Some of the best, most edifying and compelling television I have watched has been the buzz in our industry as of late. If you've been watching the series on PBS' Frontline called "News War," then you probably agree.
The Frontline four-part series has been running and re-running across the U.S. and streaming from the
While more and more readers are turning to other outlets including cable television, online news sites, blogs and news aggregators like Google and Yahoo News, newspapers are still a profitable business, though much of that profit is in danger thanks to factors that are not relevant to interactive, such as the rising cost of fuel, labor, ink and paper.
Today, as the newspaper industry struggles to compete with the very portals it feeds, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain profit levels of 15-20 percent without implementing cost-cutting measures like the massive layoffs at numerous respected newspapers across the country.
Of course, publicly owned newspapers are beholden to the demands of Wall Street, where investors measure their value based on how much money they make and how much money they will make in the future. Nearly 3,000 full-time newspaper jobs have been lost so far this decade, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism. Other newspapers have shut down press rooms and closed overseas bureaus. Many of these jobs have moved to news-gathering organizations online, and in many cases, with the same mastheads.
When do newspaper websites catch up?
Thanks in part to companies that provide services and one-stop shopping for all local online publishers through technology platforms, online revenue at newspapers continues to grow at an average rate of more than 30 percent a year.
When you pick up your local newspaper, the majority of the national ads you see were all placed through national buying services, and until only recently, those same national advertisers had no simple way to reach those digital newspapers. But that's changing and the newspaper industry is competing once again and gaining serious ground, as evidenced by its renewed growth, increased technological innovation and investments in online editions.
Take a look at the fantastic Frontline special to learn more about the industry's challenges and more about what will drive interactive in the years to come. Newspapers aren't going anywhere, but the portals that have skimmed so many ad dollars from the top at the expense of newspapers, their brands and many of the journalists that create that brand may be in for a surprise in the years to some.
As networks proliferate, their stratification and controversies -- like the Ann Coulter site situation when blind networks saw their branded clients become furious about where their ads ran -- will only drive more business back to where the content was derived: newspapers.
It's not going to happen this week or this year, but it will happen.
Shawn Riegsecker is CEO of Centro, a provider of platforms and services to help agencies easily and effectively buy local online media. .