Oddly Timed Staff Cuts Announced at the New York Times

The New York Times Co. is set to announce quarterly earnings later this week.  Monday, bad news came early and by surprise.

With a need for greater cost reductions, the Times announced a plan to cut 100 newsroom jobs (8% of total) by year end.  This on top of budget cuts and a 5% employee pay cut already in place.

The Times is approaching the process with a buyout offer.  Employees will receive detailed information packets and have forty five days to decide whether or not to apply.  The buyouts are expected to offer between two and three weeks of salary per year of employment. If there aren’t enough volunteers, the company will implement layoffs to reach the quota.

Earlier this year, Times executives said they didn’t anticipate further newsroom cuts in 2009.  That they changed their minds isn’t surprising given the current ad market and the struggles of the print industry.  Newspapers are fighting an increasingly competitive online global arena and it’s clear there is no easy answer for how to succeed.   There’s so much information beamed at audiences.  To stand out from the volume (below cost and consistently) is a difficult task.  

What is odd about the Times’ news is the timing. Delivering bad news days before earnings…  the foreshadowing doesn’t look good.

Click to Read More

Barnes and Noble Jumps on the eBook Bandwagon

BN PLastic Logic MetueIn the early days of the Internet Amazon looked like the underdog when it matched up against big box book sellers like Barnes and Noble.  Now, targeting the smaller niche of eBooks, the roles are reversed as Barnes and Noble will look to match Amazon’s technological strengths with a new entry into the eBook marketplace.

Barnes and Noble (BN) said Monday its new eBook store will stock as many as 700,000 titles including new releases priced at $9.99.  BN is calling it the world’s largest eBook store, surpassing both Amazon and Sony, though that claim may be misleading given the inclusion of as many as 500,000 free titles offered in partnership with Google’s Book Search.  (Sony is also partnered with Google)

Click to Read More

The Fight for Audience: Newpaper Websites in May

As newspapers continue their efforts to squeeze out revenue from their online properties, one of the questions editors are asking is what differentiation they should have between print and dot com.  Some argue that online being free; print should offer something special to add value to those paying for delivery.  Others counter that the Internet is the industry’s future and to be out in front requires putting richer content there – online where there are no page space restrictions and a bigger audience to capture.

In late May and early June, the Washington posted irked some readers and fired up the debate by taking a course seemingly supportive of door number two.   On May 31st and June 1st, the paper ran a large two part investigative report on an unsolved Washington, D.C. murder mystery.  The story was published only online leaving some print readers frustrated and others unaware they’d even missed a story until they saw the backlash.

In the weeks since passed, the paper has been criticized by some and lauded by others for its choice. The decision’s been justified by the scope of the article and its size (its narrow subject and long length argued to be ill suited for print), and castigated for the same reasons.  

Newspapers are fighting in an increasingly competitive online global arena and it’s clear there is no easy answer for how to succeed.  There’s so much information beamed at audiences.  To stand out from the volume (below cost and consistently) is a difficult task.  It doesn’t take much more than a passing glance at a newspaper’s financial statements to see that.  But new Nielsen data seems to add even more color to how complex the marketplace has become, and for that matter, how difficult the editorial decisions are that editors face.   

Click to Read More

Paying for Content? USA Today to Try Email Delivery?

paid news content metueFrom publisher to mogul, the frequent mantra from up high lately has been that the future for news media online will increasingly require payment for content.   Big papers simply can’t afford to keep shelling out the money to pay the high price of reporting while competitors “borrow” the costly facts for free and customers bounce from site to site with little loyalty to anything other than the fastest copy editor and the first to report.  The big question, though, is: who will pay?  And what will they pay for.. or how much?

According to Barry Diller, IAC’s chairman and CEO, “anything of value is going to be paid for” online.  People have paid for content before and they’ll continue to.  That’s what he said in a keynote at the Advertising 2.0 conference in New York, Wednesday.

Not all would agree, however.  Or they’ll hone in on the definition of one key word: “value,” and make that the battleground.

While it’s true advertising can’t, and won’t be a cure-all that pays for all costs and provides all revenue, it’s not clear what value propositions are necessary to lure a customer used to getting an overload of free information into opening their wallet and paying for the privilege. 

Click to Read More

Google Book Settlement Getting Further Review?

The settlement of a long standing lawsuit over Google’s practices of scanning and displaying books at Google Book Search was announced in October and expected to be finalized between May and June.  Two weeks ago, in late April,  the judge overseeing the case extended the dates until September and October to allow concerned parties more time to digest the complex agreement.  Chief among those looking for more time was authors but reports also suggested the Department of Justice was taking a look too.

Now it appears that the Attorney General’s of several states are also interested in taking a gander.  According to a Reuters report published Friday, the AG’s held a one hour conference call earlier this week to discuss the settlement.

Click to Read More

Widescreen Kindle DX Debut

dx kindleIt’s now official.  A day after receiving a design patent for the look of the Kindle, Amazon revealed a widescreen model of its eBook platform called the Kindle DX.

The new model, with a 9.7 inch diagonal screen is two and half times larger than the second generation model revealed in February.  Overall, its size nears the scale of a standard sheet of paper. 

The storage on the device jumps to 3.3GB, enough to store 3,500 books, the company says.   The DX model also features native PDF support and an auto-rotation feature similar to the iPhone that reorients the display to portrait or landscape mode depending on the way the device is held.

Confirming earlier rumors of newspaper involvement – three papers, the New York Times, The Boston Globe (also owned by the New York Times Company), and the Washington post will offer Click to Read More

New Kindle for News Distribution? Wednesday Event Scheduled

kindle 3 eventIf printed newspapers are slowly dying, are eBook readers the phoenix to rise from their ashes?  Is the answer to next-generation media delivery really portable devices tailor-made for reading periodicals and daily news?

With competition between smartphones, netbooks, laptops   - not to mention the fact that delivery technology doesn’t directly address the cost issues associated with news generation, and reporting – the answer is debatable but plenty are taking a close look at the prospect, or even wagering a bet.  News Corp., for one, has expressed interest in the exploration.  Hearst is expected to launch its own product this year (and is also invested in display maker E ink).   And then, the companies behind USA Today (Gannett) and the Financial Times (Pearson Plc) have also jumped, working with Plastic Logic.

Whenever the products come out, though, they may be playing catch up.  Amazon beat them all to the punch with its Kindle, and now, it appears, some new variation on the theme more narrowly aimed at news media may be revealed this week.

Click to Read More

Page 1 of 912345...Last »