Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Newspaper Next 2.0: Way Outside the Box

By Rick Edmonds, The Biz Blog (Poynteronline)

The route to "newspaper" survival keeps getting trickier.

Not so long ago, the combination of a solid news report and a reasonably enterprising advertising business was considered sufficient to sustain a newspaper.

The bar rose with such added online innovations as hyperlocal coverage and niche efforts aimed at such targets as moms and pet owners, all accompanied by increasingly sophisticated advertising.

Now the American Press Institute's influential Newspaper Next project has concluded, in a sequel to its original report, that it will take a great deal more for newspapers to flourish in the digital era.

The report says newspaper companies will have to venture farther afield and become the indispensable guide to everything that anyone in their local community needs to know to live there. And provide all kinds of solutions for all kinds of needs for virtually every local business.

Published online last week to very light attention by media news reporters, Newspaper Next 2.0 [PDF] is neither concise nor light reading. But there is worthwhile stuff for those willing to hunt through its 110 pages:
Business-side readers will want to scavenge the 24 case studies of new products piloted since the first report came out in mid-2006, along with the seven examples of how newspaper companies organized and financed innovation. Some of the efforts are truly unorthodox -- a newspaper-run consignment store for quality goods in Ogden, Utah, (page 64), which provides an upgrade from classifieds to get rid of that couch. Or (page 37), an ingenious version of online coupons at The Dispatch of Moline, Ill., that works both to attract and retain subscribers and draw in small-business advertisers.

Journalists may be more interested in the first few conceptual pages. They will find in a chart on page 7 that news is still part of the core in this concept of the future, but it is quickly dispatched as "not big enough" to be economically sustaining. Stephen Gray, managing director of the project, writes that newspaper companies need to redefine themselves as the "local information and connection utility" in their communities. Perhaps, as he writes later, a suitably big and audacious goal would be to create a wiki'ed "Localpedia," comprehensive but built with volunteered user content.

As he told me last fall, Gray found boffo demand for the road show consulting he did during 2007, coaching companies on how to implement Newspaper Next. However, many of the experiments have stuck too closely to traditional core competencies, making money, for instance, by reverse publishing online material into print, still the comfort zone for the ad sales force.

The result: the pace of change is unprecedented but not quick enough; most projects are too small and too slow to develop revenue on the scale needed. So the report urges newspapers companies to "make the leap" beyond news or even news and information. Newspapers should be venturing into unfamiliar territory like online promotions, e-mail advertising and tailoring events information into a personal planning calendar -- as well as finding creative solutions for business beyond traditional advertising.

The new report also contains a useful bonus chapter from consultant Gordon Borrell on maximizing online revenue. It expands on some ideas I wrote about last fall after interviewing Borrell -- newspaper companies venturing into local search with separate commerce-only sites or aggressively going after the nascent local online video ad business. Borrell thinks there is big money to be made there.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Courier a winner at ICPA

Western's independent student-run newspaper earned the most first-place awards in four years at last weekend's Illinois College Press Association conference in Chicago.

Congratulations to the Western Courier.

"The list of ICPA awards includes: 1. First Place, headline writing (daily) 2. First Place, feature story (daily) 3. First Place, news photo (daily) 4. 3rd Place, General Excellence (daily) 5. 3rd Place, headline writing (daily) 6. Honorable Mention, sports page design (all papers) 7. Honorable Mention, entertainment supplement (all papers) 8. Honorable Mention, critical review other than film (all papers)," said Courier adviser Rich Moreno.

"Additionally, the Courier won Third Place among daily papers (despite not being daily) for General Excellence," he added.

Despite publishing three times a week, the Courier competes against daily newspapers such as the Daily Illini at UIUC.

For the Courier's own article on the honors, go to --

Plenty of opportunities in new JobFile listings

The Chicago Headline Club/Society of Professional Journalists' JobFile, produced by Bob Roberts in cooperation with the Illinois News Broadcasters, has a new list of job opportunities.

Check it all at

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

State Rep visits Environmental Journalism class

Illinois State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora) last Saturday visited WIU's Environmental Journalism class held over five weekends at Western's Quad Cities campus in Moline.

Chapa LaVia, shown at her computer at the upper right, is a member of the legislature's Environmental Caucus. She discussed areas that lawmakers have, can and should address, and urged citizens to get involved in environmental, conservation and other stewardship issues.

Photo by Bill Knight

Friday, February 1, 2008

Funding Restored to NJ College Paper

By CHRIS NEWMARKER – The Associated Press

MONTCLAIR, N.J. — Montclair State University's student government decided Wednesday to temporarily restore funding to the school's weekly student newspaper, after its decision to freeze the paper's funding a week ago was criticized as an attempt to stifle freedom of the press.

After more than five hours of deliberation, the Student Government Association legislature voted 12-0, with seven abstentions, to restore funding for printing and office supplies to The Montclarion for 30 days, during which time student government and newspaper leaders are expected to try to resolve their differences.

"What's most important is that Montclair State University will have a newspaper tomorrow," said Karl de Vries, the newspaper's editor-in-chief.

Editors found out when the spring semester began last week that the paper's funding had been frozen. The student government also contacted The Montclarion's publisher and told it not to print the paper's issue last Thursday; an online version was produced.

Editors said the budget freeze was punishment for the paper criticizing student government for regularly holding closed meetings, in possible violation of New Jersey's open meetings law.

Student government leaders say that they're not censoring the newspaper, but that the paper's editors overstepped their authority when they hired a lawyer to help them get access to the meetings.

The New Jersey Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Arlington, Va.-based Student Press Law Center criticized the budget freeze.

"You're not only hurting the newspaper staff, which is having their free speech cut off, but the campus, which is being denied a valuable source of information," said Frank LoMonte, executive director of the law center.

De Vries said the student government wanted the newspaper to turn over correspondence between the newspaper and a lawyer The Montclarion had previously retained to challenge the student government's practice of closing meetings. The government fired the lawyer in November.

Shayna Jacobs, The Montclarion's news editor, said that in the past, the association has required it to be the conduit to all correspondence to its attorney.

At the Wednesday meeting, association President Ron Chicken argued that the budget freeze wasn't about censorship.

Bryan Fucetola, an association legislator, argued that the newspaper broke student organization rules because it wasn't authorized to hire its own attorney and instead should have consulted the association's attorney.

Since the fired attorney had been paid for with association money, Fucetola said the student government had a right to see what editors had discussed with the attorneys.

"We just want to know what we paid for," Fucetola said.

But attorneys for the New Jersey Press Association and the American Civil Liberties Union argued that the editors had a right to expect lawyer-client confidentiality, and that the association could face serious legal troubles by shutting down a student newspaper.

Montclair State's student government controls the budget and in any given year provides a third to half of the money needed to publish the paper, available for free on the campus, about 14 miles west of New York City.

The university doesn't directly control the association, but after Wednesday's vote, Karen Pennington, the school's vice president of student development and campus life, said she was confident the administration would be able to successfully mediate.


On the Net -- The Montclarion: