Road Signs: November 2008

Wooden Horse reports AutoWeek has reduced its frequency to bi-weekly effective with the January 5, 2009 issue, but will not change its name. “Modifying the frequency of the magazine’s distribution allows us to focus on more comprehensive editorial features and vehicle reviews,” said vice president and publisher KC Crain.  . . .U.S.News and World Reports will be online only next year. . . . Executives at this year’s American Magazine Conference predicted more magazine closings than openings during 2009. Niche spin-offs like Vogue For Men and Sports Illustrated for Kids soon will be history and more to follow as ad pages dwindle and when environmentalists focus on the connection between paper-making and global climate change.

The AP has inked a deal with U.S. Cellular to provide international, national and local news on a web site accessible through the wireless carrier’s To Go, nWeb browser and newly launched mobile browser. . . . Press releases are being co-opted as online marketing tools according to a recent survey by Media Post. Once zealously guarded by PR professionals to avoid crossing the line between advertising and editorial, press releases are valued by marketing professionals today for doing just that, carrying their message directly to consumers via online media. One reason for their using press releases to get their message out –  ad budgets are down and going down.

Alan Mutter (aka Newsosaur), a former Chicago and San Francisco newspaper man and now CEO of a Silicon Valley firm, notes that newspapers can’t survive by abandoning print, given that 90% of their revenue comes from print ads and to break even they would have to triple their online sales – two thirds of which come from ad-on sales to customers who are buying advertising in the print product. To make an industry average 15% profit Mutter says newspapers would have to quadruple their online advertising revenue. . . . From a recent Doonesbury comic strip, “It’s tough to leverage a byline in a media environment where anyone who can type gets a byline. I’m competing for eyeballs with millions of narcissists.” That may be one reason why auto makers are putting money into regional event marketing, as Karl Greenberg notes in Media Daily. The events can focus on a specific product and message targeted to specific consumer groups.

Newsbreaks.infotoday.com’s Nancy Herther quotes Christian Science Monitor editor John Yemma on the paper switching to Web-only editions during the week along with Email and a weekend print edition, “the old business model for print journalism is broken.” She said the Monitor staff and its church leaders see the internet offering a “tremendous opportunity” for true global distribution of news and information, the Monitor’s core mission.

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