This is the weekend edition of TheMarioBlog and will be updated as needed. The next blog post is Monday, May 20
TAKEAWAY: It was last January that the Silicon Valley Business Journal became the first of the 40 American City Business Journals to introduce a totally new and rethought product. The results are in!
Last week’s Silicon Valley Business Journal front page, featuring their first-ever cover illustration
I often say that the work we do needs to emphasize the three S’s: Strategy, Substance and Success.
Our work with the American City Business Journals group, which involves 40 weeklies, appears to have completed the circle of the three S’s resoundingly well, especially that important S for Success.
The first of the 40 business weeklies to undergo a total rethinking has been the Silicon Valley Business Journal, published in San Jose. It launched in January and now five months later the first results are in, according to a story in Talking Biz News: “growth in circulation, online readers and revenue.“ According to Chief Content Officer for ACBJ, Emory Thomas, with whom we have worked closely on this project, the Silicon Valley Business Journal is in the top two within the company for circulation growth in the first quarter and its online page views have been stronger in 2013 every month than any of the months in 2012.
This project is typical of what can be done when the publisher, editor, journalists and a creative art director, combine forces and decide to go for a media quartet approach, not so much digital first, but storytelling first. Week after week, the SVBJ displays visually appealing and journalistically sound centerpieces that surprise on its front page. The rest of the newspaper is designed to facilitate navigation, and to let those digitally minded readers find what they want to read quickly.
And it is not all about short items for the SVBJ. Narratives are important, but so are those finger reading items of briefs and the Lists for which all of the ACBJ weeklies are famous.
SVBJ editor, Greg Baumann, who was appointed just about the time we were creating the new concept, agrees that changes such as these require changing the way we work:
The primary challenge is establishing a newsroom culture that 1) values and executes advance planning, and 2) prizes big stories, well written. If you establish these two things, executing a digital first strategy that can create great paper stories is achievable.
Our rethinking for ACBJ titles, which took place through a series of workshops, approached every aspect of content strategy, digital/print positioning and look and feel. It also included a rebranding for the new pinstriped logo, a concept that will be applied to all other 39 titles as they adopt the changes.
The work, however, is just beginning. It is not the “redesign” of 40 titles, but more like adapting them to thrive in a media landscape that’s dramatically different when they were created.
Here’s how Emory Thomas sees it:
Everything we’re learning in Silicon Valley is positioning ACBJ for success in a multiplatform world that’s driven by a digital economy. We’ve developed a content strategy that is detailed in a way that’s quite specific to ACBJ. It’s a story-centric model that gracefully merges the roles of digital and print and social and other platforms, allowing each to thrive unto itself while yet fortifying the others. It also positions our business for a media world in which most of the long-term growth will come from digital.
Finally, once a philosophy has been established for how stories will flow across the platforms, an important part of the project was to create a look & feel that adapted well to all. With the arrival of ACBJ creative director, Jon Wile, and the appointment of a new Silicon Valley Business Journal art director, Ryan Lambert, we were ready to concentrate on the design style and all those important details.
From Jon Wile about how the design went from concept and prototypes to reality:
The print redesign is merely the bow on top of our content reinvention. We have recalibrated our newsrooms to think about the storytelling process, which starts in digital and evolves as it crosses platforms into print. We are continuing to unite our branding and story-telling across all of our products and the different platforms. Lead designers are responsible for not only executing the design of pages and graphics in print, but helping foster conversations with reporters/editors, brainstorming story ideas and concepts, and educating the editorial staff on how to tell stories in non-narrative formats. Ryan Lambert, the Lead Designer in Silicon Valley, has done a tremendous job in all three of these areas.
Previously about ACBJ project:
TheMarioBlog post #1261
Posted by Dr. Mario R. Garcia on May 16, 2013
TAKEAWAY: Users are spending more time consuming news and information, not only digitally, but, not surprisingly, via the traditional media outlets.
New research findings reveal information that provides reason for us in the media to rejoice: people are spending more time consuming news and information. While this is not a surprise, this new study from consultants McKinsey and Company also reminds us that the so called traditional press—-printed newspapers, radio and television—are still commanding attention.
While the study points to heavy use of the lean back platforms, it also shows that the digitally equipped are spending time during the day in lean forward mode, getting news updates from their smartphones, online and tablets.
Newspaper readers “lean back,” as the current lingo goes, and probably spend 20 to 40 minutes over morning coffee or catching up in the evening. The legions of NPR listeners could easily log an hour of commuting drive time getting news that way. Television, while it may not get undivided attention, is on for long periods.
By contrast, many studies have found that quick checks during working hours make up a big share of online traffic. Smart phones also support a quick summary style of news consumption. Pew research and others find tablet users spending more extended time with newspaper and magazine apps, especially during evenings. But not everyone has these devices yet, and many are not using them to consume news.
I had an email exchange with Rick after I read his piece, and I agree with his take:
Given the justifiable excitement about new platforms and the possibilities they create for storytelling and presentation, we may have an impression they have taken over the news sphere. These numbers suggest otherwise.
And both Rick and I also agree with a valuable and interesting point made by both the Nieman Lab and Kevin Roche of McKinsey: digital may score lower on time spent, in part, because it is efficient. You find what you want, read it and move on.
Let’s not forget second screen users
The one question I have about this particular study is that the calculation of time spent does not go into the “second screen” phenomenon, so if a user was watching the television news and simultaneously checking news on a digital device, each activity would count as time spent.
Multi tasters and second screen users are an ever growing number of the media consumption group, and I think that the fact that people are tuned in to two platforms cannot be ignored. These users may be watching news on television, but reading a feature story on their tablets, for example, not to mention occasional glances at a smartphone that indicates a breaking news item, or simply emails. Three screens is not such an uncommon phenomenon either.
I don’t think anyone should look at the McKinsey study and decide that traditional media is what’s at. I am hoping that smart publishers, editors and designers will continue to monitor their own specific situations and where the readers are. Better yet, they should continue to integrate the media quartet concept.
However, the good news is that, as I say repeatedly, we have never seen such high level of traffic towards the material we produce. It makes us all rethink how information is presented, the role of each platform, and how to tap into the time of a busy, but information addicted, audience.
Rick Edmonds agrees:
I think people are spending some additional time with news
and as the papers like to point out when you count occasional users on all platforms, their audience is bigger than before, not smaller.
And here is the other side:
Why Focusing on Time Spent with Print Misses the Point about how News Works
Research from McKinsey seems to suggest that print-based media still commands a large proportion of time spent by consumers of news — but that is just part of the larger picture media companies have to understand.
It would be wise not to read too much into those McKinsey numbers, however: virtually all of the available evidence shows media consumption in print continues to decline, particularly with younger audiences, and as a result advertising revenue is disappearing as well. Media companies need to adapt to that fact, rather than trying to pretend it isn’t happening.
TheMarioBlog post #1260
Posted by Dr. Mario R. Garcia on May 15, 2013
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- Social media’s impact in the business of storytelling
- Get ready for those smartphone editions
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