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Report: Vocus State of the Media 2011

By Jane Fazackarley     Jan 28, 2011 in Business
On Wednesday Vocus released their annual State of the Media report 2011. The report analysed media trends for the past year and made predictions for this year.
The State of the Media report was collated by former editors, reporters and producers from the Vocus Research Team and looked at four areas: newspapers, magazines, television and radio.
Some of the report has been made available in a press release. According to the press release:
“Twelve months ago, the media appeared to be in freefall. Mass layoffs, bankruptcies and a general sense of demise blighted the media landscape. Much of our industry was on its knees."
"Then, something changed. In 2010, the layoffs and closures began to slow down. The industry began to stabilize.”
The report states:
"The media appears to be evolving. Online staffs are growing and social media editors are becoming a mainstay in newsrooms. Although there are still losses within the industry, successful organizations are adapting to move forward."
Some of the key findings of the report showed that approximately 151 newspapers folded in 2010, down from 300 in 2009. 11 newspapers became available online only. 724 online newspapers were launched in the past year, the majority of these were hyperlocal sites. Around 102 magazines launched as digital-only or became exclusively available online and terrestrial radio use had fallen by 15% in the past five years.
David Coates, managing editor of newspaper content at Vocus Media Research Group said:
“Something had to change as the newspaper business was hemorrhaging jobs and money."
“It was a Darwinian environment and only the strong remain. Those newspapers that adapted to the changing media and distribution of news survived, and those that didn’t died.”
“The addition of Patch has made the hyperlocal news websites an extremely competitive business, especially in the Boston area. Patch, Wicked Local (part of Gatehouse Media) and Your Town (part of the Boston Globe’s, have all set up shop in the Boston area and are competing aggressively for local news."
“The question arises: is there enough news in that area to sustain multiple hyperlocal news sites? That remains to be seen, but it seems like good news for public relations professionals who are trying to pitch stories. Because there is so much competition for news, these sites will be looking for more content to fill their pages.”
In the past year newspapers also continued to test out paywalls. The Vocus report states that The Times and The Sunday Times had "mixed results." The Telegraph reported in November 2010 that News International had 105,000 subscribers to The Times and Sunday Times websites. These figures are discussed in detail here.
2011 will be the year that the New York Times launches its metered paywall. Bloomberg report that the New York Times will charge its subscribers less than $20.00 a month when the paid version is introduced. On Monday the Wall Street Journal reported that the New York Times paywall will be brought in next month and subscription fees will only apply to "heavy users".
An iPad only newspaper called "The Daily" is also set to launch. According to a report on Mashable Rupert Murdoch's tablet newspaper will have its official launch on February 2. They also report that it is rumoured The Daily will sell on iTunes for 99 cents a week or $4.25 a month.
Commenting on the launch of The Daily, Coates said:
“The success or failure—and with Murdoch, failure is not an option—of The Daily will set the bar for the newspaper computer tablet business."
“It wouldn’t be a big surprise if several other traditional newspapers stopped printing on paper altogether in the near future and moved to the computer tablet,or at least online-only.”
In 2010 the magazine industry is said to have stabilized with 169 new launches and 167 folds.
Rebecca Bredholt, managing editor of magazine content at Vocus Media Research Group said:
"“I think publishers have figured out how people want to consume which types of content."
“The Atlantic, for the first time in a decade, is not losing money. It attributes much of that success to taking down its paywall and putting younger writers on a Web-first deadline, as well as merging the print and digital sales teams. For larger-tier magazines like the ones at Time Inc., you’re going to need a bigger boat: one that makes bigger moves resulting in bigger waves.”
“If you take a closer look at the smaller category of news and business, which houses titles like Newsweek, you won’t find as many closures—only U.S. News & World Report shuttered—but you will find a great reduction in editorial staff positions."
Again the trend for new magazines was local and regional, "a perfect example of how popular the hyperlocal concept has become among all media", states the report. Other magazines launched were in niche areas such and health and fitness. The report also says that the industry has not fully recovered with advertising revenues still down.
In 2011 Bredholt, predicts "print magazines will provide less unique and paid-for content in print."
Bredholt also says that we should expect the use of digital content, apps and mobile devices to continue to grow in popularity.
According to the report, one of the "hottest trends" for 2010 was the 4.30am newscast with over 60 stations adding them.
Julie Holley, managing editor of television content at Vocus Media Research Group said:
“Stations are realizing that viewers, especially in larger metropolitan areas where rush-hour traffic is an issue, are waking up earlier to go to work."
“They are adding earlier newscasts to reach out to that audience.”
2010 was also the year of paid-for programming which stations in Las Vegas and Boston tried and 3D TV. Sports network ESPN launched their 3D channel last year and Discovery announced that they were teaming up with the Sony Corporation and the IMAX Corporation to make 3D television available.
Holley said:
“However, the top four broadcast networks – NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox – would have to convert to 3D technology before local stations would follow suit."
“Even if local broadcasters do catch on in the years to come, it is unlikely it would affect local news anytime soon because of the costs associated with purchasing cameras that shoot in 3D. And the question remains: does anyone really want to watch the news in 3D? Sure, snowflakes would look really cool. But a car wreck might look a lot worse with that extra dimension.”
The sales of 3D TV are predicted to continue to grow throughout 2011.
According to the report "the future of radio is uncertain".
Kyle Johnson, managing editor of radio content at Vocus Media Research Group said:
“The assumption is that with all the new technology available— Internet radio, satellite radio and iPods—giving consumers more and more listening options, traditional radio will soon go the way of newspapers."
“A cursory look indicates that this might be the case.”
“It can become mobile through apps and FM transmitters in cell phones. Radio can interact with listeners, through Facebook and Twitter for example, in ways it never could before. If radio chooses to embrace new technology and extend its reach beyond the AM/FM bands, it has the potential to do what it has done so well over the years: provide niche programming to targeted audiences. Providing local content and tying that content to high-profile events and issues in the community is important.”
Social media, says the report, "took on an even bigger role within the media industry in 2010 as more outlets and journalists adopted social media guidelines, created social media editor positions, and set up fan pages. Twitter has now become a way for news organizations to break news, while different social media platforms allow for deeper engagement within their respective communities."
Julie Holley said:
“Unlike what we’ve seen with radio, only some TV stations are choosing to make station fan pages.”
“Most Facebook use is seen among the staff of media organizations, i.e. producers and on-air talent. Stations and networks, however, are on Twitter in higher numbers and many use the platform like a news alert system, broadcasting short snippets of breaking news to those who subscribe to their feed.”
The report concludes:
"A year ago it seemed as if the media were on the brink of destruction. Now, phoenix-like, the industry has risen up to begin a transformation that will leave behind the constraints of traditional media. In 2011, new models will continue to appear as old models adapt, while the boundaries of newspapers, magazines, television and radio become less defined. Relationships between media will continue to evolve, as will the media’s engagement with Twitter, Facebook and all things social media."
"Major change is upon us and will continue into 2011 and beyond. However, despite the changes the media will undergo this year, the industry will continue to survive—and thrive—as a conveyer of news and information, regardless of platform."
A full copy of the Vocus State of the Media 2011 report is available by signing up here.
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