Sunday, February 01, 2009

Newspapers counter bad news to tell their story, share ideas for dealing with the digital revolution

Newspapers have been obliged to be the messengers of their own distress, because the industry's turmoil is news. But a small group of newspaper executives is trying to tell another story, that "Newspapers and their online offspring combined are more popular than ever imagined," writes Bill Ketter, right, chief news executive of Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.

"Media reports nearly always paint a portrait of an industry gasping for air in the digital age," Ketter writes. "This wrongheaded perception stems from the economic recession that’s affected all advertising-based businesses, and from the myth that newspapers no longer attract the public support they once enjoyed." In fact, the audience for newspaper Web sites rose 12 percent in 2008, the Newspaper Association of America said in a recent post on the new site

The site says it was created "to support a constructive exchange of information and ideas about the future of newspapers. While we acknowledge the challenges facing the newspaper industry in today’s rapidly changing media world, we reject the notion that newspapers — and the valuable content that newspaper journalists provide — have no future." Recent posters include several industry leaders, and the group is now inviting posts offering "perspective on what newspaper companies can do to survive and thrive in the years ahead." E-mail them at with questions, comments, articles or resource links.

"Monday, the group will launch a series of print and online ads telling, among other facts, the story of how American newspapers and their Web sites daily reach 100 million people, more than watched Sunday’s Super Bowl," Ketter reports. "The ads will appear in major newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, and also in scores of community dailies," including the 89 Ketter helps oversee at CNHI. For his detailed explanation of the project, click here.

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