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State of the media: Q3 2010

State of the media: Q3 2010

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October 15: The third quarter of 2010 was a continued evolution of the previous half of the year, as the media industry continued to rebound from the last several years of loss. Social media continued to be a hot topic of debate, while experimental new business models made waves.

One such business model was TBD.com, Allbritton Communications’ D.C.-based hyperlocal news site that utilizes aggregated content, original reporting and a slew of bloggers from the area, while focusing on social media and community engagement. In the spirit of the unusual, Los Angeles-based Blogdowntown Weekly went from being an online-only site to launching a print edition. The L.A. weekly was just one of four papers that launched in print this quarter, along with the Illinois-based Winnetka Current and Wilmette Beacon, as well as the Arlington Citizen-Journal.

Although launches were relatively low on the print side of newspapers, online newspaper-type sites were plentiful and were primarily the progeny of Aol’s Patch.com. Out of 143 launches, 138 were Patch sites. Meanwhile, approximately 11 papers folded, all in print. This includes the Massachusetts-based Nantucket Independent and the Los Angeles Garment & Citizen.

Magazines closings were low with only 11 magazines ceasing publication, while launches seem to be remaining steady with a total of 46 debuts, 33 of which were on the print side. Approximately 29 were consumer magazines. “Now that publishing’s tactile landscape has been purged, seeing a glossy print edition is a limited experience and therefore easier to gain and hold people’s attention,” said Rebecca Bredholt, managing editor of magazine content at Vocus Media Research Group. “Advertisers know this and editorial will benefit for the time being.” Illustrating the media’s hyperlocal focus, roughly 21 of the magazines were regional, including Ann Arbor’s The Ann, Baltimore Sun Magazine, Newport Beach’s Locale Magazine and Naples, Fla.’s Bayfront Magazine. Maintaining last quarter’s trend, the launches were more plentiful in the food and domestic lifestyle categories, including The ‘Hood Magazine, Spanish Moss, and FEAST, as well as editions of Edible in Orlando, Fla., and Greenville, S.C. Thirteen magazines also launched online, including Well + Good NYC and Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket, a safe-for-work men’s entertainment magazine.

In Q3, television stations catered to their early bird audience by adding 4:30 a.m. newscasts. A pretty widespread phenomenon, Kansas City’s KMBC-TV and KSHB-TV as well as Tampa’s WFLA-TV, and Chicago’s WFLD-TV, all instituted the morning broadcast.

According to Kyle Johnson, managing editor of radio content at Vocus Media Research Group, radio is also evolving to meet listeners’ tastes and needs. At a recent convention in Washington, D.C., the National Association of Broadcasters unveiled a proposal to make radio-capable mobile phones. Although innovative, the wireless industry has come out with a proposal against implementing FM tuners in phones saying they would make them bigger and would drain the batteries too quickly. Despite this, “it shows radio is looking for ways to expand its reach,” Johnson said.

Meanwhile, the merging of media disciplines is evident. In a recent interview with Radio-Info.com, D.C.’s WTOP Radio vice-president Jim Farley noted they are “no longer a radio station.” FM radio is just one way news is delivered, citing their website, streaming audio, HD Radio, Facebook, and their smartphone app, Johnson noted. Instead, WTOP is becoming what many other news outlets are becoming as video, online, mobile print and broadcast unite: a digital news organization.

–Katrina M. Mendolera

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