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Where are the Local Newspapers?

4:33 pm on Dec 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The newspaper industry is established and mature.

They function to aggregate and distribute content and sell ads. And they understand local markets.

Where are the Local Newspapers in Local Search?

How is your city's primary paper doing online?

Will a few acquisitions thrust them in leading local technology, user, and ad sales positions?

Or is their best bet to parter the y/g majors for local tools and ad sales channels?

If executed properly can't they possess superior deep and rich local content with best of breed ad serving capabilities utilizing their user and business profiling data?

5:00 pm on Dec 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Interesting question
I have seen some that are very successfull in usage of the net to gain visitors and possibly readership through use of mild seo techniques and being in Google news
In WI where i am only 3 newspapers appear to have an idea out of many hundreds and one of those is not based in WI but has made effort to include WI news

most of the local newspapers appear to have websites but have not used apart from as a basic marketting tool

in another area I monitor where a large number of the local newspapers are owned and controlled by a big player the difference is astounding and seo / sem is used heavily and sites are well moniterised with advertising to help with offset any losses from tradittional means of income
needless to say they appear for many local searches across wide area of keywords

We may yet see local newspapers become major players in local search due to authoritive / local readership / and trusted source


5:28 pm on Dec 12, 2004 (gmt 0)


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The trials of one local newspaper.

This paper is for a town of 90k (40k are students), but due to the ruralness of the location, the target offline audience is very roughly 350k.

They realized this internet thing was a good idea. So, they put their entire newspaper on the web. They did run some banners, but they didn't quite understand how to monetize their traffic.

Their new subscriptions and renewals dropped. Everyone was reading the paper for free online - why pay for it?

They removed their classified ads & some featured articles from their website in hopes of increasing subscriptions. Their subscription rate went up, but their web visitors dropped considerably.

Next, they put all the content back on the website, but gave additional logins to those with subscriptions. It seems if you have both a paper and web version of classifieds, people would rather read the classifieds while watching the NFL rather than surfing the web (Almost half of their classified readers were Sunday, with Wednesday being the next big day).

So, in order to please both web surfers and subscribers, they removed the classifieds, some 'back page' articles, and login from the website, but partnered with a service for online job searches. This gave both the website and newspaper value.

However, they still weren't making enough from their website to justify it's existence. At this point in time (they are a local paper - not necessarily internet savvy), they realized they were trying to cater to a single audience - their readers - instead of catering to two different audiences - offline and online readers.

They classified offline readers into three groups.
1. Those who like the weekend papers only. This audience might log onto their website during the week to get some local news. They were professionals who didn't have time for the paper during the week, but did want to relax with an actual paper on the weekends.

2. Those who received the paper everyday. This group was highly unlikely to use their website. However, if this group wanted a job/car/etc - they might log onto the website todo local searches in addition to reading the paper.

3. Those who bought the paper from newsstands. This group really has two sections. Those who buy the paper everyday and fall into category 2 or those who were more likely to use the website often, but when they had the time, wanted the local paper.

This gave them an entirely new perspective on their direction.

They then classified website users into two groups.

1. Those who read the website often. They were unlikely to have a paid subscription, and removing services just annoyed this group.

2. Those who found the website through search. They were more likely to be outside of the local area, but reading the news for a large variety of reasons.

They did take an intelligent approach and not completely separate out the audiences, they wanted to cross brand their services. However, it also told them they needed non local sources of income for their website traffic.

This led to partnering with several other companies for classifieds on real estate, cars, jobs, etc. In addition, they ran some contextual advertising as well as banners on the site. This gave them several ways of making money on their website traffic instead of just relying on offline subscriptions and trying to sell 'additional listings' on their website for their offline classifieds.

To help promote cross traffic, they started putting strategic ads in their own paper for events (i.e. To get tickets to see X, look at our exclusive online article, and this article would have an affiliate link.)

They ran ads for car and real estate finders in their paper to make it "easier" to search their website to find the house of one's dreams.

The separation of their audience, and the different streams of income for both the paper and the website have worked out well.

As with all of us, they are still learning how to brand local traffic with global internet services - but after 6 years of struggling back and forth, they are finally getting a solid grasp of local traffic and how to grow in the future.

6:38 pm on Dec 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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eWhisper, thanks. Great information!

Chicago, have you looked into the smaller gazettes that circulate within towns and cities, usually for free?

Every time I think 'local', I automatically think on these. For some reason, they seem to be a lot closer to the local scene -wherever this is- than most major local newspapers. They seem to be more personal too.

For anything local I have always favored them. And after having used their resources for commercial purposes, I realized they had a great knowledge on how to insert themselves deep into community issues. Great examples are 'New Times' or 'Village Voice'. They are no small chunk. New Times is in dozens of metropolitan areas.

These 'Newsweeklies' are almost exclusively 'local' and also they seem to be able to pick up the more lively stuff, which many newspapers may often reject due to their associations. Can you make a comparison and comment on the validity of these as opposed to just newspapers?

7:53 pm on Dec 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for your thoughts.

Local Search: A Strategy for Newspapers [kelseygroup.com]

A Fantastic Article written by Greg Sterling, Program Director, The Kelsey Group in October 2004, his strategy identified the following:

Enhance the jobs, cars and real estate areas of sites with more content and features. For example, would-be homebuyers should be able to access the MLS through newspapers sites (now possible in isolated cases).

Add more local business information through the addition of Yellow Pages databases. These are widely available (e.g., from InfoUSA) and companies such as IPIX and Interchange offer enhanced data, with advanced local search functionality. These data are also available via partnerships with Yellow Pages publishers.

Many sites have Yellow Pages listings, but these are separated from classifieds. Local classified and directory listings information should be integrated or at least available via a single search interface.

Add state-of-the-art mapping functionality (e.g., MapQuest, NavTech and Telcontar).

Offer local product search (e.g., ShopLocal, StepUp.com). ShopLocal is currently available through Gannett Co., Knight Ridder Inc. and Tribune Co. sites, as well as some other newspaper affiliates.

Add community content (e.g., ratings/reviews, social networking).

Provide related Web search, featuring an index of locally relevant sites extending beyond home-grown editorial content and directory/classified listings.

The article is definately worth a read. And your thoughts appreciated.

9:27 pm on Dec 12, 2004 (gmt 0)


WebmasterWorld Administrator webwork is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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News is a medium for selling advertising.

When I heard a newsman offer that interpretation of 'the business' it recontextualized my view of 'the news'.

A news corporation is about serving the advertisers and showing them a ROI. For most news outlets/channels the chemistry of life is simple: 'No advertisers = No news source'.

So much for my interpretation of the noble art of the newsman. And to think: I started college as a journalism major ;0(

The medium that serves the advertisers a better ROI wins. That, in part, explains Rupert's (temporary) success. He's taken 'news' to its logical next step for the bored, feckless, angry, etc. couchbound radiorapt masses: Newstertainment.

We'll all go along with the blurring of the lines for awhile but eventually (one can only hope) we'll long for some meat to be served with our potato flakes. The tired, depressed, overwhelmed and underpaid masses will continue to consume newslite but their purchasing power will define the advertising opportunity and industry income. In newslite it's a rush to the bottom. At a certain level of success newslite either has to cause brain damage or only have appeal to those who already suffer from it. Perhaps at some point the NIH, FDA or NSA will weigh in and outlaw newslite. (On the otherhand, it does serve as an opiate for the masses so I may be entirely wrong about what the powers-that-be will support.)

Local newspapers are DOA but don't know it yet. City papers will last a bit longer, but they'll evolve. Holding onto a newspaper will be a comfort, a habit thing for an aging demographic.

This too shall pass.

It's all about ROI for advertisers. Show them results and say good-bye to the less efficient medium. At a certain point the inefficiencies of local print media will yield a low enough ROI for all that local print media will wither and die.

[edited by: Webwork at 9:45 pm (utc) on Dec. 12, 2004]

9:33 pm on Dec 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The article reflects a window of opportunity.

The idea that newspapers should stem the entire 'local' game into a standalone new brand is significant. It means that anyone who has some clout and local leverage -regarding information- could step in.

Newspapers may get caught in battling user's perception (and advertisers) that considers them just as news -local, national and foreign- and not an overall resource for local affairs so lighter and more flexible entrepreneurs may run ahead. As stated in the article, many of the resources needed to provide local information are already available -for a fee- by online providers (your other thread).

Newspapers may also have to fight their own way of perceiving things and be too slow to reposition themselves. They could also consider local searches something still in its infancy, not worthy of attention. It won't be the first time that century old business models face problems adapting to a new way of doing things. The article is actually inspiring in that it presents a potential, profitable opportunity where dominant players seem to be missing.

10:16 pm on Dec 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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working in the industry, i can tell you that newspapers move ... slow. also, right now they're battling for control of verticals (primarily cars, real estate and employment...) this is where they got a lot of money in print (classifieds), but now there are internet only companies pushing into this space.

personally, i see the newspaper as an 'information company' who should be getting into search, but unfortunately i don't make high level decisions for F500 companies ;)

i just wonder if by moving too slow newspapers are going to lose the war for local online...



5:01 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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"Local newspapers are DOA but don't know it yet. City papers will last a bit longer, but they'll evolve. Holding onto a newspaper will be a comfort, a habit thing for an aging demographic."

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is, simply put, nonsense.

If the local weekly is the ONLY source of information about the county, whether they have a website or not is immaterial. There's a daily that has a four page section covering three other counties besides this one, that has ONE reporter for two of those counties, so expecting any substantial information about this county from it has to be a joke -- and if they don't have the information in their print edition, they're certainly not going to put it on their website. Recent case in point: it took four days to find out who won a local playoff game.

The ONLY time the "local" television stations (all located 1.5 hours from here) ever come to the county is either a) a grizzly murder/trial, b) a big fire or c) they need one of those cutesy "lets show how dumb those hicks up in the mountains are" stories.

We have cable Internet access, DSL, and even wireless -- but what's that got to do with the newspaper? If the local paper is the only game in town anyway, why would they make the commitment to giving away what they sell? Why would they want to reduce their profitability by increasing their costs with no relatively immediate return on the investment?

When radio became popular enough for everyone to have one in their homes, the demise of newspapers was right around the corner. When television came into homes, people were predicting that newspapers would disappear within a decade. It takes a computer with some relatively cheap software, a laser printer, a cheap digital camera and a card table, and a few hundred bucks for the printer, and you can be in the newspaper business.

DOA? Not by a long shot.

6:31 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Have you read this [webmasterworld.com] thread yet?
2:52 am on Dec 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Better late than never: On August 18, 2004, Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), Knight Ridder, Inc. (NYSE: KRI) and Tribune Company (NYSE: TRB) acquired CrossMedia Services and launch ShopLocal.com

"ShopLocal uses a zip-code search engine that allows users to find stores within a specific radius. Shoppers can search by product category, store or brand name. The site is updated daily to reflect current sales. It also allows consumers to create personal shopping lists online that they can print and bring to stores. In addition, consumers can set up e-mail sale alerts for key items and stores.

ShopLocal enables Gannett, Knight Ridder and Tribune to provide a new online shopping channel that promotes local sales and deals; deliver more value to local, regional and national retailers through online promotions of sales, product offerings and other store promotions; and provide consumers another valuable, local resource for "what's on sale?" and other great values."

Tribune Interactive Press 8/18/04

3:02 am on Dec 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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will there be (or is there) a localized froogle?

what are people's thoughts on shoplocal? does it 'compete'?

11:22 pm on Dec 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Online classifieds site Craigslist costs the Bay Area's traditional newspapers, and their online divisions, between $50 and $65 million annually in revenues from employment ads alone, according to a report by Bob Cauthorn, former digital media VP at SFGate.com, the site for the San Francisco Chronicle.

In the report, Cauthorn says Bay Area newspaper executives can only blame themselves for losing their leadership position, "because they took no action and listened instead to the arguments inspired by fear, lack of vision, and short-sighted greed."

Study: Craigslist Costs Bay Area Newspapers $50M/Year [clickz.com]
ClickZ News 12/27 Pamela Parker


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