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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Newspaper Printing: Four Newspaper Success Stories

I have some good news about the newspaper printing business.

According to “Four Revenue Success Stories,” written by Mark Jurkowitz and Amy Mitchell (2/13/2013,, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism has published a report documenting “a year-long effort to identify newspaper successes in the search for new business models.”

The report follows a trend in increasing revenues over the last few years for the Naples Daily News (FL), the Santa Rosa Press Democrat (CA), the Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT), and the Columbia Daily Herald (TN). The report seeks to explain the increase in revenue and discover the leadership traits leading to rising revenue in a declining newspaper printing market.

The four newspapers went about their restructuring and new growth in different ways, ranging from overhauls of the sales force and its operating goals (Naples Daily News), to creating ancillary businesses such as a digital agency providing online marketing services (Santa Rosa Press Democrat), to expanding digital capabilities and narrowing the editorial focus of the newspaper (Deseret News), to creating a mix of print and digital initiatives (Columbia Daily Herald).

As other newspapers analyzed by the Pew Research Center were losing money, or were unable to stem the loss of print advertising dollars with increasing digital advertising money, these four newspapers were unusual in their rising revenue. So they came under close scrutiny in an effort to identify the elements of their newspaper printing success.

What the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism Discovered

The case studies in the Pew survey illuminate “the degree to which [these newspapers’] innovations had developed into essential components of their organization and culture, because their innovations showed tangible and positive revenue results and because their stories offered lessons worth sharing—ranging from leadership to market customization.” The case studies analyzed the newspapers’ markets, the nature of their innovations, their challenges, the quantitative measure of their success, and their knowledge gained.

According to “Four Revenue Success Stories,” here are some of the lessons learned:

  1. “Manage the digital and the legacy business separately.” The newspaper printing component will shrink as the digital component grows. But both are important. Keeping them separate is wise. The separate digital entities can benefit from the brand equity of the newspaper as a trusted source of information. This also allows for a culture of innovation in digital product development.
  2. “Keep developing niche editorial products.” Narrow the editorial focus, and provide unique editorial content based on the knowledge of the staff and the interests of the readership. Don’t focus on general interest news. Focus on what you know best.
  3. “Decentralize decision-making power.” Give ad directors and account executives greater contract-making authority. Manage fearlessly, and be willing to take risks. “Clarity of vision” among managers is essential, as is “strong, aggressive leadership.” Not taking risks is a death sentence. Leaders need to embrace risk-taking.
  4. All staff and leadership need to commit to improving editorial quality, even with diminishing resources. They need to “dig deeper…[with] more ambitions, enterprise reporting…improve the news product…and view quality as essential.”
  5. “Don’t give up on print.” The article goes on to say that “in communities where conditions are favorable, a substantial bet on print can still pay off.” News organizations should be all about “reinvent[ing] print,” focusing their efforts on the not too distant future in which each copy may be individually produced based on the newspaper reader’s interests and needs.

What Newspaper Printing Management Can Learn

Be bold, be focused. Do what you do better than anyone else. And diversify. It’s not about digital or print; it’s about how best to mix the two.

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