Steven R. Swartz, president of Hearst Newspapers and senior vice president of Hearst Corporation, recently referred to Amazon’s e-book tablet, the Kindle, when addressing workers at a pair of struggling Connecticut dailies that his company owns and operates – the Greenwich Time and The Advocate of Stamford.
In a group e-mail that was sent to employees Feb. 26 and obtained by TMCnet, Swartz said the papers must begin charging for access to online content in some way, and that it may look to Amazon’s new version of an e-book tablet – the Kindle 2 – to do that.
“We believe we must begin to provide greater differentiation between the content of our free Web sites and the content of our paid product, be that paid product read in print, on a digital device like Amazon’s Kindle, or online,” Swartz said.
This week, we learn from Brad Stone of the New York Times, reports are emerging that Amazon is in fact developing a larger version of its device – such as those made by Plastic Logic (pictured below) – that could help revitalize the struggling newspaper industry.
Citing unnamed sources that he says are familiar with the situation, Stone says that as early as this week, Amazon will introduce a larger version of the kindle that’s tailored for newspaper, magazine and even textbook displays.
“An Amazon spokesman would not comment, but some news organizations, including The New York Times, are expected to be involved in the introduction of the device, according to people briefed on the plans,” Stone said. “A spokeswoman for The Times, Catherine J. Mathis, said she could not comment on the company’s relationship with Amazon.”
The Kindle 2 – a wireless device that can hold 1,500 books from an available library of more than 230,000 books – already “delivers” newspapers wirelessly for a fee:
If the device can help newspapers reclaim a portion of the advertising revenue they’ve lost to the Internet – long a near-exclusive source of income for the industry – then it would mean that journalists finally have something to cheer about (in addition to former newspaper executive Mignon Clyburn’s upcoming nomination to the Federal Communications Commission).
It’s been a while.
In the past few months alone, The Rocky Mountain News in Denver published its last edition, the Philadelphia Inquirer filed for bankruptcy, and the San Francisco Chronicle is facing extinction. Last year, the Tribune Co, publisher of The Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and The Baltimore Sun, filed for bankruptcy, as did The Minneapolis Tribune, and the New York Times Co has suspended its dividend to cope with the recession.
Already, we’ve seen several newspapers and wire services try to leverage technology to turn profit margins around.
Recently, TMCnet talked to Associated Press General Manager for Mobile and Emerging Products Jeffrey Litvack about a new effort – the “Mobile News Network – that brings local, national, international, business, entertainment, sports and other news from more than 1,000 participating media organizations, supplemented by AP text, photos and videos.
As TMCnet has reported, the mobile Web – widely considered the platform of future telecommunications – is drawing more and more news organizations that long have struggled in an Internet-advertising era to post profit margins of years ago.
The AP’s effort followed a similar try from Cox (News - Alert) Newspapers Inc., which launched 19 Web sites for newspapers it owns and operates across a wide swath of the United States, including Texas, Ohio and Florida.
As TMC President Rich Tehrani (News - Alert) pointed out, newspapers likely need to reinvent themselves using wireless technology.
Until they do, the industry will continue to falter – to the laments of journalists who claim that the loss of newspapers hurts the communities they serve. Newspapers keep public officials accountable, inform constituents and spotlight the goings-on of towns and cities, advocates say.
According to Stone, the most appealing part of e-book tablets is the opportunity they offer publishers to rethink their strategy in a rapidly evolving digital world.
“The move by newspapers and magazines to make their material freely available on the Web is now viewed by many as a critical blunder that encouraged readers to stop paying for the print versions,” Stone reports. “And publishers have found that they were not prepared to deal with the recent rapid decline of print advertising revenue.”
One newspaper head from overseas – John Ridding, chief executive of the 121-year-old, salmon-colored British newspaper The Financial Times (News - Alert) – said he’s following developments here in the states “with a great deal of interest.”
“The severe double whammy of the recession and the structural shift to the Internet has created an urgency that has rightly focused attention on these devices,” Ridding told Stone.
Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users.
Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Michael Dinan
|| By Michael Dinan
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