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December 14, 2011
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Knowledge for new solutions from the American Press Institute

  • The Business of News, 2011
    The American Press Institute and SmartBrief launched Business of News SmartBrief to the public on May 23, 2011. The daily brief provides a look at how newspapers and other publishers are finding a way forward in the changing world of media. We're pleased to offer this special year-end report. If you're not a subscriber to Business of News SmartBrief, please sign up for a free daily look at the news industry.

    Since the launch, the New York Times has introduced a metered subscription system and named its first woman editor. The Journal-Register company has reinvented itself as a "Digital First" publisher. Social network Facebook rolled out its "Editions" product that invites newspapers to publish digital versions on the Facebook platform. More recently, Gannett and McClatchy reported that the ad market appeared to be on an upswing. Business of News SmartBrief offered a look at each of these stories, and more.

    In this year-end review, we've packaged a list of the year's 20 most-clicked stories, your answers to our poll questions and an interview with API Chairman Tom Silvestri.

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  Newsmaker Interview 
  • Q-and-A with Tom Silvestri
    Thomas A. Silvestri

    Tom Silvestri, president and publisher of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and chairman of the American Press Institute, spoke to Business of News SmartBrief editor Adam Mazmanian at about issues facing the news business in 2012. The full interview appears on SmartBlog on Leadership.

    Q: In 2011, newspapers including the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and others rolled out some form of metered access to their Web content. How do you think pay walls fit in as part of a newspaper's overall revenue model?

    A: The key word in your question is "fit." Our entire industry is trying to diversify its revenue sources and find new sources of revenues. What we're finding is that pay walls, and there are some people in our industry who don't like this term, are not a silver bullet or an elixir. I wouldn't bank on it for a substantial injection of revenue, but it does help broaden the revenue model by stressing the importance of content and our need to produce premium, distinct content. Markets are going to discriminate on what's worth paying for and what isn't, and it gives us the opportunity to get back to the premium content arena.

    Putting my publisher hat on here, we've been able to study pay wall initiatives, and our approach is to take a more holistic, long-term view -- not ignoring the potential dollars that come in from a pay wall, but to do it in a way that mirrors our "digital first" effort. But it's going to be a slow go, and I wouldn't bet the ranch on it. It's a piece of the puzzle that includes content, distribution and vendor partnerships. But hats off to those who have tried it, provided us with data points and have been learning as they go.

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  The Top 20 Stories of 2011 
  Poll Results 
  • What do you see as the biggest driver of revenue for publishers in 2012?
    Digital subscriptions  32.00%
    Special events and partnerships  28.00%
    Online advertising  16.00%
    None of the above  12.00%
    Mobile and location-based advertising  12.00%
  • Do you think newspaper companies will show improved financials in 2012?
    Yes  47.37%
    No  33.33%
    About the same as 2011  19.30%
    No opinion  0.00%
  • Do you pay to subscribe to any digital news sources, including the online version of print publications?
    No  50.00%
    Yes  50.00%
  • Has your newspaper merged its online and print sales teams?
    Yes  80.00%
    No  20.00%
    I don't know  0.00%
Product announcements appearing in SmartBrief are paid advertisements and do not reflect actual API endorsements. The news reported in SmartBrief does not necessarily reflect the official position of API.
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    The American Press Institute is the oldest and largest center devoted solely to training and professional development for the news industry. At API, we believe in creating new knowledge for new solutions and empowering individuals to engage, communicate and innovate. We help newsmedia organizations develop the tools and people to transform companies and careers through seminars and workshops, interactive learning, custom leadership and strategy programs, design services, and research. Our 38,000 alumni include media company presidents, publishers, editors, advertising/marketing and circulation directors, sales associates, multimedia journalists and journalism educators. API was founded by newspaper publishers in 1946 and is housed in a Marcel Breuer-designed building in Reston, Virginia.

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