Hot off the press: Part 3

In the final instalment of this three-part strategy magazine feature, MiC's Katie Bailey looks at the popularity of newspapers in today's digital mediaverse and importance of content in keeping readers rapt.

On Friday, the Globe and Mail unveiled its dramatic redesign, featuring a new 11-inch format and glossy pages. In the following excerpt from strategy magazine (the third of three parts), MiC associate editor Katie Bailey examines how Canada’s national newspaper landscape is changing, and how our dailies are rising to the challenge.

Continued from Part 2…

The stats in the States are a bit bleak, but readership in Canada has remained steady over the past five years. The 2009 NADBank readership survey shows that 77% of Canadian adults living where a daily newspaper is available reported reading a printed or online edition each week, a result consistent with 2008′s report.

Print remains the most popular medium (noting e-reader editions were not as widely available as they are in 2010) with 73% of adults reporting reading a print edition at least once a week (same as 2008) and 22% accessing an online edition (a 2% increase over 2008). Most people, it seems, read both, with only 4% reporting reading online editions only. There is every indication, however, that the number will grow, especially as e-readers and tablets gain marketshare.

Michael Hollett, publisher, Now Magazine, has no time for disparaging attitudes towards print, especially when it comes to appealing to young people through the medium.

‘The publishing industry blows my mind in terms of how self-destructive they are and how they are participating in their own demise,’ he says with frustration. Free is key in appealing to the hearts and minds of Millennials, he argues.

‘These guys can’t get their heads around it,’ he says of media tycoons like News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch, who is famously pursuing pay walls at News Corp papers. ‘You want young people to read you. You don’t want to have your audience just die, which is what is happening, but people aren’t even paying for stuff that they used to pay for, like music. That’s already been lost. So you think that you’re going to get them to pay for stuff they were already not buying?’

In every interview conducted for this story, the common denominator cited as key to continued media company success is quality and individuality of content. This is not a new concept. But in a world where readers will sift through a handful of media outlets in a matter of minutes, having unique content has arguably never been more important. If your stuff is the same as everyone else’s, why would anyone waste their time?

The Globe‘s strategy to be unique in its storytelling will remain a core mandate of the newspaper, Crawley says. And by investing in the new look, he hopes to send a message to the ad community at large that print is still worth investing in – because maintaining the kind of newsroom that can pump out three mediums’ worth of content every day is certainly not cheap.

‘It makes a big statement to our entire industry that there are people around who have a strong belief in the long-term vitality of
the newspaper business,’ he says.

‘In the last couple of years, you have lots of prophets of doom telling the world that newspapers are finished. We’re about to show that newspapers are far from finished, that they actually still have lots of new tricks that people haven’t seen yet.’

UM’s Laura Maurice agrees.

‘The Globe redesign comes at a very important time for the print industry,’ she says. ‘Publishers will need to evolve with the changing landscape and be on the forefront of technology. By leveraging their brand as a whole and providing their readers with brand solutions for their needs, they will survive. In what capacity I’m not sure, but it will be exciting to see how it all plays out. I personally love the printed word and can never imagine a day when I can’t curl up with my favourite paper, coffee in hand.’