Dependable Erection

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What's it worth to you?

I hear the N&O is telling its subscribers they need to cough up a buck a week (or 40 something for a whole year) if they want to keep getting the weekly TV listings with their paper.

Maybe they can start charging extra for the comics section as well. Somehow, i don't see this having a positive effect on circulation numbers.

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21 Comments:

  • Still peeved they dropped radio listings.

    What was the question again?

    By Blogger Tony, at 1:21 PM  

  • Hey, Mallard Fillmore is worth its weight in ... zinc.

    Circulation numbers aren't the issue, btw. Ad revenue is.

    OT: The USMNT is not-ready-for-prime-time, without a doubt, but that was a tough one-two, Italy and Brazil...

    By Blogger David, at 2:02 PM  

  • I just wish they had enough content period to make my subscription worthwhile. I don't use the TV listings, but I miss having stuff to READ while I'm at the breakfast table each morning. It's sad when I finish the paper before I finish my bowl of cereal.

    By Blogger Photo Spread, at 2:03 PM  

  • Group of death and all that for the Confed cup.

    If i had a TV listing book, i'd have know when the matches were on.

    Aren't ad revenues at least partially linked to circulation numbers?

    By Blogger Barry, at 2:14 PM  

  • Ad RATES are linked to circulation numbers. But last I heard (which was before the latest round of ruinous cuts), the paper's circulation was growing.

    By Blogger David, at 3:29 PM  

  • As the Circulation Manager for a prominent local, globally circulated magazine I can tell you that for the last 60 years content has been under-valued in the name of the advertising-driven circulation model. The industry is in transition as that is no longer a sustainable model. The industry is moving to a content-value model that will inherently draw advertisers as people will ultimately pay for what they want. What the N&O is doing is re-evaluating what their content is worth. It's something many publications are having to do.

    As consumers it's initially hard to swallow. What we come to realize is that content is king, always. Getting a fair and sustainable price for it is mandatory in order to survive.

    By Blogger Patrick, at 3:32 PM  

  • Good luck with that.

    By Blogger Barry, at 3:39 PM  

  • Nice. Aren't newspapers dead anyway? We are commenting on a blog.

    By Blogger Southern, at 5:07 PM  

  • I'm not sure I can count on bloggers, no matter how well intentioned or passionate about their content, to make up for the lack of a daily newspaper.

    Bloggers just don't have the resources and sometimes the training to hunt down news and present it credibly.

    Did I really just say that?

    By Blogger Tony, at 8:46 PM  

  • i think it's more a matter of inclination as opposed to resources or training.

    Just take a look at the N&O's online Durham pages to see what kind of resources they're throwing at Durham.

    By Blogger Barry, at 11:11 PM  

  • When the Herald-Sun starts charging for taking things out of the paper, I'll start subscribing again. If I could get a paper without John McCann, without the celebrity news, and without the five pounds of glossy adds every Sunday, even if it cost twice as much, I'd do it.

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 11:12 AM  

  • Southern, no, newspapers (or magazines for that matter) arent dead. They just went too long on the ad-driven model. So now they are having to refocus on content. Look at the comments above from Michael Bacon. People want content, they are willing to pay for it. It's a matter of giving them the content they want at a fair price.

    Digital media certainly has brought some competition to traditional print media but competition is a good thing as it propels quality.

    By Blogger Patrick, at 11:26 AM  

  • Well, i'll try to write a more thoughtful and detailed response over the weekend about what i think the problem with local print media is. I'm not sure that i'd cite Michael B's comments as a defense of your position, though.

    Seems to me he's saying he'd be willing to pay more for less content.

    Briefly, i think if the local rags gave me the information i needed, i'd be inclined to subscribe. The N&O, alas, seems to have pulled out of Durham, which is too bad, since Paxton doesn't seem to have a clue how to cover this town. And you'd think that instead of laying off staff, the HS would take the N&O's abandonment of the territory as an opportunity to consolidate their position. Instead, they basically said, we have no competition, so we can cut our service down even further.

    To use a cliche, it's a neck and neck race to the bottom. And we all end up losing.

    By Blogger Barry, at 11:48 AM  

  • "Bloggers just don't have the resources and sometimes the training to hunt down news and present it credibly."

    Are you kidding me? Have you read anything in the local papers lately? Seems to me that the majority of the "reporting" that gets done is simply verbatim reprinting of press releases. The Durham PD could probably make some money w/ a plagiarism lawsuit.

    By Blogger Adrian, at 5:26 PM  

  • I'd agree more with Patrick, Barry. I'd pay more for full length articles, instead of the brevity that's been dominating the news industry. I gripe about John McCann, but I can ignore him. It's the pounds (and I'm not exaggerating) of glossies I never bother to look at that showed up every Sunday that finally drove me bonkers.

    My problem with McCann and with the celebrity news highlights a big problem newspapers face. The internet spoils us by letting us customize our content endlessly. The paper is a rigid thing. That's sometimes a good thing, but it means that I end up with a lot of clutter in my house for about, oh, 20 minutes of reading and comics.

    What I'd probably prefer was, say, a daily newspaper about the size of the Daily Tar Heel -- one large section, but chock full of content, as Patrick suggests, rather than being over 50% ads. There's a very limited market for the kind of content I want -- I'd say probably 1/3 of H-S readers would agree with what I'd want, which means a paper with a circulation of about 12,000 right now. That's not enough to keep the H-S's presses rolling, and it doesn't serve the needs of their other customers, who apparently want the celebrity news or John McCann's third grade level writing.

    I wonder if some kind of joint press and delivery operation could survive, with multiple runs and, say, four or five different dailies or semi-weeklies with distinct editorial staffs. Yes, there's some regrettable "balkanization" of news, but better balkanized than nonexistant.

    FWIW, my decision to subscribe to the H-S again was based on a desire to try to keep some semblance of it alive. But when I went on vacation, they never restarted my delivery, and I never bothered to complain. I was actually kind of happier after it stopped, because unread papers quit piling up in my car, on my desk, and on my porch. When renewal time came, no matter how much I support the idea of a local daily, I couldn't get over the absurdity of paying for nothing more than giving myself the extra chore of taking them out of their obnoxious yellow bags and tossing them directly into the recycling.

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 10:10 PM  

  • While I'm at it, here's another question. As far back as I can remember, the daily paper (in this case the Asheville Citizen-Times) was a quarter at the newstand, and fifty cents for the Sunday. It looks like most are now fifty cents in the machines, and something like $1.25 for the Sunday.

    Would a paper that cost $1 per issue, but had better content and fewer ads, sell better? I honestly have no idea, but I'm certain I'm not the first to ask this question. Still....

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 10:19 PM  

  • I believe the Sunday NY times is 5 bucks in the city, an d6 bucks around here. i haven't heard that they're doing too much cutting of content.

    Local newspapers need to figure out what they can provide to their local readers, and then do that better than anyone else.

    Cutting local content by cutting local staff doesn't seem intuitively to me to be the solution.

    By Blogger Barry, at 12:53 AM  

  • I believe the Sunday NY times is 5 bucks in the city, an d6 bucks around here. i haven't heard that they're doing too much cutting of content.

    Actually, the Sunday Times is pretty thin these days. Which actually doesn't bother me, b/c back in its heyday, it could chew up your whole Sunday. I read today's in an hour, or in the time it took for me to eat my oatmeal, drink 2 cups of coffee and a berry-yogurt smoothie.

    Good story about Rafa Nadal in the Magazine, btw.

    OT: Do you believe the USMNT advanced ahead of Italy. Not deserved, but hey.

    By Blogger David, at 12:15 AM  

  • Next time i'm in NY, i'll take a gander at what the Times is including. I would imagine that there's some sections that don't make it down here anymore. Bet they haven't gotten rid of the puzzles, though.

    Re: MNT. Holy Christ, how does Egypt finish last in that group? They should have had a draw against Brazil, and they crunched Italy.

    Who do we get in the semis, Spain?

    By Blogger Barry, at 1:24 AM  

  • Spain on Wednesday (yes, that's Torres, Xavi, Iniesta, Alonso, etc etc).

    I'm looking forward to a Spain-Holland final...

    By Blogger David, at 12:06 PM  

  • The Finals? Of something important? Like worldwide? The US? MEN? SOCCER? FUTBAL!?!?!?!?!

    AGAINST SPAIN!?!?!?

    No, for real, tell me another one.

    I wouldn't have even known about this thing called the Confed Cup if y'all hadn't been rabbiting on about it. I had no idea they'd won CONCACAF, much less were playing in some kind of important worldwide tourney. When I heard about it, I figured we'd just qualified as some kind of third place from CONCACAF or something. And then all I saw about it was that we'd embarrassed ourselves against Brazil and Italy. And now here were are in the finals. (I saw at SI.com that we were up 1-0 and slipped out to Pizzeria III for the last 15 minutes. Missed the second goal by just a few. Drat.)

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 4:39 PM  

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