Summary:  European newspapers are figuring out how to survive–even using an old concept.

We have posted quite a few blogs on newspapers (see others at digitaldumonde.wordpress.com where a different version of this entry is posted).  No, Chicken Little, the sky is not falling in the newspaper world, though it does look a bit cloudy.  Look around you.  Try Europe, for starters.

Premium Services, Not Premium News Access.

One approach is to provide premium services.  In Norway, you can pay a hefty price ($90) to join a weight-loss club that is part of a newspaper website.  Your profile on the site can be updated but only for another fee.

Now, paying to upgrade your profile may be a bit much (unless the weigh-loss membership has not been successful) because of the nearly ubiquitous networking sites, but the point is to offer other services for a fee.

US papers tried this approach but in a different manner:  They charged a premium for access to certain news.  (One site, about which we have written, http://www.globalpost.com, charges a premium for additional news AND access to the editorial meeting, of a sort, and access to the journalists themselves).  Think about other services.

The Old Horse of Repurposing Content

Axel Springer, a large player in the publishing space, revived an old concept, which makes perfect sense:  Write once, distribute many times.  Write the article and post it on multiple sites.  This is the old concept of “repurposing” content for different platforms and different audiences.

Data as a New Source of Revenue

Newspapers make money not be delivering news but by delivering audiences to advertisers.  Few things are better than granular data about audience interests.  The more platforms on which your news is available, the more granular those data.  Advertisers like that.  They will pay for that.

Perhaps losing weight through a club run by a newspapers does not sit well with your idea of reading weighty editorial pronouncements.  But something else might.  Newspapers thinking this way create what their advertisers want:  connections with their potential audiences.

And some of them may lose weight, too.

Oh, and if you want to think about the ramifications for licenses then go to globalgeneralcounsel.wordpress.com.

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It does not matter what you think about the propriety of Wall Street paying $18 + billion in bonuses at the end of 08 (about what they paid in 04).  What matters is that senior management may have blown it.  Here’s why:

1.  It is a PR disaster at an especially bad time.

2.  They (the banks/Wall Street) need the support not only of politicians but also the rest of America.  Just how many unemployed workers will like that news?

3.  Now, imagine politicians voting for the next bank bailout.

Whether or not the bonuses were earned is not the issue:  It is the bad taste this news leaves in the mouths of important constituencies.

So this is not strictly about transactions and strategy–unless some clever VC is out there realizing that we international road warriors who do not have unlimited expense accounts are a huge business opportunity.

In spite of spending most of my professional career the last zillion years on digital convergence, I keep coming up against its limits–reminding me that no matter what we say, it is not ready for prime time.

I am changing jurisdictions in Europe for the next three weeks, much of it for vacation but, hey, work will call.  This move means that:

1.  I have to re-forward all of my US phones to another line in that new jurisdiction–and get our IT department to doublecheck it all back in the US.

2.  I have to get a DIFFERENT SIM card for this jurisdiction.

3.  I have to pay for Internet access either by the minute or by taking out a loan for “all you can eat” (and we know how tough it is to get a loan these days).

4.  No matter what I do, my firm will pay a gazillion dollars for the calls to/from Europe and the text messages.

OK, OK.  It’s still Europe and therefore still pretty.

And while I am grousing:  Just when will we get vacation parity?