Tag Archives: newspapers

Newspapers That Do It Right

By Mark Hanzlik, Executive Director

This annual horn-tooting is nearly always a roundup of  “daily” newspaper choices but there’s one AltMedia publication in the batch this year, SEVEN DAYS.

The 2013 anti-doom and gloom posting in E&P today enlightens struggling publishers with some interesting sidebars, examples of newspapers stepping outside the box to generate business and maintain their advertising base.

Seven Days has received their share of press and recognition in this area before but it’s particularly sweet for the feisty weekly that has battled and practically defeated the Gannett-owned daily and other weeklies in the marketplace (since their inaugural issue in 1995).    The E&P recognition reflects on their diversified approach to generating revenue which includes creating video content, mobile & tablet apps, and several niche publications.   Seven Days has bucked the trend by maintaining strong classified, job listing and personals sections too.

Staff of Seven Days

Seven Dayssevendaysvt.com is Vermont’s largest independent newsweekly and the region’s premier source of news, opinion, arts info, job listings, personals and classifieds.

Marketing, Sales Push by AWN for Q4

By Sarah Billingsley, Communications Director

As we contemplate the recent assertion ‘print is not dead’ from a report published by www.whoneedsnewspapers.org, we’d like to share some of the current marketing efforts from members of our sales cooperative.    We’re not only checking the pulse of PRINT advertising from national brands and agencies but we’re trying to pump some blood back into the veins before that patient expires.  After all, it’s the final quarter of the year, a time when we often see additional non-local ad dollars surface.

Earlier this month, AWN president Brian Hieggelke (publisher, Newcity and veteran seller in our network) sent a well-crafted e-blast to a good-sized list of advertising contacts (see excerpts from his letter below).   The clever message which took a fresh approach to our greatest advertising success story in our 17-year history was sent to past, current, and prospective advertisers in an effort to spark AWN marketing efforts.   Apparently it’s generated some response already- within a week, he received positive feedback and a several nibbles from advertisers an agencies who may see AWN as a possible marketing channel for their plans.   Here’s some of that letter:

…I wanted to drop you a quick note with an update on our organization, which is rocking its second decade. We’re currently 150+ publications strong, coast to coast in markets from Maine to Hawaii and from Washington to Florida, with a weekly circulation of five million in print and 15 million unique visitors online each month.

AltoidsNov97Our audience of local influencers is a marketer’s dream: educated, engaged, conscious and affluent city dwellers.

Over the last 15 years, we’ve worked with national brands in just about every category: spirits, television, finance, automotive, telecom, you name it, to help establish authentic local relationships with their target consumers.

Altoids is a great example. In the 1990’s, Leo Burnett’s creative team of Steffan Postaer and Mark Faulkner brilliantly seized upon the quirky British phrase “Curiously Strong Mints” and built an edgy, graphic campaign around it. Initially they used two mediums: outdoor, where the poster-like quality could reign magnificently, and alt weeklies, where the trendsetting audiences would shoot product trial and word-of-mouth out of a rocket. Within the decade, Altoids was a billion-dollar brand, and we’d worked closely with its media team all the way to the top.

Got any brands looking to make magic happen? Let us see how The Alts can help with a launch or a “freshening up.” Our capabilities include print, digital and in-market event execution.

In addition to Brian’s efforts, AWN sales representatives across the country are pitching The Alts to a wide variety of national advertisers in a variety of categories. The list includes our standard brand categories (wireless, alcohol, and tobacco) as well as additional categories that can also find a valuable audience within our industry (such as automotive, restaurant chains, political campaigns, and publishing houses).

Also we recently created a more up-to-date, customizable AWN sales deck for sellers within our network to take to market.    If you’d like a copy or are just curious, let us know and we’ll send a copy via email.

As you know, AWN needs active participation from sellers in order to continue to pursue advertising opportunities for the network.   We are spreading the word, and we would love to hear what you have been doing to keep this ball rollin’.   Please copy us on your e-blasts, send us your current AWN claims list, and/or give us a call and tell us how we can help you. We look forward to hearing from you.

Portland Alternative, Willamette Week Featured in National Newspaper Report

Just out, a new report about the future of the newspaper industry from WhoNeedsNewspapers.org covers 50 publications in 50 States.   Willamette Week is the sole alt weekly newspaper featured in the report, representing Oregon in the mostly daily newspaper roundup.

The industry report doesn’t provide a clear, single message as to what that future might be, but they conclude after gathering a number of interviews with newspaper editors, publishers and digital managers that “print is not dead.”


The story was first reported on NetNewsCheck, where you’ll find an overview of the findings presented on Monday before the Society of Professional Journalists/Radio Television Digital News Association conference in New Orleans.   The verdict may still be out, but after reading the report and viewing the video interviews with a number of successful publishers and editors, you can’t help but feel the buzz.

Willamette Week’s inclusion in this study was more than token move by the group.  The well-edited, arts & entertainment weekly alternative has been winning awards for their investigative coverage for many years (including a 2005 Pulitzer Prize for “The 30-Year Secret”).    Co-owners, Richard Meeker (publisher) and Mark Zusman (editor) have been connecting with readers and promoting arts & entertainment in the Portland market since 1984, both are interviewed and provide comments about their successful publishing and editorial strategies.

Willamette Week has been a member of The Alternative Weekly Network since 1994.

Print vs. Online

By Mark Hanzlik, Executive Director

When I read Jack Shafer’s post on Slate this weekend I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to his recent judgement comparing the print and online reading experience.

When you see the headline “Print vs. Online” you almost expect to see a much larger view of the two concurrent newspaper realities, in some sense maybe the differences between print and online advertising as well.  Instead, Shafer targets only one aspect of the contrasting media practices; retention of news.   To backup his personal findings, he cites an academic study from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, a paper titled “Medium Matters: Newsreaders’ Recall and Engagement with Online and Print Newspapers”.   Shafer quickly points out only 45 readers were tested in the recent study, and how the results confirm his own print-superiority bias.   Also, considering nature of this academic study (one newspaper product only, NY Times) and very small sample size, one might question the results.


In this study there’s assumptions made about the behavior of readers and their preferences that support the theory readers are directed to a higher level of engagement with print products, and that online readers are simply just too distracted.  That may be true.   But, they also theorize the dynamic nature of the web itself doesn’t really provide for a memorable experience.   That’s seems unlikely to me but I can see how that’s already a fully loaded debate and both sides have valid arguments.

The case on behalf of a dynamic and highly variable online news and information platform seems so strong and so prevalent in the current digital environment, these findings seem impossible to accept.  Unlike online news platforms which come in a variety of design platforms and media devices, print newspapers are a fairly stable medium and have not changed the reader experience as dramatically over the past dozen or so years.  Publishers are no longer trying to make the print experience as much fun as the digital one.  I think a tipping point has already been reached, so it should all come down to how you slice up those readers (print vs. online) and not about whether one method is better than the other.

There’s another camp that suggests that news and media itself has changed so dramatically that clinging to an older model of delivery doesn’t really get you back to where we started anyway.  So, I say go ahead turn the page, click the page what’s the difference.

Q3 Newspaper Ad Declines Encouraging?

By Mark Hanzlik, AWN Executive Director

I’m never sure how to take the numbers from the Newspaper Association of America (NAA). By way of News & Tech last week, we discover the NAA reported newspapers sold more than $6 billion in print and online advertising during Q3, a 5.3 percent drop from the year prior. According to NAA, the decline in advertising continues to slow, continuing a somewhat unremarkable trend that began earlier in the year.  Maybe it’s because the year (2009) was worse than any previous year since they began keeping track of such things.

Realistically, it’s the 17th consecutive three-month period in which advertising revenues declined.  Even with the inclusion of online advertising which has been growing, how, really is that good news?

The NAA points to the economic recovery in the U.S. and newspapers’ multi-platform earnings in which they’re heralding healthy online revenue growth.  True, this year has seen some bright spots, and there’s definitely some skid marks beginning to indicate a decline in the free-fall numbers from the previous year.

I’m not the kind of guy who often views the glass half-empty but I know that there’s a number of ways you can interpret numbers over the short run and long haul.  I’m for viewing the big picture which in my opinion does not yield much of a healthy story for newspapers.

View the numbers at the NAA web site both quarterly and annual reports, make your own story.