iewPoint | Volume 2 | Number 2 | February 2006
A forum for news about Verified and the business in which we thrive.

This Month's Features:
Digital Editions Survey
Rethinking the Daily Newspaper
Small Town Takes Newspaper into Their Own Hands
Events Calendar
Sudoku's Puzzling Success
2006 Rules and Procedures Available


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Digital Editions Survey

Digital Editions have taken center stage in publishing today. Verified would like to get your opinions on Digital Editions and find out if you are making them a part of your overall distribution strategy. Please take our short survey by clicking on the "WebSurveyor" logo below. We appreciate your feedback!



 



Rethinking the Daily Newspaper

Jon Fine, contributor to BusinessWeek online, proposed the following ideas for rethinking the local daily newspaper:


Steal from Google.
Find the top advertisers in your local market. Offer unlimited pages, print and online, until they reach their goals. The per-page cost of newsprint is cheap—and the per-impression cost of online is even cheaper. Figure out how to capture 100% of their ad budget.

Divide.
Offer a free daily aimed at your least committed readers and an elite daily sold at a much higher price. Present readers and advertisers with an option—one free and one premium. Given the demographics, you can charge more for ads in the elite daily.

Redeploy.
You can save space and money by putting some features—like stock and TV listings—online. Rethink everything and ask the hard questions. What news do your readers really want? Do you need a Saturday edition? Can a blogger cover some of your stories instead of a reporter? Which features are crucial and which won't be missed?

Increase local coverage.
A local touch is a newspaper's unique quality. Focus on your core constituency, covering stories of regional or local concern too particular for large news agencies.

Redesign your premium product.
Now, more than ever, production values matter. A better-looking product attracts more affluent readers.

Use your readers.
Take advantage of reader-written content. There are many talented people out there who don't work as full-time journalists. Get them to work for you.




Small Town Takes Newspaper into Their Own Hands

In the small town of Atwater, Minnesota (population 1,054), the local paper finally ran a story about the high school homecoming candidates—much to the delight of proud Atwater parents. This is not unusual for small-town papers, but the town's last newspaper wasn't always on the same page with the local residents. That previous paper, The Atwater Herald, shut down in the mid-90s.

Enter a different kind of paper ready to lead with an innovative strategy for keeping small-town news alive. The Atwater Sunfish Gazette (the name was picked in a contest) is a nonprofit, eight-page, biweekly which was first published on October 12, 2005, by a group of local citizens.

The Sunfish is managed by a board of directors, a requirement for nonprofit businesses. The board members include a city clerk, two pastors, a Web designer, and an elementary school principal—all of whom expressed interest in starting the paper. It is a business model that seems to present a viable solution for meeting the news needs of smaller communities that have lost their local papers.

Along with advertising revenue, The Sunfish is supported by donations and community volunteers. With circulation growth unlikely, the paper has hosted several fundraisers, including a raffle, a phone campaign, and self-mailer envelopes included in the paper.

Editor Sandy Grussing is the one paid staffer. Grussing is responsible for final writing, editing, design, advertising, circulation, and printing. She even delivers the papers to the post office to have them mailed to Atwater households.

The Sunfish's free distribution gave it an instant circulation base. Almost every business in town bought ads. Before this, local businesses could only advertise in the nearest daily, Willmar's West Central Tribune, about 15 miles west. Ads were expensive and readers of that paper were unlikely to shop in Atwater.

"It was really hard to get information about the school, about sports," said Laverne Pickle, a retiree and 50-year Atwater resident.

"What we had was posters on bulletin boards and announcements in the church bulletin and notes sent home with kids," said Connie Feig, a nurse and the chairwoman of the paper's board of directors."

Volunteers initially raised about $13,000. Office space has been donated. Each issue has cost about $1,800 to produce. Board members, residents, and other volunteers write, sell and design ads, take pictures, proofread, paste up pages, run errands, and make coffee. None have had any prior newspaper experience.

Several months into the venture, The Sunfish is now trying to determine if it can afford to go weekly.

Margaret Weigelt, a librarian and board member who has helped Grussing put together several issues, says, "When you have a newspaper, I think it strengthens the identity of the area, validates the existence of the community, and it starts to feel more real."

"They consider it their paper, not the publisher's paper," said Grussing.




Events Calendar

NAA Small-Market Newspaper Regional Symposium
March 16, 2006
Hilton Phoenix Airport, Phoenix, AZ
www.naa.org

Print Media Conference & Expo
March 20–22 2006
Hilton New York, New York, NY
www.pubxpo.com

America East Newspaper Operations and Technology Conference
March 27–29, 2006
The Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, Hershey, PA
www.america-east.com

FOLIO: 2nd Annual Publishing Summit
March 28–29, 2006
Westin Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL
www.foliosummit.com

2006 National Association of Hispanic Publications Convention & Expo
March 29–April 2, 2006
Hilton Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV
www.nahp.org

Ontario Community Newspaper Association 2006 Spring Convention
March 31–April 1, 2006
Toronto Airport Renaissance Hotel, Toronto, Ontario
www.ocna.org

Circulation Management Association of Canada - Magazines Canada School for Publishing
March 31–April 9, 2006
Queen's Landing, Niagra-on-the-Lake, ON, Canada
www.circ.org

NEXPO 06
April 1–4, 2006
McCormick Place Complex, Chicago, IL
www.nexpo.com

Newspaper Association of America 2006 Annual Convention
April 2–4, 2006
Fairmont Chicago, Chicago, IL
www.naa.org

Midwestern Circulation Management Association Marketing Conference
April 19–22, 2006
Embassy Suites Hotel, Omaha, NE
www.midwestcirculation.com

Jim Desser, COO of Verified, will be attending the Midwestern CMA. Jim would be happy to answer any of your questions and talk about the valuable services Verified provides.

32nd Annual Association of Alternate Postal Systems Conference
April 22–25, 2006
Westin Resort and Spa, Cancun, Mexico
www.aapsinc.org

Tim Prouty (CEO) and Jim Desser (COO) of Verified, will be attending the 32nd Annual Conference. Tim and Jim would be happy to answer any of your questions and talk about the valuable services Verified provides.

Central States Circulation Management Association Conference
April 23–25, 2006
Hotel Pere Marquette, Peoria, IL
www.cscma.com

Texas Circulation Management Association Conference
April 24–26, 2006
Raddison Hotel, South Padre Island, TX
www.texascma.org

American Society of Newspaper Editors Annual Convention
April 25–28, 2006
Westin Hotel, Seattle, WA
www.asne.org

Cal-West Circulation Management Association Conference
April 26–28, 2006
El Dorado Hotel, Reno NV
www.cwcma.com

Southern Circulation Management Association Conference
April 30–May 3, 2006
Chattanooga, TN
www.scmasonline.net

If you have an event that you would like to announce, please send your information to e-newsletter@verifiedaudit.com.




Sudoku's Puzzling Success

2005 was the year of sudoku. Over 300 newspapers, including USA Today and the New York Post, have added sudoku to their puzzle pages and Websites.

Sudoku was made popular in the west by Wayne Gould, a former judge and lawyer from New Zealand, who came across the game during a trip to Tokyo in 1997. He then wrote a program to generate puzzles and began distributing them free to newspapers, usually in trade for a plug for his URL where he sold software to generate the games.

"As a puzzle fan, I wanted to spread the word. That was the easiest way to do it," said Gould. "Second, to sell my computer program, people needed to know the puzzle first."

"There's no other puzzle since the crossword craze of 1924 and 1925 that's been introduced in newspapers so quickly," said Will Shortz, National Public Radio contributor and New York Times crossword editor, who has created seven sudoku anthologies. "Most other puzzles that have become popular...took years to build up, and even then they didn't have the popularity that sudoku has."

But do puzzles sell papers? "This has been a fantastic launch for any new feature. It's unprecedented," said Kathie Kerr, a spokesperson for Universal Press Syndicate, which began offering a version of sudoku to newspapers in May 2005 and already has 250 clients. "Newspaper editors feel sudoku is a natural fit to capture new readers."

Mike Harvey, features editor of The Times, where sudoku first hooked English readers in November 2004 said, "No newspaper has published this and not got a reaction."

Sudoku puzzles take up less column space than a traditional crossword. They can be placed near a crossword, stock listings, or any place where there is an awkward corner to fill. Puzzles are generally low-cost or free. Some papers have sold puzzle sponsorships to help recover the cost of the space.

Why is it so addictive? "There's nothing quite like it out there," said Gould. "Most of the puzzles in newspapers are word games in disguise. This isn't. It isn't even a numbers game (though it looks as if it should be). It's a game of logic. So it's different and unusual. Also, it doesn't depend on language, so it can spread from one country to another. The 'rules' are very simple, so easy to understand, and yet the puzzle can be surprisingly 'deep.'"




2006 Rules and Procedures Available

Verified's Rules and Procedures for 2006 are now updated on our Website at www.verifiedaudit.com/members.htm as a printable version (.pdf). It includes the latest information and important revisions. You'll also find our new glossary. If you have any questions, please contact Verified at 415-461-6006.



Please send comments and story ideas to e-newsletter@verifiedaudit.com or contact us at:

Verified Audit Circulation
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Larkspur, CA 94939-1758
Phone: (415) 461-6006
Fax: (415) 461-6007

2006 Verified Audit Circulation.