Many newspapers are struggling. They see their number of readers and advertisement income diminish every year. Everybody under 30 uses the internet as main news source and only few of the youngsters subscribe to or buy a daily newspaper. Frank Kalshoven wrote three colums on this in De Volkskrant, the paper I am reading every day since the 1970s. The paper version is part of my life, if it has not landed on my doorstep around 06:45 on working days at the start of my breakfast I feel annoyed.
Kalshoven on 3 January 2009 suggested a combination of three measures newspapers should take to survive: closer ties with existing readers, a link with a public television network and a new economic milk cow. “Newspapers must reward loalty of their readers and create closer ties with them,” he wrote. “Publishers should use this loalty through charching higher prices from printing ink addicts like me,” he continued. This should lead to more income from readership. I e-mailed him that I can’t follow this logic, but I did not get a reply yet.
Teaming up with a public television network on images, cost sharing on their web sites and creating a de Volkskrant broadcast association and network is the second component of Kalshoven’s solutions. In the Netherlands every organisation that can get 50,000 members receives tax money for a few hours television and radio programmes every week. This will also bring in TV advertising money. De Volkskrant has more than 200,000 subscribers.
The third suggestion for newspapers is to do more in online retail of brand-related products of the new combination, with crossover advertising. Publishers could give their subscribers a discount pass for these products, Kalshoven argues. Perhaps he thinks that this discount will be higher than the price increase he wants me to pay as another ink junk.
Doing this mix for survival commercial publisher PCM (of the three quality newspapers de Volkskrant, NRC en Trouw) should change from “for print” to “not-for-profit”. For PCM shareholders “mentally a small step”, Kalshoven thinks.
Interesting thoughts, but realistic?