Ohio Newspaper Association Bulletin

June 3, 2011



June 23
Taking Your Newspaper Online … The Easier and Affordable Way! Part 1
OMC Webinar

June 24
Circulation Tune-Up
OMC Webinar

July 7
Taking Your Newspaper Online … The Easier and Affordable Way! Part 1
OMC Webinar

October 5
News Judgment 2011-Style
ONF Webinar (Details TBA)



From the executive director

State budget looks good on public notice, advertising issues

Dennis Hetzel

May 31 was a big day. The Senate Finance Committee accepted a substitute budget bill that contained language, or the removal of language, that was highly important to the Ohio Newspaper Association.

First and foremost, the bill retains the public notice language we have supported. There were some tweaks that we expected from the Kasich Administration and can support. (In fact, I wrote some of the language that ended up in the bill.)

The first change is this: The earlier version allowed a governmental body to publish a second notice as small as 25 percent of the size of the first one if the notice also was going to a government website. The new language for the second notice is content-based, requiring a summary and specific contact information. In some cases, the notice might be smaller than 25 percent; in other cases it could be bigger.

The second change was to make a new, state government website the required government posting site, not a local government site. We will continue to work with the Administration to have our ONA site, PublicNoticesOhio.com, qualify as that site.

Kevin Bacon Bacon

The substitute bill also removes language we opposed that would have allowed governmental bodies to sell advertising on their websites. Sen. Kevin Bacon, R-Franklin County, introduced the amendment to remove this language, and we thank Sen. Bacon as well as Senate leadership for their responsiveness.

We also are pleased, for reasons that should be obvious to any reader of this column, that the committee has removed House language that would have reduced transparency and accountability of charter schools.

I counted seven other areas in this 4,000-plus page document that involve either public notices, public records or public meetings. In several cases, we were directly involved in discussions and negotiations and can accept the language.  We are evaluating language in a few others.

For example, there is a provision to correct abuses by those seeking windfall fines by pursuing public records unlikely to exist. A recent case in Bucyrus showed that this is a legitimate and potentially expensive concern of local governments that makes sense to address. However, it's important to ensure that the language doesn't deter legitimate cases in which governments have violated requirements for archiving and destruction of records.

In another amendment, sponsors agreed to our proposal to give journalists access to specific customer information of municipally-owned utilities. While it is unlikely a reporter might need this information, you never know.

So, what's next?

There will be one more round of possible amendments early next week, followed by a committee vote and a Senate floor vote. Lawmakers will have to iron out any differences with the House version in conference committee and achieve final passage before June 30th.

We are not anticipating significant issues as the budget moves forward, but obviously we will stay alert.

As always, let us know if you have questions or want more detail. Meanwhile, it certainly remains a good idea to mention our positions as you encounter state legislators in the next few weeks.

2x4 network starts taking off

Sales in our new 2x4 advertising network were more than a third of sales in the 2x2 network in May. Local sales reps have until June 30th to take part in a contest for selling into the network. For every ad you sell, you are entered into a drawing for a weekend at a Hocking Hills bed-and-breakfast.

Not only that, selling just one ad a month into the 2x4 network will mean an annual profit of nearly $16,000 for your paper above and beyond the year-end rebates that all network papers receive.

To learn more about the 2x4 network, contact Kathy McCutcheon at 614-486-6677 or kmccutcheon@adohio.net.

Crawford named AdOhio director of advertising

Chris Crawford Crawford

Columbus-area native Christopher Crawford has been named director of advertising for AdOhio, the for-profit affiliate of the Ohio Newspaper Association, ONA Executive Director Dennis Hetzel announced.

Crawford's background includes print and broadcast sales management as well as media sales training and consulting. Most recently, he was the director of sales for CBS Radio Phoenix.

"I am very excited to be joining the ONA," Crawford said. "I look forward to working with Dennis and the talented group of professionals at AdOhio.

"I started my sales career as an account executive with the community newspaper NEWSLIFE in Marion, Ohio, and have always been driven by helping customers grow their business," he added. "I look forward to working with all of our member papers throughout the state to build revenues and results for them as well as our clients."

As director of advertising, Crawford will oversee AdOhio's operations that generate revenue for the more than 400 newspapers and affiliated websites in the Ohio Newspaper Association. This includes AdOhio's display, online, insert, classified, 2x2 and 2x4 advertising networks. AdOhio also provides placement services across the country through its relationships with other state newspaper associations and ad agencies.

"We have a great story to tell, because no one can match the audience reach of Ohio's newspapers and their websites," Hetzel said. "In a time when our industry needs fresh thinking to generate revenue across multiple platforms, it's a real plus to find someone with Chris' background. His experience as a highly regarded sales trainer and consultant also will make him a great resource and mentor for ONA members.

"Plus, it's a homecoming for Chris and his family," Hetzel said. "We're excited to have them back in Ohio."

After stints as general manager for NEWSLIFE in Marion and the Delaware Advertiser, Crawford moved into radio sales management and vice president positions in Charlotte, Wichita and Tulsa. He is the former director of sales for RadiOhio Inc., which included the Ohio State Sports Radio Network, the Ohio News Network and WBNS AM-FM in Columbus. He served as a trainer and consultant for Clear Channel Communications and Creative Resources in Tulsa and is a 1982 graduate of The Ohio State University.

Crawford will start his new position on June 20. He replaces Mark Henry, who left AdOhio at the end of 2009. Acting Sales Manager Walt Dozier will return to a full-time sales position.

"ONA members should join me in thanking Walt for his hard work, dedication and leadership during a period of great difficulty in our industry," Hetzel said.

Private equity firm buys Ohio newspaper group

From Dirks, Van Essen & Murray

Ohio Community Media LLC has sold a large group of daily and weekly newspapers in western and northern Ohio to an affiliate of Philadelphia-based Versa Capital Management Inc.

Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a newspaper merger and acquisition firm in Santa Fe, New Mexico, represented Ohio Community Media in the transaction. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Ohio group consists of 14 daily newspapers, more than 30 weeklies and a collection of shoppers and niche publications, clustered principally in the region between Dayton and Columbus. The group also serves communities in the Lake Erie region of northern Ohio.

The deal represents the last in a series of sales of publications formerly owned by Brown Publishing Co. Brown filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010, and ownership of the Ohio newspapers and other publications eventually passed to Ohio Community Media, controlled by Brown's former lenders.

The daily newspapers in the latest transaction include the Sidney Daily News, Delaware Gazette, Troy Daily News, Wilmington News Journal, Washington Court House Record-Herald, Urbana Daily Citizen, Piqua Daily Call and several others. Also included are various weekly newspapers, shoppers, magazines and websites.

The acquiring company, OCM LLC, is an affiliate of Versa Capital Management, which is making its first investment in the newspaper industry. Scott Champion, a former executive with Liberty Group Publishing, GateHouse Media and other newspaper companies, has been named to lead the new company.

June webinar will help small newspapers build a Web presence

There are a number of newspapers across the country that don't have a viable Web presence still today. As technology continues to change at an accelerated rate, a website can become the cornerstone of editorial workflow while offering new, old and former readers the opportunity to stay connected to your publication.

"Taking Your Newspaper Online… The Easy and Affordable Way" on June 23 is the first webinar in a two-part series from Online Media Campus that will help newspapers build a web presence. Part one will cover why WordPress is an excellent tool to begin building a web presence and show step-by-step how to organize and assemble all of the components of a self-hosted WordPress website.

Session one will show why WordPress is a good solution for your newspaper, and why this open-source content management system is an excellent resource for organizations just getting started developing an online presence or expanding an already growing digital footprint.

It will also cover:

  • The concept of open-source platforms
  • Why WordPress?
  • The WordPress CMS workflow
  • Plugin functionality
  • Examples of existing newspaper websites using WordPress
  • Getting started with existing staff
  • Other WordPress training resources

Charlie Weaver Weaver

Instructor Charlie Weaver is the digital media & design director for the Iowa State Daily. He has worked in the printing and publishing industry for more than 15 years. His experience ranges from graphic design, to editorial workflows, to branding and marketing. In the last five years he has concentrated on building the Daily's web presence and researching the platforms, software and social media tools that are available to small newsrooms that operate on fairly limited budgets.

The second webinar in the series is scheduled for July 7 and will cover the nuts and bolts of building your WordPress website. Both 1-hour webinars will begin at 2 p.m. EDT.

Registration fee: $35 for either session and group discounts are available. The registration deadline for the June 23 webinar is June 20.

Online Media Campus is a partnership of ONA, the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, the Iowa Newspaper Foundation and more than 30 press associations throughout the United States and Canada.

Ohio senator's bill would shield certain 'dash-cam' footage from police cars

From The Plain Dealer

The state senator who was the swing vote on the controversial collective bargaining bill that angered police and other unionized workers will introduce a bill that would shield some police "dash-cam" footage from the public.

Republican Sen. Frank LaRose of Akron said his bill would bar publicly releasing police cruiser dashboard camera footage that captures images of an officer being fatally wounded.

LaRose said he got the idea from a person on Facebook, an aspiring police officer, who chided the senator for his vote on Senate Bill 5 in March and challenged him to do something that helps law enforcement.

"I responded to him, 'Hey, great idea,'" LaRose said.

The issue stems from a March 11 shooting in which Sandusky police officer Andrew Dunn was shot five times by a suspect he was attempting to question. The incident was recorded on the officer's dashboard camera, and local media are trying to get access to the film under Ohio's public records law.

"My end goal remains, the goal of this legislation, is to find a way to protect families of our law enforcement folks from ever having to view a video of their loved one being killed in the line of duty," LaRose said. "I don't think the actual image of someone dying necessarily constitutes a public record."

The Ohio Fraternal Order of Police still doesn't appreciate LaRose's vote on SB5 but does appreciate the senator's support of this type of legislation.

"We feel that there are some things that families of fallen officers do not need to be exposed to and having a video on YouTube for the rest of their lives showing their loved one being killed is one of them," said Jay McDonald, president of the FOP.

McDonald said six Ohio police officers have been killed in the line of duty this year already. There were four in all of 2010.

Open records advocates do not like the bill, saying it is just one more attempt to chip away at Ohio's open records law.

"It's not something we would support," said Dennis Hetzel, executive director of the Ohio Newspaper Association. "I understand where the senator is coming from in terms of protecting privacy and the grieving of a family. But it would be yet another exception to the public records law."

Hetzel said most media would treat such video images with respect and not sensationalize them. And he said the videos could be important to the public's right to know what happened to a public employee who is unfortunately killed in the line of duty.

"It's hard for me to imagine such a circumstance where (the media) might use it, but there could be such circumstances," Hetzel said. "But it would be so rare that we would be broadcasting that (type of video) that I think in effect they are trying to solve a problem that does not exist."

LaRose said he supports Ohio's open records law and the public's right to information. He said he is not worried about mainstream media outlets as much as he worries about a blogger who would "get out there with some voyeuristic image to get himself known."

LaRose said he does not intend to shield all dash-cam videos. And he is not trying to shield the entire video that might contain images of an officer being killed.

"My thought would be to give law enforcement the ability to redact, to simply clip out, digitally, of course, the five or 10 seconds where the graphic, violent incident occurred," he said.

As a compromise to media groups, LaRose said he would support "pixilating it to the point the gory images are not visible" rather than redacting or cutting out parts of the video so that the full video could still be released under the open records law.

Cleveland Heights cites Sowell gag order to deny release of public records

From The Plain Dealer, Cleveland

Lawyers for the city of Cleveland Heights have asked the judge presiding over the case of serial-killing suspect Anthony Sowell to prevent The Plain Dealer, Cleveland,from inspecting records that show how sexual assault cases were handled in that city.

In a motion filed May 27 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, city Law Director John Gibbon told Judge Dick Ambrose that divulging information to reporters might jeopardize the case against Sowell and would undermine the judge's May 2010 gag order, prohibiting public disclosure of evidence that could be used at trial.

Lou Colombo, an attorney at Baker-Hostetler law firm who is representing the Plain Dealer, said the city's two-page motion fails to cite any authority for denying the reporters' request except for a gag order that is irrelevant to the public records in question.

"We are mystified by why they would file this," Colombo said May 31. "The Plain Dealer's request is for records regarding Cleveland Heights' investigation of rapes — not records regarding Mr. Sowell."

Sowell, 51, is charged with multiple counts of aggravated murder, kidnapping, abusing a corpse and tampering with evidence in the deaths of 11 women whose bodies were found in and around his Imperial Avenue home in October 2009. His trial is scheduled to begin June 6. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

He also is accused of attacking several other women who survived.

Reporters had requested records from the city after a series of stories about a woman who told Cleveland Heights police that she had been raped in April 2009 by a man who county prosecutors say was Sowell.

Cleveland Heights police failed to submit for testing all the evidence collected from the woman at the hospital, as part of her rape kit. City officials, citing the still-open case, have declined to explain in recent weeks why the evidence was not sent.

Even if it had been tested, it might not have led them to Sowell at that time because his DNA — which prison officials said they collected while he was serving a sentence for an attempted rape — was never entered into a national database.

The reporters, however, also noted that the woman's report had not been counted by the city in statistics they had provided for sexual assaults and were trying to determine why.

In a letter dated May 25, Gibbon denied the newspaper's requests for police policies relating to how they investigate sex crimes, statistics about the number of rape or sexual assault kits submitted to a crime lab and the number of sexual assault cases classified in each of several categories.

After each denial, Gibbon wrote, "The City is unwilling to produce these records at this time in light of the 5/7/2010 Order of Judge Richard Ambrose in the case of State of Ohio v. Anthony Sowell."

The city did provide access to some general police orders and information about how cases are classified.

But Plain Dealer Editor Debra Adams Simmons said May 31 that the newspaper sees no reason why the rest of the records should be kept from public scrutiny.

"The public has a right to know how rape cases are investigated in their communities," she said. "We will continue to push for access to public information."

Judge defends sealing of Oakhill bills

From The Vindicator, Youngstown

The trial judge in the Oakhill Renaissance Place criminal-conspiracy case stands by his decision to keep the bills of particulars sealed from public view, saying their release would jeopardize defendants' right to a fair trial in Mahoning County.

Visiting Judge William H. Wolff Jr. of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court made his arguments in a recent filing at the Ohio Supreme Court, which was made on his behalf by Carley J. Ingram, an assistant Montgomery County prosecutor.

Judge Wolff, of Kettering, was responding to a request by The (Youngstown) Vindicator and 21 WFMJ-TV for a Supreme Court order that would unseal all documents and proceedings in the Oakhill case.

Judge Wolff said his order to keep the bills of particulars sealed "is narrowly drawn to serve the compelling governmental interest of assuring the defendants a fair trial" in an environment of intense pretrial publicity.

The bills of particulars, which prosecutors have filed in the Oakhill case, spell out in detail the charges in the indictment and the alleged illegal conduct of each defendant.

In the Oakhill criminal case, five people and three companies are charged with conspiring to impede the move of the Mahoning County Department of Job and Family Services from Cafaro Co.-owned rented quarters to the county-owned Oakhill Renaissance Place. The criminal trial is set to begin Sept. 6.

A state Supreme Court order, known as a writ of prohibition, should be issued against Judge Wolff "to remedy the unconstitutional infringement by respondent of the public's right of access to ongoing judicial proceedings," the newspaper and TV station argued in their January complaint.

If the writ isn't granted, defendants in the criminal case "will have succeeded in effectively turning a presumptively public criminal process into a virtually private proceeding," argued Marion H. Little Jr., the lawyer for the newspaper and TV station.

If a judge is concerned about prejudice due to pretrial publicity, the remedy is to move the trial to another Ohio county, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in April 2010, Little argued.

Although Judge Wolff unsealed other documents in the Oakhill case at the request of the newspaper and TV station, he said he has kept the bills of particulars sealed from public view for several reasons.

In ordering that the bills stay sealed, Judge Wolff said they contain allegations that may be inadmissible in the trial; their release would make selection of an impartial jury in Mahoning unlikely; and the effort to seat an impartial jury should begin in that county.

Public records complaint asks Supreme Court to order BWC release of data

From Gongwer News Service

A consultant who thus far has been rebuffed in attempts to access computerized data of claims from the Bureau of Workers' Compensation — without any personally identifying information — is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to order release of what he argues are public records.

Attorneys for Edward Levine, who advises clients about lowering workers compensation costs and improving medical outcomes of injured workers, filed a complaint seeking a court order compelling BWC Administrator Stephen Buehrer to provide the material.

Information at issue includes claim types and status, nature and cause of injury, indemnity pay status, claim payment reports, and payment fee schedules.

Levine initially tried to obtain the data through former Sen. David Goodman last November, who made an identical public records request of BWC. The agency denied the request.

The complaint filed with justices May 26 said BWC, in denying release of the data, cited part of a statute that forbids the disclosure of workers compensation "claim files" in response to a public records request.

The section provides that any information directly or indirectly identifying the address or telephone number of a claimant is not a public record.

However, a lawyer for Levine said there were no cases that have decided the scope of that exemption, or whether it is a valid basis for withholding electronically stored data — not actual claim files — that otherwise are public records.

Attorney Brian Laliberte of Columbus said Levine is not seeking "claim files" as the term is defined in state law.

"(He) also does not seek any personally identifying information concerning injured workers from BWC. His request to BWC and this action should not be construed to request either," Laliberte said in the complaint.

"BWC maintains the requested data electronically, including the requested data elements, in the normal course of business. It can, and should, be compelled to produce redacted records if any personally identifying information is in jeopardy of improper disclosure to anyone making a public records request for the data at issue here," he said.

Citing previous court opinions, Laliberte said a public office could not refuse to provide electronic copies of public records in an attempt to inconvenience the individual seeking the material.

"(The) administrator should be compelled to produce the requested electronic records. The raw data elements exist and can be produced through reasonable use of the BWC's computer systems. The administrator cannot deny the request because a computer must be used to access the raw data or any compilation of that data," he said.

Newspapers fight to keep public notices

From Phillyburbs.com

Pennsylvania newspapers would lay off 1,000 employees and costs to local governments and school districts would rise if a House bill to allow local governments and school districts to avoid placing public notices in newspapers became law.

That was the consensus of a panel of industry leaders who testified May 19 before the House Local Government Committee and its chairman, state Rep. Tom Creighton, R-37, who authored the legislation, House Bill 633.

"No other state in the country has done what this bill proposes to do," said Martin Till, publisher of the Easton Express-Times. "If this bill passes I will be laying off 20 people the next day. This bill will cost over 1,000 jobs + and that will put the state on the hook for $1 million."

Just as concerning, according to Ernest Schreiber, editor of Lancaster New Era and LancasterOnline, is the prospect of local government becoming its own watchdog.

"Local governments and schools could publish legal notices on their own, with no outside oversight or verification," Schreiber said. "What this legislation does is increase the workload of governments, increase government spending and increase government power. It cuts the newspaper industry's revenue, jobs and independent watchdog function."

Said Bernard Oravec, publisher of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, "There's room, if the candle is not lit, for corruption."

He later added that municipalities in his area "spend more on coffee and doughnuts for their board members" than on public notices.

While the newspaper advocates, which included a spokesman for the AARP, asked for the bill to be killed, a panel representing municipalities, counties and school boards threw its support behind the legislation to give local governments and school districts the option to publish legal notices on their own websites.

"If the newspapers were truly interested in performing a valuable community service, they would make legal ads available at reasonable prices, even free of charge, and display the notices prominently on their websites," said Elam Herr, assistant executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Township Supervisors.

Ronald Grutza, director of government affairs for the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, called the request for these ads to run in newspapers "an outdated relic of the last century."

He called it ironic that the print media is minimizing any kind of cost savings to local governments. "They are the first to hold our feet to the fire" over spending, he said.
The two sides used monetary figures to try to sway support of lawmakers.

Hannah Stahle of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, said districts spend nearly $23,000 on legal ads over a three-year period, according to a May 2006 survey by Pennsylvania State University.

Citing that study, she said local governments could save $70 million over three years if legal ads were done on individual local government websites rather than newspapers.
Till said it's a "myth" that individual municipalities are spending "tens of thousands of dollars with us ... it's just not true."

In Northamptopn County, for example, he said 95 percent of public notices are sheriff sales, where the money comes back to public coffers. Subtracting those, he said, the county, with a budget of $298 million, spent $44,600 on public notices.

The Easton School District spent $4,000 on public ads on a $141 million budget, he added.

Till also argued that local governments would be forced to foot the bill for costs they're not even aware of to upgrade their websites. Those costs would include at least $1,000 a month for a backup system, he said.

Bucks County state Rep. Frank Farry, R-142, a member of the committee, said he was concerned shifting the ads away from newspapers would prevent access to contractors. And losing a potential low bidder, he said, could cost a local government "10-fold" any savings they might generate from not purchasing a public notice.

"Right now we have a system in place that people know and understand," he said.

"The bill, as presently drafted, I would most likely vote against."

The AARP also came down on the side of the newspaper panel. Ray Landis, spokesman for the senior organization, said people 65 and older along with the low-income population would be impacted negatively by the bill.

"This is an idea whose time may not yet have come," he said.

Grutza, speaking for the boroughs, said "AARP has a website. They even have an app. That's very telling."

Ohio State student journalists get threats over Tressel coverage

From The Poynter Institute

ESPN.com referenced story

One e-mailer threatened to track down Lantern editor-in-chief Zack Meisel and beat him up. Another said the 21-year-old journalist and reporter James Oldham were the most likely candidates to be found dead in the Olentangy River. (The two reported that ex-OSU player Ray Small profited off of memorabilia while at Ohio State. They posted audio from the interview after Small claimed the paper "flipped my words around".) Meisel says of the em ails about his paper's Jim Tressel coverage:

"I did read through most of them, if not all of them. There were definitely more than 100. Some were, 'Thanks for trying to take down our program.' For all the fans who reacted negatively, half wanted me to move to Michigan, half wanted me to move to Nashville with Kirk Herbstreit. I wish there would have been a consensus.

"I've learned more about journalism and the way the media works in the last 72 hours than I did probably in my first 21 years of living. It's been a whirlwind."

Arthur named editor of The News Democrat

Michael Arthur

Michael Arthur has been named the editor of The News Democrat in Georgetown.

Arthur has served as associate editor of The News Democrat for the past year covering local events and developing assignments for the news staff. The announcement was made May 9, by Publisher Steve Triplett.

Arthur, who attended Georgetown High School and graduated from Manchester High School, holds a bachelor of arts degree in English from Alice Lloyd College, in Pippa Passes, Ky.

In addition to working two different stints at The News Democrat and The Ripley Bee, Arthur has worked in the editorial departments for the People's Defender in West Union and The Ledger-Independent in Maysville, Ky.

Triplett has served a dual role as publisher/editor since 2007. He now takes on more of the newspapers' business duties with the retirement of Advertising Manager Bill Cornetet.

Triplett also announces the return of Marsha Mundy to The News Democrat newsroom. Mundy was previously news editor of the newspaper and will continue her old job being responsible for submissions, editing and page building.

After her departure from The News Democrat in 2007, Mundy worked as a reporter for The Clermont Sun in Batavia.

NetNewsCheck interviews Cox Media's Lindahl about recent strides toward synergy

From NetNewsCheck

Cox Media Group has broken down the walls between its TV, radio, newspaper and digital units as part of an overriding strategy to foster more innovation and synergize its media properties. Gregg Lindahl, CMG's senior vice president of media and strategy, reveals how the company culture, revenue opportunities and idea generation are changing as a result.

You might say that Cox Digital Media is in the business of building some very big roofs. In Dayton this is literal: This January, CMG hosted the grand opening of a 250,000 square foot Cox Media Center consolidating all of the company's media — television, newspapers, radio and digital — into one state-of-the-art facility.

Elsewhere at CMG, this roof-building is more figurative but no less central to its identity. Since 2009, the family-owned company has folded its TV, radio and newspaper divisions under a single banner. In doing so, it aims to break down the walls preventing innovation and cooperation between Cox-owned media.

Gregg Lindahl is the point man for much of the company's synergizing. He says that CMG has taken a different approach to making this work, putting ideas on a higher pedestal than the technologies that ultimately help to realize them.

In that regard, he says that CMG plays more of an incubating role than an operational one for new ventures such as the company's daily deals initiative, DealSwarm.

In the following interview with NetNewsCheck, Lindahl elaborates on this incubation process within the company's internal Product Ideas Forum and provides a look behind the curtain of CMG's new in-house content management system. He says the "TV dollars to digital dimes" industry sigh is based in outmoded thinking, and that there remains much untapped value on the digital and mobile fronts.

Read The Full Interview

Blade announces use of QR codes to readers

From The Toledo Blade

Blade QR code

There's no need to adjust your eyes. The small black-and-white ink blotch you see periodically in the pages of The (Toledo) Blade — there is one with this story — is not only supposed to be there, it also offers something new to readers. The item is called a QR code, which stands for Quick Response, and is a new way to access the Internet.

You might have seen QR codes elsewhere, in magazine ads, in-store displays, books, signs, and Web sites. These 2-D barcodes are meant to be read quickly by a free app (software) available on a smartphone.

Based on the Web address embedded in the code, the QR code might direct a user to a Web site or video or music content, deliver a VCard, and even perform a transaction.

The Blade will embed QR codes in stories for additional information — such as 911 calls, or to let readers know that there is a video and/or photo galleries to accompany the story.

QR codes also can be included in movie reviews to direct readers to film trailers, or in CD reviews to give readers a 30-second song samplings.

The codes are being used on the Blade's TV page to provide complete access to TV listings to readers, and on the Blade's weather page to provide updated weather information by scanning the code with a smartphone camera.

Smartphone users can download the free app for the QR codes by searching the Market on their Android phone, the App store on their iPhone or iPad, the App World on their BlackBerry, and the Windows Phone Marketplace on their Windows phone.

Study finds readers more likely to skim over articles on an iPad than in a newspaper

From Miratech White Papers

Miratech's study analyzes the differences between iPad and newspaper reading patterns. We asked a representative sample of participants to read similar information from a printed newspaper, and from its iPad version. Half the participants were asked to read the iPad first and the other half were asked to read the newspaper first.
Participants in the study were already iPad users, so we avoided any bias associated with learning how to use the iPad (discovering the functions, playing with the zoom, etc.).

They were allowed to freely manipulate both the paper and iPad versions, and we monitored their behavior as they read. We used eye tracking technology to follow their gaze path. After reading, we measured how well they remembered the articles and ads.

View The Study Results

TV networks see key audience erode

Season ends with high viewership for finales but overall trend shows decline in 18-49 group

From The Wall Street Journal

Fewer young people watched TV on traditional sets over the past television season, the second consecutive year of decline as viewers face a proliferation of ways to watch TV shows. U.S. TV networks marked the official end of the TV season on May 25 with a flurry of widely viewed send-offs, including the last episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and the season finale of "American Idol." But those big programs are closing out a TV season in which few new shows became hits, and ratings for the four most-watched networks fell.

At any given time of day, about 25.1 million people between 18 and 49 years old were watching TV of any kind — live or recorded, broadcast or cable — this TV season through May 8, according to Nielsen Co. That number is down 1.4% from the same period a year earlier, and 2.7% from two years ago. Although the overall TV audience grew 1.5%, to roughly 61.3 million people watching at any given time of day, the continued decline among younger viewers is unusual in a medium that for years has seen generally growing consumption.

The four most-watched broadcast networks have been among the hardest hit. Roughly 3.6 million people between 18 and 49 years old watched prime-time shows on the four biggest broadcast networks this TV season through May 22, down 9% from a year earlier, Nielsen said. The only major broadcast network to see its audience expand this TV season was No. 5 Univision, which has benefited from a growing Hispanic population. Through May 25, the Spanish-language network said it averaged 1.9 million viewers between the ages of 18 and 49 years old, up 7.6% from a year earlier.



Internet ad revenue hits new high

Q1 numbers up 23% over same period in 2010

From AdAge

Revenue from online advertising spiked to a new high in the first quarter of 2011, according to data released May 26 by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

Internet ads for the quarter brought in $7.3 billion, a 23% increase over the first quarter last year. The figure is a slight drop from the fourth quarter of 2011, which saw $7.45 billion in online ads. Still, the rise over Q1 2010 highlights the return of digital ad spending after the recession, as well as the continued shift of ad dollars from print media to the Internet.

Last year was already a record year for digital advertising, though market observers agree that digital spend has yet to cannibalize the $70 billion-plus TV ad market. In 2010, $26 billion was spent on Internet advertising. Search remains the most popular area for marketers, but sponsorships grew 88% last year, and display grew 24%.

"These numbers indicate that the interactive advertising field hasn't simply bounced back since the recession; it's growing with dynamic energy," says David Silverman, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

IAB's survey, compiled directly from companies, takes into account revenues from websites, commercial online services, free e-mail providers, and all other companies selling online advertising.

60% of mobile users click ads once a week

From NetNewsCheck

The mobile ad network Mojiva released a study May 24 showing that more than 60% of users click on mobile ads at least once a week. Half of the user respondents indicated that they would play a game, download an application, or visit a Web site after seeing an ad – but only 22% said they would make a purchase, and only 40% would download a coupon.

Mojiva's Mobile Audience Guide shows results from a two month end-user study of mobile ad interaction. In March and April 2011, Mojiva and InsightExpress, a digital marketing research firm, polled more than 100 users who indicated that mobile ads relating to retail stores, weather, dining and sports resonated well.

Study: Online video ads beat TV ads in viewer recall

From MediaPost's Online Media Daily

Viewers pay more attention to online video ads than to traditional TV commercials and also recall them better, according to new research that utilized Affectiva's facial tracking algorithms and second-by-second biometric modeling of cognition, excitement and stress levels.

The research measured the reactions of 48 viewers watching one hour of programming in Interpublic Group's West Coast IPG Media Lab. Conducted by the Media Lab during March in conjunction with video ad network YuMe, the study determined that on average, online viewers pay more attention to the screen than do traditional TV viewers — and the greater attention levels carry over to advertising. Online video ads received 18.3% more viewer attention in the study than TV commercials —- a much higher disparity than the 8.5% greater viewer attention garnered by online video content over TV content. This was largely due to the finding that when transitioning from program content to ads, the attention of TV viewers dropped off three times faster than that of online viewers.

While fast-forwarded ads, such as those recorded on a DVR, were partly to blame, IPG and YuMe found a much larger cause to be "the familiar cadence of TV content." Conversely, the study found that "systemic disruption" caused by online video's "unpredictable ad cadence and forced, short bursts of video ads (rather than predictable ad pods) appears to help decrease ad avoidance behaviors without causing consumer backlash..."

In fact, DVR users were found to pay higher-than-normal attention to commercials because they were concentrating on skipping them — but their later recall was actually lower. "DVR users were 38% less likely to correctly recall the brand for any TV ad they saw, aided or unaided, compared to non-DVR users," the study found.

For TV viewers overall, paying attention during commercials had no effect on whether they could or could not remember them or recall them unaided. And those who recalled ads when aided actually had below-average attention scores. But online viewers who paid attention to ads later recalled them, with online video ad recall twice as high as TV ad recall — "offering proof that recall and attention correlate," according to IPG and YuMe. Both TV and online video content had plenty of competition from other media during the study, most notably smartphones.

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Foursquare, LivingSocial eye local ad dollars

From Reuters

LivingSocial and Foursquare are both fighting for local ad dollars from mom and pop stores, neighborhood restaurants, and even big box retailers as online social media companies set their sights on a largely untapped pool of revenue.

Now because of the rise of social media and smartphones, companies like LivingSocial and Foursquare can target consumers and drive them to storefronts in ways that the Yellow Pages and websites from the past boom like Microsoft's Sidewalk could not do.

"I think we're in a position to do something revolutionary for local advertising," Foursquare Chief Executive and Co-Founder Dennis Crowley said during the Reuters Global Technology Summit on May 19.

The pool of dollars is huge: U.S. local advertising spending is expected to reach about $136 billion in 2011, according to Bia/Kelsey.

Foursquare is a mobile application with about 10 million users who "check-in" to area establishments, which are then shared with the user's social network of friends.

About 400,000 merchants use Foursquare tools to drive traffic to their stores.

"I think that we will hit our inflection point the same way that Twitter did," Crowley said. "I can imagine getting to 100 million users. I can imagine us exceeding that."

Tim O'Shaughnessy, co-founder and chief executive of LivingSocial, said "I don't view this as the daily deal business. I view it as the local commerce business," he said.

For instance, the company introduced Living Social Instant that pulls a list of real time offers based on proximity to the establishments.

It's the same spot where Foursquare is aiming.

Foursquare is building out tools that recommends places based on the interests of a person's social circle, similar to Amazon and Netflix's (NFLX.O) suggestions for buying books and watching movies.

"When you build great products, it's very easy to monetize them," Crowley said.

Groupon in talks with Foursquare

From MediaPost's Online Media Daily

Potentially helping Groupon break free of e-mail inboxes, the deal giant is reportedly in partnership talks with location-based leader Foursquare. "The arrangement is likely to see Groupon deals targeted to Foursquare users' check-ins," writes All Things D, citing multiple sources. "Mobile app users who tell their friends that they're in the vicinity of a venue offering a discount are obviously prime customers."

Only last week, Groupon announced a deal to distribute its new Groupon Now real-time offers with Foursquare competitor Loopt. Loopt users now receive alerts when they're close to a local deal, without even opening the app.

"The move fits in well with Groupon modus operandi — they are known move fast and be extremely aggressive to stay ahead of the competition," comments ReadWriteWeb. "With all of the Groupon clones and competitors lining up in the daily deals market, Groupon has to try and stay a step ahead."

Meanwhile, "Groupon Now is so vital to the company that internally it's known as Groupon 2.0.," according to Mashable. "That's why we're not surprised to hear Groupon is in talks with Foursquare to integrate daily deals into Foursquare's app."

"It's a smart idea where everyone wins," according to Business Insider. "Foursquare gets a partner with huge reach and some cash, Groupon gets a new customer acquisition channel and consumers get deals."

"It was only a matter of time," writes WebProNews.com. "The check-in app and daily deals spaces continue to merge, and this time it looks like the poster children for both spaces are joining forces."

"Social distribution could help Groupon move beyond e-mail lists to a more precise and targeted audience, adds All Things D. "And Foursquare wouldn't mind the revenue it would get from these leads."

Adds Business Insider: "From a business perspective, both Foursquare and Groupon are about bringing together the internet, small local businesses and consumers, albeit in completely different ways."

IDC: Google supplants Yahoo as display ad leader

From The Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal

Yahoo Inc. has lost its long-held No. 1 spot in display advertising to Google Inc., according to a report from IDC.

For the first quarter IDC reports that Mountain View-based Google had 14.7% of the display ad market, or the equivalent of about $396 million. That figure was up 13.3% from the previous quarter.

At the same time, Sunnyvale-based Yahoo had 12.3% of the market, a drop from the previous quarter's 13.6 million. The new figure brings revenue to about $330 million.

Palo Alto-based Facebook had 8.8% — or about $238 million — of the display market, IDC said, adding that it is expected to gain market share and pass Yahoo in the third or fourth quarter.

FTC considers update to online ad disclosures

The Federal Trade Commission may update guidelines relating to the content of online advertising, it said May 26, to reflect changes that have taken place in the market since they were first published more than a decade ago.

The commission's "Dot Com Disclosures" guide, originally published in 2000, is designed to ensure online ads comply with the same consumer protection laws that apply to traditional media and advertising. For example, the guidance details when and how disclosures must be included in online ads to prevent them from misleading consumers.

According to the commission, however, recent advancements in technology and digital media could mean an update to the 11 year old rules is needed. "The online world has changed dramatically since 'Dot Com Disclosures' was first issued. Eleven years ago, mobile marketing was just a vision, there was not an 'App' economy, the use of 'pop-up blockers' was not widespread, and online social networking was nowhere as sophisticated or extensive as it is today," it said in an invitation for comment on the matter.

Public comments on the existing guidelines and their future viability are being welcomed by the FTC until July 11.


The E.W. Scripps Co. said May 27 Mark G. Contreras is no longer senior vice president of its newspaper division, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports. He held that position since January 2005. Rich Boehne, the president and CEO, will serve as the acting head of the newspaper division until a permanent executive is named to run the company's group of daily newspapers in 13 markets. The company expects to provide an update on the division's succession plans in the near future.

Each year, the University of Kansas hosts a week-long workshop for journalists who want to learn more about covering the military. The workshop, funded by the McCormick Foundation, allows journalists to embed for a week with officers at the Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Dates are Sept. 25-30. The workshop is free. The McCormick Foundation pays all expenses including round-trip air to Kansas City, ground transportation, lodging, and meals. All information provided at the workshop is on-the-record. The workshop provides opportunities for daily stories as well as features. Full details and application information are available here. Deadline is July 1.

Comp Management is offering three client seminars in June. "Using Social Media in Claims Management" is scheduled for June 22 followed by "Navigate™ - Risk Management Tool" on June 23 and "Workers' Compensation 101" on June 24. The two-hour webinars will begin at 10 a.m. EDT. ONA members participating or interested in the group-discount workers' compensation plan are encouraged to attend. Send an e-mail to seminarrsvp@sedgwickcms.com for more information.

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