Why Apple’s 10 billionth download and Johnny Cash matters to newspapers

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Congratulations to 71-year-old Louie Sulcer who is the lucky winner of buying and downloading the 10 billionth song from Apple’s iTunes. Mr. Sulcer get a $10,000 gift card from Mr. Jobs and Co.

So why should newspapers care about this — other than the human interest feature story?

Here’s some quick thoughts:

  • Downloading, grandpa, retirees. Not the exact picture of the bleeding edge of the digital frontier, right? I fully expected the winner to be a college student or a hipster at the least. Lesson to be learned: Seniors are not stuck in their ways (print) and are open to new experiences (digital), so don’t forget to give your sites the ability for customization (larger type) and just don’t try to appeal to the 30 and below crowd.

  • Marketing. Yes, newspapers market, but when’s the last time your local paper did some, break-room-dramatic marketing? Well, let’s see, there was that anniversary issue where they highlighted their accomplishments for the last xxx years. It was full of ads from local business congratulating them. So what did they do for readers of their millionth page printed? Their millionth subscription or even their ten thousandth? Lesson to be learned: Do something dramatic for your readers — or at least one lucky reader. Do something. Take some big, bold risks. Stop the long whine about how you’ve losing readers.

  • iTunes Music Store. It’s only been around since 2003. Don’t recall that rollout? I recall that people whined that it didn’t do enough, there were other applications did more or did it better; there were not enough songs and among other things the pricing model was going to portend its doom. Now, the ITMS is the largest music retailer in the U.S. Interestingly, music is now the least of the ITMS. There are more applications (133,000), Podcasts (150,000), iTunes U courses (75,000) than there are music tracks (11,000), Lesson to be learned: Industry leader or industry strong arm, Apple’s iTunes Music Store is a model that should be followed by the newspaper industry. And how can they do that?Let’s see, maybe by offering something that people want to buy and give them an experience that they can’t find at other web sites. Which leads me to …

  • New technolgy / iPad. It’s not even here yet and it’s changing how we will interact with the Internet. Yes it is. Even if you don’t know it. Newspaper owners need to admit that it’s been a good 2,000-year run for the printed product and jump onto the digital bandwagon. Jump faster. Jump higher. The assault on the printed news page began in the early 1930s in Round I when a new-fangled invention called the radio started to become widespread. Round II came a decade later with the advent of television and Round III was the Internet. So far print has taken a beating in Round III. To cope, newspaper pushed their content online without much regard on the user experience, let along what the user wanted. Lesson to be learned: It’s time to get past this shovelware mode and start thinking about real innovation. I repeat from earlier posts.. Let’s look at the iPad and do something cool. Let’s be part of the next billionth download!

  • Oh, almost forgot… Why should newspapers care about the Man in Black?

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    CREDIT: The Associated Press

    JR never quit and never gave up. Through all his personal drama he kept writing and singing great songs. Although Mr. Sulcer downloaded “Guess Things Happen That Way,” a Cash tune 52 years old, take a list to JR’s latest — released this week American VI: Ain’t No Grave. I daresay that it’s one of his best. Lesson to be learned: It ain’t over til it’s over and even then it’s not over. Never give up, never surrender! (Bonus points if you can ID that last quote.)

    Don’t look back, something may be gaining on you

    Survey: Newspaper Web Sites Still Top Source for Local Info But Competition is Closing In

    The survey is from the Newspaper Association of America, of the 3,000 people surveyed:

    • 57% chose newspaper Web sites as the top source for local information

    • 54% cited online portals

    • 53% went with local TV web sites.

    Follow the link for more disturbingly bad news for newspapers — slim margins for being trust worthy and trailing numbers in other categories.

    Satchel Page was right. Newspapers need to look ahead and do it in a hurry.

    Dick’s in the hospital (again) and that reminds me of a newspaper joke

    Guy walks up to a newsstand every day and buys a newspaper.

    Every day he scans the front page and then gives it back.

    After years of this, the news stand owner finally asks the guy,

    "Why do buy a paper every day and put it back?"

    The guy answers, "I’m only interested in the obituaries."

    "Obituaries?" The owner says. "The obits are on page 10. You never make it that far!"

    To which the guy replies,

    "The sonofabitch I’m looking for will be on the front page."

    Paperboy of the Day: The world’s oldest?

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    Ok, This link is to the Daily Mail, and well, I thought it was a good Daily Mail yarn, until the Beeb picked it up, so I hope they vetted it.

    Mr. Ingram is trying to be acknowledge by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest and longest serving paperboy. He says he started in 1942 and has delivered more than 500,000 papers in Winterborne Monkton, near Dorchester, England.

    Bothe sites say that the current record is held by Darlyne Markus, from Idaho, however there is no citation on the Guinness site for a longest-serving paperboy.

    Alas, the “record” may fall to a Brit. Any one here in the U.S. want to step up and officially lay claim to the title?

    New York Times secret war to set pricing standard for newspapers on iPad

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    Apparently there is an internal debate (secret war sounds so much sexier!) raging at the Grey Lady on what the price point will be for their content on the yet-to-be released iPad.

    Rumor is that one side wants a $30 a month fee; the other a more palatable $10 a month.

    Whatever the Times decide, you can bet that the rest of the industry will latch on to it as a de facto standard. I can just picture the discussions around the country … “well, the Times is doing it … “

    Unfortunately, as an industry, we tend to be a bunch of followers rather than leaders.

    Newspaper political spend hammers online spend

    MEDIUM                    TOTAL SPEND            SHARE

    Newspapers                $329 million                 7.8%

    Other print                   $74 million                   1.8%

    Broadcast TV              $2.6 billion                   63.2%

    Cable                          $383 million                  9.1%

    Radio                          $377 million                  9.0%

    Out of Home               $177 million                  4.2%

    Direct Mail                   $131 million                  3.1%

    Online                          $44 million                    1.1%

    Telemarketing              $31 million                     0.8%     

    Although TV reigns supreme in the forecast for the upcoming political ad spending season, newspapers rank at #4 with a projected $329 million.

    Online tops only telemarketing with $44 million.

    If only there were annual political seasons — sort of like the Super Bowl.

    Read more here.

    Best-selling issue in The Times-Picayune’s 173-year history

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    Following up my observation yesterday about the phones ringing off the hooks at The Times-Picayune (thanks to their SuperBowl coverage), they report that the press has been running throughout the night in order to meet the demand for reprints.

    They expect it to be the best-selling paper in the 173 years that the newspaper has been around.

    Good for them! I hope that they sell tons.

    Meanwhile, no news on reprints of the web page. I wonder what the page views will tell us.