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Newspapers: Industry in Turmoil

Posted on Friday, Apr 6th 2007

Alan Murray writes in the Wall Street Journal: “Last weekend’s “Billionaires Bid for Tribune” headlines were enough to warm the hearts of us Dickensian scribes who still seek to make a living from impressions on wood pulp. Savvy Chicagoan Sam Zell sold much of his U.S. real-estate empire at the top of the market; could his deal to buy Tribune Co., the big media company based in Chicago, be a signal that newspapers have hit bottom, and are ready to rise? Maybe. But it’s also possible that Mr. Zell is just joining the ranks of rich men who, having made their fortune elsewhere, are now ready to lose some of it in publishing.”

I have been reviewing the newspaper industry in a fair bit of detail over the last few months. Last July, I noted Yahoo’s discussions with newspapers around the Local offerings.

In August, the Washington Post announced their Blogroll program, to which I wrote, Newspapers, Wake Up!

I followed up last October with NYT : No Need to Wither, when talks of a buy-out came along.

This March, having observed the over investment in the various verticals of social media, and newspapers losing vertical revenues, I wrote Newspapers, Roll Up! and Newspapers Losing Verticals to Online.

On the intrusion of User-Generated Content, I wrote The Pro-Am Debate, and USA Today’s Step Forward.

Following these, I have done deep-dives on most of the major newspaper companies:
Gannett, NYT, Dow Jones, McClatchy, Washington Post, and Tribune.

Meanwhile, Sam Zell is acquiring the Tribune, and NYT has further unrest.

As for the strategy for the entire industry, it can be summarized as follows:

* Focus on the Verticals & apply my Web 3.0 framework in doing so. A review of the Personal Finance vertical is here, and I will cover the other verticals in detail in the upcoming months.

* Local News and Classifieds is a good opportunity that the new media players have limited ability to cover.

* Pro – Am OR Anchor Content – User Content is a good strategy to engage users.

Other media industry conglomerates like Viacom, Time Warner, and News Corp are somewhat further along than the newspaper industry in switching their focus to online and digital media. However, clearly, there is no ambiguity anymore, that precisely that is what needs to happen if the industry is to turnaround.

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nice articles. good enough reason to bookmark you for regular reading. keep up the great work.

Full2njoy Saturday, April 7, 2007 at 12:47 AM PT

[...] those of you following my Newspaper industry coverage, here’s an interesting set of [...]

Sramana Mitra on Strategy » Blog Archive » Top Newspaper Sites Monday, April 9, 2007 at 10:40 AM PT

[...] may want to read my article, Newspapers: Industry in Turmoil for an overview of the strategic manueverings going on, and more importantly, should be going on. [...]

Sramana Mitra on Strategy » Blog Archive » Sam Zell’s Blunder Tuesday, April 10, 2007 at 1:36 AM PT

[...] can read a comprehensive analysis of the Newspaper industry in my former article, Newspapers : Industry in Turmoil. It includes strategy recommendations that are needed for the industry to be turned around at this [...]

Sramana Mitra on Strategy » Blog Archive » Newspapers Report Weak Earnings Thursday, April 19, 2007 at 2:02 PM PT

[...] I believe, old media will be a huge beneficiary of the online advertising trend, as they learn to reinvent themselves. [...]

Sramana Mitra on Strategy » Blog Archive » Online Advertising: One More by Microsoft Friday, May 18, 2007 at 9:39 AM PT

[...] have a position in Online Jobs are likely to acquire Monster in the foreseeable future. Also, given the state of the Newspaper industry which is steadily losing its vertical classifieds business to Online, there may be other potential [...]

Monster’s Destiny - Sramana Mitra on Strategy Thursday, July 5, 2007 at 1:54 PM PT

[...] process rose from 2% in 1995 to 77% in 2005 to over 80% in 2006. It is a business that primarily belonged to the newspaper industry before, but has since shifted over to the Internet in a massive [...]

Web 3.0 and Real Estate: Synthesis - Sramana Mitra on Strategy Friday, July 13, 2007 at 6:34 AM PT

[...] and Dating / Match Making. However, as we discussed before, it is a well-known phenomenon that classified advertising is moving online, and News Corp. fully recognizes that. So what are they doing to move with this [...]

Web 3.0 & News Corp (Part 2) - Sramana Mitra on Strategy Tuesday, September 11, 2007 at 5:55 AM PT

[...] is in the business of publishing newspapers, which is in turmoil due to the falling advertising and circulation revenues, and McClatchy is a victim of that trend. [...]

Web 3.0 & McClatchy (Part 5) - Sramana Mitra on Strategy Friday, October 5, 2007 at 7:28 AM PT
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