Newspapers: Innovation From Europe

Newspapers: Innovation From Europe
Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 30 march 2009

The New York Times has a feature on the innovation being led by European newspapers in their struggle to survive. To be honest, the piece is light on inspiration and spends too much time looking at the rather odd attempts of certain newspapers who are trying to avoid being listed on Google. Nevertheless, a couple of good ideas are written about. In one example the Norwegian VG Nett, an offshoot of tabloid Verdens Gang, makes money from selling added-value services to its readers:

The star performer online is VG Nett, a Web site loosely affiliated with Verdens Gang, a tabloid newspaper. VG Nett has a profit margin of more than 30 percent and rivals Google as the most popular Web site in Norway.

VG Nett, like most newspaper Web sites, generates most of its revenue from advertising, but is starting to raise money from users. About 150,000 people pay up to 599 crowns, or nearly $90, a year for a weight-loss club. VG Nett recently started charging up to 780 crowns a year for live streams of soccer matches. And a social network connected with VG Nett charges users to upgrade their profiles. Access to news, however, remains free.

In Germany, the news room at Axel Springer generates content centrally that gets adapted for up to 6 different titles:

Axel Springer generates 14 percent of its revenue online, more than most American newspapers, even though the markets in which it operates — primarily Germany and Eastern Europe — are less digitally developed than the United States.

One reason, Mr. Döpfner said, is that Axel Springer has dared to compete with itself. Instead of trying to protect existing publications, it acquired or created new ones, some of which distribute the same content to different audiences.

At one newsroom in Berlin, for example, journalists produce content for six publications: the national newspaper Die Welt, its Sunday edition and a tabloid version aimed at younger readers; a local paper called Berliner Morgenpost, and two Web sites.

European Papers Find Creative Ways to Thrive –


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