While the opening sessions of the 61st World Newspaper Congress, being held at Göteborg, Sweden, were upbeat about the newspaper industry in general, the afternoon session saw some deeper exploration of the medium. Making his presentation, William Dean Singleton, Vice Chairman & CEO, MediaNews Group, USA, hit a cautionary note.
Singleton said, “For too long, we in the newspaper industry have been immune to the risk of survival and to the urgency required when facing stiff competition. Suddenly, risk of survival is a regular topic of discussion. Are we up to the challenge that strong competition brings when it is pervasive and incessant?”
According to Singleton, we are.
While acknowledging that there had been a marked shift in the movement of classified advertising from print to online, Singleton noted that being aware of the problem gave time to plan ahead for future challenges.
Speaking about MediaNews, he said, “We believe in print. Our newspapers and partnerships have, in the past two years, invested almost half a billion dollars in new, modern and efficient printing and mailroom plants. Why? Because these investments help make our core more efficient as revenue is challenged. Efficiency in our core product is a key building block in our new strategy, because our core newspapers fund our growth of new businesses.”
“In five years, or 2012, we expect 68 per cent of revenue to come from core, 20 per cent from online and 12 per cent from niche. On operating cash flow, our goal in 2012 is 40 per cent from core, 50 per cent from online and 10 per cent from niche. That would be a great business, one that investors would applaud,” he further said.
At MediaNews, the company consists of three key business units – the core newspapers, the Internet operations and the targeted niche products and publications.