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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.

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