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Aug 28, 2008

Big, Ailing Newspaper Bails On Associated Press

I've converted a local newspaper group from a legacy CMS system to a publishing system based on the open blog platform. The publisher eliminates bandwidth, CMS bugs, server load, server capacity, and infrastructure costs. The feature benefits are a modern publishing service with RSS feeds, community comments, dynamic widgets, and instant control over published content - without wasting time chasing consultants, service providers, and writers. 

How did the publisher and I persuade the staff to change?

Obama may think the population wants change, but the newspaper staff hates change. With busy, regular schedules, there is no time left for learning new methods and dealing with the hundreds of small problems that occur because of change. 
  • The staff felt that blogging was not publishing. They are correct. 95% of blogs are personal diaries. However, the 5% operated by professionals have slowly changed user perceptions. Blogs like Techcrunch, Gawker, Cnet, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Engadet produce more news than traditional journalists. Efficiency from self publishing accelerates content to readers. Openness promotes reader, writer communications without editorial control. It's a matter of time before legacy CMS will be replaced by open blog platforms.
  • The staff had concerns of the look and feel of a blog. We provided custom CSS, templates, images, and javascript to both emulate the old system and make improvements that the staff always wanted.
  • The long term view is that paper is expensive and wasteful. Paper and distribution has become an increasing percentage of advertising revenues. As oil prices rise to increase lumber, paper, printing, and distribution costs, the long term view is simple. Even if subscribers prefer paper, newspapers cannot sustain based on a paper model alone. Whether 1 year, 2 years, 10 years - paper is dead.
  • Personal services assure a smooth transition. Our availability to solve day to day, moment to moment problems made the difference. Our focus is to make the staff self sufficient. Once they learn all the details, blogging reduces steps, coordination with outside services, and saves time for every staff member. Free time is good in the fast pace world of publishing.
  • Of course, the publisher is motivated by the new tEarn advertising model. 50 to 100 fold lift in eCPM is the key for new growth for local newspapers.
Are you ready for web 2.0 advertising and publishing?

Big, Ailing Newspaper Bails On Associated Press

printingpress.jpgRemember way back when, way back in June, when there was a big blogosphere hubbub about the Associated Press not letting bloggers regurgitate its copy without compensation? Whatever became of that? In any case, amidst the fuming and harrumphing,Dorian Benkoil pointed out the AP's real problem wasn't that it had irked some bloggers -- it was that the co-operative's own members might be bailing on it.

Smart guy. Editor & Publisher:

The Star Tribune of Minneapolis has become the latest, and so far the largest, daily newspaper to inform the Associated Press that it plans to drop the service in two years.

MinnPost.com reports that the paper informed AP that it will no longer use the service as of the fall of 2010. AP requires that member newspapers give two years' notice before dropping the service.

The Star Tribune joins a string of other daily papers who have either given notice or revealed plans to cut the service in recent months. Those include The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash.; The Post Register of Idaho Falls; The Bakersfield Californian; and The Yakima Herald-Republic and Wenatchee World, both in Washington.

The recent decisions to drop AP service follow a planned AP rate structure change, which was announced in 2007 and takes effect in 2009. The rate change has already prompted complaints from numerous newspapers, including two groups of editors who wrote angry letters to AP to complain in late 2007 and early 2008.

As MinnPost and E&P point out, this isn't a philosophic dispute, just one about price. And we're not convinced that the Strib will really walk away -- it's sort of hard to imagine what they'll fill their pages with if they don't have AP copy. Then again, the Strib's free fall has been steeper than most mid-sized daily papers, which means that it's been plummeting like a stone over the last decade. So perhaps Avista Capital, the NY-based PE company that has been bleeding money ever since it bought the paper in early 2007, thinks it can find an even cheaper news source. Where would that be?

See Also: The AP's Biggest Problem Isn't Bloggers. It's Its Own Newspapers

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