Archive for March, 2008


Print and the Stock Market: the Wrong Comparison

March 16, 2008

I love British newspapers and all the innovation taking place across the pond. That is no secret, but when I read a blog on The Guardian web site by Roy Greenslade I was surprised, to say the least, not by his blog, but by the comments of one smart reader responding to his blog. Mr. Greeslade repeated on his blog on Thursday March 13 the same arguments I have been hearing from all the prophets of doom and gloom about the demise of print and print companies because their stock market prices are going down. He wrote

I am often accused of taking too negative a view of the future of newspapers. One commenter this week said I should stick up for our own trade instead of appearing to relish its death. But, as I said in response, I am merely recording what is happening and, based on that reality, predicting what will happen. In the face of the depressing truth, even if I was to “talk up” newspapers, it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference.

At the risk of repeating that overworked phrase – it’s the economy, stupid – I base my views on the flight of advertising revenue and declines in circulation, another revenue drain. Investors, needless to say, are doing the same. So let’s take a look at some up-to-date facts from across the developed world that illustrate the parlous state of newspaper publishing.

I’ll start with the media sector on the British stock market. Shares in the Daily Mail & General Trust, publisher of two national titles that are regarded as the nation’s most successful papers of the past two decades, go on falling week by week. The Daily Mail ‘A’ ordinary share price today stands at 435p, down from its 52-week high of 875p, a decline of more than 50%.

To read the rest of his blog click here.

One reader responded to the Mr. Greenslade blog by writing:

Using newspaper company share prices – and therefore investor confidence – as a proxy for long-term structural fortunes is an interesting approach. But given that Google’s share price is also down almost 50% from its 52-week high, doesn’t your method imply that Google is facing a comparable fundamental structural challenge? Not that I mean to dispute your conclusion – newspapers in many markets clearly are facing the sort of challenges you describe. But I’m not sure investor confidence is a good measure for that, given that the same thing is also going on with the share price of the main winner from the shift of attention, and therefore ad revenues, to the web.

Need I comment? I don’t think so. However, what surprised me even more came from Mr. Greensdale himself the next day. In his Friday’s March 14 blog he describes his journey into the heart of Rupert Murdoch’s new print heaven. Mr. Greensdale wrote

For once the word “awesome” is justified. It is, without any shade of doubt, the most amazing newspaper publishing factory I’ve seen since I started in the business on a weekly in 1963.
Superlatives fail. It is the biggest, most efficient, least labour-intensive press plant in the world.

To read his record of the visit click here. What a difference one day makes…


Innovation in Print (1): COLORS is Back with a Vengeance

March 14, 2008

On a recent trip to Amsterdam I picked up the latest issue of COLORS magazine, the United Colors of Benetton magazine. Issue number 73 of the magazine that I cherished every issue of its first few years of existence. It was the example I gave in class for innovation, content, design, you name it. And, as is with a lot of great creative magazines, the magazine fell on hard times and was reduced to yet another printed publication. Well, starting with issue 72, innovation is back, and is back with a vengeance. The last two issues remind me so much of the early issue of COLORS the magazine that set a new standard of innovation in print. Issue 72 was dedicated to a world with color. The theme of the issue was Without Colors. A Braille cover on a white background adorned the front of the magazine with another cover on the back in black and white. A CD with audio readings of the entire magazine was enclosed with the magazine.
Issue 73 on the other hand was dedicated to Money. Back are the double covers, different size magazines, great use of multiple photography and of course, excellent use of design.
If you have not seen COLORS in some time, or if you have given up on the magazine, like I did, I invite you to take a look at some of the sample pages from issue 73 (below) and the covers of issues 72 and 73 (above). Trust me, you will not regret picking it up again.


The Whole Experience vs. the Hole Experience

March 11, 2008

My friend Bob Sacks discovered a major gap in his e-paper experience. For years he has been predicting the future of mass reaching magazines and books to be on-line or through some usage of an electronic device such as the Sony Reader or Kindle. Well, Bob had the chance to put his predictions to practice and lived to write about it. He summed his e-reader, the Kindle, experience as such:

•The Ebook experience is excellent and enjoyable. It was book like and yet had features that no book has.
•The Enewspaper experience was fair. With a newspaper the expected visuals, photos and charts were non existent and that colored my reading and my expectations.
•The Emagazine was a complete flop.

To say I told so will be entirely unfair. But, what I have been saying for years is that the new technologies are yet another way to spread the word and to have content delivered to readers and viewers. It is a new way and not a replacement or even a substitute. Each media must present the entire whole experience on its own. No media should be made to be like this or that. If we are working so hard to invent a medium that looks like paper and feels like paper, why bother? We have paper, so there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Well, folks, click here to read Bob’s entire review of the Kindle and enjoy the “hole” in his “whole” experience.

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