Newspaper leadership promotes industry in new campaign

NEW YORK: A group of newspaper executives has launched a multipronged effort to promote the value of its medium in an increasingly hostile economic environment.

NEW YORK: A group of newspaper executives has launched a multipronged effort to promote the value of its medium in an increasingly hostile economic environment.

The group first met January 7 to discuss the effort, which has a primary goal of combating public perceptions that newspapers as organizations are dying, said Randy Siegel, president and publisher of Parade Publications. It is deploying print and online PSAs, Op-Eds, and an editorial Web site.

“All of us completely reject the notion that newspapers are on their deathbed,” he said. “The future of newspapers may not be print-centric, but the idea that newspapers are going away tomorrow is dead wrong.”

The effort, which began February 3, contains PSA advertisements running pro-bono in about 400 newspapers, Op-Eds by members of the group, and the Newspaperproject.org Web site, which is a mix of aggregated and original content, Siegel said.

The first round of print and online PSAs were aimed at the ad industry – important to the papers' financial health – and emphasized that more people read a daily newspaper than watched the Super Bowl. Upcoming ads will target the general public, Siegel added.

The group has not hired an ad or PR firm, but it has consulted with contacts in the ad industry about the PSAs, he noted.

“We plan on running it indefinitely and making the case for newspapers and newspaper Web sites to both the advertisers and to the American consumer,” he said. Siegel explained that while the campaign itself has a “low-five-figures” budget, it is benefitting from millions of dollars in donated advertising space.

Donna Barrett, Community Newspaper Holdings publisher and a member of the group organizing the effort, said she believed most were reacting to the campaign in a positive way, although a small percentage were complaining that the effort was “talking about dead trees.”

“Today and tomorrow, [print] is a critical part of our business, but that doesn't mean that we don't have other platforms that are growing,” she said. “That's like saying that you have three children but you don't love one of them.”

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