2. Mainstream Media
3. Online News
5. Broadcast Media
6. Twitter & Social Networking
7. Online Reputation Management
9. New York Times
Wall St. Journal
2021 Track Record
2020 Track Record
2019 Track Record
2018 Track Record
2017 Track Record
2016 Track Record
2015 Track Record
2014 Track Record
2013 Track Record
2012 Track Record
2003 Track Record
2002 TrendReport Q3-Q4
2002 Track Record 2002 Q1-Q2
2002 TrendReport Q1-Q2
Media Predictions for 2009
What are "Newspapers" when they're no longer printed on paper?
- We will need a new definition of "newspaper" as many publications
shift to an online-only format, dropping the "paper" part of their business.
we suggest calling them "newssites" (based on the soon-to-be outdated
newsstand). Calling them "dailies" isn't appropriate either, given a
24/7 news cycle.
Mainstream Media (MSM) will experience at least five changes:
- Dozens of secondary newspapers and magazines will shift to an online-only
model in 2009. Already this year, FinancialWeek announced that it is
shifting to online-only this month. The benefits of the online-only
model include substantial savings since they no longer have to print,
mail and deliver content to newsstands and homes. The downside: They
lose three revenue streams display and classified advertising
from the print edition as well as subscription fees and now rely
on online advertising to fund their operations. Online subscription
fees have worked for only select media even the New York Times
couldn't make a fee-based plan work.
- Traditional media that continue to publish print editions will update
their formats to include more maps, graphics, lists, ranking and stats,
along with shorter articles. These print editions will also be shorter,
with some papers including the Denver Post and Boston Globe
having shed stand-alone business sections. The same holds true for magazines.
As Fortune tech reporter, David
Kirkpatrick wrote on Twitter: "An indicator of the sorry state of
the economy and the magazine industry: the new issue of Time
a mere pamphlet." (Don't forget: Time and Fortune are published
by the same company! And Fortune's current issue is pretty thin, too.)
- These stand-alone smaller business sections are not likely to achieve
their publishers' goal. They are more difficult for readers to find,
and provide less coverage of business at a time when the economy is
undergoing seismic shocks a time when people need to more closely understand
what's happening and how it impacts them. These smaller sections will
also be less interesting to advertisers, too, because readers may easily
skip over them.
- The value of content is changing. Traditionally, the value of the
entire newspaper or magazine was worth a lot. Now, individual articles
(available often by RSS feeds, Tweets, Google or other search engines)
are worth more than the newspaper as a whole because technology has
enabled us to consume only that which really interests us. It's more
efficient this way, but paging through a newspaper ensures you get a
broader sense of what's going on. It's a more niche world.
- Stringers and citizen journalists will become more important. Because
of staff cutbacks and bureau closings, Mainstream Media (MSM) may not
be able to find and send reporters or crews to cover breaking, important
news outside their immediate region. The coverage of the tragic shootings
in Mumbai is an example where MSM, including some of the biggest names
in journalism, relied on first-hand local reports. For example, CNN
uses footage from iReport, and has been posting citizen video footage
since Hurricane Katrina. Expect this trend to continue.
- Expect to see fewer launches of new magazines, and to see some struggling
media to call it quits in 2009. Remember that circulation is irrelevant
to the publisher's decision to discontinue a magazine if its ad pages/revenue
drop. Over the past 18 months, some magazines with circulations in the
hundreds of thousands closed because the advertisers stopped buying
Online news faces bumps
- Online newssites are not immune to the ad slowdown. According to
ValleyWag, the Gawker-owned Silicon
Valley gossip site, "LiveJournal,
the San Francisco-based arm of Sup, a Russian Internet startup, has
cut about 20 of 28 employees and offered them no severance, we're
told." Expect more layoffs from this part of the sector.
Local news becomes hyperlocal
- Local coverage continues to be the name of the game for regional
news organizations. Hyperlocal is the new local, with news about communities
operating within a local market being the forefront of hyperlocal coverage,
- Local competition in the online space will heat up. Circulation figures
for local weeklies probably will remain stable, but online competition
will increase. In New England, Boston.com
i s competing more aggressively with Gatehouse Media's WickedLocal.com
to the extent that the latter is suing the former for having
too many pointers on Boston.com to WickedLocal.
Broadcast media will continue to see significant changes:
- Niche is the new normal, especially for broadcast. Due to the proliferation
of social media sites, people are more likely to subscribe or search
for news and information specifically targeting their interests. As
Portfolio magazine says: "There's something for everyone, but nothing
for everyone." This will make it difficult for marketers to reach broad
audiences, with only a few events each year like the Super Bowl
and the Academy Awards that reach across demographics and interest
groups. In fact, that's why we predict that Jan. 20th will be the single
biggest media event this year everyone will cover the Obama inauguration.
- Increasingly, people will access TV shows with their computers as
opposed to watching the shows when they air. For example, there were
1.4 million viewers of the Couric-Palin
interview on YouTube and more
than 4 million of the SNL
skit that's the power of YouTube and Hulu.com.
NY Times' David Pogue already suggested consumers could save money by
disconnecting cable, and logging onto the Internet instead to get network
feeds and local news coverage.
- Local cable/TV operators will have a bumpy road because of a significant
double whammy: Both advertisers and viewers are fleeing. Local broadcasters
will need to find a way to cut costs which means more layoffs
while stemming the tide of departing viewers. One way may be
to follow the lead of NBC, which realized that airing the new Jay Leno
show five nights a week at 10pm is cheaper than airing five original
60-minute dramas (even with Jay's $30 million salary). Local TV may
find that whatever time they have can be best/inexpensively filled by
will get stronger but many come down with social networking fatigue (SNF)
- More organizations will jump onto the Twitter bandwagon. However,
many will encounter the same problems as with corporate blogs:
We recently saw a Twitterite whose job is audience development for a
major media outlet whose tweets consisted only of featured articles
in the publication. The person had 1,612 tweets, but only 44 followers.
In comparison, the magazine's official Twitter feed has more than 12,000
tweets, and more than 600 followers. It's a lot of effort with not much
payoff. What companies need to understand is that Twitter and social
networks are about engaging in conversations.
- How often to maintain them?
- Who should maintain them?
- How do you measure a successful program?
- What's the proper balance between communicating the company's
interest vs. being so self-serving that no one "follows" them?
- Social networking will continue to grow, but expect a social networking
backlash to start. After all, with Twitter,
LinkedIn, and Plaxo,
how many ways do we need to connect to the same people? We're feeling
social networking fatigue (SNF) based on getting contacts on two different
sites from someone we don't know. Meanwhile, the challenge for some
sites, like Twitter and Plaxo, is that they have yet to monetize their
communities, user base, etc. How long can Twitter survive without generating
a revenue stream? The backlash will also affect sites designed to help
with lead generation but contain wrong information. There are a number
of such sites like Spoke.com, Lead411, JigSaw.com. Spoke.com included
a number of people as Birnbach employees who actually work at an acquired
client of ours; that's the most egregious, but most of these sites contain
misinformation. (Since they're for lead gen, we have not corrected most
of the mistakes we've found.)
Online reputation management becomes more important
- Online reputation management will be much more in-demand function
due to the proliferation of sites and ways that people can post information,
reviews, etc. about their experiences. For some companies, including
Dell and Comcast, online reputation management becomes part of the customer
service function. In fact, while understanding and working with social
networking sites has been the purview of PR departments and their agencies,
there will likely be more of a push by sales and customer service departments
and HR departments to be in charge of social networking. In fact, because
of media, customer relations and recruiting needs, all three functions
(PR, HR and sales) should be working together to maintain and enhance
their online reputation.
The Kindle will continue to sell to early adopters
- The Kindle will continue to sell to early adopters, but it's still
more like a beta of what's ahead: bigger, more colorful screens, easier
ways to share articles to other users, even a text-to-speech or audio
book option so you can throw your book in the car. We expect e-books
to become bigger in 2010.
The New York Times will survive, but will have a tough 2009
- The Times will be faced with two obstacles as it seeks this year
to solve its Boston Globe problem, since the Globe is losing an estimated
$52 million per year:
- Internal problem: The entire company is now worth less than the
$1.1 billion it paid for the Boston Globe. (As of Jan. 6, its market
cap is $1.09 billion; it had been less than $900 million in Nov.
2008). It's difficult to write off that much money, but the company
has taken other drastic steps such as cutting dividends to conserve
cash and taking out a mortgage on its new headquarters. How much
is it worth to them to unload the Globe?
- External problem: Even at a distressed, Times-financed purchase
price, who will want to takeover the Boston Globe? After all, if
the Times can't make the Globe profitable, who can?
- In terms of the Times itself, the challenge is that its attempt
to sell online-subscriptions failed several years ago. It's going
to need to find ways to increase the value it provides its advertisers,
such as its new ad across the bottom of the front page. That said,
we don't think the Sulzbergers will sell the Times, as the Bancroft
family sold the Wall St. Journal to News Corp.
Rupert Murdoch will make more changes to the Wall Street Journal in 2009
- So far, Rupe has not corrupted the Journal entirely. (The dire predictions
from News Corp critics have not been fulfilled.) Despite initial murmurs,
don't expect the Journal to give up its lucrative online subscription
fee; in fact, it just raised the fee last year. We don't see much value
for readers of the new WSJ Magazine; it seems like a high-end lifestyle
concept in search of advertisers.
The Associated Press will consider substantial changes to its model.
- A number of papers have given the AP notice that they want to cancel
their participation in the AP. Most of these are smaller papers
like the Bakersfield Californian, Idaho Falls Post Register, Yakima
Herald-Republic and Wenatchee World seeking to renegotiate down
the fees they pay. But some big papers like the Tribune Co. (parent
of the LA Times and Chicago Tribune) and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune
(no relation) have also given notice.
- On the one hand, many papers seem to rely on wire service coverage
even more in 2009, thanks to closing bureaus in Washington, DC, and
foreign capitals. On the other hand, the renewed focus on local coverage
means that one article appearing multiple times no longer makes sense.
After all, when searching on a topic on Google News, how many links
to the same article do you need?
- All this means is that the AP needs to re-evaluate who it serves
and how it serves them.
Tell us what you think. Did we get it right? Are we way
off base? Drop us a note at email@example.com.