FIEJ Issues Warning On Newsprint Crisis p.18

By: Robert U. Brown International publishers group meets in Paris sp.

REPRESENTATIVES OF THE world's press from 53 countries attending the 48th World Newspaper Congress of the International Federation at Newspaper Publishers (FIEJ) in Paris called "urgent attention to the drastic effects which a series of newsprint price increases are having on the economy of newspapers."
In a formal resolution adopted at its closing session May 31, FIEJ declared that not only readers, but democracy, will be the immediate losers and warned that the newsprint mills will inevitably suffer, as well.
"The result of the [price] increases will inevitably be a reduction in the number of newspapers," the resolution stated. "Small circulation titles, in particular, may be put out of business rapidly.
"FIEJ, which exists to protect and defend the freedom, diversity and economic independence of the press, readily acknowledges the mechanisms of a free market economy. It nevertheless has the duty to sound the alarm when the effects of this free market pose a fundamental threat to the existence and availability of information and the pluralism of the press which plays such an important role in the education of the citizen and democracy.
"Such a threat now exists with the exploitation of the bottlenecks in the world-wide supply of newsprint and the severe price demands which have followed.
"The first losers will be the readers, because of the reduction in available information. The ultimate loser will be democracy through a reduction in the diversity of opinion.
"FIEJ also points out to the newsprint manufacturers that the effect of these very high and very fast price increases will endanger the basis of their business. It will reduce the number of their customers and accelerate the diversification of newspapers into electronic forms of information and distribution. The immediate danger will be for newspapers. In the longer term, the newsprint mills will inevitably suffer."
FIEJ represents more than 15,000 publications through national associations in more than 50 countries.
Peter Preston, editor of the Guardian, London, was elected chairman of the Federation, succeeding K. Prescott Low, publisher of the Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass., who served for two years. Jayme Sirotsky, chairman, Zero Hora Editora Journalistica of Porto Alegre, which owns three newspapers in Brazil, was elected first vice president. He is expected to succeed Mr. Preston in two years.
Other newly-elected vice presidents are: Johannes Gross of Germany, Cushrow Irani of India and Bang, Sang-Hoon of South Korea.
FIEJ presented its 1995 Golden Pen of Freedom award to Gao Yu of China who is serving a sentence of six years in jail. The award was accepted on her behalf by Daisy Li, a Hong Kong journalist, who said Gao Yu's only crime was in reporting the truth.
She said that a group from the American Society of Newspaper Editors visited Beijing the week before and urged the freeing of Gao Yu.
Vice Premier Li Lanqing scolded the delegation for bringing up the case saying he had no authority to "interfere with the courts or intervene on behalf of criminals," Daisy Li reported.
FIEJ also presented two awards for "publishing achievement." Ernestina Herrera de Noble, chairman of Clarin, Buenos Aires, accepted the award for the 50-year-old newspaper which she has operated for 25 years. Including radio, tv and cable it is believed to be the largest media group in Argentina. Gebran Tueni an Nahar received the second achievement award for publishing his daily newspaper in Beirut during the civil war. He was in exile in Paris part of the time.
FIEJ accepted an invitation from Uzal Martz, publisher of the Pottsville (Pa.) Republican, and the new chairman of the Newspaper Association of America, to hold the next general assembly in Washington, D.C. The dates were set for May 18-22, 1996.
In his annual report on the condition of the world press, Timothy Balding, director general of FIEJ, reported dismal figures for circulation and advertising revenues in most countries. He made an interesting comparison of the source of newspaper income. The U.S. and Japan are at either end of the scale in the ratio of advertising and circulation revenues: In the U.S., 85% of total income comes from advertising, he said, where as in Japan this figure was only 40%.
With respect to the percentage of a country's population which buys newspapers, Balding found that Norway continues to be the world leader with 610 newspapers sold per thousand population. Switzerland is in second place with 592; Japan is third with 575; then Sweden with 472 and Finland fifth with 471. The U.S. is 15th with 226 people per thousand.
"Not only is Norway again top," Balding said, "it is one of the very few countries where this penetration actually increased last year and is one of the only two [the other is Spain] where it is higher than in 1986. They are clearly doing something right up there in Norway."
One of several speakers who talked about the impact of the information superhighway (which he called the "Ibahn"), Richard Block, senior planning director for J. Walter Thompson, Great Britain, pictured the overwhelming volume of programming that will be available to consumers, and then asked how newspapers can take advantage of the Ibahn.
"There will be a battle between the global and local for the consumer's attention in every media," he said. "Globalism is already out there in the form of cable and satellite. You can get news from around the world. Language is the only, I think short term, stumbling block . . . It will have dramatic effects.
"No longer will national media have total domination of the news. International editions will bring fresh perspectives. Advertisers will be drawn from a larger brand basis, diluting dependency on national brands and retailers. Newspapers can get into programming and prosper. They've got the reporters on the ground, the key cost of entry in a market hungry for programs.
"Localism will, strange as it sounds, also thrive, partly as a reaction to globalism. There is a growth in tribalism
. . . . So from a local/regional newspaper's point of view, there is going to be a rekindling of local interest to those attracted to parochial interests. You can also extend your reach more easily to national, pan-European, even global environments, if you've got an interesting product. You might even extend your appeal beyond your local area, to bigger advertisers. Initially, get into bed with your local cable companies. Go online, think about programming that you can see to a wider audience.
"In short, newspapers have to get into the communications business to stay alive. Don't fight interactivity ? use it. If you're a major publication, use it to spread your wings, appeal to those Infonauts. Get on the net, think about programming. The same is true to the local/regional paper; connect with cable and think about programming."
Jean de Yturbe, chairman of Bates Europe, addressed the subject of advertising on the new media and concluded: "Marketing is dead. Long live advertising's power to sell."
His advice to advertisers and their agencies was: "We must keep our eyes fixed at all times on communications effectiveness, which is the enduring benefit of the new media revolution. Your readers don't need more information ? everyone is drowning in data already ? as much as they need easy, efficient access to information that affects them.
"Advertisers and their agencies don't want more advertising out there ? we want advertising that works much more effectively than it does today . . . The traditional means of reaching the consumer are growing less and less effective. Advertisers who have lost confidence in the impact of advertising often redirect their budgets elsewhere . . . The new media revolution has the power to reverse this trend, provided we learn how to leverage that power well.
"By creating brand-building image advertising, and then finishing the job with sales-generating, interactive advertising, we can create true accountability for the work we do.
"To do this, we must learn to leverage the respective strengths of general and interactive communication, and understand how to use both tools in concert with one another in order to build brands."
David C. Cox, president and CEO of Cowles Media Co., described his strategy for success at the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
? "Strengthen the core newspaper ? expand the interest and utility of the daily newspaper itself for its avid, and its occasional readers, and make it work better for the marketers who
advertise with us.
? "Ask readers to pay more, over time, for a more appealing newspaper."
? "Add new targeted products and services, in addition to the newspaper, for both our reader customers and marketer customers."
? "Reorganize to create an organization capable of bringing about all these changes."
Christine Urban, president of Urban & Associates, explained in detail her firm's strategy for enhancing the core product in two cities ? Dayton, Ohio, and Austin, Texas.
In Dayton, it developed "InfoPlus" pages to cover five key issues, anchored daily on B3. They were launched last October, and, in six months, they boosted the paper's overall audience by 17%, she said.
In Austin, the strategy was to "create a 'smart bomb' once a week," she said. A brand new entertainment magazine ? XL ? was developed (76-plus tab pages) distributed Thursdays. Launched last August, she reported, in six months circulation was up 2% and advertising revenue was up in that category by 14%. Daily readership has grown from 50 to 58% of adults.


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