What Newsweek’s Print Resurrection Means for Brands

newspaper stand

newspaper stand

Jim Impoco, the new editor-in-chief of Newsweek, recently told The New York Times that the publication plans to resume printing weekly in 2014. According to Impoco, Newsweek will scrap an advertising focused digital model in favor of looking to subscriptions, online or off, for more revenue. The revival may flop, but coming from an online owner with a legacy brand, the move points up how relevant print can still be to both media and marketers—if done right.

Why might brands consider keeping print, or adding it to their marketing mix? Three-quarters of small businesses think their optimal marketing mix includes print, notes Xerox in a recent article.  Print mail gets four times the open rate of email and a Print in the Mix survey had more than half of respondents labeling printed materials as  · most trustworthy.”

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Are Local or National Advertisers the Target for Hyperlocal Publishing?



Hyperlocal sites DNAinfo, ARL Now and CapeCodToday.com all have one thing in common: they target local advertisers. But what local and national advertisers expect from local content publishers is changing, executives from the three sites said, and local publishers needs to adapt quickly.

Those were the takeaways from the second day of Street Fight Summit in New York City, a conference focused on hyperlocal marketing and publishing. The discussion of advertising models featured Heather Grossmann of DNAinfo, an online publisher focused on New York City and Chicago), Scott Brodbeck, publisher of ARLNow.com focused on the suburbs of Washington D.C. and Julie Brooks, publisher of CapeCodToday.com, a hyperlocal site that launched 16 years ago.

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What Does the Ryan Holiday Media Prank Teach Us?

fact checking

Ryan Holiday, the 25-year-old author of Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, lied to multiple journalists in order to prove that he could influence the media. In response, the Society of Professional Journalists tweeted:

Journalists: 1) Crowdsourcing is fine. 2) Fact checking is still a thing. 3) Heard of Google?

Several of the outlets involved in the Ryan Holiday case have rigorous fact-checking standards, which speaks to the quality of the outlets represented. It also speaks to the quality of the editors that represent those outlets. Not long after news broke, Dave Thier reported that all of the outlets involved in the Ryan Holiday case offered an editor’s note or removed Holiday’s quotes altogether.

Ebyline asked the New York Times if the paper has created a more vigorous fact-checking process in response to the incident. In an email statement, Eileen M. Murphy, vice president of corporate communications for the New York Times, responded:

Our fact checking process is already quite vigorous.  While we have no written guideline that would say specifically to verify a source like these online “experts,” it is one of those givens that fall under the broad guidelines of the 1999 Newsroom Integrity Statement and the ethics handbook.  The freelancer who made this error has been reminded of these policies.

So, is there a way for journalists to avoid being hoodwinked by sources?

Mary Ellen Lowney, Chair of the Communications Department at American International College, says that relying on web-based sources raises the level of risk when a reporter quotes someone in an article. “You believe what they put on the Internet is right,” said Lowney.

“Be more thorough, one on a web-based source, or two, you don’t know well,” said Lowney.

Lowney added that the risk of being deceived remains, but it happens to almost all journalists.

With more news outlets turning to same day deadlines, and editors requiring multiple articles at once, journalists should consider themselves the first layer of fact-checking for an article. Going back to the basics of fact-checking that most reporters learned in J-school could help avoid these issues in the future.

“Check and double check; that’s the time to fact-check,” said Lowney. If you come across a questionable item, Lowney suggests calling another source to verify it and checking public records if you don’t have a reliable source available.

According to Alec MacGillis at The New Republic in “The Hard Truth About Fact-Checking”

Every reporter still working at the smaller papers should be, at bottom, a fact-checker.

This Week’s Headlines: Movie Theater Shooting, Yahoo’s New CEO

First off, our hearts go out to the victims of the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. earlier today. Not surprisingly, the reaction in social media and traditional media tops our list of media and publishing headlines this week, even eclipsing the buzz about Yahoo’s new CEO. Here’s a look at this and other timely stories:

  • Colorado Theater Shooting: How it Played Out Online: Mashable highlights user-generated images and tweets from the scene of the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. As the friends and family of victims reacted to the news in real time, the effect was chilling. We can only imagine if passengers on the Titanic or witnesses of the Kennedy shooting had been able to tweet or Instagram.
  • USA Today launches internet video guide: USA Today has announced the launch of “TV on the Web,” a daily programming guide to online videos and podcasts. PaidContent reports that this is the first internet video programming guide from a large mainstream newspaper. The guide will appear online and in print, pointing readers to online content curated by USA Today editors and reporters.
  • Latest Word on the Trail? I Take It Back: Reporters love getting juicy quotes from political candidates, but the New York Times reports that advisers to Romney and Obama are stamping out this practice, instead insisting approving and amending quotes before they’re published. Obviously, this puts political reporters in an uncomfortable position. On the one hand, they need to maintain relationships with key players in the political arena if that’s their beat. On the other, getting quote approval could be seen as pandering and a threat to journalistic integrity. (HT to @editortim for tweeting this link to us.)
  • Yahoo to Pay Mayer $100 Million Over Five Years: This week, Yahoo! announced former Google VP Marissa Mayer as its new CEO. We won’t get into the controversy over Mayer being pregnant, but we found this WSJ article on Mayer’s compensation to be interesting, especially in light of our recent posts about wages.
  • Times Names Buffalo News Editor as Its New Public Editor: Speaking of women in high places, the Times announced Margaret M. Sullivan as the paper’s fifth public editor. In addition to writing a column for the print newspaper, Sullivan will engage with readers online and through social media. She starts September 1.

Building the Great Newspaper Paywall

newspaper paywall

The beleaguered newspaper industry has finally settled on a digital revenue strategy—the metered paywall—and now everyone’s pitching in to get it built. Paywalls have their critics, their boostersmore critics and then the critics-who-also-want-to-be-boosters. Time will tell who was right but we were curious to know how this Great Paywall is getting built—which newspapers are participating and why?

So we took one list—a list of paywalls scrupulously compiled by newsandtech.com—and another list—daily newspapers with circulation and ownership data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations—and spliced them together. The result: a pretty comprehensive (see caveats at bottom) look at what types of newspapers are adopting paywalls. Long story short, big newspapers are building paywalls in much greater proportion than smaller newspapers and that’s true not just for the very largest dailies but also for the many hundreds of newspapers further down the circulation ladder. Why are we comparing print circulation to online subscription models? Because print is where the revenue currently is and there’s a good argument to be made that the majority of these paywalls are really designed to hold on to those loyal subscribers after years of cannibalizing print revenue by giving the same content away for free online.

Paywall Adoption Skews By Newspaper Size

Looking at the number of publications is one thing but adding in circulation figures gives us a much better idea of how many actual readers are affected by the shift toward paywalls. While just 239 of the nation’s 1,532 dailies have (or have announced) paywalls, they represent around a third of all daily readers. That’s because of the 20 largest newspapers by circulation, nine are or will be behind paywalls, representing 51% of that readership.

But go down the circulation rankings and paywalls are far less prevalent, even including industry leader Gannett’s planned implementation for later this year. Under 100,000 circulation only 21% of readers are affected, under 50,000 the share is 19% and under 25,000 the figure is just 16%. You might be inclined to shrug off the small newspapers in that last group but they are the bulk of the industry: two out of three daily newspapers have circulations under 25,000 and while they account for only one out of four readers, they’re the primary news sources of countless small cities, towns and rural areas in the U.S.

Newspaper Paywalls by Circulation Size

The higher adoption rates by larger newspapers (see chart) could be seen as proof that paywalls are largely defensive moves intended to reverse the online cannibalization of loyal print readers. Having sunk resources into building robust online businesses, big papers now can’t afford to abandon their online ad revenue but can’t rely on it, either. Looked at from the opposite direction, small newspapers are more dominant in their advertising and audience markets and have put less into their web sites but also have fewer resources to devote to building paywalls—not an inexpensive enterprise, at least when The New York Times is concerned.

Expect More Chains To Build Paywalls

The data also make clear that nearly all the biggest newspaper chains are on board and nearly all are adopting a toe-in-the-water approach in case they need to backtrack or adjust course. Gannett, of course, announced that all of its newspapers, except for its flagship USA Today, would adopt some form of paid model by the end of 2012. Besides Gannett, the largest newspaper chains vary widely in their paywall adoption but none has gone all in (see chart below). With the impending decision by the Chicago Tribune to charge, Tribune Co. will have put 84% of its print circulation on a paywall model. At the other end of the spectrum MediaNews has only 12% behind a wall and Community Newspaper Holdings has just one newspaper out of 85 with a paywall.

Newspaper Paywalls by Ownership

Can the paywall data make any predictions? It looks like the trickle is turning into a torrent as chains like Gannett decide the experimental phase is over. McClatchy said recently it’s confident enough to expand paywalls from the Modesto Bee to more titles and Nieman’s Ken Doctor thinks that 20% of U.S. daily newspapers will have paywalls by the end of 2012 (not far from the current 16%). As for the product that powers all this—that would be the journalism—Poynter’s Rick Edmonds gave evidence earlier this year that paywalls may be a harbinger of retrenched, reinvigorated newsrooms. If that’s the case, this is a list of where to look first for an end to the long retreat from hiring, covering and publishing.

Download the data we used for this post here: Ebyline-Newspapers and Paywalls


Counting paywalls, newspapers and circulation isn’t an exact science, as Nieman’s Adrienne LaFrance pointed out recently. Newsandtech.com’s paywalls list seems pretty comprehensive but is clearly missing a few publications and is structured in a way that probably resulted in our making errors when crunching the data. We updated that list with the most recent paywalls announcements but probably missed a few nonetheless. Our data do not include the many large ownership shifts of recent weeks in the industry (Buffett, Halifax, etc.), either. Audit Bureau data on circulation and ownership are also sometimes fuzzy, duplicative or mis-categorized but we’ve done our best there, too.

(Correction: we amended the caveats to note that newsandtech.com’s paywalls list wasn’t error-filled as much as it was difficult to turn into a workable spreadsheet, which likely resulted in translation errors—PB)