By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Subscription woes, public media challenges and the Post’s staff bites back

Public domain photo by cweyant

Here’s a round-up of media links for your Monday morning.

• With print dollars giving way to digital dimes and platform pennies, newspapers have been looking to online subscriptions for revenue and growth. Nationally, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post have all done well, though the Post, as we know, has hit some bumps. Regional papers like The Boston Globe and the Star Tribune of Minneapolis have succeeded, too. But Poynter business analyst Rick Edmonds has been reading the new Digital News Report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and finds that, among digital subscribers, “at least 60% pay less than full price.” Full-price conversion at renewal time isn’t easy, either. Keep that in mind the next time you see an email from a newspaper offering six months for $1.

• Public broadcasting this year has been slammed with layoffs both nationally and in Boston, with both WBUR and GBH News suffering significant cuts. At Editor & Publisher, nonprofit consultant Tom Davidson writes that public media outlets face three challenges: audience fragmentation, a glut in podcasts and a decline in underwriting, as advertising is known in the nonprofit world. Davidson writes: “The good old days are not coming back. Drive-time audiences are never going to return to their late-2010 peak…. Engaging different audiences requires a deep, humble understanding of their wants, needs and desires.”

• I was heartened to see a four-byline story in The Washington Post, published Sunday night, about the latest scandal involving the paper’s new executive team. The story documents a close working relationship (free link) between John Ford, “a once-aspiring actor who has since admitted to an extensive career using deception and illegal means to obtain confidential information for Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper,” and Robert Winnett, who publisher Will Lewis, up to his neck in ethical challenges of his own, has named to become the Post’s executive editor later this year. The article, based on draft chapters of a book Ford wrote, includes this delicious package:

Winnett moved quickly to connect Ford with a lawyer, discussed obtaining an untraceable phone for future communications and reassured Ford that the “remarkable omerta” of British journalism would ensure his clandestine efforts would never come to light, according to draft chapters Ford wrote in 2017 and 2018 that were shared with The Post.

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1 Comment

  1. This speaks of more media misbehavior. The golden age of journalism? Ha! Dave O’Toole

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