Spring has arrived, and with it, renewed signs of life in the newspaper industry.
In the past two months News & Tech has reported on plans by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Free-Press to upgrade their printing infrastructures with new press equipment. The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, meantime, will launch a new print product this summer to fill the gap left by its move to scaled-back print days for the flagship paper. (You can find the full story on The Times-Pic’s forthcoming TPStreet on page 5.)
Beyond the core print product, publishers are also making major investments in online and digital ventures. Among them, The Dallas Morning News and DigitalFirst Media, with the launch of digital service businesses from which they’re beginning to see significant profits. Tribune Co. and The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune have recently signed on with Hearst’s LocalEdge unit to roll out similar services (see our story on page 10.)
And publishers around the world are also beginning to identify the right mix of offerings – including video — to drive online readership (see our story on page 8).
If you attended INMA’s 83rd Word Congress in New York at the end of April, I don’t have to tell you that the vibe was decidedly positive — a nice change for an industry that’s been reeling since the Great Recession hit.
“If you came here for gloom and doom, you picked the wrong group,” INMA CEO Earl Wilkinson told INMA attendees. And he was certainly right. There was no room for negativity amidst the exchange of ideas and strategies taking place between newspaper execs from around the globe.
Among the takeaways from the three-day conference: After much noise and distraction in the industry over the past several years, newspapers are refocusing on, and reinvesting in their core mission: journalism. And that will lead to quality content, no matter the platform.
For many publishers, including The Dallas Morning News and The Financial Times, that means having the freedom to invest in new revenue streams without being paralyzed by the fear of failure. No doubt new endeavors — if they aim to be successful and sustainable — must be an all-in proposition in terms of support that starts at the top of the ranks. In any business, finding the recipe for success begins with a commitment from the highest level.
But it’s only when publishers realize that the commitment to quality journalism and quality products offers the straightest path back to profitability that they’ll ultimately succeed in this industry’s ever-changing landscape.