Monthly Archives: November 2008

Johnston Press speculation over its likelyhood of refinancing growing debt. Position described as “perilous”.

Johnston Press share price falls to 6.2p (down from 420p November 2007), possible breach of banking covenants due to large debt, possible collapse of publishing group:

Sunday Herald:

“The lack of an effective digital strategy, few apparent plans aside from further cost cuts, and concerns over refinancing debt are the main reasons cited for the share-price collapse. However, it was the publication of an interim management statement earlier this month that precipitated the plunge. Reflecting the wider industry trends, classified advertising at the company between August and November had fallen sharply year-on-year. The most noteworthy figure was the 48.4% drop in revenue from property advertising.”


Yesterday, Andrew Walsh, a media analyst with stockbrokers, Teathers, was quoted by Reuters, saying: “Whereas we [recently] saw a covenant [repayment undertaking between Johnston Press and its bank] breach as improbable, in the wake of the IMS, this now looks likely on our revised numbers.”


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Iconic tech magazine abandons print for online only presence

PC Magazine, which has documented the explosive growth of the personal computer since 1982, is dropping its print edition next year and going online.


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Rupert Murdoch on the future of print newspapers – Moving beyond dead trees

Rupert Murdoch believes newspapers (or at least Newspaper brands) can be ultimately successful in the twenty first century, if the right approaches are taken to the huge opportunities facing the industry. Nothing revolutionary here, but a very interesting insight into one of the key players thinking on the future of the delivery of news:

From a recent Boyer Lecture (via ABC Radio)

If you discuss the future with newspapermen, you will find that too many think that our business is only physical newspapers. I like the look and feel of newsprint as much as anyone. But our real business isn’t printing on dead trees. It’s giving our readers great journalism and great judgment.


It’s true that in the coming decades, the printed versions of some newspapers will lose circulation. But if papers provide readers with news they can trust, we’ll see gains in circulation—on our web pages, through our RSS feeds, in emails delivering customised news and advertising, to mobile phones.


In short, we are moving from news papers to news brands. For all of my working life, I have believed that there is a social and commercial value in delivering accurate news and information in a cheap and timely way. In this coming century, the form of delivery may change, but the potential audience for our content will multiply many times over.

Rupert Murdoch, 16th November 2008, ABC Radio – Boyer Lectures.

Later, the story behind the move to a redesigned compact Times is explained from the perspective of the importance of delivering what actually readers want, not what people within the industry would admire, and still maintaining quality and commitment to the values of the title.

The full text of Rupert Murdoch’s speech, Moving beyond dead trees follow links to hear the broadcast audio version on the site. ABC also have an MP3 audio version of the broadcast (just over 10mb) direct download link: Download Audio – 16112008

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UK News Media Job losses running at c.140 per week

DMGT Associated Newspapers is to make 300 roles redundant in the London area, this equates to 6% of the London workforce. This is part of what is believed to be a 15% budget cut:

Trinity Mirror has warned of potential job losses: (Update: pay freeze for 2009, branch offices closed and reported 1200 redundancies so far)–

The publishers of Time Out have announced a cut of 8% of their workforce, 13 jobs:

News Media job losses are running at around 140 per week, detailed in this post by Peter Kirwan of the Press Gazette: (Graph reproduced below)

In a reaction to these figures, Jeremy Dear, General Secretary of the NUJ highlights the hidden impact of media organisations simply choosing not to replace staff:

(Update:) Newsquest North East to close branch offices and make 17 redundant:



Graph of job losses

Graph of job losses

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“If you’re a newspaper group, your technology sucks.”

Roussel slide
Originally uploaded by jeffjarvis

Jeff Jarvis blogs about the New Business Models for News Summit at the Graduate School for Journalism (CUNY).

As a result, we saw editorial and business people entering into frank conversations we don’t often hear, willing to reset assumptions and build new models. Included in that was a general acceptance that the cost structure of the news business is way too high and has to be cut. This slide from the Telegraph’s Edward Roussel resonated strongly in the room.


Roussel also said: “If you’re a newspaper group, your technology sucks.”

Just as Roussel was blunt and frank so was his fellow presenter on the topic of the disaggregated news organization, Dave Morgan, who quoted Gary Pruitt, CEO of McClatchy, from only the day before. Pruitt said: “We believe that the majority of the decline that we are currently seeing is cyclical and therefore temporary.” After heaping caveats of praise on Pruitt as an executive, Morgan called bullshit. Exactly so. We need tough, honest talk now.


Picture: Slide from Edward Roussel’s presentation at the New Business Models for News summit at CUNY posted by Jeff Jarvis (link: Jeff Jarvis’ flickr)

This interview with Tom Evslin, technology expert, is revealing as it provides a view of the industry and its attitudes from the outside:

Any industry under threat tries to cut its way to greatness. Particularly industries that have had a controlling situation for a period of time. When indsturies were essentially monopolies or they have a franchise it’s very hard for the owners or stockholders to realize the value is evaporating. Their first reaction is that these are temporary times and cutting back is a solution.

Often this is a good first reaction – because they were monopolies these companies typically have a lot of fat. But there comes a point where you can’t cut anymore. There is nothing left to cut and if you keep cutting the product gets damaged and its a downward spiral. That is Telecom, newspapers, and perhaps the car industry.


Tom Evslin interview:

More comment and video:


Jeff Jarvis Presentation:

Innovative Web Video Journalism Panel – video stream of talks


View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: cuny news)

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Is the Regional Press Circling the Plughole to Circulation Death? McCall thinks so…


Guardian Media Group chief executive Carolyn McCall has forcibly stated her opinion that the UK regional press is suffering from a structural decline due to outside market forces and behavioural change. Which is rather obvious, but it’s always good to see the reaction to someone pointing out the elephant in the room…


(Hold the Front Page): She said regional newspapers will need to be “re-engineered completely” with lower costs and fewer staff – and that some titles will “inevitably” need to merge and close.

Ms McCall’s comments, which are certain to provoke lively debate within the industry, came in a speech to Cardiff Business Club, originally reported in yesterday’s Western Mail.

In her speech on Monday night, Ms McCall outlined how online advertising has “decimated” revenues for the UK’s regional press.

She predicted that many well-known regional and local titles, which have often been the cornerstone of their communities for more than a century, will go out of business.

…Ms McCall claimed that the big stock market listed publishers have insisted for years that the changes occurring in local and regional media markets were predominantly cyclical, not structural.

But she said: “This has been wrong for at least ten years and is now universally accepted as such.

“The changes are structural – they are permanent and result from fundamental changes in consumer behaviour, communications and technology. The situation is exacerbated by the current cyclical downturn, but neither the readers nor the revenues are ever coming back, at least not to anything like previous levels…

Full article and rather interesting comments here:

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Mobile optimised websites widen the reach of regional newspapers

The deployment of mobile (cellphone) optimised websites amongst the regional press continues, with early reports of good traffic, from this Hold the front page article:

Hold The Front Page website story:

“Birmingham Post editor Marc Reeves says the paper’s new ‘m-site’ has surpassed expectations in its first week. The Post is one of twelve Trinity Mirror regional dailies launching mobile phone companion sites over the next two months. Marc said: “We’ve set up specific feeds from our website, picking up the elements we want to go on the m-site. We’ll review as we go and add or take away feeds from more areas of the site.

…”In terms of users, we’ve surpassed where we expected to be by now, but I want to be cautious before declaring it a massive success. “Once the marketing noise dies down, it’ll be interesting to see what levels the site achieves.”

Also, BBC Commissioning Research indicates that 16-24 year olds are more likely to download news onto their mobile than any other age group, in contrast to the purchase of newspapers in this group:

“Young people are the age group most likely to download News on their mobile phones – over a third of 15-24s claim to do so and 10% regularly.”


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