Background on the Midwest newspaper association initiative
This is a copy of a memo sent by email to executives of state newspaper trade associations throughout the United States. It predates the Nov. 16, 2009 meeting held in Kansas City. See Doug Crew's report on the Nov. 16 meeting.
To: Newspaper Association Managers
From: Bill Monroe (Iowa Press Assn.), Doug Crews (Missouri Press Assn.), and Doug Anstaett (Kansas Press Assn.)
Re: Task Force meeting invitation
As you may know, the three of us have come to the conclusion that it is imperative that we begin to discuss the possibilities of a multi-state project to help newspapers protect their content (which is now being covertly mined by numerous web operations) while developing the following capabilities for newspapers and/or our respective associations:
- The ability to upload public notices to statewide public notice websites within days rather than weeks to protect the future of these notices in newspapers;
- The ability of press association ad services to obtain electronic tear sheets within a few days of publication to make our ad services more viable and speed payment to newspapers;
- The ability of newspapers to create low-cost, word-searchable morgues and archives;
- The ability of newspapers to electronically mine the news stories of other newspapers on any given topic.
- The ability of newspapers to inexpensively create websites.
- The creation of a central collection point for the receipt of royalties derived from reused content.
We believe that by creating new state press association member services, newspapers can leverage their collective power to create a substantial competitive advantage in the information marketplace.
We recognize that people are increasingly moving their lives on-line, and the newspaper industry is still searching for a viable model to monetize the distribution of their content in an electronic world. Demand is not the problem – people want news. The problem is capturing sufficient value from that demand, in an environment where people increasingly feel news should be free.
By collectivizing content through state press associations, controlled by the newspapers we serve, our members can regain control of the distribution, resale and reuse of newspaper information, while deriving additional value from the problem areas of advertising, classifieds, and the costs associated with producing a physical newspaper. The industry as a whole will have market leverage beyond what would be possible for a single newspaper, or even a conglomerate. We think the state press associations are the logical organizations to move this effort forward. Integration of content through state press associations could lead to substantial benefits for all involved parties.
Action so far
On May 27, we convened a brainstorming session of a multi-state task force for the purpose of developing a sustainable, profitable strategy for newspapers to collectively protect their local franchises, while developing new revenue streams. The Task Force includes several board members from each of our three states. We also asked the folks at Newz Group to serve as our consultants in this process. Each of our states has long, mutually-beneficial business relationships with NewzGroup and we respect their perspective on the future of newspapers as well as their technical expertise. At that meeting, the Task Force asked us to develop a blueprint for creation of a business plan. The following blueprint was presented to the Task Force at a July 28 Task Force meeting:
Business Model for Digitization of Newspapers
Goal: To create a for-profit corporation that collects, stores and markets newspaper content.
Mission Statement: The mission of this corporation is to provide newspapers with a means to digitize and archive their content for research, historical and commercial purposes.
The corporation would consist of stock owned by newspapers, associations and individuals who have an interest in helping our industry to solve the problem of content control. While the internet has created huge business opportunities it has also destroyed a portion of the traditional monetary underpinnings newspapers have depended upon to fund the gathering of information. Digital files created and owned by a newspaper can be placed so rapidly into the public domain that the ability to derive full value from the product is directly diminished. Products and services are created daily which seek to take that content for their own commercial purposes, paying the source newspaper pennies, if at all.
The critical criteria and drivers of this corporation would include:
- Respect for copyright laws and aggressive pursuit of violators
- Mutually beneficial royalties and profit sharing
- Historic preservation
- Efficient and effective newspaper participation
- Easy user access
The market for the information would consist of --
1. Newspapers-In a day of smaller news staffs and a push to localize all information, an archive of both weekly and daily newspapers would be valuable. The archive should also contain past issues, giving any reporter the ability to quickly research any subject.
2. Clipping services
3. Advertising tear sheets
4. Individual stories by subject
5. Genealogist and research historians
6. On-line news aggregators
The next step
The Task Force voted to hold a facilitated meeting in Kansas City on November 20 to discuss the attached agenda designed by the Task Force to initiate the process of building the business plan. The meeting will be hosted by the Kansas City Star.
The Task Force would like to invite any NAM’er interested in learning more about the project to attend the meeting. We want to be as transparent as possible as we move forward and we would value your input about how the new company should be structured. We would also invite you to consider being involved in the project after you’ve learned more about it on Nov. 20.
Deputy Executive Director
Iowa Newspaper Association
Des Moines, Iowa
Missouri Press Association
802 Locust St.
Columbia, MO 65201-4888
Phone: (573) 449-4167