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Europea Editors Integrate Newsrooms Web Print

Europea Editors Integrate Newsrooms Web Print

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Published by: Visual Editors on Jan 28, 2008
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European Papers See Promise in HighTech
Sunday April 8, 8:30 pm ET
By Matt Moore, AP Business Writer
European Newspaper Editors Say They Can ProvideContent Readers Need on Newsprint, Web
BERLIN (AP) -- Are newspapers set to become yesterday's news? Don'tcount on it, say editors at some of Europe's iconic publications. The pressures on the European industry are the same as in the UnitedStates: Fewer readers, less ad revenue and competition from the Internetand free papers. But European editors are optimistic they can provide thecontent readers need -- whether it's on newsprint, a computer screen, asmart phone or a futuristic electronic scroll.Some predicted the media revolution underway may even allow them toreturn to the deeper, more sophisticated journalism on which they tookpride decades ago, before the crush of round-the-clock news took its toll.What they can't agree on is how that new emphasis on quality will playout -- online or in print.Bruno Patino, director of online and digital projects at France's Le Monde,spoke of a split in which the newspaper would focus on in-depthinvestigations and the Web site would aim at more hurried audiences.Marco Pratellesi, online editor of Italy's leading Corriere della Sera, feelsexactly the opposite: The Internet, he said, is the medium that opens upopportunities for long-form traditional reporting. He noted that it costsnext to nothing to post a 10,000-word story online compared to clearingspace on the printed page and selling advertising to pay for it.Where both agreed was that traditional newspapers will live or die basedon the quality of their content -- an authoritative perspective free paperscannot provide."Our strategy is quality, to select the themes that interest our readers,"Pratellesi said. "Free newspapers, for example, are just quick reads, notnewspapers that readers actually seek out."Marek Kiwecien, a 44-year-old real estate agent sometimes reads online,but said he thinks traditional papers will survive, and the main reason iscomfort."My eyes hurt reading online, so I prefer regular newspapers," Kwieciensaid while thumbing through the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper over a potof green tea at a central Warsaw cafe.He also noted that papers are starting to charge for their online services,as well as for access to their archives, a process Kwiecien thinks will only
intensify."I think that'll be another reason for papers to survive," he said.Pawel Starzynski, a 43-year-old engineer reading the Gazeta Wyborczanewspaper over a cafe latte, said he sees a place for both online newsand traditional papers in the future."I think online and traditional forms can co-exist," he said. "I like to readthis kind of paper over a coffee in a cafe and I read online at work.""I don't like to take my laptop to bed," he added. There is no denying, however, that newspaper circulation is tumblingacross Europe, as it is in the U.S. market. The most recent figuresavailable from the World Association of Newspapers showed that dailypaid newspapers in the European Union saw a 0.61 percent drop incirculation in 2005, and a 5.26 percent fall over the five years through2005.Many European newspapers are investing heavily in online editions inhopes of growth.Berlin-based Axel Springer, Europe's biggest newspaper and magazinepublisher, is set to spend some $2.67 billion to expand its digital offeringsboth in Germany and elsewhere.In Sweden, Raoul Gruenthal, managing editor of Stockholm-basedSvenska Dagbladet, said the daily has started a financial news site,http://www.e24.se., in addition to its regular news site,http://www.svd.se. "We are seizing the opportunity to use the position we have to grow inareas where we previously didn't have a strong position," he said.Going online also helps newspapers reach a global audience, a factor thatis particularly important for British papers that can count on a massiveworldwide English-speaking readership.Industry-wide in Europe -- as elsewhere -- it's not yet clear whetherInternet growth will be able to soon offset declining print revenues.But there are positive signs: Le Monde's Patino said that after recent loss-making years, the paper is expected to break even or make a profit thisyear entirely thanks to online services making up for print losses.Peter Wuertenberger, managing director for Axel Springer's Welt/BerlinerMorgenpost newspaper publishing group, said Internet revenues aregrowing 20 to 50 percent year over year, depending on the Web site.A key variable is the speed with which technology for making electroniccontent as portable as papers might evolve.French business daily Les Echos this month plans to launch a "digitalpaper" version available on specially dedicated PDA-type "readers." Thenext step would be an "e-paper" -- a flexible sheet using electronic inkthat could be constantly updated wirelessly.Philippe Jannet, director of Les Echos' digital projects, says his paper istrying to boost income by expanding the number of platforms butnarrowing their targets.

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