CEO Column: A monthly editorial from David Chavern
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CEO Column is a monthly opinion piece by David Chavern, NAA president and CEO, which publications are encouraged to publish.
When Louisiana began flooding earlier this month, news coverage was split between the 2016 Rio Olympics and the upcoming presidential election. This was the worst natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy, and you barely saw it on TV or in magazines, or heard about it on the radio. Even the President wasn’t seen talking about it.
Associations have a unique power to convene and create communities. As president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America, I believe in the ability of associations to serve as a platform for the exchange of ideas that will propel us forward. In this time of revolution and change, state press associations have a critical role to play in this exchange, and after visiting with four of them recently, I am even more convinced of the importance of state press associations to achieving industry-wide goals.
It is no secret that we don't like ad blockers. Allowing consumers to bypass our advertisers and access quality news content for free has dangerous implications for our democracy. This is why we have taken a very aggressive stance against ad blocking technology. But the rise of ad blocking is also a symptom of a problem that everyone in the digital media business needs to address: namely, digital advertising is too often disruptive, ineffective and not at all creative. We can do better. And I believe that news media companies have the unique skills and perspectives needed to create strong and effective advertising. MORE 4
I joined NAA because I believe deeply in the power of news journalism and the successful future ahead for this industry. After a few months on the job, I am even more convinced that we have reason to be optimistic. This is a unique and exciting time to represent the news media industry, and it is my goal that NAA be an association you can rely on to support you and your individual businesses, providing strategic connections and genuinely useful information. To do that, we plan to focus on three key areas in the coming months: Communications, advocacy and research. MORE 4
The Department of Labor in June proposed increasing the salaries test used to determine if an employee is eligible for overtime from $23,660 to $50,440 annually. This proposal, which more than doubles the current standard, would set the salary threshold nearly $10k & $15k higher than what is mandated in CA and NY. While we think the current salaries test should be increased, a full 113% increase after a decade of inaction would ultimately hurt employees. MORE 4
Free, nationwide access to information keeps Americans educated and ensures that our political leaders are transparent. Since this week has been designated as "Sunshine Week," an annual national initiative that encourages openness in government and the free flow of information to the public, it is worth reflecting on the role information plays in strengthening our democracy. America can only be a strong nation when its citizens are engaged and informed. In light of Sunshine Week and for the benefit of all citizens, I encourage our leaders to push the FOIA Improvement Act forward. MORE 4
I was recently invited by Digital Content Next (DCN) to attend their members' summit. The summit was a great chance for me to hear from digital content managers representing a wide variety of media businesses – and the smart people they look to for advice and insight -- and to evaluate the prospects for daily news organizations in the digital era, particularly as compared to other types of publishers. The bottom line – I will gladly bet on the power of daily news in our digital future. MORE 4
If you want to know who still believes in a future for news media, just turn to some of our most respected businessmen: Warren Buffett. Jeff Bezos. John Henry. Glen Taylor. All of them have made significant investments in newspapers, despite the media pundits that have been claiming the death of the newspaper industry for years. Just a few weeks ago, Buffett acquired his 32nd paper, the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, demonstrating that print journalism remains relevant even as our digital audience – on mobile, social media, virtual reality and a variety of other platforms – continues to grow rapidly. MORE 4
In the face of great change and opportunity, NAA members are constantly developing new strategies, offerings and partnerships to further engage with audiences, communities and advertisers. We are all looking for what will be the new sustaining business models for the industry. In this way, the news industry is actually quite a bit like Silicon Valley. People always asked me how the tech industry compared with Washington, D.C. and I always said, “At least Silicon Valley is optimistic.” The tech sector is currently filled with people at ALL organizational levels who are dreaming, experimenting and believing that tomorrow will be better than today. MORE 4
Readers look forward to the arrival of the "Thanksgiving edition" of their local newspaper, stuffed with advertisements for the best "Black Friday" deals. While many shoppers expanded their media consumption to embrace digital and mobile formats, the local newspaper remains unrivaled when it comes to providing discounts, coupons and offers from local retailers. MORE 4
November is election time in America. Voters in many local municipalities will go to the polls soon to choose local public officials. Four states have statewide legislative elections and three of those states will select a governor. For some, the presidential election next year is top of mind. But it is the breadth and depth of local elections in this country that truly astounds. Try and wrap your mind around the idea that there are more than 87,000 elective bodies filled with over half a million elected officeholders.
Past CEO Columns by Caroline H. Little:
Four years ago, most of us wouldn't have predicted award-winning TV series would debut via online streaming on websites such as Netflix and Hulu and would never to be aired on cable or network television. Just four years ago, it seemed unlikely that people would prefer online music streaming and radio apps over CDs and iPods, let alone be willing to pay for it. And four years ago, most of us wouldn't have imagined we would get our news updates on our watches. MORE 4
Summer months bring increased travel and varying schedules for everyone, presenting a challenge to the media enterprises seeking to engage audiences. How do media stay relevant to audiences that are on-the-go? MORE 4
President Obama has routinely promised greater transparency within the federal government. Now, Congress is making strides towards achieving this critical goal. MORE 4
We live in a world of instant gratification.
We have an abundance of information at our fingertips and the ability to stay up-to-date on world events within seconds. We embrace new digital technologies and they are revolutionizing the ways in which news media is consumed and stories are told. It is an exciting time to be a part of the newspaper media industry. MORE 4
The past twelve months have been an invigorating time for the newspaper media business. The next twelve are shaping up to be even better.
In 2014, the newspaper industry overflowed with new ideas, technologies and content. Our industry developed better ways to reach readers and give them more of what they want – more stories, more engagement, more personalized information, and more content on their preferred platforms. The future of the newspaper media industry is across all platforms, from print to digital to mobile. MORE 4
It has become a never-ending quest to define millennials. Those between the age of 18 and 34 are often portrayed as a self-absorbed, narcissistic generation obsessed with technology. They are a group more likely to check their Twitter or Instagram apps than keep up with world events. In fact, voters age 18-29 made up a mere 13 percent of the vote in this month’s mid-term elections.
So you’re probably thinking, “Millenials are not engaged with the news.”
Since Time Magazine dubbed millennials as the “Me Me Me Generation,” that has been the prevailing thought. But that is not true.
There is only one question on the minds of retailers and advertisers for the next two months – what is the best way to reach consumers?
The answer this year, as it has for many years prior, is newspaper media.
As we enter an exciting holiday shopping season, retailers will experiment more than ever with mobile apps, geolocation push notification and other advertising strategies to reach elusive consumers. However, data reveals that one of the most effective methods remains print and digital newspaper advertising.” MORE 4
Free Speech Week 2014
There is a reason freedom of speech was carved into the governing fabric of our nation. The founders considered free speech one of humanity’s basic rights, and its provision in the First Amendment has been cherished by Americans ever since.
The Bill of Rights guarantees free speech to citizens and freedom of the press. They both go together. Both are necessary elements for democracy to work.
As James Madison once wrote, “A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both.” MORE 4
Journalists like to tell the story. They do not like to become the story.
Unfortunately, during the past several months, journalists have been thrust into the spotlight under tragic circumstances. Around the world, journalists are putting themselves in harm’s way to report on the most important stories of our time and, sadly, the results have been horrific.
In August, the gruesome and senseless murder of James Foley stunned the world. His death was a vivid and painful reminder of the risks journalists take when reporting from conflict zones. Since 2011, 66 journalists have died in Syria alone and another 30 are missing, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. This is not acceptable. MORE 4
The sky is always falling and newspapers are always dying.
For more than a decade, that has been a common and constant refrain. While working at washingtonpost.com, the Guardian US, and now, the Newspaper Association of America, I have been asked frequently about the state of the industry as people search for the worst.
Though newspaper media is enjoying the largest audiences ever as well as continuing to play a unique and critical role in our communities, there is one fact that always tends to be obscured or outright ignored – newspapers are still making money and newspapers remain a good investment. MORE 4
To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious.
While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time. MORE 4
The newspaper industry has transformed in a way that we could not have imagined just a decade ago.
Across the globe, there is a renewed energy to innovate, strategize, and meet these growing opportunities and challenges. That was the theme of the World Newspapers Congress, which I had the pleasure of speaking earlier this month, and it rings very true for our industry in America. MORE 4
Every day, city hall reporters at local newspapers distill hours of city council meetings into cogent stories that inform readers about how their elected officials are spending their tax dollars. Sports reporters document the successes of the high school team. Investigative reporters dig through thousands of pages of documents to expose government corruption, waste or ineffectiveness.
This journalism plays a vital role in local communities and in our nation’s democracy. But it also costs money: newspapers continue to invest more than $5 billion a year in journalism, far more than any other medium in the United States. Newspapers deliver news and information when and where readers want it, in print, digital and mobile platforms. MORE 4
There are few aspects of American life that are the same today as they were 100 years ago. Two of them are newspapers and baseball.
While spring officially starts in March, it doesn’t truly begin for many until Opening Day rolls around and ceremonial first pitches are thrown. Whether it’s at Wrigley Field, Fenway Park or your local minor league stadium, it’s been that way for over a century and I imagine it will continue for at least another century. MORE 4
The newspaper industry has momentum and it will guide the way forward.
Newspaper digital readership hit a record high. Mobile readership soared. Circulation revenue grew for the first time in 10 years. Brilliant investors chose to focus on newspapers to expand their portfolios. Interactive article experiences were piloted. New innovations led to reconstructed business models and increased revenue streams. MORE 4
Over the past year, newspapers have transformed. We told the world that we were going to evolve, adapt and remain essential. We have done just that. Not only are newspapers still delivering on that promise, they are thriving as innovation and new ideas drive our success – across all platforms.
While much of our recent success has been attributed to digital initiatives, it is very clear to me that our readers need to be reminded of the critical balance that newspapers must strike between print and digital. MORE 4
In 2014, I believe the news industry will be marked by creativity. I’ve heard this over and over in my conversations with publishers, advertisers and journalists. We’re already seeing big ideas being implemented, and the industry as a whole is eager to collaborate in developing better consumer experiences and more unique product offerings.
As we look ahead to 2014, there are three key topics that will drive our continued growth – mobile, native advertising and individualized content. MORE 4