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Glenn Halbrooks

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New Troubling Numbers for Newspapers

Monday April 21, 2014
New revenue numbers released by the Newspaper Association of America show the industry is still facing troubled times. Statistics show newspaper revenue fell 2.6% last year.

A photo of newspapers being printed
A new Newspaper Association of America report has more disturbing news for the industry.
Photo © Getty Images
Other numbers were mixed, which is actually bringing some slight good news. While newspaper advertising revenue plunged 8.6%, circulation revenue was up 3.7%.

Digital advertising revenue was up 1.5%, which newspapers are counting on to make up for lost print ad money. However, the Newspaper Association of America says digital ads represent less than 10% of the newspaper industry's overall revenue of more than $37 billion.

That last number may be the most important. While newspapers are suffering, a $37 billion industry is still massive. That fact is often lost on those who are ready to seal the casket on newspapers.

Newspapers' revenue growth will hopefully come from increased circulation revenue and digital ads. There have been few signs that print ad revenue will bounce back. It's up to newspaper publishers to figure out how to survive without it.

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How to Ask Your Media Boss for a Pay Raise

Wednesday April 16, 2014
Sure, you work long hours. You're tired, fed up and your media company is lucky to have you. In fact, you might just quit. Then your boss will be sorry that he didn't pay you more to keep you.

A photo of someone asking his media boss for a pay raise
With these tips, you can make your case for why you deserve a pay raise.
Photo © Keith Brofsky / Getty Images
We've probably all had that rant in our heads, thinking we're grossly underpaid for the work we do. You may even have friends making more money in other careers who've never had to stay late because their offices close promptly at 5.

Now's the time to do something about it. Go into your boss's office and demand a raise, because you've earned it. You'll get a 10% pay hike on the spot. If only it were that easy.

Use these tips to ask your media boss for a raise. You'll walk into his office with a set of talking points and concrete evidence on why you deserve a bigger paycheck.

The answer you get may be "no", but even so, you have started a conversation that can continue at a later date. Or maybe you've just given yourself the motivation you need to get that better paying job somewhere else. You won't know until you try.

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Should Media Companies Promote a Social Agenda?

Wednesday April 9, 2014
Some of the nation's largest consumer-goods companies are using media to promote a social agenda. So far, the results have been both praised for their courage and blasted for being too controversial.

A photo of teh Nabisco logo
Nabisco is using graham crackers to promote its corporate beliefs about families.
Photo © Getty Images
General Mills featured a bi-racial family in a TV commercial for Cheerios that launched last year. Despite criticism, it was followed by another commercial that aired during the Super Bowl.

Nabisco has taken heat for a new Honey Maid graham cracker TV commercial that shows not just a bi-racial family, but also a child with two fathers. When some viewers didn't like it, the company responded with a video directed at the criticism.

Media companies may be tempted to follow the same path in promoting social awareness. After all, there was a time that TV shied away from showing people of different races, unless it was to portray them in stereotypical roles.

Before you launch a campaign, consider the expectations and views of your audience. What may not get a second glance in New York City may cause outrage in Salt Lake City. Some people want to buy cereal or graham crackers without taking a stand on a social agenda. They're simply hungry and like the product.

Companies that push boundaries take calculated risks. Cheerios and Honey Maid have both received a lot of free publicity because of the stand they've taken. Be aware they they both have likely lost some customers as a result.

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Another Newspaper Makes Massive Cuts

Friday April 4, 2014
It's a different newspaper, but the same sad story. The Star-Ledger, New Jersey's largest newspaper, has cut 167 jobs, representing one-third of the paper's non-unionized workers.

A photo of a man selling newspapers
Newspaper job cuts are a story no one likes to report.
Photo © Getty Images
It gets worse. Advance Publications, which owns the Star-Ledger and other New Jersey papers, eliminated many other jobs statewide, bringing the total number of cuts to 306.

Here's some disturbing math. The paper says at its peak, it had 350 people working in the newsroom. With this latest round of cuts, that number is down to around 116.

While there's no doubt technology has made it easier and faster to gather and produce news, it still takes people working the phones, making contacts and walking the streets to find stories. You can't help but think that newsgathering in New Jersey has suffered over recent years.

One of the media trends to watch in 2014 is the continuing disintegration of the newspaper industry, at least as we know it. Advance Publications appears to be focusing itself more toward digital media rather than print.

That survival strategy can be expected in these turbulent times for media. But that doesn't make it any easier for the hundreds of people who've been left by the wayside.

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Rupert Murdoch Prepares Sons to Take Over News Corp.

Monday March 31, 2014
Rupert Murdoch knew this day was coming. It's the day when he would have to think about the future of News Corporation without himself being chairman and CEO.

A photo of News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch
It appears the Murdoch family will remain in control of News Corp. even after Rupert Murdoch gives up his role as chairman and CEO.
Photo © Getty Images
He has taken steps to put his sons Lachlan and James in control of the company. Lachlan is moving up the ranks of the board, while James will have increased authority over operations.

For now, 83-year-old Rupert will keep his roles at the top of the global media giant. He's one of the 10 media people to watch in 2014, not just because of his power and longevity, but because of his ability to weather any storm or controversy. Media pros will be waiting to see if his sons can do the same.

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What's New on About Media This Month

Wednesday March 26, 2014
Spring brings thoughts of taking a break from your media job to go on vacation. The problem is, you never seem to have enough money to do anything.

A photo of a man asking his boss for a pay raise
You can often get a pay raise in your media job if you know how to approach your boss.
Photo © Keith Brofsky / Getty Images
Check out new tips on asking for a pay raise. People in all careers want bigger paychecks, but there are aspects of working in media that make asking for more money different.

This is also the time for spring cleaning at some media companies, when ineffective leaders are swept to the curb. Read advice on how to keep your media job, even if the bosses are losing theirs.

A big part of any media company's success is knowing how to advertise your media brand. Many companies put out a great product, yet there are several reasons they are terrible at advertising their brand.

If you want to extend your brand's reach, consider how to advertise in creative ways. There are many ways to get exposure beyond the usual print ads or broadcast spots.

TV stations and networks are already making plans for the critical May ratings period. If your station needs a boost, maybe one of these Nielsen ratings fixes will get you out of trouble.

The media industry is so competitive that often, you'll find yourself under attack from a competitor. Know how and when to respond when your media brand is under attack.

Finally, it's never too early to plan news coverage that will win media awards. Think about entering the Edward R. Murrow Awards, which honor outstanding electronic journalism.

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$1.6 Billion TV Station Deal Announced

Monday March 24, 2014
More media power is getting into the hands of fewer people. TV station owners Media General and LIN Media say they will merge in a $1.6 billion dollar deal. Their combined 74 stations will create the second-largest TV station company in the country.

A photo of two men shaking hands with money in them
It's taking more and more money to become a player in the media industry.
Photo © PhotoLink / Getty Images
One of the media trends to watch in 2014 is the continued return of huge media deals, and this one sure qualifies. This comes on top of a string of big media deals in 2013, which marked the return of mergers and acquisitions following several quiet years due to the bad economy.

Media deals have their pros and cons. For the people working at Media General and LIN Media stations, there have to be questions about the future. That's especially true in Birmingham and Mobile, Alabama; Savannah, Georgia; Providence, Rhode Island; and Green Bay, Wisconsin, where the company will own more than one station and will likely have to choose which properties to sell off to meet federal ownership rules.

The newly combined company will be called Media General, but will have LIN Media's CEO as its leader. Media General will reach more than 26 million homes, or about 23% of the country.

That's a definite contrast to the old "7-7-7 Rule" which had been in place for decades. It prohibited a company from owning more than 7 AM, 7 FM and 7 TV stations. Be watching to see whether you think media consolidation is better for viewers, for business and for the country.

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Why Media Pros Are Terrible at Advertising Their Brand

Thursday March 20, 2014
It's only natural to think that media pros are experts at advertising. After all, creating an ad campaign requires media.

A photo of a media pro who is banging his head against the wall
Sure you know media. But do you know the key parts of advertising your media brand?
Photo © Steve Cole / Getty Images
But find out why media pros are often terrible at advertising their own brand. They frequently miss the basic, yet critical parts of creating and launching an effective ad campaign.

The easy, yet potentially expensive solution is to hire an outside advertising agency to handle advertising your newspaper, broadcast station or online company. If you're committed to doing it yourself, make sure to check out how to advertise your media brand to avoid the frustrations of wasting your ad dollars.

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Malaysia Airlines Mystery Gives CNN a Ratings Boost

Tuesday March 18, 2014
CNN's list of problems has been well documented. Now comes a flicker of hope.

A photo of CNN worldwide President Jeff Zucker
How will Jeff Zucker continue CNN's ratings burst once the Malaysia Airlines mystery is solved?
Photo © Getty Images
The mysterious disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 has been gold for CNN in the Nielsen ratings. CNN is even beating Fox in prime time among people in the 25-54 age group, which is considered the sweet spot in news demographics.

If you were CNN President Jeff Zucker, you would wish the people aboard the plane would be found safe and reunited with their families. But you'd still be wondering how long this mystery would continue and how to take CNN's ratings strength of the past week and extend it to other news events.

Even with CNN's ratings problems, which were in a freefall last month, it has always remained the go-to source for breaking news. Viewers somehow subconsciously remember watching CNN for the Persian Gulf War and the O.J. Simpson trial, before Fox News Channel launched.

It's tough for Zucker to reinvent CNN's glory days, when it had no cable competition. He's one of the 10 media people to watch in 2014 for the task he has in making CNN a destination when there's not a news crisis.

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American Idol Hits a Sour Note in the Ratings

Monday March 10, 2014
The once unstoppable American Idol is hitting a sour note in the ratings. Last Thursday, it plunged to its lowest numbers ever in the key 18-49 age demographic.

A photo of TV and radio personality Ryan Seacrest
Be watching to see if the decline of American Idol prompts host Ryan Seacrest to head for the exit door.
Photo © Getty Images
Nielsen ratings show Idol dropping to a 2.2 in that critical age group. What may put its ratings troubles in perspective is that it pulled just under 10 million viewers, compared to nearly 18 million for The Big Bang Theory on CBS, its head-to-head rival.

Fox had to settle for second place for the night, and a disappointing third in viewers 18-49. This would have been unheard of just a few seasons ago, when American Idol dominated any night that it aired.

In recent years, the winners of American Idol haven't all become guaranteed overnight stars. Now, the show itself isn't automatically a star of the ratings, which could mean its days are numbered.

While the judges have changed, keep your eye on the one constant face -- host Ryan Seacrest. If he bails, it's a clear sign that he knows Idol is fading permanently.

Seacrest is one of the 10 media people to watch in 2014. Idol may have made him a household name, but these days, the show needs him more than ever.

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