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What Newspapers Can Learn from the iPod

Mpaa_1Newspaper columnist Steve Outing reviews a new magazine publisher initiative and appears to be as critical of magazines as he is with other print media. Just as iPod packaging helps tell a story about product superiority, so too does a picture-laden feature on heavy glossy paper create a value proposition for luxury marketers. These are ad dollars which will continue to remain inaccessible to daily newspapers...unless they learn to, er, think different.

Magazines have long argued that people look forward to receiving their favorite magazines. Steve agrees with this - his favorites are Runner's World and Bicycling. Yet people don't look forward to receiving their newspaper the same way - well, unless you consider the consumers that clip grocery coupons every Sunday. Consumers are increasingly becoming better multitaskers, and demand more from the media they consume. How else can you explain there's only one Washington Post, yet there are three - count 'em, three - luxury magazines soon to be launched in DC? (registration required)

It's simple. Follow the money, follow the power. 

The recent State of the News Media 2005 points out the importance of the newsroom. The iPod took something that people assumed was free - the MP3 file - and created a vision of value where labels made money, could develop new artists and create new distribution models. Likewise, news publishers should not automatically assume that the escalating costs of newsprint are a negative. They need to be more creative in leveraging their newsrooms to create products that are friendly to advertisers.


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