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New report shows how newspapers compete in digital age

In the midst of a global recession, with daily reports about the ‘demise’ of newspapers, a new report demonstrates that newspapers have a long-term future, says WAN, and provides an overview of what publishers are doing, and can do, to meet the challenges of the changing media landscape.

Among other findings, the report says consumers are willing to pay for online newspaper content.

The report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, in cooperation with the World Association of Newspapers, focuses on the changing behaviour of news consumers, and the response of newspaper publishers, advertisers, advertising agencies and media buyers to these changes.

The report, ‘Moving into multiple business models: An outlook for newspaper publishing in the digital age’, will be presented by its authors at the upcoming Power of Print Conference & Expo, to be held in Barcelona, Spain, on 27 and 28 May. There is still time to register: full details can be found at www.wan-press.org/powerofprint2009

The PwC report is based on surveys of 4,900 consumers in seven countries, interviews with leading publishers, advertisers and media buyers around the world, and industry reports, analysts reviews and PwC expertise. It can be found at www.wan-press.org/article18128.html (download from bottom of the page).

The report says:

* Despite the huge potential for growth online, print remains the largest source of revenue for newspaper companies, and will continue to be so for some time.

* Consumers are willing to pay for online content. Two-thirds of respondents in a global survey said they were willing to pay for general news content online and all are willing to pay for it in print, despite the advent of the free daily newspaper. But newspapers need to develop strategies for monetising their content and intellectual capital.

* General consumer spending on the internet will increase in the next few years, and this will change the mindset of consumers who are now expecting to get everything for free.

* Consumers don¹t only appreciate journalists for their general news reporting they place high value on the deep insight and analysis provided by journalists.

* Traditional newspapers still have a strong and relatively loyal reader base, as their reliability is perceived as being greater than that of other media.  This gives newspapers the opportunity to lead and to follow audiences as they use online and portable electronic media. The report found that the core principles of deep analysis and trusted editorial translates well online the newspaper brand is more important than the medium.

* Newspapers have responded to the economic downturn by focusing on cost reductions. Many are also accelerating content distribution strategies over many channels. “However, many have still to fully review their existing business models to take full advantage of the innovation in the marketplace and the demands of consumers,” the report says.

* The market for mobile devices is growing rapidly. But mobile news delivery is low on the list of consumer preferences because of the difficulty of reading on the devices.

* Consumers and publishers alike are concerned about the environment and attach high value to a publishing company using environmental friendly practices. Some newspaper publishers have addressed the issue, but many have not.

The report addresses a list of key questions for newspaper publishers: is the brand identity clear? Are print and new media separate operations or simply different distribution channels? Is print and digital advertising sales integrated? Does online extend your core audience beyond traditional print readers? What does your audience want from you  and what will they pay for? What sort of business will you be running in five years? And many others.

About PricewaterhouseCoopers

PWC says: "PricewaterhouseCoopers provides industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services to build public trust and enhance value for its clients and their stakeholders. More than 155,000 people in 153 countries make up the PwC network."

About WAN

WAN says: "The Paris-based WAN, the global organisation for the newspaper industry, defends and promotes press freedom and the professional and business interests of newspapers world-wide. Representing 18,000 newspapers, its membership includes 77 national newspaper associations, newspaper companies and individual newspaper executives in 122 countries, 12 news agencies and 11 regional and world-wide press groups."