Changing The Newspaper Game One Day At A Time

( H t t p : / / N e w s p a p e r d i s r u p t o r . c o m / I n d e x . p h p / A u t h o r / J o e y Y o u n g / )

What I am going to say is going to piss some journalists off. I am OK with that.

I am so sick of hearing about the death of newspapers, it is starting to drive me insane. Why do so many good journalists just accept that the industry is dying without looking at the mounting evidence that it is simply changing slightly and there are not just a few good years left, but decades, and more for a lot of us?

Look, I don’t pretend to know what a P&L looks like at a metro daily newspaper, and I really don’t care to know either, so unlike so many national journalists, I won’t pretend that my company is just like everyone else’s.

What I will say is that I know a lot of publishers. I just got done hanging out with many of them in Topeka at our annual Kansas Press Association Convention and not only are many publishers and owners excited, many of them were having record years.

The simple truth about newspapers is that we suck at telling our own stories, we act like the 20 to 30 percent margins of the ’70s is success, and we weeklies allow our readers to read garbage that lumps us in with the few corporately owned newspapers that can’t seem to figure this business model out. When the Wichita Eagle shut down their press to print in Kansas City, I got questions about it. People asked me how much longer I was going to keep doing this—like it was a regional death nail or something. It sucked. From what I understand, it was just about profit margins, overhead, and an overbuilt press in
Kansas City that existed before the economic downturn. That seems simple to me and certainly not a death nail for the Eagle, but absolutely not one for me. This happens constantly, though, and all over the country.

I think because most of the community-based newspapers in this country are in smaller towns, the owners and publishers are a little quiet about their business models. They know their neighbors and fellow business owners in town. They don’t want to brag if they had a great year. I don’t blame them, either. I certainly feel this way often as well—good or bad year alike. This is why I am so irritated. If McDonald’s was going through a change with their business model, people wouldn’t associate the local cafe with their model change. I’m not sure why when giant, hedge-fundowned newspapers make profit margin based changes it should associate with me, either, but what do I know?

Some say that the reporting on journalism is largely based around the metro papers because they do the “real journalism” in this country. A comment like this is likely to get a lot of lost respect from me. This is ignorance. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate what these metros are doing and the national papers for covering a largely dysfunctional government, but tell me you can’t report or even mention the thousands of other papers in this country that are profitable and are doing just fine when you are writing your death nail pieces. It’s just crap.

This all came to a head when a friend, Kevin Slimp (yes, that was a name drop, and I don’t care), tagged me in a post on Facebook. I was busy, heavy into a project, and tired, but when Slimp tagged me I wanted to give it a look, as I appreciate his work. (He does more than I can tell you about. Check out his newspaperacademy.com to learn more).

I saw what I assumed was another share on my page about the awesome weekly in Iowa that just won a Pulitzer Prize. I liked the post without paying a lot of attention (I normally hate this practice) and said that I thought those guys were awesome. I just assumed I had read the story 1,000,000 times already, but I should have known it was something different when Slimp shared it to my page. A national writer tried to tie the small weekly in Iowa (you guys rock, by the way) to the decline of family owned newspapers. It was so stupid I could hardly believe that was on my wall. Surely it would be from some crap website and Slimp was just screwing with me, right? Nope. Wall Street Journal…

Then I just got pissed off, which derailed my project and eventually led to this column, which I am finishing now, because I am freaking busy. Let me repeat myself. I AM BUSY. If we were such a dying industry with no value to give left, I am sure I wouldn’t be so damn busy, but I am, and usually I am spending my time on growth projects for our company. That is right: growth projects for my company. I feel the need to repeat myself over and over again, because I sometimes wonder if the world is dense or doesn’t care. Either way, I learned repetition was the best way to get something to stick, so one more time: I am busy, and busy on growth projects. Got it?

There are many like me, as Slimp points out all the time, but we can’t seem to get that message to stick. I can’t tell you why, but this is yet another blog post to get the message out there. Not all papers are the same. They aren’t all making money. They aren’t all losing money. Some are stodgy and old and in need of desperate change to make it. Some are thriving and enjoying their fruits. Funny, I think this is true in nearly every industry, but I don’t see the broad brushes painted when I read about most other industries.

This is my plea: understand there are thousands of papers making money and serving their communities, and if you are going to write a death nail piece, just mention it, as it is kind of important.

(Http://Newspaperdisruptor.com/Index.php/Tag/Kevin Slimp/)

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How to set up your magazine for printing with Florida Sun Printing

When setting up your Indesign or Quark document for newsprint or glossy printing magazines with Florida Sun Printing we recommend you download the following pdf by clicking here.

This pdf will show you the size, margins, bleed and many more design “helpful hints” to print your best with us.

Find us on Facebook @floridasunprinting and we are also on Google+ and Linked In!

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Using the proper color mode for printing.

For commercial printing with Florida Sun Printing you should be using a CMYK color mode? NEVER use an RGB color mode which is better for screen viewing. Images and art saved in RGB can print dull and muddy. Be sure to either re-save your images as CMYK images in a program like Adobe Photoshop or you can export your press ready pdf from InDesign and let InDesign or Quark handle the RGB to CMYK conversion for you. See how to do this on our support page: www.flasunprinting.com/support.php

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Did You Know ?

DID YOU KNOW? We added a support tab to our website. Here you will find instructions on how best to export your pdf files for printing with Florida Sun Printing. Also other great tips and tricks for your InDesign and Quark publishing programs. Visit www.flasunprinting.com/support.php

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Leaders Are Readers

(portions reprinted from SAPA)

… Successful people are often described as “self-made” men or women. I think it is more accurate to describe them as “self-making” people because one of the things that makes them rise above their peers is their dedication to constant self-improvement. In some of my training classes, I have had people with over fifty years of experience in the industry (No pressure there!). These are people who never settle, who are never satisfied, people who always want to grow and become better at what they do. They listen attentively, and when they have an opportunity they seek out training, and most of all, they read…

Our community newspapers are the LOCAL resource for advancement. Our papers help people connect with others; stay informed of local events; learn; grow; record births, deaths, marriages, report on government and business activity or in-activity, and the resource for products and services. Leaders still read the paper. Our print papers still matter and are used by our communities… Nothing Beats Print when you really want to connect with consumers.

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Advertising Resurgence in Local Newspapers

This article was written by Jim Busch, taken from “Paper-Chain” a SAPA publication.

Many, many, many years ago when I landed my first sales job, one of the “old-timers” gave me some advice that I forgot, “This job is simple kid, the more you tell, the more you sell!” He went on to explain that to be successful, a salesperson needs to reach out to as many potential buyers as possible and tell them what your product has to offer them. This is as true today as it was forty years ago. The only problem is that today, those prospects are harder and harder to find. Many of the goods and services once offered by local merchants are now provided by large national chains. Once, a salesperson could walk into a business on Main Street, introduce themselves to a business owner and have a conversation about advertising. Today in many cases, the local store manager doesn’t have time to talk and if you do manage to get a few minutes with them, they will likely tell you that they have no control over their advertising. You will most likely hear, “That’s handled by corporate, you’ll have to talk to them.” The spread of “big box” stores, franchises and national chains has had a major impact on local community papers.

Many of the small local businesses that made up our traditional advertising base have been forced to close up or to align themselves with a national franchise. The local businesses that have managed to survive have done so by cutting costs, often including deep cuts in their advertising budgets. (A short-sighted strategy that often hastens their decline.)

Fortunately, the changes that have shaken the media world in the last few years have opened up new opportunities for local community papers to do business with major national advertisers. While national retailers have wholeheartedly embraced digital media, their media research has discovered what we’ve always known, “Nothing beats print when you want to really connect with consumers!”

After spending years building their online presence these major advertisers have found that print is, by far, the best way to get coupons and sales flyers in the hands of their customers. For decades, national advertisers relied on the metro daily papers to deliver their flyers and run their display ads. The closing of many of these papers and the industry wide decline in daily newspaper circulation has led national media buyers to seek other methods to connect with consumers. After decades of ignoring the reach and readership of free and community newspapers, national media buyers have begun to realize the value of our publications. Many papers are receiving orders from large retailers that refused to take their phone calls just a few short years ago. This is a windfall for these papers providing a consistent source of revenue with a minimum of effort required, as they usually consist of pre-printed flyers or PDF layouts. Running these programs also enhances the value of your publication…local consumers want to know what is on sale where they do most of their shopping.

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Newspapers are members of the Community


John Oliver is just one of the funniest people on television now. I have slapped my knee many times during his “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” show on HBO, and a segment about journalism had me both sad and laughing at the same time.

I have said many times that the plight of large, daily newspapers isn’t comparable to what we do at small, community newspapers. Their overhead is much larger, but more importantly, their owners are usually investment groups looking to make large sums of money instead of serving their community.

We little guys don’t have those problems, because as long as we serve our community, our community usually serves us back.

Oliver took 20 minutes to discuss the issues facing journalism, especially in metro areas, in today’s landscape of digital-first media (his take on this made me nearly spit my coffee).

While Oliver accurately described what is happening in many metro papers owned by investment groups, he hit on something far more important, in my opinion, and that is the fact that you have to pay for good journalism.

Mid-way through his bit, he called out viewers and said that largely people aren’t willing to pay for good journalism even if they do need it. Most of that blame can be laid at the doorsteps of those who decided giving our content away for free was a good idea about 20-some years ago, but that toothpaste can’t be put back in the tube, can it?

Truth is, we as an industry have to do a better job educating and communicating with our communities about why what we do is important and is worth paying for.

We aren’t seeing the advertising fall that Oliver showed in his segment, but we also aren’t giving our product away online, either, so the revenue online isn’t really there, either, which is fine by us.

Personally, we are happy to give away two percent of revenue growth in digital if it means not cutting our legs off in print, so our business plan isn’t going to change anytime soon.

There is a balance coming for our industry as a whole. I believe that whole heartedly. We are continuing to invest in our products and provide good journalism for our communities, and we believe that those efforts will be recognized and paid for because we keep seeing that every day.

My biggest note from Oliver’s segment remains this, though: your community only gets the journalism it will pay for, but with that comes a responsibility by news organizations to do an exceptionable job for those readers.

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August 2, 2016  JoeyYoung

I understand why publishers all over the country are scared to death about ad blocking software and what it is doing to their bottom lines. I am also completely unconcerned, personally.

After 20 years of doing everything we could as an industry to build a presence online and sell advertising around content we gave away, it must be scary to hear that folks don’t want the annoying Flash ads that pop up randomly, the auto-play video ads, and the sort to clutter their already ADD filtered eyes while surfing the Internet. Honestly, I hate those things and most people do… including the ones selling them.

Study after study was already hurting what publishers could sell ads for online with CPM prices dropping regularly. Slowly, people were picking up on terms like “banner blindness,” “click bait,” and “click bots” and were adjusting how they were spending their dollars online anyway, but the advent of ad blocking software is quickening the pace of those dollars shifting, and publishers are panicking.

I just don’t understand why.

As an industry, most newspapers aren’t making more than five percent of their overall revenue selling digital ads. Why are we freaking out about something that we have thrown so many resources toward and still are only making, if we are lucky, five percent of overall revenue?

I see the advancement of ad blocking software as something that should be celebrated by publishers who still print something on paper. The fact is, we are starting to gain an advantage in the eyes of the advertiser again.

We still have loyal readers in print and online. We still have ad space that works and has been proven to. So instead of lamenting the loss of digital dollars, go out and sell more print ads with these studies and leverage your content online to make money there (more on that later).

Present to your local companies that research shows about 1/3 of the overall clicks on the Internet come from bots. Show them that ad blocking software is keeping their message from being heard online. Then show them that there is no such technology for your print product and that their message will be heard loud and clear by real people who pay for your paper and look forward to it.

Technology has disrupted all forms of advertising from television to radio to print. The difference between us and them is that we still have something you can’t get anywhere else: original content about one’s community.

That content is worth something, and we can sell it digitally (without ads) or in print and people will buy it.

Television has to worry about Netflix, Hulu, and the likes while millions are cutting the cord from cable. Radio has their own problems with Pandora and programs like it which take the music they play and make it more accessible. I have a friend in radio who is doing a great job navigating those waters with his own original content, but I feel his company is in the minority. Those industries are scrambling just like we are to find their way in the Internet era, but in many cases, they are left with fewer possibilities because of a lack of original content, something we aren’t lacking in at all.

Am I advocating a throw it away strategy with digital? Of course not, but I do think we need to start paying attention to what readers actually care about and treat digital like its own product and not a digital, carbon copy of our print editions.

Our strategy online, with our paid papers, has been simple thus far. A subscription service (“hard paywall” for those who like that term) that allows full-access to print, digital, and other perks with a subscription to our content.

We sell our advertising in print because it works and sell some digital to folks who want it, but it is almost always a supplement to what they are already doing in print.

This strategy, we believe, is built for the future and is fortified around what we do well, which is create great, original content people want to read. As far as I know, no one is planning on blocking that anytime soon.


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Invest in Your Core: Make Your Print Product Look Great

Changing The Newspaper Game One Day At A Time

July 22 , 2 0 1 6 reposted from May 26, 2016

Invest in your core: Make your print product look great – Newspaper Disruptor Page 1 of 5
http://newspaperdisruptor.com/index.php/2016/05/26/invest-in-your-core-make-your-print-… 7/22/2016

It is time for us to start designing our print products the way readers want to see them. Media “experts” all over the world will tell you to ignore your print product or not invest much into it because the internet is going to take over soon anyway. Well, after 20-years of the newspaper industry still making a damn fine living (some better than others) off their print products I think the end is still far away. That leads me to think that we should be re-investing in our print products and the first thing most people need to do is look at their design and update it.

When traveling around the mid-west I rarely see newspapers that I think are visually appealing and prompt me to pick up off the rack. We have to start designing every single issue of our papers like we have to sell every copy off the rack. Period. That means starting with great, not good, art above the fold, and make it big. We need catchy headlines,
and a flag that doesn’t look like it was made sometime in the early 1920’s. If your layout person isn’t involved in budget meetings then you are doing it wrong. Get them involved from the start and they can help with visuals throughout.

When we took over The Clarion, our first paper, we stayed up until 6 a.m. ripping the paper apart and putting it back together again with a brand new design right out of the gate. We didn’t want our paper to look anything like the old paper. New owners equaled new life and new design. A lot of people thought we were crazy and that we would alienate our core readers and too much change too fast would be a problem. We were just too dumb to listen I am sure they left thinking. By the time our paper came out that first
week we got tons of compliments though. People were telling us on the street as we delivered that our little weekly paper looked like a “real newspaper” and “very professional.” Our readers wanted something they could be proud of, that was easy to read, and visually appealing and that is just what we gave them.

When our company merged with Kansas Publishing Ventures, one of the first things we did was break “The Buyer’s Edge of South Central Kansas” up. We made it “The Edge” and started going with big bold art on the cover and a modular design inside.

Invest in your core: Make your print product look great – Newspaper Disruptor Page 2 of 5
http://newspaperdisruptor.com/index.php/2016/05/26/invest-in-your-core-make-your-print-… 7/22/2016

The Edge is a shopper, but we were getting a lot of compliments on the new layout and advertisers and readers responded. There are few dailies, much less weeklies, that I feel look as good as our papers look week in and week out. Yes, even our shopper.
I am not some amazing designer or employ the worlds best either. We just invest some time in it, talk about it, and train staff to care about artwork whether that mean a great photo or an infographic, map, or a mugshot. Readers like art. Writers, the majority of
people running weekly and small daily newspapers, seem to hate it. I am not sure
if it is their ego, laziness, or ignorance, but most publishers and editors don’t seem to
get it. We will cut a few paragraphs out of a story to make sure we can get artwork on a
jump page. Our writers grumble occasionally, but they know that most of our readers will appreciate it, which means more of our readers will actually read their story instead of seeing how long it is and skipping past with the thought of not having the time.
I am also not one of these people who will tell companies they have to go out and buy Adobe or the latest greatest product to make their papers look nice either. We use Photoshop and Quark Express (yes, we do and make no apologies about it) and have no problem.

I know of folks that use freeware design software like Gimp and Scribus to design their products without any trouble and none of the investment. There is no excuse. Sure, those free programs don’t have some of the bells and whistles, but they won’t keep you from making that two-column photo into a four column photo and toning that photo correctly.
The future of media, at least the immediate future, is still in print for newspapers not named the New York Times or Washington Post (I am willing to bet they make a good bit of cash off print too through). Our print papers still matter and are used by our communities. If they aren’t, you have a far larger problem then just a redesign, but that would be a good start.

Invest in your core: Make your print product look great – Newspaper Disruptor Page 3 of 5
http://newspaperdisruptor.com/index.php/2016/05/26/invest-in-your-core-make-your-print-… 7/22/2016

If the future is print, then the future should look pretty and have lots of great art because that is what readers who buy print want. Sell each one like you have to sell it off the rack, as that will help with making it look gorgeous, and finally, don’t just say it’s too expensive to make it look nice. It’s not, and anyone who tells you your company has to upgrade to all the latest stuff is just selling you a product and shouldn’t you be able to see that? Kansas Publishing Ventures isn’t home of the only good designers and we certainly aren’t the most
talented people in the industry either, yet our papers look amazing, and yours can too with just a little effort.

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Newspapers & Free Community Newspapers

Will the Internet kill your free community paper? Did instant coffee kill coffee? New technologies change many things. But not everything. You may tweet, blog, surf, shop, or search online but you continue to read your free community paper. You just proved it. Readership of free community papers is now higher than paid daily papers, and continues to grow. Rather than being replaced by “instant” media, your local free community paper has become an important part of our neighborhood. The reason, which sometimes is not heard because of all the noise about the Internet, is pretty obvious: your free community paper does what the Internet doesn’t. We promote connections at a local level. Free papers join readers and advertisers in ways digital media don’t. In fact, the local content and power of your free paper makes advertising even more effective. We are the number one medium for driving purchases. That’s important in every product category. Including coffee.

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