WEDNESDAY’S LETTERS: Can Online Ads Save Us?, Black-Owned Papers, Remembering Mike Levine

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By: E&P Staff

In today’s letters, speculation about why newspapers are behind in online ad revenues, a reader comments on the state of black-owned media, and a friend remembers (Times Herald) Record columnist Mike Levine.

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Newspapers and Online Ads

I read with great interest your special report, “Can Online Ads Save Us?” The report points out that newspaper companies have been slow to adopt a number of online advertising models used by web players. In the American Press Institute’s year-long Newspaper Next project, we found that this is because they have not yet realized that these models have the power to get important, unmet advertising jobs done for local businesses — jobs that print newspapers don’t do very well. Adopting these online models would enable newspaper companies to create growth by 1) adding new dimensions of service for (and revenue from) existing advertisers and 2) attracting new local advertisers — including legions of small businesses — who haven’t regarded the print newspaper as an attractive solution.

What local advertising jobs can the online models get done? In the N2 report, we point out that they can help local businesses with jobs such as “help me reach a specific target audience” (niche sites, targeting, behavior tracking, paid search), “make it easier or cheaper for me to connect with customers” (self-serve ad-buying, lead generation, search-engine marketing and optimization), and “help me develop one-on-one relationships with customers” (consumer-direct approaches such as email marketing and database marketing). As the N2 report stresses, astutely matching online models to the needs of local businesses is a crucial strategy for creating online revenue growth in local markets.

To date, most newspaper companies have been slow to see these opportunities. Fortunately, however, most local businesses have been even slower to realize the power of the Internet in local marketing. So newspaper companies still have time — if they move quickly — to prepare these new offerings and win the local space.

Stephen T. Gray
Managing Director, “Newspaper Next”
American Press Institute

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‘Laughing’ at the State of the Newspaper Industry

We have two “competitive” weeklies nearby, using syndicated material and not paying local writers. One published our paid ad, refusing to use a press release. A better out-of-town free weekly sold to a chain, has become less “local” too.

Still available by subscription, The Daily World won’t pay for non-syndicated work. Half a century ago — maybe more? — The Seattle Times stopped sales in our community and last year The Seattle PI did likewise. (The Tacoma Tribune stepped in with single sales.) A few months ago the Oregonian, home-delivered since early Depression days, pulled out. Half the weight of any newspaper is already inserts and publishers wonder why the public won’t buy print advertising?

Editor & Publisher keeps telling everyone that things will soon be better. fter I read my E&P copies I take them to the local library. Might as well let others in the community laugh too.

Anne Louise Grimm
NSNC member


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Roland Martin’s ‘Defender’ and the State of Black-Owned Newspapers

Interesting article. To put it bluntly, I don’t think any of the owners of the nation’s black-owned newspapers want to do better. Roland Martin challenged the status quo. He pulled off what many believe to be the exact opposite result of the one Real Times Media intended. In short, Martin was supposed to fail. Through his failure African Americans would be relegated to mainstream media for its news. Did RTM take a payoff is the question not being asked.

After Essence was sold to — of all people — Time Warner rumors began to circulate about the viability of the magazine’s quality content. Considering Time Warner previous absorption of BlackVoices.com has resulted in one of the most highly traffic-ed websites among African Americans being relegated to a sub-sub-link on the general AOL webpage. Don’t blink while scrolling.

Consider this, in spite of the fact that there are four black owned newspapers in Atlanta, not one of them has a paid subscriber or readership base above 5000. And these weekly’s refuse to upgrade their content. My company has offered to these papers and other small papers current content and the highest quality images at rates far less than provided by the Associate Press and Reuters. And yet, these papers have not fully taken advantage of the offer. They would rather use horribly grainy photos, out of date copy, and endless cotillion stories to fill their pages than forward thinking hard hittingfeatures.

It’s truly a sad day when visionaries like Roland Martin are ousted for being too good at their job. I guess its no less sad than watching the NABJ that was once founded by journalist at black-owned papers be absorbed into the majority media structure. With so many talented black journalist in one organization, why is it that there hasn’t been a national publication generated to rival USA Today, Time, or Newsweek.

Just my $0.02 worth.

Jason ‘Jake’ McDonald


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Remembering Mike Levine

Succinctly expressed by the Associated Press…”Mike Levine was at heart a columnist. He looked at life with a columnist’s instinctual attraction for the compelling story, be it outrageous political shenanigans or individual tales of heroism or tragedy.

For many years, as a columnist for the (Times Herald) Record, he told those stories with his own brand of personal journalism. You always knew where he stood on an issue and he didn’t shy away from criticizing the so-called power brokers. If you were one of those and you messed up ? especially if you messed over the taxpayers ? you got a Skunky. The not-so-subtle message: You stink.”

My contacts with Mike go back to his early days as a neophyte reporter with a small West Side Manhattan community weekly. As I vividly recall, Mike carried out his journalistic career in the fashion that he had always portrayed.

Mike … you’ll be sorely missed.

Ed Kayatt

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