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Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Transition Journey From The Print World To The Net

With Newspaper circulation continues to decline,it forces them to think in new ways and sometimes taketough decisions. The newspaper industry, already suffering from circulation problems . Around the world, newspapers face the prospect of an accelerated drop in circulation. The slide is fueling an urgent industry discussion about whether the trend can be halted in a digital age and is forcing newspaper executives to rethink their traditional strategies.

Profits from the paper have been declining for four years, and the Times company's market cap has been shrinking, too. Its share lags far behind the benchmark, Arthur Sulzberger, owner, chairman and publisher of NYTimes,the most respected newspaper in the world found that his business is losing money. Sulzberger says he is focusing on how to best manage the transition from print to Internet. The Times, in fact, has doubled its online readership to 1.5 million a day to go along with its 1.1 million subscribers for the print edition.

He says the New York Times is on a journey that will conclude the day the company decides to stop printing the paper will mark the end of the transition. It's a long journey, and he realizes that there will be bumps on the road. He admits that while classifieds have long been a major source of income to the press, but the business is moving to the Internet.

Some interesting perspectives shared therein:

- What papers lose, Web sites gain.
- As Internet advertising doesn't involve paper, ink and distribution, companies can earn the same amount of money even if it receives less advertising revenue.
- The costs of development and computerization - he adds that time when NYT made a major investment in print, it cost no less than $1 billion, site development costs don't grow to that magnitude.
- Some notable differences - The average age of readers of the New York Times print edition is 42, and that hasn't changed in 10 years while the average age of readers of its Internet edition is 37.
He would like to see the Times as a curator of news and that special position would attract more online subscribers.

As I see it, The NYT is a pioneer and is taking the right steps but putting their news behind firewalls does not look like a positive step and the NYT needs to really assess whether the growth that they are seeing in the online world is really all that great considering the global reach of the internet. The Alexa Trends of NYTimes.com are not exactly encouraging. As I wrote previously, the future of newspapers is to change from a news organization into a news community. Readers would like to do a lot more with news. They would like to see the different angles of a story. They would like to understand it. They would like to know what it means for them. They would like to know how to deal with the consequences. The Magazine section of the NYT may also face interesting transformational challenges ahead. While we do see that the spate of early online-only magazines has largely subsided, with Salon and Slate still standing as survivors but not as the vanguard to what comes next. Innovation in long-form magazine journalism online is coming from the edges, in the shape of thoughtful audio podcasts, on-the-scene video blogs and in the plethora of thoughtful essays on Weblogs maintained in academic and professional realms. The "power of many" means that in-depth magazine pieces that once took a reporter months to amass might one day be accomplished by an online community that has a strong interest in the subject - with a reporter or editor prodding them on.

In the digital world, aggregation, personalisation, adaptability and deep degrees of contextualisation along with pervasive availability shall characterise content distribution of tomorrow - news shall be an instance of this. And readers would would like to know what others think. In other words, the news is the beginning of a process, it's not the end. NYT management needs to find a new business model to drive growth and mere net presence, howsoever strong it may be won't suffice.

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
"All views expressed are my personal views are not related in any way to my employer"