deadlines amuse me

exploring how the world works and why it works that way …

A bad makeover idea?

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Newspapers are slowly losing circulation (and getting caught when they lie about their circ numbers). Worse, newspapers are losing readers (their traditional readers are dying). And they’re not gaining many new readers, either (because the ‘Net has stolen them away with its lure of anytime, anything and lotsa video.

That’s what wags say about the print industry these days.

So what does the newspaper industry choose to do regain or attain relevance to more readers? Work on getting more readers? Apparently not.

Instead, an industry group, the Newspaper Association of America, joined by trade group Magazine Publishers of America, has hired the Martin Agency of Richmond, Va., ” to help change the perception of newspapers from stodgy to contemporary” (See the NYT story). But not for the benefit of readers: They want advertisers to take notice of print’s alleged switch to non-stodginess.

The magazine industry has ponied up $40 million for a three-year campaign “to make over its image in the eyes of advertisers,” according to the Times. The magazine folks have also hired a brand-development agency and an ad agency to convince the ad industry that magazines are good ad buys.

Newspapers, too, are fighting back at the perception the NAA is trying to kill. Said the Times: “‘Enough!’ John Kimball, chief marketing officer for the Newspaper Association of America, said in an interview. ‘You read things that the industry is dead, that the Internet is eating our lunch, that everyone is watching television, that national advertising is declining in the major metros.’

“‘But the medium is very strong,’ Mr. Kimball said. “‘There are lots of ads in the papers, and not because those people think they’re making a charitable contribution. They’re investing in the medium because it’s delivering results.'”

A Martin Agency exec said in the Times story “the industry should update its calling card from being ‘the newspaper business’ to being ‘in the business of news.’ Translation: the word newspaper is so yesterday.”

So the magazine and news industries will spend many millions on a facelift, a makeover to persuade advertisers to keep placing their combined 47 percent of last year’s $141 billion pie into the print game.

I did not see the word “journalism” in Katharine Q. Seelye’s excellent read. Nor did I see the word “content.”

Imagine what those millions and millions of dollars could do if spent on developing good reporters and writers — developing content.

Why does no one in either industry seem to believe that a good product — good content — would make money? I can hear UNC-Chapel Hill’s Phil Meyer crying now.


Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

May 3, 2005 at 4:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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