Monday, August 10, 2009

Ken Doctor: Publishers Have a Respite

By paulgillin

Ken DoctorKen Doctor is one of those rare breed of editors who understands the business side of newspapering. After spending nearly 25 years as an editor at papers ranging from alternative weeklies to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, he moved to Knight Ridder corporate to help lead the company's push into new media. Doctor ultimately worked on editorial, strategy and content services for Knight Ridder Digital, a position that had him scouting out new sources of revenue. He's currently an Affiliate Analyst With Outsell, a research and advisory firm focused on the publishing, information, and education industries.

Doctor is fundamentally optimistic about the reinvention of the industry to come, but he worries about the estimated 800,000 stories that Americans won't read this year because reporters around to write them. In this interview, he assesses the various rescue strategies that have been floated, the struggles publishers are having with reinvention and the silver lining behind the nearly 15,00 newspaper layoffs of the last two years.

Paul Gillin spoke to Ken Doctor on August 5th. Here are highlights of the 33-minute conversation.

Time Summary
1:45 The current respite in the newspaper industry's freefall and how publishers should take advantage of the situation
3:20 The growth and transformation of local markets
4:15 The outlook for paid content strategies
5:30 Why local newspapers can't easily monetize content
6:15 The outlook for an "all access pass" subscription model
8:20 Will people be paying for news five years from now? Probably not.
10:20 The Schenectady experiment: in small cities, subscription walls may slow declines but they won't solve the bigger problems.
12:30 The value of an online vs. print reader: 12 minutes per month versus four hours per month
14:30 "Newspapers missed the search market and are still paying the price."
16:30 "Fair use has never been adjudicated at a high court level." Perhaps it's time for the news companies to press Google on the fairness issue.
19:30 Why most newspaper executives are not prepared to reinvent their organizations
21:30 The partnerships and skills needed to run today's business just don't exist in many newspaper organizations.
22:40 Journalism innovation is thriving but who's going to pay the bills?
23:10 800,000 fewer stories will be written this year than before the industry meltdown began.
26:10 We'll see true multimedia companies at the local level.
27:30 The opportunity of a valueless market is to look up at possibilities without worrying too much about the downside.
29:40 We're at the bottom of the news chasm.

 Listen to the interview (33:23) (right click to download)


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