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'Print still 90pc of revenue' says daily news chief

A publishing group’s managing editor has said 90pc of revenue made by its flagship title comes from print.

Tom Thomson, managing editor of the Herald & Times group, made the claim about Glasgow daily The Herald while speaking at a media conference in the city and added no Scottish publisher had yet “cracked it” when it comes to making money from multiple platforms.

Tom also told the event, entitled ‘The Media in Scotland: After the Referendum’, that the Sunday Herald, the only Scottish title to actively back independence, had seen a 32pc year-on-year circulation boost as a result of its stance.

And he announced a new website would be launched in the spring for recently launched pro-independence daily The National.

A report on the conference by Glasgow Caledonian University, which hosted the event, quoted Tom as saying that newspapers across the UK had faced a “fairly steep decline” from 12m in 2005 to 7m in 2014.

He said that print advertising spend was being lost, with newspapers having to seize the opportunities available from the fastest growing part of the internet – digital display advertising.

Tom also told the conference he expects further growth from the Newsquest-owned group’s titles to come from commentary in the build-up to May’s General Election.

Ben McConville, head of social sciences media and journalism at GCU, added: “The referendum campaign energised Scottish politics in ways we could not have imagined.”

A full report on the conference can be read here.

20 comments

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  • January 16, 2015 at 9:27 am
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    The only people making money from “multi-platforms” are those in the rail industry. Of course print is 90% of revenue for local news companies (95% would be closer for most) and we have to nail the myth that digital is some sort of like-for-like replacement for ink and paper. It categorically isn’t; it is, rather, a totally different business and not one that will ever be able to support the editorial hierarchies that have evolved over the past two centuries or so. Journalists are going the way of ostlers – make hay while you still can because the era of the content-gatherer and uploader is nearly here.

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  • January 16, 2015 at 9:46 am
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    The web cash cow that refuses to be milked is revealed.
    At last some honestly. It’s a shocking figure when you think of the way the sales of newspapers have been deliberately wrecked to clear the site for the web revolution that hasn’t taken off in money terms.
    Web income is failing because too few, if any, extra “factory floor” staff have been dedicated to web work.
    Now JP, TM, Newsquest, let’s have your figures. Won’t be long before the mantra goes out. PRINT FIRST!

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  • January 16, 2015 at 11:43 am
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    Wonder how Trinity Mirror’s print-free experiment is going? Well enough to fund the revised structure yet is it chaps? …… speak up can you, didn’t quite catch that!

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  • January 16, 2015 at 12:37 pm
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    I spent the last years of my 35 years in newspapers at one of Trinity’s biggest regional titles. Every digital innovation that came along was trumpeted as the way forward, the path to supposed glory. While the suits were congratulating themselves, I, the old office curmudgeon, would always say ‘Yes, but….’. The ‘but’ was always this killer fact, that, even years into the digital ‘revolution’ newspapers are still, overwhelmingly, sustained by dwindling print revenues. Yet, in Trinity’s case, the newspaper is now produced almost as an afterthought at the end of a day of giving its content available away on the web. And it provides this wonderful free service to web readers without having a clue how this will ever pay the wages of the hard-pressed hacks producing it.
    I think you would look long and hard at commercial history to find another example of an industry fundamentally altering its business model without knowing how that new model will turn a profit.
    As I looked around an office at young, poorly-paid yet talented ‘multi-media’ journalists, I could only conclude that these dedicated professionals were working their socks off towards a future in which they would put themselves out of a job.

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  • January 16, 2015 at 1:28 pm
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    JP, TM, NQuest are never slow to brag. So their lack of transparency over digital incomes speaks volumes. How ironic it will be if despite the poison administered to papers they stay alive, with websites still financial sideshow, as they are now.

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  • January 16, 2015 at 1:39 pm
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    Jaded Journo – it even predates the digital revolution. I used to look with bemusement at the free Metros which would be printed up on our presses and then catch the evening bus home and see most people who were reading a newspaper reading the Metro instead of our paid-for. And I would think to myself ‘we’re committing suicide here.’

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  • January 16, 2015 at 2:38 pm
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    Worrying news when newspapers are reporting 10 to 20 per cent declines every six months in sales of their printed products. How long will it be before printed newspapers become unviable? What happens then when their is insufficient digital income?
    More to the point how many HTFP visitors still buy a printed newspaper on a regular basis? I certainly don’t – there are plenty of news sources on the web.

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  • January 16, 2015 at 4:39 pm
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    Newspaper groups have well and truly missed the boat with the big advertising earners ,Houses, Jobs and Motors getting online years ago before befuddled , overpaid and overrated chief execs and directors knew what was happening.

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  • January 16, 2015 at 6:56 pm
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    Ah, yes, but if the Brains Trust from London HQ is screaming digital at you 24/7 then what is a poor boy to do….?

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  • January 16, 2015 at 10:17 pm
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    Jaded jouno summed it all up beautifully. Some talented hard working youngsters out there, but they will not have a long career. I so hope I am wrong, but there are too many digital bluffers in charge to be confident. Question; If web sites are so vital why are most, especially weeklies, so awful? Kids at college have more idea of design, and writing is substandard.digital first, quality poor second just will not do!!

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  • January 17, 2015 at 11:00 pm
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    Of course it’s responsible for 90 per cent of revenue, but that revenue is shrinking because newspapers are dying out, for the simple reason that anything printed and then sold hours later is old news. Digital keeps people bang up to date. There’s no option but to keep chasing a way to make the digital business pay – print can continue to rake it in for niche publications but plain old-fashioned newspapers will disappear, everyone is recording sales drops of 10-30% and have been for some time, it’s simple maths. Journalism is the thing we need to protect – on the internet / on apps / social media REAL journalists can reach more people than even before. Sadly there are far too many dinosaurs on local papers who really don’t understand what they are doing and cannot see a way ahead (as long as they can reach retirement, who cares?…)

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  • January 19, 2015 at 2:02 am
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    Newspapers here in Australia are rushing headlong into the digital revolution that, in my opinion, won’t properly take hold until at least a generation dies out. Meantime they shedding good productive employees (via redundancies mainly) in their hundreds, if not thousands. All these former positions, classifieds/ad building/features/ sub editing, are being offshored and the subsequent loss of quality in the print product is a complete embarrassment. But hey, they’ll tell you that digital revenue is increasing every year!…no wonder if they’re concentrating 95% of their efforts on 5% of their revenue and using the money saved from redundancies and offshoring to hire very highly paid digital “experts”…not news or advertising experts. Any wonder there is a loss of print revenue…the publishers themselves are creating it! Very, very sad.

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  • January 19, 2015 at 9:57 am
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    If you’re in charge you’re probably eyeing up that nice redundancy package when the end comes. Not something available to those who do the work and know the score.

    Too many papers are coasting towards oblivion. Charging more and producing less is no way to run a business. Peddling old news on bits of paper is starting to look ludicrous, even to me. And I spent two decades in print.

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  • January 19, 2015 at 2:03 pm
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    “There’s no option but to keep chasing a way to make the digital business pay”

    Fine, but you would really think someone, somewhere would have cracked it by now. Is that sunny day ever going to come?

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  • January 22, 2015 at 2:23 pm
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    Aren’t there two markets here?

    The regional papers with big declining sales which are being and will be superseded by digital platforms.

    And the weekly newspapers which are still profitable?
    I just mention this after hearing that despite no investment in my local newspaper, not even a bean from the owners, circulation over the last 12 months has increased a little.
    People like to relax and read a newspaper, which they can and do with their weekly.
    If they want to know the very latest regarding murders, traffic jams etc they go to the web!

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  • January 23, 2015 at 11:38 am
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    “A publishing group’s managing editor has said 90pc of revenue made by its flagship title comes from print.”
    After how many years of digital first!
    What do we try next?

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  • January 23, 2015 at 11:52 pm
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    Mark from the Midlands – local newspapers are now so poorly staffed, and many remaining news editors and editors so clueless and lost, that there isn’t anything exclusive being offered to the reader so they can ‘relax and read a newspaper’… pretty much everything they print is available somewhere else for free, and a damn sight earlier.
    Newspapers need to rebrand themselves, focus on exclusive content and put all the crime stuff etc on the web, but bosses are too brainless to work this out.
    A paper that offers a bit of everything used to be a good thing – now people focus on the amount of stuff in there they don’t want or already know about and understandably decide not to buy it any more.
    The digital revolution should be hugely exciting for journalists and journalism. But newspapers are thinking and acting like newspapers on the web (sell an ad 10cm x 1col etc) and this will never work. People need to think outside the box.

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