When almost everyone in the industry is complaining about covering up the front of the paper with advertisement when I first read this article I thought it was a joke but it is not. It is an interesting article.
If newspaper publishers are really serious about seeking new business models so they have the money to produce a great local editorial product, thus maintaining and increasing circulation, then in non-competitive markets maybe now is the time to dump news from the front page and give all that prime space to advertising.
Heresy, you say! Not at all. It is just going back to the good old days. Have you ever wondered why so many newspapers had in their masthead the word “Advertiser”?
There’s such a hue and cry in the US every time another newspaper dares to give some front page space to advertising. But the true question is, in a non-competitive market, why not hand over the front page entirely to the advertisers. It’s prime real estate. Advertisers will pay true premium rates for it, and does it really matter if the top news of the day doesn’t show up until pages two, three, or four (if you’re going to sell the entire front page then you might as well try and sell pages two, three, and four as well.)
So by now you think this is all a big joke. Far from it. Very serious. With newsrooms being decimated and digital not taking up the financial slack for some years to come something drastic has to be done, so why not go back to what worked in the past. All too often at our peril we forget from history what has worked before.
Would it surprise you that the august Times of London ran only personal classified ads on its front page until 1966? Would it surprise you that it was until well after then that in Finland the first few pages of metropolitan newspapers used to be entirely display advertising sold at very premium rates – talk about a license to print money!
And since many newspapers today are in non-competitive markets what difference does it make what’s on the front page? You either subscribe to the paper or you don’t, and in those non-competitive markets there’s not that many newsstand sales made because the headline catches one’s attention.
Like I said the article is very clever and worth a read here.
Maybe we all have to rethink the reality of what is happening with publications in this digital age.