Media Oxpecker: The News Industry’s Age of Diminished Expectations

Newspapers partying like it's 1983

Every week we round up media news you may have missed while you were busy having your “filthy” papers stolen.

  • A new report by the Newspaper Association of America says industry revenue declined by just 2 percent in 2012.

    Erik Wemple reacts: “Revenue down 2 percent? We’ll take it!”

    Ken Doctor, who has the best summary of the report, says revenue has “been down so long it looks like up to publishers”:

    While it provides few revelations, the data ratifies key trends — the revolution of reader revenue, the big investment in marketing services — and begins to pick apart the old two-step ad/circulation model that we’ve lived with for so long. It’s a new baseline for the industry. It’s a baseline that will become more useful each year, as we track whether the rate of business model change is really fast enough to propel any growth in this much-shrunken industry. We’ll see whether talk of a turnaround is real, whether Warren Buffett and Aaron Kushner really bought in at a bottom, or not.

    And the always-sunny Alan Mutter puts it all into historical perspective:

    By any measure, the newspaper business is half the size today that is was seven years ago. Notwithstanding a modest uptick in the broad economy, newspaper ad sales last year fell to a level not seen since 1983. The difference between then and now is that $22.3 billion in 1983 dollars would be worth $ 50.6 billion today.

  • David Carr on the way we get news now:

    I think the air has become ionized with information. It may not be as efficacious or as deep, but people know stuff, whether it’s the checkout line at the grocery story or a Facebook feed. It’s just that the harder stuff, about governance or state spending, where half our money goes, now has about half as many reporters covering it.

  • Google is warning publishers to keep sponsored content off of Google News or else risk being banned entirely for violation of its guidelines.

  • “Our wordy headlines are a growing disadvantage,” said Gawker Media head Nick Denton in a memo to his staff. Worried that the longer headlines hurt visibility on Google and Facebook, Denton wants his writers to keep headlines under 70 characters.

  • Measuring reader engagement is more that just tallying retweets and Facebook likes. Pros from the Guardian, the New York Times, and ProPublica share their methods for tracking engagement.

  • The next version of Firefox will block third-party cookies by default:

    All of the major browser manufacturers offer do-not-track headers that consumers can activate, but ad networks and publishers don’t have to comply with them. By contrast, Firefox’s new setting would actually block ad networks, exchanges and other third parties from setting tracking cookies, which are used to track users’ behavior across the Web and serve them ads based on their presumed interests.

  • The company behind Apple’s Siri is rolling out technology that will allow mobile ad units to “literally talk one-on-one with consumers.”

  • How local businesses can take a cue from large e-commerce companies and capitalize on “small data.”

  • And finally, will future editions of the Media Oxpecker be written by an algorithm? Prepare yourself for the rise of the bot-journalists.