February 27, 2004

The Business Case

Poynter just finished its conference on journalism and business values. Here are some highlights:

 Merrill Lynch analyst Lauren Fine: She chastises the gathered executives for blaming their problems on others, including Wall Street. As Poynter's Bill Mitchell wrote: "Redefine what quality means. Get relevant."

 Portfolio manager Henry Berghoef: Quit your griping about reduced profits. Again, as Mitchell put it: "Realize that your business is not as good as it used to be, but it's better than most. The local Internet franchise is yours to lose. Hold onto classified advertising or brace yourselves for a very different future."

 Tom Rosenstiel of the Project for Excellence in Journalism: He and Rick Edmonds are developing an ungainly named tool called the Newspaper Econometric Model that enables newspaper managers to measure return on investment. One finding, says Rosenstiel: "Greater newsroom expenditures are positively correlated with quality content, which is positively correlated with higher circulation penetration and higher revenues."

 Rick Edmonds of Poynter: Reports on efforts by the industry to "capture new audiences with niche publications," including a panel with Louis Sito, founder of Hoy [ Read: Hola Hoy ]. One fact: Quick, the free, fast-read spinoff launched by the Dallas Morning News last fall, "is distributing 140,000 free copies daily through racks, kiosks, and hawkers with a return rate of less than 15 percent."

There is a certain amount of meandering in an attempt to be all-inclusive, as there seems to be at all Poynter sessions, but the online package is worth reading. The "business case," as the push for quality as a profit driver has come to be called, is stronger than ever, as is the need to continue to redefine what we mean by quality and how we can deliver it to readers.

Posted by Tim Porter at February 27, 2004 05:38 AM