Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Next Generation Newspaper: Avoiding Future Shock

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Next Generation Newspaper: Avoiding Future Shock

Article excerpt

FOR THE LAST six years, The Kelsey Group has conducted an in-depth survey among all daily and weekly newspapers with circulation over 30,000 to determine their level of interest in various new information delivery technologies. The primary objectives of this survey are to ascertain the reasons why newspapers are adding information services, what they are offering or considering, their opinion of various services, and the differences between dailies and weeklies.

While the survey has evolved over the years, some results have remained consistent from year to year while others have shown rather dramatic changes. The differences are particularly notable between dailies and weeklies.

For instance, among all newspapers with circulation over 30,000, dailies are far more interested in audiotex, fax and online services today, and believe they have greater potential for the future. The primary reason they offer interactive services is "to remain the number one information provider" in their market, and most of their services are free to the caller. Daily newspapers are far more likely to have a person or even a department devoted to new technologies.

In contrast, the top reason that similar size weeklies provide interactive services is to "generate new revenue/profit sources." As a result, they have a greater tendency to offer pay-per-call services, and show a much lower level of interest in free interactive services. They are much less enthusiastic about the future for electronic information.

On the other hand there are similarities between daily and weekly newspapers. Both have embraced Voice Personals with well over half of respondents indicating they now offer this service, mostly in a pay-per-call format. Further, Voice Personals continues to receive the highest satisfaction rating among all applications. Most importantly, newspaper executives throughout the country realize that they are battling for the attention and interest of potential readers. The cartoon illustrates the very real challenges facing newspaper executives today.

While advertising is starting to show some solid growth, 19 of the top 20 dailies had daily circulation declines for the six-month period that ended September 30, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation.

The Kelsey Group does not believe that the print newspaper business is ever going to disappear because there is too much pleasure, value and convenience in today's product. …

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