A window into newspaper innnovation around the world

Spurred by the challenging economy, newspapers are trying all sorts of cutting edge initiatives. After reviewing recent conference summaries (INMA, WAN, PANPA, the Individualized News and the Suburban Newspapers of America), the most pioneering international efforts are presented.

Berlin's personalized newspaper: Niiu, launched in November, allows subscribers to choose their news sources daily from national, local or international newspapers and internet news sources and blogs. A 24-page personalized paper, drawn from those sources, appears on the subscriber's doorstep the next morning. The Washington Post tested weekly personalized copies in May & June. http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,655433,00.html

Australia's Fairfax Media changes content and adds services: Transformational changes included: an in-house creative agency, unique content, an event business and carving out niches (e.g. dating – www.rsvp.com.au, vacation homes – www.stayz.com.au).

USA Today uses existing expertise to build revenue: "Buzz Bureau" was created to offer: content licensing, research and national distribution. These are additional revenue opportunities which can also be offered as value-add for significant advertisers. Currently Buzz Bureau represents 1% of ad revenues but it is growing rapidly and 40% of users are new to the paper.

India's Mid-Day Infomedia collaborates: Launched in February 2009, Mid-Day partnered with a mobile company, Netcore, to offer two daily news alerts via SMS. After this success, Mid-Day is considering working with others: sharing printing facilities, syndicating text, image, and video content, and purchasing newsprint in volume.

Denmark's Ekstra Bladet attracts young readers: Ekstra Bladet's Newsdesk helps students create a newspaper online. A few days later, 1,000 copies of the paper are delivered to the school. Ekstra Bladet also offers an online dilemma game, "The Front Page". Breaking news arrives and students have to adjust their front page accordingly. Among students exposed to either Newsdesk or Front page, readership increased by 20%. http://www.inma.org/modules/event/index.cfm?action=LiverpoolBlogDetail&artID=38337

NYT's online crowd funding: Spot.us sourced online funding donations for a freelance New York Times reporter’s travel for a story. http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=131&aid=173213

Poland's Gazeta Wyborcz delivers targeted content: Editors went on diets and invited readers to join them. Participants could subscribe online to a relatively inexpensive personalized diet and training plans. A separate targeted initiative involved creating an alternative sports site (www.zczuba.pl) designed to be like a sport chat (i.e. news, updates and jokes) with friends.

USA's The Express-Times classified makeover: The section was converted to 6 columns, improved by including the puzzles & comics and reinvigorated with a daily theme (e.g. real estate, cars, non-profit, pets, antiques, etc.). Column headers were jazzed-up and included annual sponsor opportunities. Classifieds were offered free of charge for items for sale with enhancements (e.g. colour, pictures, etc.) being up-charged. To date, all sponsorships are sold out and additional revenue was secured through the up-sell.