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Panpa Bulletin : November December 2006
November--December 2006 PANPA BULLETIN | 29 Newspapers: the future is already here Smaller, with less text, more pictures and a broader content span. The 21st century newspaper is starting to look and act more like a magazine, writes Klaus Schmidt. The advance of e-media, spearheaded by the internet, has transformed the newspaper industry. Cost pressures have joined time pressures as the primary chal- lenges, leading to flatter hierarchies in edito- rial offices and printing plants, more process networking and reduced payrolls. Many newspapers have added online reader offers, event marketing and retail logistics to their traditional portfolio of products and services. In the process they have adapted both edito- rially and visually to the changing habits of a modern information-based society. Internet nibbling away at advertising pie While most European newspapers' ad rev- enues have made a modest recovery follow- ing the slump in print-based and television advertising at the turn of the millennium, a substantial volume -- most notably classifieds -- has been lost to the internet, never to re- turn. In the Netherlands and Switzerland, for example, around half of all classifieds have migrated online. The past five years have seen a double-digit percentage drop in the number of newspaper printers and their payrolls in many European countries. Subscription figures for European titles have also fallen, largely for demographic reasons. Only free-distribution titles have increased their circulations. Online advertising just 5 pc of total In 1995 newspapers accounted for 36 pc of global advertising revenue. By 2005 this had fallen to 30 pc and by 2015 is expected to shrink to 25 pc. Although -- unlike French and Italian titles -- dailies and weeklies in Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Norway maintained their edge over television as the primary advertising medium last year, over the past five years they have steadily lost market share to frees, direct mail, TV and the internet. But this is no reason to panic. Most newspaper publishers have launched their own online presence which, while currently accounting for less than 10 pc of ad revenues, is steadily growing. The fickleness of online subscribers, however, means that anything from 20 to 50 or more online readers must be acquired in order to compensate financially for the loss of one single print subscriber. Not all gimmicks translate into pro table business A lot of newspapers, particularly the high- volume tabloids, have taken to enlisting the services of their readers as amateur journal- ists and bloggers, in order to maintain an im- mediate market presence. But this paradigm shift may well impair journalistic quality. Don t neglect your knitting Although newspaper publishers pursuing cross-media activities need to raise their pro- files in the multimedia landscape by offering new services, they should not neglect their core product and its concomitant supple- ments and special editions, because these are likely to remain a key source of income in the foreseeable future. And they must skilfully network their printed products with online products and other services so as to promote reader loyalty and strengthen the position of printed newspapers in the market while ad- dressing changes in consumer habits during the course of the day. Transforming content, form and image While high-circulation titles are a law unto themselves, most newspapers will retain their local or regional focus and will have to concentrate on content quality to succeed in the multimedia arena. Newspapers in the 21st century -- and here the exceptions prove the rule -- will have less text and more pictures, they will be more like a magazine and cover a broader span of topics in order to target a more differentiated readership. There is also a widespread move towards tabloid and compact formats that are easier to read in cramped environments like trains and planes. Despite the recent crisis and the emergence of new media, daily titles in most parts of the world remain the prime choice for the dissemination of information and advertising. A survey by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) in 2005 revealed that more daily titles are printed and read than ever before. Diminishing circulations in ma- ture markets like western Europe and North America contrast with significant growth in emerging economies like China and India. Even so, this traditional medium must and will continue to move with the music if it is to uphold its voice in the media concerto. Klaus Schmidt is director of marketing and corporate communications with German printer manufacturer KBA. This is an excerpt from Issue 1 of KBA s electronic newsletter, eLetter. CONTENT The ckleness of online subscribers means that it takes 20 to 50 or more online readers to compensate nancially for the loss of one single print subscriber Enlisting readers as amateur journalists and bloggers maintains an immediate market presence. But it may well also impair journalistic quality