Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Montreal Gazette's Success Story: How Middle-Market Newspapers Can Compete for Online Business

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Montreal Gazette's Success Story: How Middle-Market Newspapers Can Compete for Online Business

Article excerpt

IN THIS DAY and age, middle-market newspapers are finding it harder to compete for readership and advertising dollars in print, let alone the Internet.

However, many middle-market newspapers have niche markets they can cater to. For instance, towns nationwide which attract tourists, or those with well-known festivals or celebrations, are everywhere.

Whether it be Hermann, Mo., known nationwide for its wineries and Ocktoberfest festival or the Oshkosh, Wis., Fly-In Convention where aviators and enthusiasts gather from all over the world -- all have at least one middle-market newspaper that may be able to successfully exploit their position on the Internet

Take the Montreal Gazette for example. This 165,000 daily is the only anglo (English) newspaper in Montreal -- the city of the world-famous jazz and comedy festivals. It has leveraged its interesting position and commodity -- the city -- online, in the face of heavy competition.

"There are four daily newspapers, three French, one English and lots of alternative weeklies," said Peter Cooney, newsroom technology manager. "We compete on a commercial level, as well as for readers. Interestingly enough, 40 percent of our readers don't speak English as a first language."

Cooney competes in print a few ways. He knows that Canadians take extended vacations during the winter months to Florida, so his paper is available on Florida newsstands. The way his paper writes and reports the news is very different from the French press, as well.

"Stories can look entirely different," he said. "If you get two reports of the same story, you will also get two very different perspectives."

Commercially, when an ad appears in the leading French daily, La Presse, it's an ad the Gazette, feels should have been theirs, "just like any other competitive situation."

One way to separate your newspaper from the competition's is to change the size.

The Gazette went from a traditional broadsheet to a much narrower and shorter size. Although it was originally done for cost reasons, readers reacted very favorably to the change.

"It was because of the cost of newsprint that we went to this narrow width," he said. "It's a great compromise between a tabloid and a broadsheet, and the readers just love it."

When the Gazette decided to go multimedia, it was after months of careful thought and market research and analysis. …

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