It’s just around the corner from rate-hike season at the newspapers and the advertiser back lash is growing stronger every year. Since newspapers are a business, and they’re in business to make money, it’s really hard to fault them for wanting to make more of it. Their old line (and I mean old) about their rates going up because their value is growing…that and the thinking behind it (or lack thereof) has got to stop.
Frankly, the newspapers don’t have a choice but to charge more even though their product value is declining. Why? Because they haven’t adapted their business to the times and they’ve made themselves slaves to Wall Street. The newspapers are dying not only because they’re not adapting quickly enough, but because there are too many better advertiser alternatives that cost less money.
Oh sure, you want an example to back up my drivel?
Let’s talk about the big Kahuna of newspaper profits: job ads. No, it’s not the sale ads from Macy’s – those are the ones you hear about though. Why put a job ad in the newspaper when you can get a better response from a less expensive (or free) online alternative? And why should you pay what have quickly become the ridiculous rates of the big online job boards, like CareerBuilder or Monster, when you can often get what you need from a free Craigslist ad (or one that costs pennies on the dollar in comparison to those mentioned)?
The answer has a lot to do with a lack of imagination on the part of the advertisers (in this case HR marketers) and ad agencies that support this model. It’s like the old saying, “well, you’re not going to get fired for buying IBM.” It’s the accepted practice – the road most taken, the one that has zero perceived risk and almost the same amount of actual value. It’s a lot of lazy or uneducated HR marketing departments and the ad agencies who are similarly lazy and uninformed, who like the newspapers, are only too happy to take a fool’s money.
Question: Since the newspapers are dying anyway, might it be a good time to try something different? Fault them I will, for applying the same old bullshit tactics to the new problems that they face.
The problem didn’t start and won’t end with the advertiser rates.
It starts with the core product: content, which typically includes news, editorial, information, resources, and don’t forget advertising. Yes, people do buy newspapers for the ads. Even when they don’t, when the ads are good (relevant, timely) they can be useful. Not all content is good content and that goes for editorial content and advertising content. But let’s get back to the news and editorial content which is the primary reason for buying a newspaper. How should newspapers respond to the fact that their political bias pisses their readers off to the point that they stop reading? Bias is one thing, lying by omission is another. Social media like blogs have demonstrated that all media organizations have an agenda and consistently pursue that agenda at the expense of mere facts. And print media lie with the best of them (T.V) but they do it while acting like they’re legit. The bullshit isn’t any better on one end of the political spectrum either. Regardless if your newspaper is bleeding heart liberal or right wing zealot, the majority of us are turned off by patronizing messaging. It’s hard to like someone when they look at you as fundamentally unintelligent. Pay us some respect – you might get some in return. Yes, it is a problem when you believe your own bullshit. Just stop – it’s not working.
On the advertising side things are a little better, but not by much. It’s not that the advertising side of the house is any better than their higher-than-thou editorial brethren, it’s just that they aren’t held to the same ideal. Instead of honesty, balanced information and facts we expect sales and marketing people to stick a hot poker up our ass and tell us all the while that it feels good. You’d have to admit that it’s a different standard.
p>Tomorrow I’ll put my money where my mouth is and provide some recommendations on how to change things.
For those of you who read me regularly (all three of you) and wonder why I am so passionate about this subject it is because I have such love and respect for the core value that news and content organizations deliver. When done right, not only is there beauty and utility in what is produced, it transcends the print medium. Even if you don’t read newspapers, the arguments I’m making effect the content that you read online.
[tags]Newspapers, Print Media, Online News[/tags]