be. Tell people why we matter. Because a strong newspaper is the basis for a string digital presence. Once can’t be a strong without the other.

For the next few weeks, the Star Tribune won’t make all of its content available online, holding back certain investigative and longer print pieces as “print exclusives.” The newspaper has also asked AP not to distribute those pieces to other media outlets until their readers have had a chance to read the stories first.

Bravo. Media companies need to take the step of differentiating their content across all of their different platforms. Newspapers users want those long, investigative pieces in the Sunday paper. But online, they want breaking news and updates; on mobile, they want breaking news in 140 characters or less; and who knows what they’ll want on the new e-readers that will be wildey available next year

There’s really no reason newspapers have to put everything in print online. Give users what they want, when they want it, and how they want it, and we’ll be much better off.

Here’s the Star Tribune editorial that looks at their decisions more closely:

http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentary/42021697.html?page=1&c=y

I’m doing a lot of speaking this week — New York Press Association, SPJ, America East — so blog posts may be skimpy. I will, though, blog about some of the more interesting digital items I come across.

To that end, I’ve just added the Texas Press Association to my presentation schedule. Check the “speaking engagements” section of the blog for more information.

I’m also interested in you suggestions for improving the blog. Send me an email at ray@raymarcano.com.