OPA Intelligence Reports

Posted in Research on 03/12/2012 By Mark Glaser & Desiree Everts

PEJ: Newspapers can find success by solving culture problem

As newspapers struggle to revive a flagging industry, some are actually making some headway thanks to a strategy of changing their internal culture. A recent study from the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ), a part of the Pew Research Center, found that the newspapers surveyed are losing $7 in print advertising for every dollar gained in digital revenue. But the study also showed differences in culture among papers that may influence their performance. Newspapers may actually thrive if they change the way they approach ad sales. “The notion that you can only have success in digital if you’re bigger is not what we found,” Tom Rosenstiel, director of the PEJ, said in a release. “You can have success even at small papers if you’re willing to change the culture.”

Executives in the study predicted that five years from now, newspapers will be reduced—either through small workforces or fewer delivery days. But “it’s not all gloomy for the printed word,” NPR’s Corey Dade insisted. He laid out four survival strategies from Pew including diversifying digital ads and ending newsroom cultural wars. Plus, many papers were finding success by becoming online ad agencies for local businesses, helping them with SEO and Google ads. GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram said it’s the culture that matters most. He gave as examples recent experiments such as The Washington Post’s news-recommendation engine Trove and Facebook social-reading app. “But for too many newspapers, disrupting their own culture is something that just doesn’t come naturally, and that could literally mean the difference between life and death,” he wrote.