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SOTM Webinar Audience Questions Part Two: Newspapers!

Our State of the Media Report just keeps on giving.  Last week, our Media Research Team released the report and hosted an hour-long webinar.  Now, newspaper expert David Coates is answering our audience’s leftover questions about newspapers. You’ll learn what hyperlocal is, how paywalls work and what newspaper innovator John Paton has in store for the Denver Post.  Enjoy!

Access the entire webinar on-demand today – it’s free!

Q: Are these print dailies launching an online version? Or brand new publications strictly online?

We saw only two daily newspapers launch and most print launches are accompanied by an online version launch as well. What we did see was 158 online-only publications launch in 2011. Most of those 158 were hyperlocal news sites like Patch.com (93), Main Street Connect (41) and Sun Spots (9).

Q: How many newspaper outlets closed in 2011?

152 Newspaper outlets closed in 2011, one more than had closed in 2010.

Q: How do you define hyperlocal?

Hyperlocal news is news that is of interest to people in a limited area or community. Most hyperlocal news sites focus on news that affects people within the certain town’s borders.

Q: With Patch apparently holding steady and other hyperlocal outlets (Main Street Connect, Sun Spots) coming onto the scene, is there value in pitching them? Or are their local audiences generally too small and insignificant?

It depends on who your audience is. If you have a local audience you should definitely pitch hyperlocal outlets. These hyperlocal news sites need something to post on a regular cycle and they are willing to take all the help they can get in the form of a press release or vetted out story idea.

Q: What is a paywall?

A paywall is usually premium online newspaper content that is available only after the reader pays a weekly, monthly or yearly fee. Sometimes it is metered – for instance the Baltimore Sun allows an online reader to view 15 pages a month for free before it forces that reader to start paying to view content. Some newspapers (Dallas Morning News, Commercial Appeal in Memphis) offer their online content for free to their print subscribers while the New York Times and Baltimore Sun offer a discounted paywall rate to print subscribers (between $5 to $15 a month) and a hefty fee (between $50 to $200 a year) for non print subscribers.

Q: Do you have any stats for how successful paywalls are for generating income via this model?

The New York Times has over 400,000 subscribers to its paywall, that’s at least $6 million a month in revenue. Now every paper is not the New York Times and in as much demand, but paywalls are proving profitable. We have seen them be successful at the local and community newspaper websites as well.

Q: What do you about the LA Times regarding paywall?

The Los Angeles Times is expected to launch a paywall in the first quarter of 2012. We expect the LA Times, which like the Baltimore Sun is a Tribune Company owned property, to have a similar paywall structure as the Sun. The Sun allows 15 free page views per month before it requires payment. However, the flip side is because the LA Times is a higher profile publication than the Sun, it’s possible to see a paywall model that closely resembles the New York Times. We will just have to wait and see.

Q: What is John Paton doing at the Denver Post?

John Paton is the CEO of the Journal Register Company and the MediaNews Group, of which its flagship newspaper is the Denver Post. Paton is a digital media thought leader and has done innovative things while pushing newspapers toward digital solutions. He has some great insights into the digital and social media worlds. He will continue to push some major newspapers – Denver Post, Salt Lake Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Detroit News – toward a new digital model. Check out his blog here.

Q: Who are the newsrooms who hold newsroom cafes?

Currently we are aware of only two newspapers that have a newsroom café – the Register Citizen in Torrington, Conn., and the Winnipeg Free Press in Canada. However, because the newsroom café was the innovation of John Paton, the Register Citizen is a Journal Register Company newspaper, we expect to see many other JRC newspapers and MediaNews Group newspapers follow suit. Paton believes interaction with the community is essential. He says: “Newsrooms must share content and they must engage their audience as demanded through the new digital tools that are powering social media. No social media connection. No news organization.”

Q: Could you please give those statistics you quoted about newspaper people’s preferred pitching methods?

We have our friends at PRWeek to thank for the numbers reported during our State of the Media webinar. PRWeek polled 349 newspaper people and here are some of the things they found out:

  • 71 percent said their workload was greater in 2011 as compared to 2010, and more than half of those said their workload was “much more”
  • 51 percent contribute to a social media page, 45 percent contribute to a blog and 41 percent contribute to some form of digital edition
  • 72 percent said they still use press releases to source their background material while only 23 percent used social media networks
  • 88 percent claimed they would prefer to be pitched by email, 12 percent said by phone, 4 percent by Facebook, 2 percent by Twitter

(The respondents were asked to select all methods that apply to them, hence the more than 100 percent in some cases).

Q: How does the climate look for an integrated format media source (Internet, print, Internet radio, online television (blogs). Who’s producing content on or from a local level and getting national and international attention? Has anyone seen a blogger or independent media person or organization doing all the above and using social media really well and effectively who can be viewed as a model.

We’ve always believed the LA Times has been ahead of the curve when it comes to using social media and blogs and connecting with readers. However, it would be wise to keep an eye on Journal Register Company and MediaNews Group newspapers in the near future. John Paton has great ideas and big plans for how to reap the benefits of social media.

Q: Can you talk about how to pitch editorial boards at newspapers?

This is a tough one. Editorial boards tend to sequester themselves and try not to be too “influenced” by others. However, the best way to pitch them would be to understand their biases and political leanings by reading their editorial page and op-ed page regularly. Every newspaper leans either left or right and, once again, you have to know your audience. And maybe your pitch shouldn’t go to the editorial board, but should go to an op-ed columnist who might be more interested in writing about your subject than the newspaper editorial board would be willing to write an editorial about it.

Q: Do you think MAT releases are still a viable option and worthwhile investment to reach and provide content to editors and reporters?

Newspapers are shrinking and don’t have the space they had 10, 15, 20 years ago to use MAT releases. Some local or community papers may use them, but it is rare to see one in a top 100 newspapers. Those staffs may be dwindling and you might think they are in need of canned copy, but those staffs are smaller because they don’t have as many pages to fill as they used to.

 

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