New Zealand’s smaller newspaper publishers have started 2018 in a buoyant mood, unfazed by the push to go digital, according to an industry survey distributed by the New Zealand Community Newspaper Association (NZCNA).
The poll of publishers, editors and executives found most respondents did not see a print focus as a negative and they considered moving to a multi-platform environment a low priority.
However, their papers still experienced revenue pressure. Also, managers wanted helped with strategic direction, sales, reducing costs and streamlining editorial production.
Media consulting company Flame Tree Media conducted the survey. Stuart Howie, Flame Tree executive director, says, “The big players, who hold most of the major newspaper properties in New Zealand, are branching off and aggressively transforming their business models. But smaller publishers still see a future in serving communities with hyperlocal content and advertising – and doing it in print.”
The survey found almost 80 per cent of respondents feel very or extremely confident about the future of their businesses. Most did not see it as a priority to move from a print focus to a digital focus, with three-quarters of respondents rating this as a low priority. They saw audience engagement and subscribers as the top priorities for publishers, with sales and creating quality content close behind. They did not see starting new business ventures on the radar.
Howie says, “These results show a strong commitment to local newspaper publishing in New Zealand. Critical to newspapers’ ongoing viability, however, will be their ability to swiftly and successfully modernise operations.
“While online and social media is unlikely to significantly increase revenue, it does help publishers to leverage extended reach and to make print stronger for longer. As well, streamlining processes and making efficiencies allows newsrooms to concentrate on what they do best – local storytelling and supporting local business.”
Simon Ellis, NZCNA president Simon Ellis says community newspapers’ ability to generate distinctive and relevant content would continue to set them apart from other media. While publishers face a challenge in how best to integrate newspapers with an online and social presence, newspapers would remain important to the communities and markets they served.
He says, “For advertisers, community newspapers cut through the media fragmentation and are delivered directly into most homes. This is proven to drive sales for advertisers in a cost effective manner. No other media offers this local connectivity and connection with buyers and sellers.”
Other surveys show that many media companies chasing digital advertising revenue have found the going tough. Data from eMarketer shows Facebook and Google take most digital advertising revenue; an estimated 54 per cent globally in 2017. Howie says, “Research shows that while digital gets our attention print is more likely to provide information that is retained, acted upon and converts to a sale. Essentially, print equates to trust and credibility.”