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Sun sales shocker

DVDs are one way of boosting newspaper circulations but bribing people is another. This afternoon I went to a railway station news-stand to buy a bottle of Coke and handed it to the sales assistant to scan. “Can I scan this paper ?” she asked, picking up a copy of the Sun. “You get the Coke half-price and you don’t have to take the paper.”

Could this be same Sun as the one David Rowan was writing about in the Standard in June 2002? On the subject of
circulation tricks
he wrote:

The Daily Mirror proclaimed in April that it was abandoning bulk sales in favour of “more effective” forms of marketing. The argument makes sense to News International, which sees such giveaways as commercially pointless, especially for tabloids (The Times, by contrast, still gives away 49,000 of its 659,000 UK and Ireland copies). “There are ‘genuine bulk sales’, such as on airlines, where people sit down and read you, but dumping 300 copies unopened in a Little Chef is not legitimate, and it costs an arm and a leg,” says a senior source in Wapping. Two years ago, he says, the Mirror was posting 69,000 bulks, and The Sun fewer than 3,000. Last month, The Sun was down to 223.

This May’s ABC figures show 416,900 of the the Sun’s 3,149,029 circulation classified as “lesser rate”.

The sad demise of a local news site

Nick Parks had set his heart on being a journalist but at the age of 11 he was too young to get work experience on a newspaper. He did the next best thing. He started his own on the web.

Now Nick is 16 and has retired, closing down Rubery Village at the same time. In five years he had built up to a staff of 17 volunteers, all of similar age.

The story of the web site is told by journalism.co.uk. Last year the site had nearly a quarter-of-a-million page hits and Nick saw off a complaint from MP George Galloway.

Nick said: “Everyone in the team was moving on at the same time, and it had become such a mammoth task to manage it all, so instead of letting it drift we felt it was better just to close it down.”

Visitors to Rubery Village (it is near Bromsgrove in the West Mindalnds) are now greeted with an announcement that it is closed but there is still access to the old news.

I hope Nick’s ambition to be a paid journalist survives the next stages of his eduction.

‘Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells’ may have moved to India

Since restarting Wordblog a month-and-a-half ago I have become increasing aware of the lack of a sub-editor. However long I spend reading copy, I find huge errors of grammar, punctuation and spelling creeping in. Too often, what I intended to say is less clear when read a few days later.

On the whole bloggers are too kind to point out these mistakes. Newspaper reporters have always faced readers ready to write a letter to the editor blaming “the decay of the education system” for a misplaced comma.

India too has long been a country where the correct use of English is highly regarded. Writers there may now find themselves the subject of a post on the mediaculpa blog. It is part of the Newswatch India site.

This minute examination of a front page last Friday is an example of the mediaculpa approach:

Here’s a look at the front page of today’s Times of India, Delhi edition.

Today’s lead has the same fault about inverted commas as it was with yesterday’s anchor. Single quotes are used for quotations within quotations. Elsewhere, even if it is a phrase or just a word, double quotes are used.

Incorrect use around artificial in the intro…

The post is long and certainly holds the Times of India to account. But I do wonder if “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” has moved to Simla.

'Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells' may have moved to India

Since restarting Wordblog a month-and-a-half ago I have become increasing aware of the lack of a sub-editor. However long I spend reading copy, I find huge errors of grammar, punctuation and spelling creeping in. Too often, what I intended to say is less clear when read a few days later.

On the whole bloggers are too kind to point out these mistakes. Newspaper reporters have always faced readers ready to write a letter to the editor blaming “the decay of the education system” for a misplaced comma.

India too has long been a country where the correct use of English is highly regarded. Writers there may now find themselves the subject of a post on the mediaculpa blog. It is part of the Newswatch India site.

This minute examination of a front page last Friday is an example of the mediaculpa approach:

Here’s a look at the front page of today’s Times of India, Delhi edition.

Today’s lead has the same fault about inverted commas as it was with yesterday’s anchor. Single quotes are used for quotations within quotations. Elsewhere, even if it is a phrase or just a word, double quotes are used.

Incorrect use around artificial in the intro…

The post is long and certainly holds the Times of India to account. But I do wonder if “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” has moved to Simla.

Next PM should ‘stand up to Murdoch’

The Sun is less powerful than politicians believe, Stephen Glover argues in his On the Press column in The Independent today. This follows Tony Blair’s latest pilgrimage to talk to senior Murdoch executives at their conference in California.

With Murdoch being coy over whether he will support Labour’s heir Gordon Brown or the Tory new man David Cameron once Blair has left Downing Street, Glover fantasises about the two men standing up to their tormentor.

Glover writes:

The Sun is much less powerful than Mr Blair believes it is. For one thing, it is selling about 10 per cent fewer copies than it did in 1992 when, so Neil Kinnock believed, it lost the election for Labour. (Actually, he can probably claim credit for that himself.) For another thing, as turnout declines particularly markedly among working class electors, so an increasing proportion of the Sun’s readers is not bothering to vote.

But the most important reason why the Sun is less powerful than New Labour believes is that newspapers cannot simply instruct their readers how to vote. This admittedly is a highly controversial area. Consider though, as I have mentioned, that the anti-Tory Times has not persuaded a majority of its readers to vote Labour. Similarly, during the Daily Express’s pro-Labour phase, which lasted for about five years, a majority of its readers remained resolutely Tory.

He concludes there is no need for Brown and Cameron to genuflect and crawl before Murdoch as he teases them.

Next PM should 'stand up to Murdoch'

The Sun is less powerful than politicians believe, Stephen Glover argues in his On the Press column in The Independent today. This follows Tony Blair’s latest pilgrimage to talk to senior Murdoch executives at their conference in California.

With Murdoch being coy over whether he will support Labour’s heir Gordon Brown or the Tory new man David Cameron once Blair has left Downing Street, Glover fantasises about the two men standing up to their tormentor.

Glover writes:

The Sun is much less powerful than Mr Blair believes it is. For one thing, it is selling about 10 per cent fewer copies than it did in 1992 when, so Neil Kinnock believed, it lost the election for Labour. (Actually, he can probably claim credit for that himself.) For another thing, as turnout declines particularly markedly among working class electors, so an increasing proportion of the Sun’s readers is not bothering to vote.

But the most important reason why the Sun is less powerful than New Labour believes is that newspapers cannot simply instruct their readers how to vote. This admittedly is a highly controversial area. Consider though, as I have mentioned, that the anti-Tory Times has not persuaded a majority of its readers to vote Labour. Similarly, during the Daily Express’s pro-Labour phase, which lasted for about five years, a majority of its readers remained resolutely Tory.

He concludes there is no need for Brown and Cameron to genuflect and crawl before Murdoch as he teases them.

Guardian boss takes swipe at those who are ‘short on vision’

The communications revolution is “dealing harshly with organisations long on tradition and short on vision,” Bob Phillis, chief executive of Guardian Media Group, said in his annual review of operations published yesterday. This side-swipe at other media businesses reflects a business model totally different to that of the Guardian.

Amid the gloom of predictions of the end of newspapers, Phillis was confident, saying:

The extraordinary pace of change in the media industry, with emerging digital businesses disrupting the activities and revenues of traditional content businesses, has required a particular focus on out digital strategy, alongside print. GNL’s [Guardian Newspapers Limited’s] ambition is to be the leading independent liberal voice in the world, providing relevant, personalised content and connectivity to audiences both in the UK and globally.

If the Guardian had shareholders in the way other newspapers have shareholders, the directors would be under severe pressure. They might well be considering the sale of the loss-makers — the Guardian and the Observer. Trader Media with its operating profit of £119.5 on a turnover of £303.9 million (39%) for the year ended April 2, 2006 would be a much better on its own for investors looking at share values and dividends.

With cost cutting, editorial redundancies and reduced investment plans the Guardian and the Observer, whose losses increased slightly to £19.3 million, could probably turn in a profit, possibly a substantial one.

That is the path that many newspaper owners are taking. There are substantial profits to be made from running lean businesses. We see this in the British regional press with very profitable companies like Johnston Press and Northcliffe Newspapers cutting costs to “increase shareholder value”. That approach also seems to be behind David Montgomery’s plans to create Mecom as a (highly geared) pan-European newspaper empire.

Roy Greenslade looked at growing unrest at regional newspapers this week and the National Union of Journalists has launched a Journalism Matters campaign.

None of this matters very much if you believe newspapers are just another consumer product. If you believe, like me, that they are part of the cement that glues communities and countries together, it matters a hell of a lot. They are, in short, an essential part of democratic societies.

I do not really mind very much if the newspapers appear in their traditional print form or electronically. I happen to like print and believe it is going to be with us for quite a long time.

Amidst all the talk of “shareholder value” the Guardian is able to invest both in better print and the digital future. That is because it has only one shareholder, the Scott Trust.

Back at the start of the World Wide Web in 1992, the Scott Trust put on record its central objective:

To secure the financial and editorial independence of The Guardian in perpetuity: as a quality national newspaper without party affiliation; remaining faithful to liberal tradition; as a profit-seeking enterprise managed in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Since then this has widened to include the Observer and, as Bob Phillis review makes clear, the Guardian now sees itself as being a world voice.

The success of Trader Media (largely motor advertising) underpins the newspapers. And like the newspapers it has invested heavily in the web becoming one of the top five UK websites with 6.57 million unique users a month. A profitable site too.

In the coming year Trader Media is to be partially floated, making more cash available for investment. It will be very interesting to see where that goes.

In conventional business groups Trader Media, with the biggest turnover and profits, would rule the roost. At Guardian Media Group is has enabled the newspapers to invest heavily during a time of uncertainty and change.

The question which should concern not only journalists but politicians as well as the general public is: Are newspapers safe in the hands of investment funds and private equity investors?

Guardian boss takes swipe at those who are 'short on vision'

The communications revolution is “dealing harshly with organisations long on tradition and short on vision,” Bob Phillis, chief executive of Guardian Media Group, said in his annual review of operations published yesterday. This side-swipe at other media businesses reflects a business model totally different to that of the Guardian.

Amid the gloom of predictions of the end of newspapers, Phillis was confident, saying:

The extraordinary pace of change in the media industry, with emerging digital businesses disrupting the activities and revenues of traditional content businesses, has required a particular focus on out digital strategy, alongside print. GNL’s [Guardian Newspapers Limited’s] ambition is to be the leading independent liberal voice in the world, providing relevant, personalised content and connectivity to audiences both in the UK and globally.

If the Guardian had shareholders in the way other newspapers have shareholders, the directors would be under severe pressure. They might well be considering the sale of the loss-makers — the Guardian and the Observer. Trader Media with its operating profit of £119.5 on a turnover of £303.9 million (39%) for the year ended April 2, 2006 would be a much better on its own for investors looking at share values and dividends.

With cost cutting, editorial redundancies and reduced investment plans the Guardian and the Observer, whose losses increased slightly to £19.3 million, could probably turn in a profit, possibly a substantial one.

That is the path that many newspaper owners are taking. There are substantial profits to be made from running lean businesses. We see this in the British regional press with very profitable companies like Johnston Press and Northcliffe Newspapers cutting costs to “increase shareholder value”. That approach also seems to be behind David Montgomery’s plans to create Mecom as a (highly geared) pan-European newspaper empire.

Roy Greenslade looked at growing unrest at regional newspapers this week and the National Union of Journalists has launched a Journalism Matters campaign.

None of this matters very much if you believe newspapers are just another consumer product. If you believe, like me, that they are part of the cement that glues communities and countries together, it matters a hell of a lot. They are, in short, an essential part of democratic societies.

I do not really mind very much if the newspapers appear in their traditional print form or electronically. I happen to like print and believe it is going to be with us for quite a long time.

Amidst all the talk of “shareholder value” the Guardian is able to invest both in better print and the digital future. That is because it has only one shareholder, the Scott Trust.

Back at the start of the World Wide Web in 1992, the Scott Trust put on record its central objective:

To secure the financial and editorial independence of The Guardian in perpetuity: as a quality national newspaper without party affiliation; remaining faithful to liberal tradition; as a profit-seeking enterprise managed in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Since then this has widened to include the Observer and, as Bob Phillis review makes clear, the Guardian now sees itself as being a world voice.

The success of Trader Media (largely motor advertising) underpins the newspapers. And like the newspapers it has invested heavily in the web becoming one of the top five UK websites with 6.57 million unique users a month. A profitable site too.

In the coming year Trader Media is to be partially floated, making more cash available for investment. It will be very interesting to see where that goes.

In conventional business groups Trader Media, with the biggest turnover and profits, would rule the roost. At Guardian Media Group is has enabled the newspapers to invest heavily during a time of uncertainty and change.

The question which should concern not only journalists but politicians as well as the general public is: Are newspapers safe in the hands of investment funds and private equity investors?

Newspapers are turning to video

The pace of media convergence is speeding as a forthcoming report Broadband Directions will show. In a newsletter the company says:

If you thought traditional print journalism and broadband-delivered video don’t mix, think again.

Major newspapers, which are confronting challenges brought on by new technology, changing consumer behavior, new competitors and impatient shareholders, have been beefing up their web sites and rolling out broadband video initiatives.

The report, The Top 40 U.S. Newspapers and Broadband Video: Read All About It!, will show that all but one of their sites offered some sort of broadband video.

It also argues that newspapers must be clever about what video they create and use and how it is integrated into their user experiences, to ensure not merely becoming clones of local broadcast channels’ online efforts.

This is an issue I and my colleagues at the Westminster University department of journalism have been giving a lot of thought. We have made tentative steps with the Westminster News OnLine student project site and will be developing this in the coming year. The big question is exactly how we do it. (via CyberJournalist.net)

Blogging and main stream media debate opens up

An interesting debate about the nature of blogging is developing: is it an “essentially derivative medium” and is it “media elitism” to say so? Shane Richmond, news editor of Telegraph.co.uk, joins the discussion with an examination of the relationship between blogging and MSM.

The debate started when Malcolm Gladwall, an author and New Yorker journalist asked a conference on the future of journalism: “Without the New York Times what would there be for bloggers to blog about?”

This brought a response from Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine and author of The Long Tail, who wrote: “Nothing annoys me more than the oft-heard assertion within media circles that without us blogs would be nothing.”

He uses figures derived from Technorati so show that 300 times more bloggers use the word “I” than talk about what the New York Times has written. He also produces a table showing the BBC is the most blogged about MSM site in the world.

Richmond argues that MSM should embrace its new role as a source for bloggers, seeing it as a different way of continuing to provide the same service to the community. He examines a number of recent stories that have been influenced by bloggers and concludes:

We will have our readers for a long time yet. For as long as they exist, Telegraph readers will want to know what our view of the world is. Many of them will trust our view without question. Others will debate and deconstruct it in blogs, on messageboards and social editing sites.

But for a very large group, we will become just another voice among many. Another source to be used to construct, support or challenge their world view. They will share, edit and remix what we do in whatever way suits them best. We provide the raw material for their self-made media. They choose what matters, not us.

Sure it could be called derivative but it’s the most powerful force in media right now and Gladwell is underestimating it.

This is very much we way I see it.