Author Topic: REVISED-Who is Killing the Newspaper Business- It May Be Us  (Read 139 times)

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Offline Ken Gigliotti

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REVISED-Who is Killing the Newspaper Business- It May Be Us
« on: December 14, 2017, 12:26 PM »
Go Bob , Go Bob. I am now adding this 2nd comment to the top of this rant/comment. Winnipeg Free Press and Canstar Community News  publisher and  chair of the board of News Media Canada Bob Cox has just wrote another pretty compelling second story (Dec.16 2017 Winnipeg Free Press Op-Ed  Federal government,provinces let Facebook,Google off tax hook).
In the piece Bob Cox points to “massive amounts of buying and selling activity that used to be taxed in the bricks-and-mortar,paper and ink world ,are escaping transactional taxes.” He says that internet advertising is bigger than all other forms at $6.2 million in Canada and pays no GST. Canadian dailies pay 5% GST on all transactions,Facebook and Google pay none. These companies have many customers but no storefronts and that complicates tax collecting. Google and Facebook pay only 6.8% and 9.7% from income taxed on operating  income. Canadian Tire pays 23.8%, Walmart 19.8%. Mr. Cox says that Manitoba alone could generate $14million in taxes ,some of which  could be used for news gathering.
The point to the public is fairness. A good point that also needs to reach non newspaper purchasers.
The tax money needs to be collected but that may not help the NPB. More needs to be done but sound arguments are being formed.

I am adding this comment to the top of this rant/comment. As if this post wasn't long enough.Winnipeg Free Press and Canstar Community News  publisher and  chair of the board of News Media Canada Bob Cox has just wrote a pretty compelling story (Dec.13 2017 The WFP's City Shopper, The Metro) about failings of the current federal governments Aid to Publishers program. The federal minister of Heritage Melanie Joly says the money supports local journalism. Taxpayers through the minsitry made yearly investments of $75million to local media.
The term “local media” has a pretty loose definition he says as ,of that money The Hockey News gets $1.3million, TVHebo  a TV listings publisher get $1.5million ,TV Week gets $1million,it provides TV listings to BC., 1.5million ($11.3 million over the last 8 years)to Movie Entertainment for Movie Channel subscribers, Macleans Magazine ,Chatelaine English and French and others get $1.5million ($19.3million over the last 8 years).  Others like the Catholic Register do get money($403,000) and the Western Producer ($1.2 million)
He says that community newspapers do get money, an average of $25,000, that is $7.8million of the $69million. ( Canstar gets none) Local daily newspapers get zip because they are not eligible.
Bob is changing the argument for government support of local daily newspapers in an intelligent way. Newspapers provide a valuable  local news service and also provides TV listings. The emphasis on TV listings is not a  good use of tax dollars.

When I started as a photographer Bob Cox was a reporter , he moved on working at various levels of the news business then returned to the Winnipeg Free Press as my boss and publisher of the paper.

He and his team have been the most progressive managers, a person who created the the conditions for a more flexible union management agreement that benefit the company and the workers. He has hired reporters and expanded the photo department when everyone else was cutting staff. I am talking over ten years. The Free Press has made a great commitment to photos and is now in the process of hiring another photog. The Winnipeg Free Press is a pretty good place to work, especially during these rough times. Many young and mid aged workers have families, the job is important. Bob knows them personally.

He also tolerating me all these years, awarding me 3rd place cash prize in an innovation contest a few years ago. He is a good listener and he can implement ideas quickly. The Wpg Free Press is an independent newspaper.

Most companies do not get much bottom up input, ideas, challeges or criticism. This business does not usually tolerate it. He gets it all, processes it and acts.

If anyone can see the flaws and fix them in our business it is Bob. kg


What roll is the newspaper business (NPB) playing in it's decline and is this roll helpful?

Is the NPB acting like a famous, aging franchise baseball player now relegated to the roll of designated hitter.  Out of respect. Is this expectation of respect  not sitting  well with the cranky old NPB. Canada still has great newspapers? It can still bring in the crowds. But, people are not buying online or home subscriptions , single papers or single stories in the numbers that enable sustainability in it's present state. At some point someone has to look at content and it's tone. A recent op-ed story show some insight.

Is still acting like an aging athlete helpful?We should be saying were are here to listen, we want justice for all, and will speak for the little guy, minorities, the taxpayer and those who cannot speak for themselves. We raise millions of dollars for charity. We are here for our customers.  This is not what I am hearing. Our business should not be about right or left, it should be about Up and Down.

Who is really killing the newspaper business? It seems that the people who killed Eaton's and now Sears, and now killing soda makers, textiles and shoes manufacturers , as well as the oil industry are the same people who are killing local papers. It's the public, Really. Newspaper's and department stores have a lot in common. They represent an infrastructure heavy, bygone era with a customer base that has fundamentally changed.

With decline and age  some are saying the  business has been paid in full for work rendered. Thank you for your service. Designated hitters just hit fewer and fewer home runs. They decline with bad knees a bad back and necks. Sorry that last part is actually me.

This business should be preparing for a new role the way aging actors reinvent themselves. Old actors do not take themselves for granted because their public is skeptical. Be good or be gone,there is no seniority.

 Aging is not about wearing gaudy glasses and making sure out necks are covered,it doesn't mean wearing our ball caps sideways and ripped jeans either. Someone said, “you can't buy cool.”

Actor Helen Mirren started out in 1967 in a Shakespearean play. She has adapted herself and her age in a long and enduring career earning her the Triple Crown of Acting , an Oscar in film , a Tony for the stage and an Emmy for television. All the while maintaining her Shakespearean  core. Type casting not an issue , she played  Queen Elizabeth II twice, a comic aging sniper, to a military intelligence officer directing drone strikes. Classy and current,always.
The newspaper business has always been first, always been the one to beat for over a hundred years. Newspaper strong was a tail to head process that started in the forest. Trees,trucking,chemicals,it was industrial, labour intensive, men , women, and children, it stretched into politics , sports, lifestyle. The newspapers business connected people and business,the economy and everyday life  from the forest to the front door. It knew things, it had back channels. It was everywhere in ways other media could not know.
It stayed on top until it's strengths became it's weakness. Decline started and is ending in the forest and when decline began it moved from tail to head.

The internet has recreated this Shakespearean everywhere, everyone connection. The crudeness of the entire culture was filtered by the newspaper reporter but hearing the tone could never be unheard or discounted. It was always present. It was always knew,it ran in the background it was an important element. It was important because it was a core element to understanding how it all works. An unspoken  relevant connection, an understanding between cultural forces,the weak the strong , the rich ,the poor, vulgarity and civility. The internet has found the key the newspaper business dropped.

While the NPB and television  finds itself defending the ideals the internet ignores them. The vacuum presents openings. Information splits and the fault lays with former media. The bigger public, right, left undecided and in-engaged have a place inside the place where they live.

This story sounds like one of many I have seen. It shows how the NPB sees itself. It looks like the aging athlete syndrome,it blames the customers for it's failings.

In a newspaper op-ed page the headline read (by April Lindgren) “Local news lovers should consider ponying up.” The piece is typical of a self serving collection of confusing statistics about public attitudes toward news and the recent swap/closing by Torstar /Postmedia of three dozen local newspaper products. The author feels justified the NPB is entitled, elitist, this is not good tone. The reader is at fault. It is like a pro hockey player giving the fans the finger. The story goes on to tell the public that they are “misunderstanding” the news business, then spreads fear , no one will miss us when we are gone, and that police and political corruption will go unreported. Then it gets patronizing, “ all the misunderstanding,complacency,and deception ,however there is a reason to believe reconciliation is possible... a final contributing factor to the dysfunctional relationship between Canadians and local news providers:one of the partners is a cheapskate  used to getting something for nothing.”   Is this the perception of the public? Yikes. A big barrel of humility is on it's way. But first some reality. (note “cheapskate” was a term applied rightly to one of Canada's formerly biggest NP chains, that is irony. A lot of damage was done.

What would Helen Mirren do if she was the queen of the newspaper business.

The digital newspaper business needs to restate and reevaluate it's promise to the public. The BBC has the best statement of mission yet.

This new  digital world of information needs  an honest broker of facts, trends, and it needs a lot of humour,  it needs to bring its readers cutting edge critical thinking and debate. Information needs to be interpreted through many points of view. It needs to be less cynical and be the interpreter of authentic change. There are many points of view that have been miscast in modern media's approach to understanding culture shifts. The lazy default has been to mistakenly  default to racism or extremism. Even though, those issues exist in the theater of protest they are not the drivers of it. The theater of news is part of the problem,the control of language is another problem. These are things newspaper people can get their heads around , there are still a lot of smart people left in the NPB. The thinking has to be plausible y futuristic. Example :The reading of a trend  spreading around the word should not be rocket science although rockets are being used. There actually is a road map and significant roads through the chaotic lands are joining the dots.
This is in all the newspaper wheelhouse.
The tail is dying in Canadian culture, the tail is business as it relates to the people it employs, and the head being the good intentions of government. Opinion by Ken Gigliotti

« Last Edit: December 16, 2017, 12:56 PM by Ken Gigliotti »


Offline Warren Toda

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Re: REVISED-Who is Killing the Newspaper Business- It May Be Us
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2017, 05:02 PM »
Quote from: Ken Gigliotti
The Wpg Free Press is an independent newspaper.

Is that the key factor for the Free Press?

The city of Winnipeg has always had one of the highest percentage of newspaper readers on a per capita basis compared to all other Canadian cities.


Quote from: Ken Gigliotti
Our business should not be about right or left, it should be about Up and Down.

Looking at the past two or three years in the USA, you can see the effect of being about left/right. Canadian papers may not be as left/right but they are not up/down either.


Quote from: Ken Gigliotti
Who is really killing the newspaper business? It seems that the people who killed Eaton's and now Sears .... It's the public. Newspaper's and department stores have a lot in common. They represent an infrastructure heavy, bygone era with a customer base that has fundamentally changed.

Good comparison. Department stores never could change quickly. But Eaton's, Simpsons and several other department store chains died long before Amazon existed. But the reason for their demise was the same then as it is now: the public's changing preferences for shopping.

Sears had well over a decade's notice of what was happening and yet it did very little, just like newspapers. In his blog, a former Sears executive recounts his efforts to save the company back in 2003. He was unable to do so and he has been writing, over the past dozen years, that Sears has been a dead brand walking for much of this century.


Department stores are not/were not what you might think. They were never intended to be a shopping mall inside one store. Instead they are/were the original big-box store selling mostly its own preferred brands while also leasing floor space to third-party sellers. If you think about it, this describes what Amazon does today. So why didn't department stores become Amazon before Amazon did?

Why didn't newspapers become Craigslist? Why didn't they become the Huffington Post (at least the good parts of it)? These and other opportunities were made available in the late 1990s but newspapers turned them down. The reasoning was, "Business is good today so why change our tomorrow?"

At a certain Toronto daily, they knew in 1999 that the under-30 demographic was gone. Lost to the Web. I was in the room when a corporate VP laughed out loud at this news.  "There's nothing we can do about it."  The paper chose to do nothing and carried on business as usual.



Quote from: Ken Gigliotti
[The newspaper business] stayed on top until its strengths became its weakness.

The same could be said about the Internet in light of the recent US presidential election. The power of social media is also its weakness. Of course the weakness isn't the medium but rather it's the user.

We've all heard the saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Newspapers need to strengthen the weak link of/to the reader. This is not done by blaming the reader but rather its done by what Ken mentioned earlier: newspapers should be about up/down.


Quote from: Ken Gigliotti
In a newspaper op-ed page the headline read (by April Lindgren, an associate professor of journalism at Ryerson University) “Local news lovers should consider ponying up.”

The piece is typical of a self-serving collection of confusing statistics about public attitudes toward news and the recent swap/closing by Torstar/Postmedia of three dozen local newspaper products.

The author feels justified that the [newspaper business] is entitled, elitist; this is not good tone. The reader is at fault. It is like a pro hockey player giving the fans the finger.

The story goes on to tell the public that they are “misunderstanding” the news business. Then it spreads fear... Then it gets patronizing...

You can never, ever shame or blame the customer into making a purchase. It will only push them further away. An educated customer is always the best customer. You can't educate when you talk down to the reader.



By the way: Winnipeg Free Press: the use of cXense isn't always the best idea.

« Last Edit: December 18, 2017, 11:13 PM by Warren Toda »

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