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  • Just the facts, ma’am

    September 21st, 2011 by admin

    “Printed newspapers will thrive for decades to come,” I hear publishers say. Kevin Slimp writes in his columns that this newspaper crisis is just like Y2K…nothing to worry about…just keep doing what your doing.

    I want to believe it…I really do. But the data says something else. The data shows we need to begin now to adapt to a changing business model.

    It’s my view that the majority of today’s community newspaper publishers are making ten year plans based on emotion, not facts. This view was supported recently at a state newspaper convention.

    I sat in on a “mock trial” session where the future of print was to be decided by a “jury” of newspaper people in the audience. The “defendant” was By the year 2020, the majority of community newspapers will be electronic only and the “plaintiff” was Print will live on!

    The attorney for both sides was Ken Blum, playing different characters, and arguing, as objectively as possible, for each side. After his arguments for and against, he left the room while the Jury debated.

    From where I was sitting, both Blum and members of the jury used facts when presenting a case that print is on it’s way out, but when it came to reasons print will live on, the arguments were based on opinions. The final vote was 28 to 12…print will live on after 2020.

    We have an exciting ten years ahead of us, and things are changing quickly. We can’t rely exclusively on what’s worked for us in the past and we can’t judge the industry by what we see out our windows. We need to look at trends in our industry, as well as other industries, to try to plan a course that will not only keep us in business, but allow us to thrive.

    For example, I wrote a blog article recently, Let Your Fingers Do The Googling, talking about the death of printed Yellow Pages. In that article I mention how the city of San Francisco is not allowing the free distribution of Yellow Pages to residents unless they sign an opt-in card. How would that same ordinance in your city for your shopper or other TMC product, like special tabs, etc. affect you? It’s important we look cross media, as well as what’s going on nationally with papers, to make hard decisions.

    The good news is we’re not alone. There are many resources out there to give us the information we need, and today’s publisher should be following them regularly.

    A good example is Pew Research Center. They have a lot of stuff on there you can gloss over, but there is good research on the trends in our industry and the people who are our readers. Recently they published some very useful information, with nice pretty charts, showing how various age groups get their news today, compared with the past ten years.

    When I saw the following graphs I flashed back to my advertising sales days, remembering the importance of the prime consuming demographic to local advertisers. These days I would set that age at about ages 20-60.

    With this age group in mind, look at these figures:

    According to Pew Research, 18 to 29-year-olds get most of their news online now, even beyond television and WAY beyond printed newspapers…um…21 to 65 percent.

    For the 30 to 49-year-olds market, what I would consider the prime market for most advertisers, the internet hasn’t passed TV, yet, but it’s on it’s way…and fast. But what matters more is how many more people in this key demographic get their news today from internet vs. printed newspapers. I’m in this group (barely) and I find it interesting how many people my age, who didn’t grow up with computers, are really connected with iPods, smart phones and tablets. Most even play Angry Birds on one device or another.

    For 50 to 64-year-olds print is still the primary source of news, but look at the angle of that jump from ’09 to 2010…how long will it stay that way?

    And now we get to your subscribers. Yes, I said YOUR subscribers. Most weekly and small daily papers I meet today tell me their average subscriber is over the age of 65.

    There you go…if this trend holds, and the subscribers in this demographic stay alive, you should be able to keep these subscribers for a long time. There doesn’t seem to be much threat of the internet taking over this group any time soon. But if you were to tell your advertisers that the majority of your subscribers are over the age of 65, would they still advertise?

    If you saw these exact same figures for the population of our county, and they showed this type of growth in the Hispanic community, would you start a Spanish edition or pages of your paper? If you knew that 65 percent of the people in your county were over the age of 55, would you start a Senior page in your paper? If you knew that 65 percent of the people in your community were hunters, would you start a hunting page…or whatever? Point is, these are important numbers and shouldn’t be ignored.

    The majority of the people in your community are getting their news online! What are you doing to reach them?

    Take these graphs and a box of crayons…draw the lines out further. Assuming there is NO CHANGE in the trend, what does the next nine years look like. Also take into account the attrition in the 65+ graph and it starts staring you in the face. Oh, by the way, these charts are pre-tablet, so throw that in the mix. Now all of a sudden, 2020 comes into perspective.

    Someone in the “jury” commented that “nine years is a blink of an eye…I don’t see it happening that fast.” Brian Steffens, Director of Communications at Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, retorted “Nine years to us is the blink of an eye, but in the technology world it’s an eternity.” Good point. The iPad has been out barely more than a year. The iPhone has been out only since ’07.

    So what do we do about it? Get serious about your website. Get as serious about your website as you are about your Back to School tab, or County Fair tab, or Progress Edition. Get as serious about your website as you were when you launched your shopper.

    I have a customer using my Atomic News Tools product who had empty ad spaces on her website. I asked her if she would ever publish an edition of the paper with empty spots or if she would fill them with house ads and PSAs. She immediately filled the site.

    I have other Atomic customers who I’ve asked “Did you do a story on your new website in your paper? Are you promoting it? Are you getting the word out?” Many said “we never thought of it.”

    It’s important we recognize the threat and potential of the internet and get busy making it work for us.

    This isn’t my opinion…there is a mountain of evidence to support that print will be dead by the year 2020 (read my article Viva la Print)

    But what if I’m wrong? What if you put all this energy into a website and it’s making you a additional income…and your print product is still strong. Wow. You now have an edition that’s making money, targeting one demographic, while still making money from your established print product.

    The jury vote determined that print is alive and well and will thrive for decades to come. I would like that to be true, too. I would like the businesses that have prospered for years on newspapers to continue to do so, as well. I love print. I love helping newspapers improve their print product while working faster…it’s my business, too. But if I step away from my wants and look at the facts, I have to be ready to adapt in the direction of the trends…and that starts today.

    This doesnt have to be seen as a negative – it’s an opportunity.  If I could offer news as it happens, without the cost and hassle of printing and dealing with the Post Office…at a profit…I would do it in a heartbeat. But just because internet news hasn’t proven profitable by itself, yet, doesn’t mean it won’t. And if you wait until it IS profitable to get into the game, I’m afraid you’ll find someone else has beat you to it.

    Writer’s Note: Click here for the complete Pew Research report.

    31 Responses to “Just the facts, ma’am”

    1. Kevin Slimp Says:

      Good column, Russell.

      But dont let facts get in your way. “keep doing things the way you always have?”

      Many of those who read this will scratch their heads and remember that i wasbprobably the first national figure to speak to newspaper groups about the urgent need to embrace online technology. As long as ten years ago, i was being offered positions at major jourmalism schools to lead the first programs in what was called converging media.

      The most common topic i keynoe on – and will be tomorrow at the national newspaper association convention – is “the print/online connection.”

      You wonder why people trust me on this subject. At the new york Press association convention close to ten years ago, i followed a big name speaker who convinced the audience of several hundred that print would be dead within five years.

      When it was my turn, hundreds of attendees crowded into the room, sitting in the aisles and standing agaibst the wall.

      I gave them a different remedy. Print wont be dead in five years, i assured them. But now is the time to prepare for the online future.

      I got a huge ovation.

      So when ken and you started telling folks two or three years ago that the printed newspaper would be totally wiped off the face of the earth within ten years, i saw it for what it was … A good sound bite.

      It was 4 years ago that a greatly respected dean at a major school of journalism told me there would not be one printed newspaper in america in ten yeaes. Those 4 years have flown by … And when six more go by, if he and i aepre still around, you can bet i’ll give him a call.

      And what are the most popular classes at my institute next week. Design theory, creating ipad apps, using ipads in newspapers, flash and dreamweaver. Does that sound like ive said “do it like you always have?”

      One of us will be calling the other in 8 years. If we’re both still around. And i hope we are.

      We shall see, my friend. We shall see.

    2. Russell Viers Says:

      I’m glad you responded, Kevin…
      I was just quoting your column which has gotten a lot of life. I also know you say this at all of your keynotes…it’s just like Y2K.
      I’m glad we agree in the online future, and I’m glad we can agree that print, for now, is strong and we should do what we can to improve and grow it.
      What I don’t agree on, and had to take note here, is that this newspaper crisis is like Y2K. It’s NOTHING like Y2K. Y2K was full of speculation based on nothing but someone’s guess that there would be a lot of systems that wouldn’t know how to handle an extra digit. The downturn in newspapers has been going on for decades, accelerated since 1997 dramatically and even more so in the past five years. This isn’t theory…it’s happening. So for you to say “it’s just like Y2K” in your columns and live gives newspaper publishers a sense of false hope, in my opinion.
      The current state of the Post Office, the costs of distribution as well as the decline of large dailies (which will affect print/supply cost) are a recipe that will force even the smallest papers to look at the cost of doing business in print.
      How much will readers pay for a print subscription? You’ve already got papers trying to stop mailing out of county because of the cost…and those readers don’t want to pay the extra so they drop the subscription. What will happen when IN-COUNTY costs are the same…will readers pay for it?
      Let’s pick a date now…eight years from now. Let’s put a wager on it. Let’s get Ken to kick in, too. On that date, the three of us can look at the numbers and decide who is right here and if By the year 2020 most community newspapers will not be in print..

    3. Rick Craig Says:

      Another example of rapid change is Netflix. Perhaps they did not handle their split into two services correctly, but the change was inevitable. I read one article this week that pointed to the Postal Service as one of the main reasons that they made the split. They are afraid that the PO will soon not be able to deliver their discs as quickly as they are now and that will cost them customers.
      What many may need to consider is that Netflix has been a large PO customer in the past and now that business is leaving the mail. Amazon was also a big user of the PO, but now more than half of their book sales are digital.
      It may be that print is still alive in 2020, but we will have to be looking at another delivery method as the PO will no longer exist as we know it today.
      Another question for the jury may be if newspapers survive until 2020, how will they be delivered?

    4. Russell Viers Says:

      Excellent point, Rick…
      Your NETFLIX and Amazon examples are what I meant when I wrote that newspapers need to look beyond our industry and beyond our communities. There are examples of what’s going to happen right in front of our eyes so we need to navigate by their mistakes, before they become ours.
      Thanks for reading.

    5. Kevin Slimp Says:

      Woah there, Russell! Am I already seeing hedging?

      Last year you were telling me PRINT WILL BE DEAD in ten years. Now, unless I read your challenge to be incorrectly, you’re saying “Most.”

      Hmmmmm.

      And the whole video, netflix thing really isn’t a great correlation. I was thinking about it yesterday.

      we’re still watching movies on our tvs. That hasn’t gone away. We’re not watching them through our glasses or iphones – unless we’re stuck somewhere without a tv – we’re just getting them through different methods.

      Still the same experience. Watching a movie on my tv.

      Will newspapers deliver their products differently? Possibly. But just because we don’t drive down to Blockbuster any more (altho I think there are still about 4 open in Knoxville), doesn’t mean we quit watching movies.

      By the way, I looked up the research on the drop in newspaper readership when television became popular. Not so different. And many many writers then were saying what you’re saying now. Newspapers will be dead within a few years.

      So you’ve gone from ALL to MOST. Glad I’m having an effect on you.

    6. Russell Viers Says:

      No Hedging…
      I was merely quoting the title of the session at the newspaper convention. THEY titled it with, actually, “the majority of community newspapers…” I misspoke with “most.”
      My stand doesn’t change, but I’m prepared to be wrong…and glad if I am.
      But here’s the way I see it. Publishers can keep going along like nothing’s wrong, like this is just Y2K all over again and in eight years be surprised if I’m right. Or they can prepare now, start making money off other channels and in eight years, if I’m wrong, they’re still making money on print. Perhaps you didn’t read that part of my article.
      As for NETFLIX, it’s a perfect example. We’re talking physical product vs. digital product. Try to find a CD store these days…try to rend a movie…and…and… Yes you’re watching a movie on your TV, but it’s been digitized and delivered electronically vs. physical copy. This is EXACTLY what I’m talking about in this article. That the production and distribution costs of papers in the next eight years will make it difficult, at best, to raise subscriptions enough to cover them. Netflix is now feeling the double-edge sword that newspapers will soon experience: customers don’t want the hard copies (they want the immediacy of streaming) and the cost of distributing to the few who do makes it impossible.
      Papers can’t ignore the trends in other industries…it’s that simple. For newspapers to think they are impervious to what everyone else is suffering is suicide. If consumers don’t want yellow pages, don’t write checks, don’t buy CDs, don’t rent DVDs, don’t use maps…what makes us think they’ll NOT show the same behavior with news. And even if they want the printed copy, like Rick asked, who’s going to deliver it.
      A lot is going to happen in the next eight years…I’m still waiting for you to agree on a wager.

    7. Joe Baker Says:

      This all reminds me of the religious groups that keep picking a date for the end of the world.
      The dates keep coming, and yet, somehow the world keeps spinning.
      One of the neat things about being a small town newspaper editor is you also get to deliver your newspapers, and there is no better way to appreciate how your product is embraced than to get out there and get a little ink on your hands (like they did in the good old days).
      Each Tuesday afternoon and evening, I deliver to about 35 vendor locations and the public continues to clamor for their copy of that printed newspaper, just as they did when I did the same job in 1997 — 14 years ago.
      I honestly don’t see much diminished demand. If you produce a quality product, there will be demand for it.
      As for the post office, we don’t need them.
      I ran a free newspaper for a year and we sent our out of county subscriptions first class. We delivered 5,000 free newspapers to 60 vendor locations each week and 95% of them left the racks. Advertisers quickly caught on and ad sales quickly surpassed what we might have brought in through single copy sales and subscriptions. The cost of printing 5,000 newspapers and giving them away is still relatively cheap when compared with the advertising revenue that comes in each week for a product with high visibility and high circulation. If the post office goes away, we will still be able to send out of county subs via UPS or FedEx and as far as the in county readers are concerned, we can put our newspapers in every corner store, restaurant, grocery store, school, park, and baseball field and watch as the readers find a way to get a real, printed newspaper into their hands.
      I also remember experts saying every printed newspaper would be gone by 2005.
      Well, it’s almost 2012, and we’re still here.
      Lots of us are still here.

    8. David Bordewyk Says:

      This is a terrific debate between two experts who probably interact with more community newspaper people across the country and internationally than anyone else. For me, the question is not if or when print will die. The question is: What are community newspapers doing now to extend their incredibly strong brand into a digital world? Or, what should community newspapers be doing to extend their brand digitally? Print will die when print dies, but I believe newspapers of all sizes need to be doing more to build business in a digital world, whatever that may be suitably in their markeplace, for their readers. Unfortunately, I don’t see enough of that happening today.
      As for the two of you, I would PAY to see both of you on stage together debating this topic!

    9. Stephen Guilfoyle Says:

      The reason I think you are wrong is simple. It’s the same reason why community newspapers, compared to medium to large daily papers, are relatively thriving at present.
      People want news. If there is no newspaper, where will they get it?
      It might not be a thriving model in 10 years, but TV and radio stations and Google and Huffpost will have to have SOMEBODY from which to steal the majority of their news content.

    10. Russell Viers Says:

      Stephen, thanks for commenting.
      Nowhere have I said that by 2020 nobody will want news. Nowhere. If you have read that in my blogs, please call me out and I’ll change it.
      The graphs I show in this article don’t say it. Nowhere. Nobody here is saying people won’t want news. The graphs show they won’t want PRINTED news. And the majority of American’s don’t want it today.
      Have you ever broken out your subscription list by age demographic? I’m curious how many papers monitor the ages of their subscribers. If I owned a paper, TODAY I would divide the subscribers into the same age groups I show in this article. How do the numbers fall? Are 50 percent of your subscribers over the age of 60? Are most of them 30-49? Find out. It would be interesting to see if your percentages matched Pews numbers.
      Then do it again next year…and the next…and the next. That’s data. If you are seeing a decline in a certain age demographic, or ALL ages under 65, that is information you can use to steer your company’s future.
      The bottom line message in this blog article, Stephen, is to use data and facts and trends to make your ten-year business plan…not just “what’s worked” and hope.

    11. Russell Viers Says:

      How much? Kevin…you in?

    12. Russell Viers Says:

      Thanks Joe…
      I never said print would be dead by 2005.
      I hope print doesn’t die.
      As a trainer of printed newspapers, it’s not in my best interest for print to die, so don’t think I’m for it or promoting it. I just don’t want papers to wake up in X years and realize that they should have done something sooner.
      Just trying to help.

    13. Lori Freeze Says:

      Having recently attended one of Kevin’s convention sessions, I have to comment. The message I took home wasn’t to keep plugging away obliviously, but to keep doing what we’re doing right at the community level while considering how we can embrace new technology to do it better. I think the demographic stats would be hugely different if you asked where people get LOCAL news about their community. For many of us there isn’t another source, and therein lies our strength and our future. We have to defend that, and convert to more internet delivery at the rate our community is ready for it (and the post office is certainly rushing us to it, yes).

    14. Russell Viers Says:

      Thanks for chiming in Lori.
      So I challenge you, and all community newspapers to GET those stats for your area. As I said earlier in the comments, you can start with your circulation. Divide it up. Benchmark it. Then next year look again. And the next.
      If you want to, you could set up a stand at the County Fair, or at the grocery store and just ask everyone a few simple questions:
      • Age group
      • Two primary sources of news
      • Are they inside or outside of your geographic target market.
      That information would tell you a lot give you REAL data to plan on, which is all I’m asking.

    15. Angie DeAngelo Says:

      I’m with David Bordewyk. Debate on stage would be great!

    16. Angie DeAngelo Says:

      There are plenty of things that happen at my workplace that I have no idea of the costs nor efforts involved to get newspapers to doorsteps.

      But things I do know: I’ve worked at this free weekly shopper for the last 23 years. For the first time in 20 years of my time here we had reduced hours two years ago. Two years in a row we took voluntary shortened hours to keep costs down while classified and display ad supply was down, this was over the course of months.

      The free weekly shopper I work at is not subscription-based (thus, free) nor is it based on news copy – Classifieds, Ads & Fill.

      What does it all mean? I’m not sure. But I (we) realized a few years back we need to tend to our online presence more than we ever did before because of such situations. And that means us competing with Craigslist. So we all have our online demons.

      The one problem with this topic is most of us have come from backgrounds filled with late night or deadline scenarios – presses down, presses stopped because of a breaking story (I worked two years before being here at a daily newspaper) or because an ad was screwed up…scenarios that have caused us to bleed the very black and white print we deal with everyday. It has become beyond personal when we hear ‘newspaper (print) is dead’, it’s like we ourselves are being stabbed in the heart because of this online ease nonsense. And let’s face it, no one likes to be killed.

      So we can stand concreted in the fact that the newspaper business is (almost) dead. Or isn’t.

      But no matter which side of this topic you are on, one thing, in my personal experience, is crystal clear: change is constant, if you refuse that change, you (or your workplace) becomes irrelevant yourself. I have seen enough change in everything we do at our weekly shopper over the past 23 years to know we must brace for the future, no matter what it holds. What better way to do that then to make sure we do all we can for both PRINT and ONLINE?

    17. Joe Baker Says:

      Russell,

      I do appreciate all you have done, and continue to do for our industry, and I understand your warning:

      ADAPT OR DIE!

      The world is becoming digital and we need to find a place in it to continue to be a thriving industry.

      …which is why in addition to all our numerous print tasks, we now als work very hard to keep the content on our web site fresh, interesting and appealing to our audience.

      These days I spend a lot more time behind a video camera or in front of Premiere Elements 9 than with a pen and notepad. The world is changing and we must change with it to remain relevant and fulfill a need.

      Keep up the good work — just because we disagree over the number of years printed newspapers may or may not exist, does not mean we are not on the same team!

    18. admin Says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Joe…
      I guess I’m a bit defensive because I feel my core message in this blog was missed.
      Perhaps it should have simply read: “Do the research before you make a plan…don’t just go with your gut or what has worked all along.”
      I’ve gotten emails and comments defending Kevin. I wasn’t attacking Kevin…merely linking to his column that he wrote and that he speaks about live.
      I’ve gotten emails and comments saying “print isn’t going to die, because in my community….” Good…I hope not.
      Not once, however, has anyone been able to give me any facts that contradict what I’ve presented here (which may very well be garbage when applied to your community).
      My old friend Lori (she’s not really that old) even said in her comment “I think the demographic stats would be hugely different if you asked where people get LOCAL news about their community.” And my point was not to “think” but to research and know.
      I have lots of publishers who tell me “I can’t have a website…most of my readers are over 65.” Uh…what? If most of your readers are over 65, that’s what I’m saying here, and you’re missing a great opportunity in your community with the younger shopper.
      So my point really was to take a hard look at trends, facts, research…as well as researching your own community, to see what the future holds.
      Then bring those FACTS out public so other papers can benefit. “We’re doing fine” isn’t enough data for me to bank on for the next ten years.
      Gotta catch a train…thanks for commenting.

    19. David Blatner Says:

      I’m voting for Russell on this one. However, I do think we’ll see a day that the throw-away newspaper will be replaced with the “valuable newspaper.” That is, when we get that printed thing in the mail (there will still be 2-day a week mail delivery) we’ll carefully go over every page, because it will be so much more rare than the newsbits blasted on screen. Even the 20 year olds will start to appreciate it!

      As for getting them on stage: I like that idea… if the stage is a boxing ring!

    20. Julian Toney Says:

      I can’t speak for all community newspapers, only my own. My numbers and opinion my not match anyone elses, but here it is. My newspaper has been in my family since 1914, beginning with my great grandfather then grandfather then grandmother then me. I have worked here 33 years and owned it 11 years. We have gone from about 1000 mail subscribers to 880 in the 11 years I’ve had it. Some come & go but the majority have been with us for many years. About 40 percent of those are out of county. I have 60 online subscribers. My online subscription is $5 more than my paper subscription and INCLUDES a paper subscription, which protects my circulation. I operate the newspaper, office supply store and commercial printshop with 3 people. I could have a far better news product if the paper is all I did. I really think the future of the community newspaper is stable. I’m not sure I would say bright, but for those who continue to offer good community content, I certainly don’t see them fading away.
      ..

    21. Shari Parsons Says:

      Seems like Mr. Slimp’s quote was misused here. He’s the last person to lead newspapers down the wrong road. Being a leader in advising in the industry for years, both small and large newspapers — rural and big cities, he covers all aspects with a common goal for them to remain successful in print and with whatever is to come. The way it is put here makes it sound like he tells everyone to stick their head in the sand which isn’t the case. No one can predict the future. We might all be wiped off the planet by satellite clutter tomorrow. Especially in small rural areas like where I’m from, there’s a resistance to technology. I can’t see it changing within 8 years. Can’t really see it in our lifetime. Things probably look different in the fast-paced big cities through. When I worked at the local rural paper I can remember when we first got dial-up internet service and I also remember on down the road when the word of dome first went through our office and that was easily 10 years ago or more and they are still at it. They do have a Web site but with limited content as to not kill their print edition in.

      Here, it’s not technology that is causing some papers to struggle. The condition of the economy is harder on them in our neck of the woods as many of the smaller mom-&-pop businesses who used to be regular advertisers are closing their doors.

    22. admin Says:

      Shari…thanks for joining in the discussion.
      I would NEVER accuse Kevin of purposely leading newspapers down the wrong road. We just have a difference of opinion. And I didn’t misuse his quote…I merely quoted what he wrote and put a link to the column. I talked with Kevin on the phone yesterday, we chat regularly, and once again we disagree. He continues to defend his side and I continue to ask for evidence supporting it.
      Let’s get back to the point of my column, which is: Plan your future based on research and facts, not opinion. When Kevin compared the current newspaper crisis to Y2K, that’s opinion.
      All of the comments I see here, as well as the emails I’ve received defending the future of print, are opinion.
      Most of this opinion is based on today, too…not speculation about the future: “TV didn’t put newspapers out of business…radio didn’t put newspapers out of business…and neither will the internet” I’ve heard publishers say, too many times. That’s not data…that’s opinion.
      I have yet to see ANY trends or statistics that can support that print will survive on a wide-spread basis in the year 2020. I’m begging you for it. I want to see it. I want to sleep at night knowing that I can continue as a print expert teaching newspapers how to produce a better newspaper faster. I want to continue teaching how to create better black and whites for print reproduction…better color for print reproduction. I want to continue making a living teaching people how to work with PDFs for ads and printing.
      But I’m not seeing it.
      Help me say “I’m wrong.” Show me statistics that print is on the rise. Show me statistics that support that younger readers are embracing print and by the year 2020 newspapers can expect circulation increases.
      And I’m not talking big-city newspapers. I’m talking even the smallest are going to feel this. If the print product at large dailies, yellow pages, circulars and other products using newsprint dies, it’s going to cause an increase in the price of newsprint. Add to that the cost of postage that looks like, at the very least, ALL newspapers can expect an increase in the cost of printing and distribution. So ask yourself: “how much are my subscribers willing to pay?”
      New York Times says it won’t be printing by 2020. London Telegraph says the same. Detroit Free Press is already not printing daily for subscribers. Others are just getting thinner and thinner. This isn’t my opinion…it’s the way it is. The graphs I put in my article weren’t opinion…they are researched numbers.
      So I ask again…give me so numbers to support print will be alive and strong and I’ll promote it just as strongly…I promise.

    23. Kevin Slimp Says:

      ” And I didn’t misuse his quote…I merely quoted what he wrote and put a link to the column.”

      I liked the way you quoted something that’s not even in the column. Although, it does make people think it’s there if you write it enough. Hmm. That self-fullfilling prophecy at work again.

      That’s Russell Viers research for you. Make up stuff that’s not there.

      I also like the way that Russell’s opinion becomes “research” and anyone else’s is “opinion.”

      Someone in my publishers’ summit (do you ever get invited to lead any of those, russell?) said today, “My newspaper has been in business for over 200 years in print. I see no evidence that that will end in the foreseeable future.”

      Russell, as much as it pains you, 200 years of history is evidence. If I created timelines for the papers in New York today – yes, I surveyed every single one of them and asked their opinions – you’d have papers who average about 100 years of age.

      If you looked at their circulation over those 100 average years – and taking any decline over the past few years, although that would be relatively little – the statistical analysis would indicate that these papers would still be printing …. hmmm… for a few thousand more years.

      Now, I’m not saying that’s realistic. I’m just saying you can make statistics say anything. Seems like I remember my statistics professors teaching us that in college.

      So when you show bar or line graphs, it indicates nothing. Taking just the publishers I met with today, I could create graphs to indicate papers will print long after anyone reading this is dead.

      Doesn’t mean I believe it. Just that statistically, it could be shown to happen.

    24. admin Says:

      Didn’t mean to stat a war here, Kevin.
      This column wasn’t meant to be about you. I was merely putting a link to your column to give an opposing view. I’ve also given you the chance through this forum to continue giving your view.
      I don’t see how I have misquoted you. I’ve pointed out that your side of the debate is that papers will be here, in print, and, based on your most recent comment that’s still how you feel. You stated it in you column when you compared it to Y2K, you stated it on the phone with me yesterday, I’ve seen you say it live and you’re saying it again here. Fine. I’m really not trying to insult you by giving you a voice for your side of the debate.
      Those graphs I show are not mine. They are research done by Pew Research and there are so many other sources out there showing a trend that publishers should be aware of, that I put them here as a wake-up call and ask publishers to begin doing their own research.
      Two hundred years of joust-making doesn’t guarantee a future trend. Two hundred years of powdered wig design doesn’t mean it will last. Where is CompuGraphic today? What are all those Linotype repairmen today? In the history of business, there have been many transitions and the companies that saw the trends and adapted survived…those who insisted “the automobile is a fad” probably didn’t.
      I was reading Newsonomics by Ken Doctor, a newspaper analyst, last night and this jumped out at me: “Over the last five years, U.S. newspaper companies have cut their newsprint usage by 40 percent.” I haven’t seen his research to support this, I’ll take him at his word because what’s really important is the exactness of the figure, for me, but more the fact that there is a steep decline. It’s something we should be aware of. It’s something we should know as we make our ten-year plans.
      If I owned a business that relied on a fleet of trucks, i would watch gas trends and do the best I could to anticipate what might happen in the next five to ten years. If my business was importing from another country, the exchange rate would matter and I would try to watch trends that give me any indication of how the dollar might rise or fall against the currency of where I’m importing from.
      I’m sorry this column caused such a ruckus, Kevin. Never meant any harm. If we had a wager, I still would bet print will be dead by 2020 vs. “a few thousand more years.” (and yes, I know you were just making a point with that figure)

    25. Ken Blum Says:

      A key point after my presentations to the jury in Missouri.

      Community newspapers will not disappear in 2020. However, for the most part they will be in an electronic format on a device I dubbed the eEverything – a descendant of the iPad. GIve the iPad nine years to grow its family and the descendants will be mind boggling.

      The eEverything – less than a pound – will be about the size of a tabloid newspaper, and fold out into the size of a small broadsheet.

      A newspaper page will look much like it does now but with sparkling graphics. Display ads will look much like they do now, but with a ton of features such as video, audio, etc. etc. Pics and video, including ads, will be in 3-D (already available on Smartphones). Touch a 3-D pic of say, a local fire, and it will convert into 3D video. Touch another button and the video will go full screen 3D with remarkable clarity. You’ll feel like you’re there.

      In short, it will make the printed page look like a very dull boy or girl.

      The cost – about $99 which will make it available to the masses. Why so cheap? – the profit will come from people buying apps or iTunes etc. and charges for papers and other media to appear on the devices.

      I love print and have been involved with newspapers since 1968. But the technology for all this is both feasible and on its way. I agree that nine years is an eon for advances in electronics.

      Again, newspapers will thrive in 2020, but on the amazing eEverything.

    26. admin Says:

      Thanks for joining the party, Ken.

    27. Kelli B Says:

      I find it troubling when any \Transition Expert in the publishing world\ (is that what we call you?) begins debates with such divisive language. My thoughts, as a newspaper person for the past 14 years is why not try to be a positive part of the evolution of newspapers. Print is and continues to be a huge part of our small town newspapers success, and here in eastern SD we actually started (OMG) a new PRINT product and are finding a great deal of support among the community. We realize, Dear Transition Expert in the publishing world, that times change, that technologies improve and we, as newspaper people are happy to grow along. I, however, am not happy to have those who are a part of the journey just feed into the bad publicity of industry suicide. Hope sells and negativity is bad for the bottom line. Newspapers will continue to find success in 2020, can you please headline your next post with that?

    28. Angie DeAngelo Says:

      “So when you show bar or line graphs, it indicates nothing.”

      My workplace uses Circulation Verification Council (CVC) – an independent, third-party reporting audit company – to gather statistics for our free weeklies. We use these statics to base what our readers are doing, who our readers are, and what they like about our papers.

      To present these numbers in a bar or line graph helps the masses understand. So it does indicate, something, imho.

      Never having attended college, I didn’t have a statistics professor to tell me these things mean nothing. But I like to think common sense tells me that numbers do demonstrate trends and they are an educational tool we need to use to improve our circulations.

    29. Brent Niemuth Says:

      Russell’s right.

      Mr. Slimp, I don’t know who you are…never heard of you…but the basis of your arguments actually help prove Russell’s point. He’s simply trying to point to facts and trends that don’t bode well for the newspaper industry. And his intention is to HELP those folks in the industry that he loves so dearly. Your arguments are based heavily on emotion, which is what he was trying to exclude from the debate. Your points seem to make a case for Kevin Slimp, not what is best for the future of the newspaper industry.

      The trends speak for themselves, sir. You can choose to debate them, twist them, criticize them, or embrace them. Your choice. But you can’t IGNORE them. That’s all Russell is saying. Pay attention to them. Consider them when planning the future of your paper. That’s all. He’s not attacking you. He’s disagreeing with you. And in this case, he’s right. And you’re wrong.

      My advice to all….listen to Russell and see his point for what it is. It’s not a cry of “the sky is falling.” It’s simply a warning that if you don’t change with the times, you might get left behind.

      This is good advice for anyone in ANY industry.

      Russell, thank you for the thoughtful insights. I look forward to your next posting.

    30. Steve Johnson Says:

      I’ve worked in the printing industry in the UK since the early 1980s, first used a Macintosh plus Aldus PageMaker in 1987. Over the next five years I lost count of the times I was told that that compared with film planning and specialist typesetting the equipment I was using would never be good enough. There would always be film planning, their would always be Linotronics, what I was using was a mere toy; it would never catch on. Ten years later…

      The way information is delivered is changing fast, if you fail to adapt you will fail, and putting your head in the sand will just hurry that failure.

    31. Ciera Choate Says:

      You make some really good points. I am the News Editor at UNC Charlotte’s Niner Times and our website is going through a rough patch. I keep telling everyone “a newspaper is only as good as its website.” Hopefully we will get there one day, but I think people that work in print media, including myself, are afraid. We love the feeling of the paper, and the way our byline looks on that page. We’ve got to get past that though. If a journalist wants to make it in today’s world they have to focus on the online portion and all of the new elements that come with that. More videos, pictures, interactives, etc. The times are changing, and fast. The media, print media, has to do whatever it can to keep up with the times.

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