The Mario Blog
Newspapers and their quest for survival and immortality

TAKEAWAY: It is a time of turmoil, change and transformation for newspapers everywhere. Sometimes solutions seem contradictory, as is the case with the Times Picayune’s announcement that it will start publishing a tabloid three times a week, less than a year after it stopped printing daily.

This is the weekend edition of TheMarioBlog and will be updated as needed. The next blog post is Monday, May 6

TAKEAWAY: It is a time of turmoil, change and transformation for newspapers everywhere. Sometimes solutions seem contradictory, as is the case with the Times Picayune’s announcement that it will start publishing a tabloid three times a week, less than a year after it stopped printing daily.

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Times Picayune headlines tell the story

Times-Picayune Plans a New Print Tabloid


Here is a recent piece in The New York Times’ Media & Advertising section:

Nearly one year after the Times-Picayune of New Orleans announced that it would print only three days a week, the paper said it planned to roll out a three-day-a-week tabloid edition.

This is another indication of the state of flux—-perhaps confusion is a better word—that the newspaper industry finds itself in circa mid 2013.

More newspapers are looking at themselves in the mirror, pondering their destiny, and entertaining thoughts of their own mortality and/or immortality.

In the process, we find all sorts of solutions, some stranger than others, many hard to decipher, but all pursued in good faith by publishers who follow their instincts in their quest for that which will help generate revenue, stop drops in circulation and attract the elusive digital natives.

Indeed, there is a place for this type of contemplation and meditation. Forget mortality (for most), and concentrate on immortality, for the brand and how it will live and thrive post the present period of media transformation.

Options abound

In the process, these are some of the options newspapers globally are considering:

Smaller formats—Only aircraft tend to get bigger these days; for newspapers, smaller is definitely better, and the A4 format is the best.

Fewer days of publication—It may work for some to just publish three days a week (maybe not for the Times Picayune?).

Reorganization of sections (fewer)—Nobody has time to read a six section newspaper Monday thru Friday: try two or three tops. Combine, reshuffle, throw it all in the air and rethink how content flows.

No print daily, only weekends—for many newspapers, print will only be reserved for a robust weekend edition.

Digital first newsrooms—These are newsrooms that take the crown off the print product, incorporating it as part of the media quartet, but without its protagonist role. Editors and journalists create all copy and imagery for digital platforms, then adapt it to print.

Digital only newsrooms—Goodbye print in these newsrooms, with digital platforms as the only providers of information.

Times Picayune goes street tabloid

So, the Times Picayune of New Orleans is now in the headlines itself. Starting this summer, a tabloid called TPStreet will be published on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, according to a statement released online by Jim Amoss, editor and vice president for content at The Times-Picayune.

TPStreet will focus on “breaking news, sports and entertainment” and will cost 75 cents.

For background: The Times-Picayune printed its last daily edition this past fall. With these changes, the paper will again produce a print product most days, though the paper’s flagship edition will be home delivered only three. Other papers part of the Advance group are also implementing changes: The Syracuse Post Standard offers a newsstand edition four days per week, and the company’s Cleveland Plain Dealer recently announced it would deliver to homes three times a week but print seven days.

As a media observer I have these questions?

What does the Times Picayune know that we don’t? Why would the TP go back to print after it killed its daily edition? Is that a sign of the digital venture not succeeding?

It is all part of the many experiments that newspapers continue to be engaged with at a time of constant change, transformation and searching for the magic bullet.

Of related interest:

Very detailed and fun graphic!

This amazing infographic of Kowloon Walled City commemorates the 20th anniversary of its demolition

This amazing infographic of Kowloon Walled City commemorates the 20th anniversary of its demolition

New York Times versus USA Today

New York Times passes USA Today in daily circulation

Donations for our colleague Bob Newman

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Bob Newman

As some of you know, our dear friend and talented colleague, Bob Newman suffered a terrible accident while vacationing with his family in Florida recently. He fell, hit his head and was in a coma for over two weeks. He is now back in a hospital near his home in New York City and slowly gaining back his strength, but it will still be months before a full recovery.

As a freelancer, Bob has no salary, and bills are piling up. He also has two young daughters.

I encourage all of you to think of Bob in his special moment of need.

Donations can be made here:

Wishing Bob a speedy recovery so that this gifted designer and better friend can get back to work.

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