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Q1: a transforming media industry

A transforming media industry

A transforming media industry

The first quarter of 2009 was a media massacre. Print media suffered death-dealing blows and broadcast didn’t fare much better. But the beginning of 2010 has seen the overwhelming casualties start to slow. Instead of endless reports of the media’s certain demise, the first quarter has brought transformation.

By this time last year, nearly 100 newspapers had folded – two of those papers being the Baltimore Examiner and Rocky Mountain News. In comparison, Q1 of 2010 has been relatively quiet. According to the Vocus Media Research team, roughly 44 newspapers/news services have closed – 30 of those were weekly papers. 2010 has yet to see a major daily shut its doors. Digital is also gaining ground as more online news sites than print newspapers debuted. There were approximately three print-based newspapers and six online news site launches, including the Boca Raton Tribune online newspaper and Tucson Sentinel nonprofit news site.

Starting in 2009 and heading into 2010, Hispanic media noticeably grew. In print media, the Deseret News launched the weekly Spanish-language El Observador in February. Other publishers expanded the distribution of their Hispanic-interest publications such as the Tribune Company’s Fin de Semana. Meanwhile, there are more channels targeting the Hispanic population in television as many new Spanish-language stations launched on digital subchannels of a main affiliate. The latest in this trend is Cox’s WFTV-TV, which partnered with WAWA-TV to air GenTV’s Spanish-language programming on the 9.3 subchannel.

As print products like Time, Popular Science, New York Times and Wall Street Journal create applications for the shiny new iPad, so has radio. National Public Radio released its own iPad application that allows listeners to enjoy the network’s news, art and music content in a magazine format. The network even modified its Web site to make it more iPad-friendly. CBS Radio has also launched an iPad app that gives users access to more than 550 music stations and dozens of stations that feature talk, news and sports content. “Look for radio to continue to adapt to changing technology and offering consumers more ways to listen on-the-go,” said Kyle Johnson, managing editor of radio content at Vocus Media Research Group.

Johnson noted that in coming months, radio shows that haven’t already started podcasting will be joining the movement. In addition, shows that leave terrestrial radio will continue their shows via podcast. “This trend is in keeping with the changing technology that allows listeners to have their radio become more mobile,” he said.

Magazines are seeing a similar mobile trend, noted Rebecca Bredholt, managing editor of magazine content at Vocus Media Research Group. “More magazines are offering simultaneous releases of their issues in both print and digital formats for subscribers,” she said. “We’re also seeing fewer mass layoffs as compared to the same quarter last year.”

More magazines launched than folded in Q1 of 2010. According to the Vocus Media Research Database, approximately 45 print and 11 online magazines launched. Magazines that folded totaled around 28, while roughly 11 magazines made the switch to an online-only format. The top consumer magazines to go included Better Homes and Gardens Beautiful Homes, Better Homes and Gardens Beautiful Kitchens and Better Homes and Gardens Decorating. East West magazine re-launched in October, only to fold in February.

Magazine advertising appears to be on the rise as well. The Publishers Information Bureau (PIB) reported that in Q1, 85 magazines posted increases in ad pages, while in Q1 of 2009, there were only 15 magazines. In addition, 101 magazines registered revenue gains with the PIB compared to 28 at the same time last year. This included titles from the automotive, financial, insurance and real estate and toiletries and cosmetics categories.

It’s obvious that traditional media is embracing all things digital with the launch of more online publications, the long-awaited iPad’s debut and television and radio utilizing newer technologies. Compared to last year’s dismal numbers, 2010 starts off hopeful as the media continues to innovate and evolve with the times.

— Katrina M. Mendolera

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