viernes, 27 de octubre de 2017

La ley del embudo

Artículo publicado por The Economist, con todos los derechos reservados, que respeto citándolos, en este medio que no cobra por leer textos que valen la pena.

The Future of Journalism: Funnel Vision
How leading American newspapers got people to pay for news

Sometimes it feels like the 1970s in the New York Times and Washington Post newsrooms: reporters battling each other to break news about scandals that threaten to envelop the White House and the presidency of Donald Trump. Only now their scoops come not in the morning edition but in a tweet or iPhone alert near the end of the day.

Their experiences offer lessons for the industry in America, although only a handful of newspapers have a chance at matching their success. A subscription-first approach relies on tapping a national and international market of hundreds of millions of educated English-language readers and converting a fraction of those into paying customers. With enough digital subscribers — Mark Thompson, chief executive of the New York Times, believes his newspaper can get to 10m, from 2m today — the subscriptions-first model could (in theory) generate more profits than business models dependent on print advertising used to. Such optimism is hard to summon after two decades of accelerating decline. In that period American newspapers lost nearly 40% of their daily circulation, which fell to 35m last year, estimates the Pew Research Centre. Annual ad revenues have shrunk by 63%, or $30bn, just in the past ten years (see chart). Newsrooms have shed 40% of reporters and editors since 2006. High returns on equity turned into single digits, losses or bankruptcy.
Like Detroit carmakers before the arrival of the Japanese, in pre-internet days newspapers flush with profits from a captive market grew lazy and complacent. Some big-city papers, like the Philadelphia Inquirer or the Baltimore Sun, splurged on foreign bureaus and fluffy suburban sections whether or not readers wanted them; classified ads alone covered these costs many times over. Now such newspapers are struggling to remain relevant to diminished readerships. A tier below, hundreds of local ones are dying or turning into advertiser sheets; newspaper chains, some managed by investment funds, have snapped up many of them, maintaining high profits by sacking journalists. 
From the ashes of newsprint 
The Times and Post have been buffeted by the same forces. But now each is in turnaround. The Times has doubled its digital-only subscribers in less than two years; the Post has managed the feat in ten months, and now has more than 1m. Both have staunched losses. Revenue at the Times had fallen by more than 20% in three years to less than $1.6bn in 2009; this year they are on pace to climb back above $1.6bn, led by digital subscriptions. (Return on equity still fell, to 3% last year from 37% in 2001.) 
The Post had also been losing millions before Jeff Bezos, boss of Amazon, bought it in 2013. The newspaper is now privately held and does not disclose revenues and profits, but Fred Ryan, the publisher, says both are growing and the newspaper is on track for its most profitable year in a decade. The Wall Street Journal added more than 300,000 digital subscriptions in the year to June, but a sharp fall in advertising crimped revenues by 6% at Dow Jones, the division of News Corp, Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, that houses the newspaper. How have they done it? Early attempts by newspapers to put up digital “paywalls” floundered, and met with derision from critics and competitors vaunting the internet’s ability to generate huge audiences for free content. How could anyone hope to attract paying digital customers when they could go elsewhere online for free?
The Times hit upon the answer in 2011, when it introduced a metered paywall, something the Financial Times was also trying. Visitors to the website could read a few free articles a month, after which they would be asked to pay. This approach is now standard across journalism (including at this newspaper), but it was controversial at the time. At News Corp Mr Murdoch erected a hard paywall at all his newspapers in the belief that giving away his product online would cripple the more profitable print editions. Those suffered anyway, and he later dropped the paywall at the Sun, a tabloid, and has allowed some flexibility at the Journal. Softer paywalls have created funnels to suck in customers. 
On a whiteboard in Mr Thompson’s office at the Times is a diagram to illustrate the approach. At the top, where the funnel is widest, are all those who visit its digital site. (In September 104m people in America did so, according to comScore.) At the narrow end are its 2m paying digital-only subscribers (plus 1m print subscribers). Mr Thompson’s main preoccupation is to tweak the “geometry of the funnel” to shift more people from free to paid. At the Post, Mr Ryan is also busy funnelling. 
The job of funnel mathematician did not exist at newspapers six years ago. Now it is one of the most important functions a digital site has. The Times and Post conduct numerous tests of different ways to trigger the paywall, for instance if a visitor returns to the same columnist. It is A/B testing like at a technology company, Mr Ryan says, except it is more like “A to Z testing”. The Post has settled on three site visits a month before hitting the paywall, which means 85% of visitors will not encounter it. The other 15% are asked to subscribe at the introductory rate of 99 cents for the first four weeks. 
Both newspapers sift through data about what visitors do just before stumping up. The Post looks at the “month zero” of a reader’s pre-subscription activity on the site. Mr Ryan credits the effort, which began a year ago, with helping to convert more visitors to subscribers this year. 
Another factor has helped the two papers: Mr Trump. Since his election they have revived an old rivalry, vying for sensational scoops, sometimes several in a day. Mr Trump’s attacks on both newspapers — “the failing New York Times”, “more fake news from the Amazon Washington Post” — have almost certainly helped their bottom lines. His presidency has created an urgency around news that has made old-fashioned journalism more in vogue than it has been probably since Watergate. Fake news shared on social media has reinforced a feeling that real news costs money. 
Trump bump 
The newspapers’ bosses agree Mr Trump has been good for business, but add they were ready for the moment. As Mr Bezos is fond of saying, “you can’t shrink your way to profitability”. He invested in the Post after buying it, hiring technologists to improve its digital presence. He has also added reporters (the Post now has 750 newsroom employees and counting). Marty Baron, editor of the Post, added a rapid-response investigative team of eight people this year. Dean Baquet, executive editor of the Times, has expanded the Washington bureau twice since the election. (The Times paid for new reporters in part by cutting dozens of other editorial jobs.) 
The subscription-first approach justifies adding reporters. By increasing the quality of the product, newspapers hope to lure subscribers. But it is not clear others can replicate that virtuous circle so easily. Many regional papers are nurturing digital subscribers — they all have their funnels now, too — but are doing so on a much smaller scale. They will have to come up with other ways to make money to survive. “They have to do everything,” says Jay Rosen, a professor of journalism at New York University. 
By “everything” media experts like Mr Rosen mean ending a reliance on two traditional sources of revenue: ads and subscriptions. At regional papers, unlike the national ones, prospects for both are limited by the size of the metropolitan market. Savings from printing fewer copies are small — printing and distribution costs are mostly fixed — so they must either cut staff or find other ways to make money. This may include staging trade fairs, offering memberships with perks, even e-commerce partnerships. Such sidelines help to ward off staff cuts; to be a community hub, newspapers must also cover communities effectively. They may forgo costly (and wasteful) foreign and national bureaus. But to attract local readers, they must provide relevant coverage of city halls, courthouses, police precincts or schools. 
Take the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, a privately owned newspaper which has managed to keep the newsroom humming along. Almost annually Mike Klingensmith, the publisher, and a few of his senior executives meet with their counterparts at the Dallas Morning News, Boston Globe and one or two other independently owned newspapers. They sign non-disclosure agreements and then share ideas about how to make money. In the past year Mr Klingensmith has adopted three of them, adding several million dollars in revenue: organising an advertiser fair to attract new clients; putting on a consumer travel show; and starting a glossy quarterly print magazine. 
The Star Tribune now sells digital subscriptions (nearly 50,000) and adverts; delivers a thick Sunday paper full of features (which accounts for 54% of print ad revenue); and is expanding the Saturday print edition. It conducts in-depth investigations that wins awards, including the Pulitzer Prize in 2013, and makes podcasts and daily videos. Several reporters cover city hall. In the past year an additional one was dispatched to Washington. Mr Klingensmith and Rene Sanchez, the editor, believe quality is key; nearly 20% of the budget goes to the newsroom, which has kept a headcount of 245 for seven years. 
That gives the Star Tribune’s funnel mathematician a product to sell. Patrick Johnston, a digital executive poached from Target, the retail store, and his boss Jim Bernard, a former executive at Marketwatch, a business-news website, explain how a local newspaper’s funnel vision is different. They are, like the big papers, interested in the visitors who they call “intenders”, people whose browsing behaviour suggests they may be ready to subscribe. But whereas many visitors to the Times and Post are potential intenders, the Star Tribune can dismiss about 50% of its online traffic — the “grazers” from outside Minnesota who clicked a link — and focus on the other half. Reducing friction is vital; they have got 25% more intenders to subscribe since installing PayPal as a payment option. 
Hold the presses 
The downside to the ease of online subscriptions is the ease of cancelling them. Newspapers guard their rates of digital churn closely because they are so high — despite an all-out effort the Star Tribune keeps only one in two subscribers after 14 months (the Times and Post numbers are better, executives there say, without giving figures). A subscriber’s early days are essential. Keeping a visitor engaged with the site is similar to getting a “guest” on Target’s website to put another item in their basket, Mr Johnston says. It also means competing with ever more rivals for people’s attention: bigger fish like the Times and Post, but also Netflix, Spotify or Candy Crush. 
The virtue of digital subscriptions is that they build a deeper relationship between readers and newspapers than when distribution meant throwing broadsheets onto doorsteps. Newspapers nowadays know a lot more about their customers’ tastes. That lets them tailor the experience to readers individually, with the aim of keeping them around longer. It can be, as Mr Thompson says, an annuity for the newspaper. But the newspaper has to be worth the cover price.

domingo, 22 de octubre de 2017

Nuevo diseño de El Tiempo de Bogotá



El modelo que dejan, de 2010, es el de las pestañas de corte autoritario (debes saber, debes leer...) pero sobre todo de confuso lenguaje visual, fue realizado por el estudio de Mario García, con Rodrigo Fino a la cabeza. Aquí la explicación del nuevo diseño, que esta vez sale de la misma casa editorial.

El nuevo Tiempo y sus pestañas, en Paper Papers, 6/10/2010

lunes, 16 de octubre de 2017

En The New York Times descubren la pólvora

Les paso el link y la nota con el resumen de la presentación de Michael Golden en la sesión de apertura de la IFRA Publishing Expo and DCX de Berlín el martes pasado (10 de octubre). Diera la impresión de que en The New York Times estarían descubriendo recién ahora que este negocio consiste en hacer periodismo por el que valga la pena pagar...
"Our strategy is to make journalism worth paying for" 
"We measure our success by the number of people who pay us to be subscribers in print and in digital."
NYT's Golden: 'Everything we do in one way or another is to increase engagement' 
“We are in this for the long term ... Our horizon is the next 100 years,” said Michael Golden of The New York Times, during the Opening Session of IFRA Publishing Expo and DCX on Tuesday in Berlin.

Photo: IFRA/DCX 2017 - Christian Laukemper
"The New York Times has been under the control and the active senior management of the Ochs-Sulzberger family for 120 years," he said. "Obviously, we manage the business on an annual basis, but we believe we will be one of the most successful digital businesses." 
Golden, Vice Chairman of The New York Times Company and President of WAN-IFRA, shared recent developments and The Times' strategy with the standing room-only crowd. "Our strategy is to make journalism worth paying for," Golden said. "We measure our success by the number of people who pay us to be subscribers in print and in digital."

1 million print subscribers, 2+ million digital 
Right now, he said, The New York Times has about 1 million subscribers in print in various forms: Sunday-only, weekend, 7-day. All of those subscribers have full access to The Times' digital offering. 
They also have more than 2 million digital-only subscribers who pay between $225 and $450 a year for NYT digital subscriptions. "In addition to that we have more than 200,000 subscribers to a crossword product, which is doing very well," Golden said. 
He also said that The Times' short-term goal is to reach $800 in million digital revenue.
"One of the big changes that we have made in the last two to three years is that we are very focussed on audience-first," he said. "Advertising is critically important to our business, but we do not believe it is the future of our business. We believe it's much less dependable, much less available to newspapers and news organisations and that audience-first and audience revenue is the key to it." 
Being a news destination is critically important to The Times' strategy, Golden said.
"We need people to come to our website, to come directly to our journalism," he said. "That's how we think you really build a relationship and really build value. We use Facebook. We use Google. We use social media to bring our audience in, but we work very, very hard to bring them directly to The New York Times. We cannot rely on them coming solely through social media." 
He said The Times' core appeal will remain national-international news, science news, culture news, that they are well known for worldwide. "But we believe that if we are going to get to 5 million, to 10 million digital-only subscribers, then we have to have more touch-points, more areas in your daily life where you see The New York Times as an authority," he said. 
"Everything we do in one way or another is to increase engagement," Golden added.
The test for success is if you can engage consumers enough to return again and again. 
Not if you can bring in a lot of people once, he said. 
Print still significant 
"Readers have stayed with print because it is a different experience, an experience they value," Golden said. "I believe that we have a significant number of years ahead of us in print – I am not going to put a number on it because then everyone will focus on the number. We are aggressively building our digital business, but personally I believe that we'll be in print for another generation."

martes, 10 de octubre de 2017

Print's not dead

Siempre pasa lo mismo: los que vienen a darnos consejos nos dicen lo que hacemos hace 200 años. Lo curioso es que los aplaudimos, pero curioso porque si nos sorprenden o los aplaudimos es porque alguna vez nos olvidamos de los principios básicos de este negocio. Van los cinco puntos que destaca esta entrevista a Robertson Barret, el presidente de Hearst Newspapers Digital Media.
1. Permanecer local
2. Profundizar el compromiso
3. Inventar productos
4. Invertir en datos
5. Directo al mercado
El título, dicho por ellos mismos, no tiene mucho sentido: Print’s Not Dead. How Hearst Is Using Social To Power-Up Its Papers.

Yo diría que mientras haya impresos y gente que los lea, habrá noticias impresas. Lo que no sabemos es de quién van a ser.

viernes, 6 de octubre de 2017

Periodismo gonzo y otros adjetivos inútiles

Llaman gonzo en argot irlandés de los bajos fondos al último hombre que queda en pie en un maratón de alcohol, y eso en Irlanda es mucho decir... Parece que de ahí sacó Hunter Thompson la expresión gonzo journalism. Periodismo gonzo sería en castellano, pero el problema de estos adjetivos sin sentido es que no significan nada y nos dejan igual que antes hasta que alguien explica el significado de la palabra inventada y luego hay que acordarse de qué quería decir. Estaría mucho mejor decirle periodismo encubierto y todos en paz.

Ahora imaginemos a un periodista que decide cubrir un maratón de aguardiente o de comer choripanes como un tragaldabas para contar a su audiencia qué se siente, pero en carne propia. Bueno, resulta que para eso tiene que llegar hasta el final y ganar el maratón. Quizá por eso dice Hunter Thompson que “para ser gonzo se necesita el talento de un maestro periodista, la mirada de un artista o un fotógrafo, y las bolas bien plantadas de un actor”.

Se trata de ser el protagonista de la historia que se relata. Involucrarse, pero no ser uno más sino el que lleva la voz cantante y sin que esto choque con la condición esencial del periodismo que es el rigor informativo... El gonzo es una subespecie del Nuevo Periodismo que inventó Tom Wolfe, pero además del viejo Wolfe lo ejerció con maestría Truman Capote y lo sigue haciendo Gay Talese, bastante mayorcito también: relatar hechos puros y duros con todos los recursos de la novela. Pero la idea central de Thompson no es el relato sino el protagonismo; el relato viene después. A los 27 años escribió Hell’s Angels después de haberse infiltrado en una banda de motoqueros violentos durante un año entero. Y parece que cuando los motoqueros se enteraron casi lo matan a patadas.

El Nuevo Periodismo no plantea ningún problema ético, ya que está más relacionado con el estilo de escritura y con el contexto de los hechos que se relatan. Las coberturas se realizan a la luz del día y todo el mundo lo sabe... hasta que Gay Talese escribió El motel del voyeur, la historia real del propietario de un motel en Colorado que espiaba a sus huéspedes. Es cierto que Talese publicó sus crónicas muchos años después de los hechos, cuando el hotel ya había cerrado y no quedaba nada del edificio ni de los artilugios que usaba el voyeur para mirar desde el cielo raso a sus pasajeros hacer las cosas más increíbles y anotarlas meticulosamente en un cuaderno.

El problema del periodismo gonzo es que lo ejerce un encubierto metido en tribus que pretenden mantener sus actividades en secreto por ser bastante ilegales. Precisamente por eso los tribunales les han dado la razón ya en varias ocasiones y siempre que se trate de deschavar actividades delictivas. Así que puede dormir tranquilo, ya que mientras no esté haciendo macanas no se le va a meter ningún gonzo en su casa.

Pasa que el periodismo cambia con la sociedad y también cambian sus estándares, sin embargo no creo que sea legítimo usar recursos de los servicios de inteligencia –mucho menos si son ilegales– para meterse en la vida de los demás, aunque los demás sean delincuentes: para eso está la policía. Prefiero la idea del periodismo border que se inventó Emilio Fernández Cicco, un pibe de Lobos (Buenos Aires) que hasta ahora ha curtido de porno star, sparring de la Hiena Barrios, enterrador en el cementerio de la Chacarita y cosas parecidas para publicar sus historias. Está en las librerías Yo fui porno star y otras crónicas de lujuria y demencia, que se parece mucho al título del uruguayo Horacio Quiroga (1878-1937) Cuentos de amor, de locura y de muerte, que al fin y al cabo era bastante border. Gabriel García Márquez escribió con estilo y recursos de novela el Relato de un náufrago, la Crónica de una muerte anunciada y la Noticia de un secuestro. ¿Le parece poco como aporte de nuestro continente al Nuevo Periodismo, al border, o al gonzo? Y hay muchísimos más, en el Ecuador, en la Argentina y en toda nuestra Améric a mestiza. No estamos inventando nada nuevo.

Todos los periodistas tenemos algo de gonzo y de border y también de delincuente y de policía... y de voyeur y de todo. Además somos artistas y –varones o mujeres– tenemos lo que hay que tener, además de un bolígrafo, una cámara de fotos, un micrófono o una computadora. Somos periodistas y punto.

lunes, 2 de octubre de 2017

El nuevo taz

Viernes 29

Sábado 30 (edición de fin de semana)

Lunes 2 de octubre

 Les paso la traducción –bastante libre y a pesar de Google– del editorial de Georg Löwich. Y un solo comentario ¡Hay que ser alemán!
Relevante y singular 
Seguramente usted se pregunta qué pasó aquí arriba. Qué estamos estamos imprimiendo en el borde, arriba la izquierda, por supuesto. Y lo más importante, la cabeza roja que se corta en Montag (lunes). Esa se supone que es la intención del taz: irritar. Queríamos hacer el periódico un poco más divertido y con estilo. Lo hemos rediseñado, no sólo ópticamente. Hemos empezado por nuestra propia cabecera, con el coraje de ser juguetones. El mundo está cambiando, Europa está cambiando y el taz no puede quedarse quieto. Quien quiera ganar lectores hoy debe ofrecer singularidad y una oferta relevante. El taz consigue singularidad a través de la originalidad de sus temas, posiciones y formas. Relevancia significa el deseo de hacer algo en el mundo, para esto debemos ser vistos y escuchados, debemos penetrar. ¿Por qué el taz tiene ese poder? Cualquiera puede experimentar cada mañana en el tren cómo las personas leen el taz sobre el cristal de su teléfono celular. Nos apasiona En la noche de la elección el Bundestag el taz tuvo entre tres y cuatro millones de lectores en Facebook. No se trata de una cosa o de otra. Estamos fusionando con el nuevo formato y a la vez estamos desarrollando los antiguos. Porque cuando tanto perezoso clica y twittea, la realidad se convierte en vértigo.  Hay algo claro en el papel. Todas las mañanas sobre la mesa. También en de la variante como ePaper y aplicación diaria el principio diurno algo aclaratorio. Examinar, parar aquí, leer, y al final tienes una idea de los acontecimientos de un día. Internet es interminable. Desde 2009 no renovábamos nuestro producto original. Nuestro clásico. Nuestro nombre. El diario. Le invitamos a acompañar los cambios de hoy, de estos días y de las semanas siguientes. Escríbanos a Una visión de lo que hay en cada edición la encuentra en las "cosas taz" en la página 2, una de las innovaciones. Pero mire todo eso en este ejemplar.