Study says print media moving quickly online to thwart threat from Web portals

By Published on .

Most Popular

New York—Feeling the heat from Web portals Google, Yahoo! and MSN, print media companies are moving quickly to incorporate multimedia and other interactive strategies as audiences migrate from paper products to online, according to a survey released last week.

The survey, conducted by the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and sponsored by The NewsMarket, took the pulse of senior executives at 173 print publications. These publications included the Chicago Tribune, Fortune, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and U.S. News & World Report, as well as U.K.-based publications such as the Financial Times, The Independent and The Times of London .

A little more than a decade into the Internet age the online objectives of print media executives have changed dramatically since they started to deliver their information electronically. The percentage of survey respondents who see their Web site simply as a marketing tool for the print publication has dropped to 12% from 30% while their optimism for generating ad revenue online has grown to 42% from 30%.

With online portals Google, Yahoo! and MSN garnering the lion’s share of the online search market, media companies are scrambling to find new ways to deliver their content to end users.

“You get a sense that print publications are trying to address the needs of giving users content in whatever form they want,” said Pat Whalen, assistant professor in the Medill Integrated Marketing Communications program, who conducted the study. “So, rather than being a tool for print, online publications are becoming their own entity, and in some cases the online publication will begin to predominate and you’ll have more reverse marketing from online to print.”

Vivian Schiller, senior VP-general manager of, said the accelerating growth of online media doesn’t necessarily spell doom for print products. “One experience doesn’t replace the other,” she said. “I don’t see the Web as a promotion for print but as another form of journalism.”

The survey found executives expect an increasing amount of ad revenue from the use of online video. Seventy-nine percent of respondents said they have staff capable of editing and producing video clips; 69% use video footage at least “some of the time”; and 32% are generating revenue from video ads.

Schiller said that since the beginning of the year, The New York Times Co.’s video unit has produced 600 pieces of original video content. “Any self-respecting news organization is going to have to develop original content if for no other reason than to take advantage of how people are now using media,” she said.

Despite the growing interest in video, a substantial 75% of respondents said there were 10 people or fewer working in online production at their companies.

Medill's Whalen said that online staffs were cut dramatically in the wake of the dot-com bust and print media companies are just now starting to build their staffs back up. She also noted many media companies continue to struggle with melding their print and online sales operations. “A lot of shops are still siloed, but respondents’ comments suggest they are starting to break them down."



In this article: