Home' Local Media Today : May 2009 Contents To Give Away or Not To Give Away
s legendary metro newspapers fall on hard times, I occasionally fall
prey to a bit of Schadenfreude; to those who ask “what went
wrong?”, perhaps a bit smugly I answer that the bread-and-butter of
our big city brethren—national and international news—has become a
commodity, easily accessible in many different places on-line. This
won’t happen in our niche, I conclude. “Our core competency is hyper-local news,”
I gloat, “and it’s just too hard to commoditize.”
Now I’m not so sure. Turns out our
material can be “re-purposed” by on-line
aggregators whose robotic regurgitations,
through the miracle of clever search
engine algorithms, sometimes come out
ahead of ours when someone does a
search, for instance, of “Bernardsville
news”. That’s a big Ouch! I’m told that
there are consolations, that our sites will still end up getting traffic directed from
the “pirate” site. But if you believe, as I do, that we have to stop giving our best
stuff away—that we need to begin migrating toward some form of paid platform—
then pirate sites like Google News, Topix and others are providing our readers with
a no-cost work-around. Getting some referral traffic that might be monetized into a
few pennies of revenue looks like sloppy seconds to me.
Fortunately, our industry is ramping up to the challenge. Vendors like Town News
have erected barriers to thwart web crawling sites like Topix. Over in Belgium,
Google lost at least the first battle in a copyright war. Last month, a “mad as hell”
Dean Singleton announced that the AP would be more vigilant about unauthorized
usage of its content on-line.
But much remains to be done. We’re still waiting for U.S . courts to second the
Belgian court ruling. Lawyer friends tell me that a newspaper with deep pockets
needs to sue Google in the U.S . so we can get good case law to establish legal
precedent. It should be the New York Times, but ironically the formerly-Grey Lady
is busy “freshening” up from its recent dust-up with Gate House Media, who
alleged that NY Times-owned Boston.com was aggregating stories from Gate
House-owned Wicked Local sites in a way that made it unnecessary for readers to
visit the original site.
If nothing else, having to settle out of court may have cautioned the Times into
tweaking its business model back toward the better angels of its nature. In the latest
effort by a major metro to enter our bailiwick, the NY Times recently launched
“The Local” here in New Jersey. It purports to deliver hyper-local coverage of three
nearby North Jersey towns. But instead of robotically “excerpting” the fruit of
other media as it is alleged to have done in New England, the Times has re-assigned
one 10-year staffer (and 6-year local resident) to generate original content.
While I’m relieved to see the Times inch back from the Dark Side, this entry into
local markets is déjà vu. I’m reminded of countless failed efforts by metros to
micro-zone over the past 25 years. The French have a saying for this: plus ça
change, plus c’est la même chose. In English, that’s translated as: there’s nothing
new under the sun.
SNA Board of Directors
THE PRIMARY REVENUE-GENERATING RESOURCE
IN THE NEWSPAPER INDUSTRY TODAY.
‘‘...I would estimate that we have sold at least
$100,000 in new business with Toolbox pages
and ideas OVER THE LAST 7 MONTHS.
Our publishers, general managers and ad managers love
the service since the artwork is excellent and ready to be
downloaded and usually easily sold. It has helped to breathe
new positive life into our staffs during these tough times.
Toolbox gives our sales folks something special to sell all the time.
It can be the “foot in the door” for many calls.
Thank you for your excellent service! Best Regards.’’
BILL BREHM JR.
PRESIDENT OF BREHM COMMUNICATIONS,
‘‘ We have sold
with Newspaper Toolbox ideas ’’
• Share pages
• Reader contests
• Themed and
• Games, horoscopes,
recipes and much more!
Over the years, many SNA mem-
bers have built relationships and
secured new business as a result
of the one-on-one meetings that
SNA facilitates at its Fall
Conference. To participate in the
2009 meetings- held in Kansas
City on September 22nd - you
must call early and your confer-
ence registration form must be in
the SNA office prior to schedul-
ing. Meeting slots are limited and
are on a first come first served
basis. There are no exceptions.
Call or email Kim Cole at (610)
news.org to schedule.
Look at the impressive list of confirmed
and invited retailers and agency reps:
Steve Winslow, Manager Print Media
Buying, Best Buy Company, Inc.
Matt Gunderson, Kohl’s
Stephanie Stanton/Dave Weiss, Vertis,
Vicki Manning, Assistant Vice President
of Media Services, TJX Companies
Greg Bogich, Director of Media
John Dennis, Media Analysis Manager,
Rebecca Chase, Vice President
Advertising, Michaels Arts & Crafts –
Shelley Turner, VP/Account Director,
SPM (Home Depot account)
Kathy Dobravec, Account Manager
(Sears/Kmart), Alliance Media
Kurt Kopinski, Account Manager
Deborah Armstrong, Senior Vice
Development, Media Space Solutions
Kathy Heatley, VP/Director Local
Investment, Starcom Mediavest Group,
GM Plan Works
Rachel Stayduhar, Media Analysis
Supervisor, and Jason Hicks, Vice
President, New Business Development,
American Communications Group –
Robert Uccello, Print Media Manager,
Laura DePaola, Fred Meyer
Janice Lucente, Integrated Marketing
Communications, Allstate Insurance
Cindy Hefley, Director of Sales,
More to come!
15 Major Media Buyers Expected to Meet
with SNA Members at Fall Conference
BEST BUY SENIOR PRINT BUYER Sheila Culligan
was one of many to participate in the 2008 one-on -one
meetings. SNA has an excellent list of media buyers
expected in Kansas City on September 22.
Web sites grew
10% in the first
according to a
Nielsen's latest study, commissioned by
the Newspaper Association of America,
showed that newspaper-operated Web
sites attracted more than 73.3 million
monthly unique users in the quarter
ended March 31, compared with 66.4
million in the first three months of 2008.
Newspaper-site visitors generated an
average of more than 3.5 billion page
views per month in the first quarter of
2009, an increase of 13% over the same
three months a year ago. The page-view
total is the highest since the NAA started
keeping track of the data in 2004.
Online Usage Grows For Newspaper Sites
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