Are mer­its of an af­ter­noon news­pa­per re­turn­ing?

Newspapers & Technology Magazine - - News - T ▶ BY SEAN RUTH, MCCLATCHY AND NORMAN HARBIN, FLINT GROUP CONTRIBUTERS p

(630) 739 9600

The world is rapidly chang­ing. News­pa­per pro­duc­tion start times are gen­er­ally much ear­lier than years ago due to in­dus­try, reader, and tech­nol­ogy-driven rea­sons.

On the in­dus­try side, early pro­duc­tion times ac­com­mo­date print­ing op­er­a­tions to pro­duce an as­sort­ment of news­pa­per ti­tles, many of which are now printed at a sig­nif­i­cant dis­tance from the de­liv­ery mar­ket. Gone from the morn­ing pa­per are last night’s sports scores and de­tails on news­wor­thy events that hap­pened af­ter eight p.m. The snap­shot of time for the news in the morn­ing pa­per has fre­quently got­ten ear­lier and ear­lier. With the con­tin­ued push for con­sol­i­da­tion and ex­pand­ing pal­pa­ble drive times be­tween mar­kets, we will con­tinue to cre­ate an ear­lier news cy­cle.

From the read­ers’ stand­point, morn­ings aren’t the quiet start they once were. Many com­muters travel longer dis­tances to work, and many news­pa­per read­ers spend their morn­ings giv­ing the kids break­fast and get­ting them off to school be­fore be­gin­ning long work days. How many fam­i­lies ac­tu­ally find that they do not have time to read the morn­ing news­pa­per un­til late in the day when every­thing set­tles down? How many read­ers only briefly spend time scan­ning over the head­lines or only read a few graphs here and there?

On the tech­nol­ogy front, in­ter­net news sources and so­cial me­dia sites, in­clud­ing those viewed on mo­bile de­vices through­out the day have un­der­mined a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of printed prod­ucts pro­duced by the news­pa­per in­dus­try. Al­though news­pa­pers are fight­ing back with their own dig­i­tal con­tent, these ini­tia­tives have not yet gen­er­ated rev­enue needed to dis­place sig­nif­i­cant losses in subscriptions and ad dol­lars that sup­ported the print prod­uct.

While the pop­u­la­tion base of North Amer­ica still is in de­mand of our num­ber one cur­rency, lo­cal news and in­for­ma­tion, our cur­rent main de­liv­ery model of hit­ting the door step of ev­ery home by 5:30 or 6:00am is pos­si­bly not meet­ing their life de­mands.

What new op­por­tu­ni­ties ex­ist to change this path?

Con­sider the mer­its of an af­ter­noon news­pa­per.

An af­ter­noon news­pa­per might sound crazy at first, es­pe­cially af­ter the in­dus­try has moved nearly 100 per­cent to morn­ing printed prod­ucts. How­ever, some­time what is old be­comes new again. Many af­ter­noon pa­pers were cre­ated to in­form peo­ple of what hap­pened while they were busy at work. Can an af­ter­noon prod­uct pro­vide im­proved sub­scriber value?

The con­tent of morn­ing news­pa­pers has aged for the above-men­tioned as­sort­ment of rea­sons. Many af­ter­noon pa­pers were elim­i­nated in fa­vor of the morn­ing prod­uct be­cause the con­tent was stale, re­sources were stretched, and read­ers were ask­ing for a more de­tailed prod­uct at their doorsteps be­fore they left for work each morn­ing. Is that still the case to­day?

Think about the fol­low­ing:

Af­ter­noon news con­tent is fresh – only hours old. Peo­ple are busy with their work­day task and less likely to have all the de­tails on what’s happed in their com­mu­ni­ties while at work.

Lo­cal fo­cus in­creases. The abil­ity to cover to­day’s lo­cal news is a great strength and is im­por­tant to lever­age. Lo­cally rel­e­vant ad­ver­tis­ing is also a unique as­set.

Beat the morn­ing pa­pers with anal­y­sis and com­men­tary of last nights’ sport­ing events that oc­curred af­ter morn­ing pa­pers went to early pro­duc­tion for the morn­ing prod­uct. Sport­ing events even­tu­ally re­ported in the morn­ing prod­uct are in many cases delivered a day later.

The ad­ver­tis­ing mes­sages and sales fo­cus change to a “look what you can­not miss to­mor­row” so peo­ple can plan for at­tend­ing a spe­cial event.

En­ter­prise and long-form jour­nal­ism re­quire a com­mit­ment of time from the reader that is more read­ily avail­able in the early evening by all de­mo­graphic groups.

Af­ter­noon press time is gen­er­ally read­ily avail­able, so an af­ter­noon printed prod­uct can hit the streets at the last pos­si­ble minute.

Does an af­ter­noon prod­uct free up sought-af­ter evening press time to print morn­ing news­pa­per ti­tles for oth­ers on a con­tract ba­sis to add ad­di­tional con­tri­bu­tion?

As we all face staffing chal­lenges both in op­er­a­tions and dis­tri­bu­tion fill­ing grave­yard shifts, would early evening or shifts that ended around mid­night rather than five or six in the morn­ing be eas­ier to fill?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.