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INM signs £40m print deal in Northern Ireland

September 16th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Amid all the ominous news surrounding Independent News&Media a more positive story for the company has surfaced:

A £40m print deal will make Northern Ireland one of the biggest producers of daily newspapers in Europe, after INM signed contracts with the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mirror.

INM will now be printing all Mirror titles and the Telegraph titles, as well as the Sun, News of the World, the Daily Express and Sunday Express, the Daily Star and the London Independent.

The Belfast Telegraph reports:

“The first deal sees all sections of the Daily Telegraph printed in the company’s high-tech plant at Newry for the next 15 years. The second deal brings the Daily Mirror to the Belfast Telegraph print plant for a seven-year term.

“The deals represent two of the longest print agreements signed in the region and have been made possible by an IN&M investment strategy which has seen more than £50m spent on new presses in both centres.”

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Pagemasters editorial outsourcing spreads to the US and Canada

August 13th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Newspapers

Editorial outsourcing firm Pagemasters has announced a partnership with the Canadian Press to provide a range of production services, including design, sub-editing and headline writing, to titles in the US and Canada.

The new division, Pagemasters North America, will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Canadian Press, which already provides pagination services to Canadian daily newspapers including The Globe and Mail and Toronto Star.

The move by Australian Associated Press (AAP), the national news agency of Australia, which owns the editing company, follows a contract with Telegraph Media Group announced in January to provide sub-editing services for the Daily and Sunday Telegraph’s weekend supplements.

In a previous article in The Sunday Morning Herald, Pagemasters managing director Bruce Davidson commented on how useful a time zone difference is for the editing process: “The Telegraph can deliver pages at the end of their day, and when they come in the next morning we have completed the work.”

In today’s release, Davidson said: “The launch of Pagemasters North America is a major development and I believe one which has the potential to lead to significant changes in the editorial production model for US and Canadian newspapers.

“We will be heavily involved with The Canadian Press in setting up editorial production centres in North America, working closely with newspaper publishers as they grapple with the radical changes sweeping the industry.”

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ASNE: Newspaper staff numbers fall, as online journalists rise

April 22nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Job losses, Jobs, Newspapers

Missed this release from the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) detailing the results of its annual employment survey in the US daily newspaper industry.

Figures from last year suggest a loss of 5,900 newsroom jobs at daily newspapers – a drop in journalists of 11.3 per cent.

In contrast, the 2008 survey suggests 2,300 newsroom journalists were working online-only – and increase of 600 from 2007.

Full release at this link…

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Press agency Deadline reaps online rewards

August 6th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Online Journalism

“The simple fact was that we had no need of a website. It would have cost thousands of pounds to produce and wouldn’t have made an iota of difference to our business supplying the daily newspapers,” said Scott Douglas, founder of Deadline Press & Picture Agency.

But since setting up a YouTube channel for the agency’s video content and launching a WordPress blog featuring articles in May, Deadline’s online content has shown strong traffic growth.

The site made it into WordPress’ list of the 100 fastest growing blog sites on the platform at 94.

The blog has recorded 21,743 page impressions across 117 posts, while Deadline News TV has attracted 40,221 views for 40 videos as of August 5.

The agency has implemented a solution, harnessing the power of third-party websites, which is low cost, but high impact

“Our blog site immediately plugged a gap by allowing us to showcase our work every day – and reach an audience who may not otherwise see it. Our journalists and photographers still put in the old fashioned legwork to get pictures and stories. It can be frustrating when those are not picked up by the daily newspapers,” said Lauren Crooks, news editor with Deadline.

“Now we can ensure our stories, pictures and video reports will always find an audience.”

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Online Journalism Scandinavia: Mecom’s Danish arm may ditch costly CMS for Drupal

July 11th, 2008 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Newspapers

Berlingske Media, Denmark’s biggest publisher of daily newspapers, is considering making free open source software Drupal its online publishing system of choice.

Former Mirror-boss David Montgomery’s Danish lieutenant, Lisbeth Knudsen, is contemplating the move, which could save a substantial sum of money – but it does not come without risk.

Berlingske Media already runs some of its sites on Drupal – a long-time favourite free content management system (CMS) of web hacker-geeks – but many consider the open source solution more vulnerable to hackers than proprietary systems.

“Our sports portal, launched early in June, is developed in Drupal, and we will use this for more sites. We are in the process of evaluating future online solutions, and will make a decision on this later this year. So far we have chosen Drupal for some of our smaller sites and Saxotech online for the bigger,” Knudsen told me.

But is Drupal up to the task?

The Danish newspaper publisher is in the process of integrating all its titles into ‘verticals’ that deliver copy across platforms and titles, and its sports site carries material from several of Berlingske’s titles.

Henning Sund, head of digital development for newspaper publisher Edda Media, is sceptical about how well Drupal is suited to such large-scale projects.

”I think part of the reason Berlingske Media is considering Drupal is that they are so desperate to get away from Saxotech Online. That is a desire I understand perfectly,” he said, explaining that Edda Media, Mecom’s Norwegian division, is also in the process of replacing Saxotech Online, but Drupal is not a candidate.

”I do not feel the security in Drupal is well-documented enough. We want a provider that can take responsibility for this, something we will not get with Drupal,” said Sund, adding that you also have to spend a lot of money on developing the desired functionality in Drupal, as it is not ‘plug and play’.

Berlingske-owned AOK.dk, a city guide for Copenhagen that runs on Drupal, has used an east European company to develop extra functionality in Drupal – a concept that has been exported to Berlin and Mecom Germany.

However, Sund does not think that Mecom boss Montgomery will impose Drupal as the standard CMS throughout the company should it be a success:

“Montgomery has made it very clear that as long as you reach your budget targets, you can choose the solutions you see fit. However, if you do not reach these targets, you will get Montgomery breathing down your neck, and that is something you would do anything to avoid.”

For more news on newspapers harnessing open source read about The Jewish Chronicle’s launch of a beta site using Drupal.

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Online Journalism Scandinavia: David Montgomery’s toughest general – Lisbeth Knudsen, editor-in-chief of Berlingske Media

June 23rd, 2008 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

Once so controversial as the boss of The Mirror, over the last few years David Montgomery has reinvented himself as a European media mogul.

As head of the pan-European media company Mecom, Montgomery has emerged as an internet evangelist and one of the most optimistic advocates of a multimedia future.

This is good news for Lisbeth Knudsen, CEO and editor-in-chief of Mecom’s worst performing subsidiary.

Denmark’s Berlingske Media is the biggest publisher of daily newspapers in one of Europe’s toughest newspaper markets. Revenues of paid for dailies in Denmark have been ravaged by a costly two-year-long freesheet war.

When Montgomery bought the Danish company in 2006, it had a paltry 3.5 per cent profit margin – miles away from the 15 – 20 per cent Montgomery was promising his investors.

But it’s all grist to the mill for Knudsen, who rumour has it secured her job last spring by submitting the longest list of potential cost cuts.

Montgomery’s toughest general has been charged with justifying his professed faith in the profits to be made from the new media world.

“It is my task to deliver what I have promised, but also to tell Berlingske’s journalists that we have exciting times ahead of us. It is necessary for our survival that we start using new work processes, develop our journalism and launch new digital products. Old traditions are no longer enough,” Knudsen told Journalism.co.uk

Her first act as head of Berlingske was to publicly denounce Mecom’s profit demands as unrealistic.

Simultaneously, she made it crystal clear that the financial situation required radical changes, skilfully lowering the expectations of both her boss and the unions.

Integrate everything
Central to those changes is integration. Not only converging media platforms, but also altering most of the company’s titles into ‘verticals’ that deliver copy across platforms and titles be they broadsheet, tabloid or regional newspapers.

Berlingske may have created one of the most integrated media operations in Europe, but it has also caused great concern among the company’s journalists about work flow, work culture and how it may erode the different media brands.

“Everyone has to be able to work and plan to all media platforms. Journalists get more resources to cover events in this way. Instead of sending three journalists from three different platforms or titles, we will now have one journalist cover the results of a football match, one live blogging it, and one writing the portrait of the game’s top scorer,” said Knudsen.

To ensure editorial standards, she added, each title will have a brand manager to makes sure it runs only content that is appropriate and in line with its specific values.

Discontent
These assurances have not been enough, however, to assure the domestic journalists union. It has voiced continuous concern about merging titles, job cuts and the new ‘integrated’ work environment where journalists are confined to hot desks to create a paperless environment.

Knudsen says that new technology is necessary. Adding that the increase in the number of tools at the disposal of her reporters has also created many exciting new opportunities for journalists.

“This integration is necessary to survive. Journalists today have to accept that they have to fight for every pair of eyeballs. I accepted this job because I believe, both as a journalist and as CEO, we can create something great in this company,” she said.

Not here to please

As for her proprietor, she said: “It is my impression that you can have a discussion. If I am to be in charge of this, I have to believe in it. I have made it very clear that I’m not here to please. I have a very open and direct dialogue with the management about our goals and progress. During my thirty-something years in the newspaper industry I’ve encountered a lot of unprofessional owners. Mecom is a very professional owner, the company imposes certain demands to our revenues, but that is the way it has to be.”

David Montgomery may have got himself a straight shooter, but what impression is she likely to have made on her newsroom staff? It seems she is a journalististic champion who is both admired and feared.

“If anyone can stand up to Montgomery it is she. She is completely ruthless and resembles Montgomery in many ways. I cannot think of anyone in Danish media who dares to pick a fight with her,” said a journalist who has worked with Knudsen but did not wish to be named.

“But her journalistic integrity is above reproach. She is a journalistic champion.”

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