Road Signs – March 2009

Chris Ayres

Chris Ayres, in a Feb. 12 audio blog on The Social Net suggests that the reason newspapers accustomed to being the dominant news source in their market are failing in this country is because they can’t compete, unlike England where his home town of London has 89 different titles vying for attention. . . . An American survey says don’t give up on print. The Rosen Group released findings of a national poll indicating the vast majority of U.S. consumers still deem print editions of newspapers and magazines to be “indispensable” sources of news and entertainment. President and Founder of the PR agency, Lori Rosen, quoted in OnLineMedia Daily, acknowledged, “two-thirds of Americans now use Web sites ‘devoted to news’ as a daily source, and nearly a third consider them to be their No. 1 source of news and information. She notes: “People are looking online for news and lifestyle information, but they are not abandoning their print editions.” She also reported, “nearly 60% of (survey) respondents do not consider information found on blogs to be ‘credible’.”

The U.S. House of Representatives apparently agrees with that assessment. Blogger Jason Lee Miller on reports that the House version of bills moving through Congress to protect a journalist’s sources says, “if journalism is a hobby or passion you do as a public service, or if you are a freelancer without a boss—both of which easily describe a blogger—then the government reserves the right to force you to tell them who told you something, much like the government tried to do with New York Times journalist Judy Miller under the Bush Administration.” And that may explain this quote provided by Intermediate Network’s Press, PR and Media Digest:  “It is Ryanair’s policy not to waste time and energy corresponding with idiot bloggers.” Also from that publication comes word of a BBC journalist blaming the underreporting of the country’s financial crisis until it was upon them on, “an incredibly powerful public relations machine . . . whose job is to lie to the press.” Surely nothing like that in the U.S. 😉

Sylvia Marino, executive director of community operations for Edmunds.Com made these points in a recent interview with Karl Greenberg published in Marketing Daily:

1) “What GM and Ford are doing is engaging not just with their consumers, but with any consumers – trying to set the record straight using Twitter, their own blogs, for example, saying: “We have more vehicles that get 32 mpg and better than Toyota does.”

2) “When you look at companies who have built relationships with consumers, across blogs, across different social media, there is question-and-answer, give-and-take–not one-way. There is an acceptance of negative views, not that everyone has to be right. I think what you are finding is, people go back to basics. Having a one-on-one conversation, you are much more likely to have a higher level of satisfaction with that person than if you get a nameless, faceless memo.”

3) “It doesn’t require the CEO or chairman. In fact, you want the person who has the access and voice and support.”

4) “On Twitter there may be some six or seven thousand people reading any given post, and many of those 7,000 people are retelling the story. . . . And that’s what we are really talking about. Yes, there is a big investment in one-to-one–but the fact is, in these environments when I’m answering one person’s question, it’s available to millions for viewing. It’s very powerful.”

Wooden Horse Newsletter reports publisher Hearst is getting set to launch an electronic reader that it hopes can do for periodicals what Amazon’s Kindle is doing for books. It is a wireless e-reader with a large-format screen suitable for reading newspapers and magazines and is likely to debut this year. The insider source for freelance magazine writers also reports that Popular Science, in anticipation of when e-readers become more commonplace, has launched a new digital magazine called The Pop Sci Genius Guide. Wooden Horse also states that Anderson News, one of the larger wholesaler distributors, has closed operation and laid off its employees.  Source Interlink got a temporary restraining order that effectively forces publishers Time Inc, American Media, Hachette Filipacchi Media and Bauer Publications to resume shipping copies of their magazines to Source Interlink for distribution to retailers.

Speedway Illustrated has a new owner, Anthem Media Group, a marketing firm and magazine publisher. It acquired Performance Media LLC, the publisher of the magazine, from Down East Enterprise Inc. Founder and former driver and TV commentator Dick Berggren will remain as executive editor. The magazine has a monthly circulation of about 120,000… NEWSWEEK will transition away from covering the week’s news events to become more of a “thought leader” publication such as THE ECONOMIST and THE ATLANTIC. . . . Beginning in April, Consumer Guide will no longer print its Car & Truck Test Magazine focusing instead on online delivery. In making the announcement, associate publisher Tom Appel notes that now enjoys an average of 2.5 million unique visitors a month