Innovations in (World) Newspapers

Innovations in (World) Newspapers

With the annual meeting of the World Association of Newspapers taking place at the end of May, a great deal of newspaper related information is (globally) available, and interesting to all in the media businesses. Though the included excerpts may not come under the heading of "data you can use," it would seem that a better understanding of what's taking place in the industry and the changes that effect reporting, editorial and the physical aspects of newspapers will be useful in dealing with the medium.

Trends picked by Innovation for this year's report include:

- In the wake of the dot-com crash and last year's slowdown, newspapers are struggling to turn their Web sites into profitable operations. An Innovation survey of 429 newspaper executives indicated that online revenues rose despite the slowdown, and 42 percent of the executives said their operation was breaking even or turning a profit. About 80 percent of the newspaper sites rely solely on advertising revenue, but newspapers are developing premium services that would be available on a pay-for-content basis.

- The analysts hailed new interior designs that are drawing editorial teams into circles in the newsroom's open spaces. Other features of multimedia design include mini-studios for TV broadcasts and streamlined digital photo stations. Just as important are new technologies such as XML document coding, which makes it easier to translate content into multiple formats.

- Designers are creating online graphics that incorporate sound and motion to tell a story, to explain how a complicated contraption works, or even to turn the news into an interactive game.

- Innovation noted several newspapers that remade themselves in a more compact form, "where fewer pages make a big difference," said Juan Antonio Giner, Innovation's founding partner-director. Downsized papers such as Spain's AS, Britain's The Business and the Dominican Republic's El Caribe are easier to handle, less costly to produce, less dependent on advertising - and increasingly popular with readers, Giner said.

- And, finally, print advertisers note: In the western Norwegian town of Modalen every one of its 350 or so inhabitants is connected to the Internet via a broadband wireless network. Modalen has blossomed into a small-scale center for information technology - but the residents still read newspapers and check out as many books as they did in pre-wired days. The town librarian says the printed word still beats a computer screen when it comes to long stretches of text.

The full report is available from the World Association of Newspapers.