Teaching Examples

Good news for newspaper Web sites
June 18, 2007, 7:55 pm
Filed under: business, future, news, newspapers, online

Double growth rates — according to a Nielsen//NetRatings study, “the audience for newspaper Web sites is growing at nearly twice the rate of the overall online audience.” The study was described in a press release from the Newspaper Association of America.

“An average of more than 59 million people (37.6 percent of all active Internet users) visited newspaper Web sites each month during the first quarter …” This number set a record, according to NAA, and “represents a 5.3 percent increase over the same period a year ago.” The overall Internet audience grew 2.7 percent during the first quarter, NAA said.

If you’re familiar with the elegant and easy-to-understand diagram of how innovations are adopted, you probably realize that Internet adoption in the U.S. has slowed to a near standstill. That means almost all of the people who are going to use it are already using it. Unless we have a gigantic baby boom, the number of Internet users will probably maintain a very low rate of growth from now until the next big thing (whatever that’s going to be).

According to the NAA, the Nielsen//NetRatings data show that, compared with other Internet users, visitors to newspaper Web sites:

  • Have higher household incomes.
  • Shop online more frequently.
  • Are more likely to hold professional or managerial positions.

Newspaper Web site visitors also “use the Internet more frequently during their daily lives, and are more technologically savvy than the general online audience,” the study found.

Copied from the press release:

  • Nearly 73 percent (72.6 percent) of newspaper Web site visitors go online every day (compared with 57.8 percent of the Internet population as a whole).
  • Nearly 42 percent (41.8 percent) of those who have visited newspaper Web sites have viewed streaming video on their computers in the last 30 days (compared with 27.4 percent of the overall Internet audience).
  • More newspaper Web site visitors read blogs in the past month than the overall Internet population (28.4 percent vs. 16.7 percent).
  • More than one in five (23.3 percent) newspaper Web site visitors have read about politics or political campaign information online (compared with 10.8 percent of the overall Internet population).
  • Nearly 3 in 10 (28.9 percent) newspaper Web site visitors have sought out or posted a product review online in the past month (compared with 16.1 percent of the overall Internet population).

Many more details are in this post at the Digital Edge blog (dated May 7, 2007).

One of the goodies there: “More newspaper Web site visitors had broadband Wi-Fi access at home or at work than the general Internet-using population.”

Well, yeah — they have higher incomes and better jobs than the general population, and that is the demographic that has broadband in the U.S. (Did you know that 53 percent of all U.S. households subscribe to a broadband Internet service at home? That’s where they are watching YouTube!)

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A practical view from a media CEO
June 10, 2007, 10:26 pm
Filed under: business, journalism, newspapers, online

If he were founding Spain’s renowned newspaper El País today, “it probably would not be on paper,” said Juan Luis Cebrián, chief executive officer of both Grupo Prisa and El País.

“It would be something on the Internet, and [along with it] a paper version that could be expected to have some appeal.”

He said the traditional mass media are losing influence, and their weight (power? influence? physical size? The Spanish word he used was peso) “is decreasing and will continue to decrease.”

He predicted that elpais.com will gain 200,000 new users in two to three months.

“I do not believe that newspapers on paper are going to disappear, but they are going to lose the central place they have had in the formation of public opinion,” Cebrián said.

Via Julián Gallo. See story and video of Cebrián’s remarks (June 7) at a conference titled “Foro Sociedad en Red,” which means, if I’m not mistaken, “Network Society Forum.”

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I hope no one has to tell you this …
June 3, 2007, 1:30 pm
Filed under: business, journalism, newspapers, online

Read 10 obvious things about the future of newspapers you need to get through your head — from Ryan Sholin.

It’s a great list, and even though I agree with Ryan that they are, in fact, “obvious,” that doesn’t mean that everyone in journalism knows these. Sad but true.

If there’s anything on the list that does not seem obvious to you, I suggest that you do a little research and get yourself up-to-date — and quickly.

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Pageviews, buh-bye! Better metrics on the way
April 19, 2007, 1:46 am
Filed under: audiences, business, metrics, online

Terry Heaton has the word:

If your web advertising strategy is built around page views, you’re going to have to find another way to sell. We’ve been saying this day would come for a long time, and today, The Wall St. Journal is reporting that Nielsen//NetRatings will drop the page view as a metric to measure web traffic and instead rely more on time spent on a site. ComScore, according to the report, will also begin de-emphasizing page views.

I’ve been saying this for at least a year — and I’m far from alone in that: Pageviews and “unique visitors” don’t measure squat. If you expect to be attractive to advertisers, you’re going to have to show them that people spend more than 30 seconds on your site.

Update (April 19): A few snips from The Wall Street Journal’s article to which Heaton linked:

“Page views as an indicator, or consumption as an indicator, of the vibrancy of the site becomes somewhat obsolete,” said Vivek Shah, president of digital publishing at Time Warner Inc.’s Time Inc. business-and-finance network. “It seems a bit of a relic.”

Peter Daboll, Yahoo Inc.’s head of global market research, said last year that page views had outgrown their usefulness.

“We all need to help to wean the industry off the crutch of familiar metrics in favor of more accurate and representative ones,” Mr. Daboll wrote in a blog.


One of the major interactive-research companies, NetRatings Inc.’s Nielsen/NetRatings, in June will release what it calls “time-spent” data and stop issuing its rankings by page views. The New York company’s rival, comScore Inc. said last month that it is emphasizing a measurement called “visits,” which takes into account the time people return to surf a Web site in a month.

“We don’t expect it to go away,” Jack Flanagan, executive vice president of comScore, said about the page-view yardstick, adding that “we really wanted to provide a measure that really gets towards the engagement of the user with the Web sites.”

The catalyst for the change is new technology that automatically refreshes Web sites. Ajax [also here] — used by Web sites hosted by Yahoo, CBS Corp., Time’s Sports Illustrated and many others — cuts the number of clicks needed to see the same amount of information.

At Time Warner’s CNNMoney, Ajax lets Web surfers follow the ups and downs of stock prices without manually reloading the page. The problem for publishers is that such ability translates into one page view, leaving Web publishers worried about their numbers.

That is the argument that was trotted out by Yahoo when News Corp.’s interactive sites — including the social-networking site MySpace — overtook Yahoo last November as the top Web site by pages viewed, according to comScore, of Reston, Va. Yahoo responded that its page views had dropped because it uses Ajax in its email service to refresh incoming messages.

“Honestly, page views have always had a hole,” said Scott Ross, senior product manager of Nielsen/NetRatings’s NetView service. Page views also don’t measure instant messaging, flash technology and online video. Publishers also can skew their page view numbers by, for example, spreading a long news story into three screens instead of one.

How it will affect the bottom line:

As advertisers ramp up spending on the Internet, the issue will increase in importance.

“Data right now is the holy grail for online advertising,” said Chris Portella, associate media director with Organic, a digital-marketing agency owned by Omnicom Group Inc.

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Does Tampa have the right idea?
April 12, 2007, 2:08 pm
Filed under: business, Florida, journalism, newspapers

Followthemedia says The Tampa Tribune’s plan to reorganize its priorities and workflows just might be a good blueprint for other metro dailies too.

The Tribune is catching up on all the things that many metropolitan newspapers have done before it — outsourcing back office jobs (classified advertising telephone sales, circulation, customer service), changing page width, getting rid of zoned sections, finding various ways to lessen the print news hole, reduce circulation area, reduce staff etc. — but there is a plan to go with that to improve local and citizen reporting within existing community papers and especially on the web site.

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The newspaper business in Florida
April 11, 2007, 12:37 pm
Filed under: business, Florida, newspapers, online

There are 204 newspapers in the Florida Press Association (which provides handy links to the newspapers’ Web sites). Of those, 46 are dailies. The State Library of Florida lists 55 dailies in our state (also with links).

One is a truly great newspaper, the St. Petersburg Times (circ. 327,390). It’s often held up as a model for its independence, as a result of the legacy of Nelson Poynter, whose dad bought the Times in 1912. The younger Poynter went on to buy the paper’s stock from his father and also became its editor. His conviction: “There is a direct relationship between excellence and profit” (source). When he died, Nelson Poynter bequeathed all his stock in the newspaper to the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit educational institution.

Five others are large newspapers: The Miami Herald (circ. 316,158), the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (circ. 252,139), The Tampa Tribune (circ. 226,315), the Orlando Sentinel (circ. 221,184) and The Florida Times-Union (circ. 172,901). (Source for circulation numbers.) You can argue about whether they are great or were once great. They are owned by these newspaper chains, respectively: McClatchy Co., Tribune Co., Media General, Tribune Co. and Morris Communications Co. (For many years, Knight Ridder slowly squeezed the Herald until it had almost nothing left.)

A couple (the Naples Daily News, for innovation, and the Fort Myers News-Press, for its mojos) have garnered widespread attention for their online work. Scripps owns the Naples paper. Gannett owns the Fort Myers paper.

Florida used to be touted as the epicenter of convergence. Executives from newspapers in other states paid big bucks to come here on field trips and look at the fancy buildings where TV and print journalists mingled in the same newsroom.

But today, when 70 employees of The Tampa Tribune are losing their jobs, I have to think that Nelson Poynter was right.

It’s not that independence or private ownership will automatically save newspapers. And I don’t think it’s impossible for a chain-owned newspaper to be good. But I do believe that excellence will lead to profit. Excellence in content, in journalism, in reporting. Excellence in public service. Excellence in usability — and utility.

Profit seeking for its own sake can never lead to excellence.

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MSNBC.com repositions itself
April 4, 2007, 1:18 pm
Filed under: business, news, online

From The Wall Street Journal (April 2, 2007):

MSNBC.com, the No. 2-ranked news Web site behind Yahoo News, is starting its first branding ad campaign this week. Instead of selling itself as a “breaking news” destination, as it once did, the site is trying to highlight the range of news and entertainment it offers. Spots in print, on TV, outdoors and online will carry the tagline “A Fuller Spectrum of News,” highlighting both MSNBC.com’s original reporting and its partnerships with news outlets such as NBC, Newsweek and the Washington Post. MSNBC.com, jointly owned by Microsoft and NBC Universal, is spending $4 million on the campaign …

The marketing push comes as MSNBC.com’s market position, long one of the strongest in the news sector thanks to its Microsoft ties, shows signs of strain. MSNBC.com’s traffic fell 3% in February, despite strong growth in the overall news category, according to comScore Media Metrix. Yahoo News, CNN.com, FoxNews.com and AOL News each posted double-digit percentage gains.

Via Fimoculous.

“A Fuller Spectrum of News,” eh? I’m not sure the word “fuller” is very graceful, but the idea is interesting. Steve Krug talks about the value of a tagline in his fabulous book Don’t Make Me Think (2nd edition: 2005). Haven’t read it? No one should design a Web site without it.

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