Bottom-Line Marketing Blog

Bottom-line Marketing

Making a case for keeping the newspaper name

01 February 2011 · By Joe Talcott

An ongoing debate about the word newspaper in Australia.

Making a case for keeping the newspaper nameWe've been having an ongoing debate here in Australia about the word “newspaper.”

The debate itself stems from some self-doubt about the media in which we work. Over the past few years, newspapers have gotten a bad name. The significant shift in the way people use media has taken a toll. In many places, including Australia, we've seen people substitute other media instead of reading newspapers. At the same time, the global financial crisis saw formerly prosperous newspaper companies suffer significant financial setbacks, some even closing. The combination of these two factors has led to newspapers being identified as an old-fashioned, if not dying, medium.

And hence the discussion about whether or not we should retain the word “newspaper” to describe our business. We're not the only ones itching to change names. As media companies have broadened their offerings, they've searched for an appropriate descriptor. A television and digital network recently added the word “entertainment” to their corporate entity. Others have simply used the word “media.” The very organisation hosting this blog moved from “International Newspaper Marketing Association” to “International Newsmedia Marketing Association,” preserving the INMA acronym.

So where is the debate, you might ask? Certainly we are much more than just “news” and we publish on many platforms beyond “paper.” Why continue to refer to paper when we are being read on PCs, tablets and phones?

Campbell Reid, our national editorial director, makes the case for keeping “newspaper.” He argues that calling ourselves a news media ignores the special relationship people have with newspapers; one which is not enjoyed by television, radio, out-of-home or others.

What is that special relationship? Last year we conducted a significant research project. The findings described how people use newspapers, why they read them, why they've stopped, what they love and what they don't.

It is clear from those results that newspapers hold a special place in people's lives. They don't just entertain. Or inform. Newspapers inspire. They can change things. They help people with their day-to-day lives; finding a job, a home, a car or a mate. They provide advice on what to cook, what to read, what movie to see, what events to attend. Newspapers feed their appetite for sport, fashion, gossip and games. They help people interpret world and local events. And newspapers do these things in ways that people recognise as unique amongst other media. To give up this strength when we publish on a tablet or phone or computer, Campbell argues, is foolish.

Our research showed that people who were reading newspapers less (in print) were doing it not because they didn't like what they were getting in the paper but rather because they were simply finding that the print format was less relevant in their daily routines.

So, can the word “newspaper” still be used to describe a great iPad app or Web site? It certainly can. The word “newspaper” doesn't have to be literally descriptive as it needed to be in the 17th century. It can become part of our brand promise, fulfilling an expectation from readers, regardless of when or where or upon which device they interact with us.

But why not change the name? Isn't that what marketers do? As Juliet put the case to Romeo, “What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But then, that didn't end so well did it?

So the debate continues. Moving away from “newspaper” should not be done without careful consideration. I do not believe we should rush to a new descriptor without completely understanding the power of the old.

print article send to friend

blog comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

The “Bottom-Line Marketing” blog aims to bring together the principles behind marketing with the real-world experiences of newspapers transitioning to newsmedia companies. Our bloggers are some of the leading marketers at the world’s leading newsmedia companies today, most with experiences with packaged goods and brands such as McDonald's and Disney. They will aim to show how marketing – often under-utilised in the news industry – improves the bottom line (even a baby's bottom).

Meet the bloggers

Lon Haenel
Vice President
Digital Media & Circulation
The Gazette
Janesville, Wisconsin, USA
send message

Bob Provost
Distinguished Executive-In Residence
Rutgers Business School
Newark, USA
send message

Phil Schroder
Vice President of Audience Development
News Tribune
Tacoma, Washington, USA
send message

Scott Stines
Cedar Rapids, USA
send message

Geoff Tan
Senior Vice President & Head of Strategic Marketing
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
News Centre, Singapore
send message


RSS feed

Blog archives

March 2015 ( 4 )
February 2015 ( 4 )
January 2015 ( 4 )
December 2014 ( 4 )
November 2014 ( 3 )
October 2014 ( 6 )
September 2014 ( 2 )
August 2014 ( 3 )
July 2014 ( 3 )
June 2014 ( 2 )
May 2014 ( 3 )
April 2014 ( 2 )
March 2014 ( 4 )
February 2014 ( 3 )
January 2014 ( 2 )
December 2013 ( 3 )
November 2013 ( 3 )
October 2013 ( 3 )
September 2013 ( 3 )
August 2013 ( 5 )

Join INMA Today
Upcoming Events
INMA Ideas Day on Advertising
Paris, France
24 April 2015
INMA World Congress
New York, United States
10-12 May 2015
INMA Ideas Day on Marketing
Brussels, Belgium
22 May 2015
INMA Big Data for South Asia Media Summit
New Delhi, India
26 May 2015
INMA Congreso Latinoamericano
Bogotá, Colombia
13-14 August 2015
INMA South Asia Conference
New Delhi, India
19-20 August 2015

More Events

Member Profiles

  • Fiona Roberts
    United Kingdom

  • Brooke Christofferson
    United States

  • Pia Stork

  • Theresa Rasp

  • Thorkild Rathje

  • Matt Handbury

©2015 INMA | Home | About | Contact | RSS | Privacy