Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Editorial: Look beyond Borders

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Editorial: Look beyond Borders

Article excerpt

The U.S. newspaper industry is a business with an immobilizing tendency towards navel-gazing. This is aggravated by its location in a nation largely disinterested in foreign countries it is not currently engaging in a war. This double dose of self-absorption helps explain why the industry is so slow to adapt ideas that can be found literally at the nation's doorstep.

What else explains why even now, for all the industry rah-rah rhetoric, readership -- audience -- is still not the primary metric of newspapers? Or why the concept of modular advertising is so utterly alien to newspapers, which strain to squeeze and stuff yesterday's solution, the Standard Advertising Unit, on shrinking broadsheets? Or, for that matter, why the conversion of big-city broadsheet dailies to reader- and advertiser-friendly compact formats seems forever five years away, like full pagination a couple of decades ago?

Canadian dailies long ago embraced audience measurement. Now, thanks to the tireless campaigning of such Canadian newspaper thinkers as Len and Chris Kubas, dailies there are beginning to adopt modular advertising -- and proving that an ad's impact depends not on its column-inch size, but how much of the page it occupies.

And now we can see how the varying business models are faring. Just recently, the Canadian Newspaper Association released figures showing papers there barely lost revenue in the annus horribilis of 2007, dipping just 0.8%. Online revenues that soared 29% offset a dip in print advertising of 2. …

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