5 Innovations From Newspaper Publishers

The benefit: dramatically lower costs, faster processes, and higher ROI

By Diane Mehta | Edited by Christian Madsbjerg

For years people have been lamenting the death of newspapers—and have been offering all sorts of fixes to save them, from changing the copyright laws to keep online aggregators from rebroadcasting the news to encouraging newspapers to adopt the not-for-profit model.

Publishers aren’t sitting around waiting for classifieds to bounce back or for subscription revenues to rise. We found five publishers who are innovating with different models.

Nomad - A group of journalists and editors just launched the new magazine Nomad Editions for mobile devices. The weekly magazine (a twenty-minute read) will be personalized to readers’ specific interests. It’s a steep $24 annually but freelancers can make up to 30 percent of the subscription revenue—which incentivizes better writing. The business model is based on offering full sponsorships to marketers, which is a big leap in mingling advertising with editorial.

Slate - Propelled by a sponsorship by Marriott the online magazine Slate just launched a free iPad app with a social tilt (you can share or add comments via Facebook or Twitter). They offer all their content through the mobile app along with video, audio, browsing, blogs, and the rest—and you can read the stuff offline as well.

Texas Tribune - This web-based nonprofit paper covers government and politics. They offer events and runs interactive databases that citizens can search to find out everything from school rankings to campaign contributions. One database shows how 31 Texas state senators spent their money in 2009; another visualizes the $100 million in purchases made by Texas inmates in 2009.

LA Times - The LA Times headed into e-commerce this spring with a host of e-commerce deals, from adding links to advertisers in articles (though not in news content) and clearly marking those links as ads. The LA Times is now clear-cut about their ad deals rather than trying to dupe readers by disguising ads as news.

Telegraph - With a strategy of “content, commerce, and clubs,” the Telegraph added gardening e-commerce and a variety of clubs (dating, fantasy football, crosswords) to shore up revenue. They also make commissions on things like sports bets and personal finance.

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