2007business1

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Published on January 21, 2008

Author: Silvia

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The Business of Journalism: Profits and Editorial Integrity:  The Business of Journalism: Profits and Editorial Integrity Media Law and Ethics JMSC0019 October 2007 Assistant Prof. D. Weisenhaus Profits v. Editorial Integrity:  Profits v. Editorial Integrity “News is a business. It has always been so.” -- Taking Stock: Journalism and the Publicly Traded Newspaper Company, 2001 “Newspapers are owned by individuals and corporations but freedom of the press belongs to the people.” --Anonymous General questions :  General questions Are there aspects of news production that should be “off-limits” to budget/company pressures? What can news departments do to enhance their profitability? Should they even think about that? What can editors and news directors do to protect integrity of reporting from business pressures? History:  History Separation of business and news is fairly recent phenomenon. In 1800, most common name for US paper was “The Advertiser”! Newspaper purpose: advertise commerce or promote partisan politics Joseph Pulitzer: Don’t teach business side of journalism “because it would corrupt journalists.” Newspaper trends...:  Newspaper trends... As in Hong Kong, U.S. newspapers privately owned, try to make profits Not licensed by government or receive government subsidies Are protected by law Most newspapers owned by shareholders Trend toward chain newspapers. Owners’ priorities v. readers’ values?:  Owners’ priorities v. readers’ values? Owners: Make money. Make propaganda? Promote own views, needs? Give social value? Have prestige? Readers: Want news. But what kind? About government? Entertainment (murder, sex cases)? What else? How profitable are newspapers? Until recently, very profitable!:  How profitable are newspapers? Until recently, very profitable! In U.S., newspaper profit margins were 2-3 times the average for US manufacturing. 20-30% vs. 7-8% Investment in news coverage down production expense down payroll down marketing up revenue/profit up The search for audience, profits:  The search for audience, profits Ming Pao: Looking for ways to increase productivity, management has circulated a set of objectives: “Two I’s”: Stories must be interesting and informative. “Two Q’s”: Reporters must produce quality and quantity “Three 3s”: Reporters must provide 3 news ideas a week, must produce 3 page leads and must contact 3 newsmakers. Hong Kong profits, 2006...:  Hong Kong profits, 2006... Ming Pao: HK$35 million, up 41% Next Media: HK$583 million, down 22% SCMP Group: HK$419 million, up 37% Sing Tao News Corp: HK$178 million, up 477%! Oriental Press Group: HK$300 million in profits in 2004, but profits plunged to HK$3.8 million for second half of 2006! What’s going on? Hong Kong media history:  Hong Kong media history Before 1970s, most HK papers have political leanings as leftist, rightist. In 1990s, economic, market forces start changes Before 1995, Oriental is market leader in readers while elite papers had market niches 1995: Apple Daily…worldwide trend of market-driven journalism comes to HK 1997 Asian financial crisis…crumbling real estate market takes toll on advertising Late 1990s, early 2000s dot.com mania and later crash. Still, many newspapers have online presence 2003: Ads still down, SARS. Metro free daily launched 2005: Ads picking up. 2 other free dailies. 2007: The Standard becomes 1st English free daily HK media market scene:  HK media market scene 14 daily Chinese language newspapers, plus free dailies (Metro, Headline Daily, am730) 2 English-language dailies (1 now free) 3 radio companies (10 channels) 4 free-to-air terrestrial channels, TVB market leader Pay cable companies HK newspaper market:  HK newspaper market In past, HK newspapers dominated by Oriental Press Group and Next Media controlled 70% of newspaper readership. Now? Oriental Daily News (OPG): 400,000 (?) Apple Daily (Next) 299,000 (down from 371,000 in 2000) The Sun (OPG) 100,000(?) Ming Pao: 97,000 (same in 2000) SCMP: 102,000 (92,000 in 2000) Hong Kong Economic Times: 75,000 Metro (344,000), am730 (270,000), Headline Daily (700,000!) The Standard as free daily: 120,000. Won’t say what its previous circulation was. Total free daily circulation: almost 1.5 million! Oriental v. Next:  Oriental v. Next Oriental Press Group: Founded 1969 by Ma brothers. Became HK’s best-selling paper in less than 10 years. Started Sun newspaper 1999. Largest shareholder is wife of younger brother who fled to Taiwan after ‘77 drug charges. Ma Ching-fat current chairman. Engaged in price wars. Next Media: Jimmy Lai, largest shareholder. Made $ in Giordano chain, founded company in 1990, Next magazine (1990), Easy Finder (1991), Apple Daily (1995), Taiwan Next Mag (2001), Taiwan Apple Daily (2003), Sharp Daily (free daily in Taipei, 2006) Ming Pao v. Sing Tao:  Ming Pao v. Sing Tao Ming Pao Enterprise: 1959 by Louis Cha. Largest shareholder: Tiong Hiew-king, Malaysian timber baron, worth US$1.4 billion. Began international editions, 1990s, Toronto, Vancouver, SF, NY One Media Group: Chinese Rolling Stone, Ming Pao Weekly, etc 2007: Merger w/Sin Chew Media Corp and Nanyang Press Holdings Now, largest Chinese media group outside China (5 newspapers, 37 mags, 3 websites) The Chinese “Rupert Murdoch”?? Sing Tao News Corp.: (Sing Tao daily HK, Aust., NZ, UK, US, Canada/Standard/ hotels/real estate). 1938: Sing Tao founded Aw Boon-haw (Tiger Balm), 1954: daughter Sally 1999: Sold to Lazard Asia Fund 2001: sold 51.4% to Charles Ho, tobacco tycoon. 2005: Headline Daily, largest circulation of free dailies 2007: Standard free, to compete with SCMP? SCMP Holdings:  SCMP Holdings SCMP Holdings: Largest shareholder, Kerry Group, Robert Kuok, ethnic Chinese businessman in Malaysia (net worth US$5 billion, made $ in sugar trade.) Kuok has interests in hotels (Shangri-La Grp), shipping, plantations, commodities in 15 countries. Grand contradiction::  Grand contradiction: Media is commercially based or market driven Media in free society has crucial public function: promote ideas and inform Protected by law Media Trends:  Media Trends Trend 1: Concentration of corporate control through acquisitions Trend 2: Non-media international and regional conglomerates emerging as major players. Trend 3: The China Factor. Growing integration with Mainland in ownership, market, production. Trend 4: Media battlefield is regional and global. Trend 5: Media owners expand through alliances and networking. What is (was?) the business of news?:  What is (was?) the business of news? The business of news is news. Growth of newspaper industry driven by public’s appetite for news...News was product around which business was shaped. News has long been selected, presented and packaged in appealing -- and profitable -- ways. (comics, sensational headlines, extra editions, penny papers, news graphics) Now?:  Now? The business of news is business, not news…News is shaped by audience rather than audience shaped by the news. Business of news is no longer providing broad public information to mass audience but providing specialized information to smaller and more profitable audiences. --Taking Stock Pros v. Cons of Big Business:  Pros v. Cons of Big Business Pro: more resources, more distance between advertiser and editorial content, more power. Less involvement by owners. E.g., Jimmy Lai/Next and Charles Ho/Sing Tao Con: more resources to protect, less concern over editorial integrity, no accountability to community, less choice of content. Any more arguments? What’s the alternative?:  What’s the alternative? Jack Fuller: Need for financial independence. If social purpose is to provide information people need to make political choices, they must be independent of government and other interests. To be independent, must be financially strong. “The first duty of a free press is to make profit.” “Who Journalists Work For” :  “Who Journalists Work For” Owner/corporation must be committed to citizens first. Hire business managers who also put citizens first Set and communicate clear standards Journalists have final say over news Communicate clear standards to public Remember the Core Values :  Remember the Core Values Integrity, fairness, accuracy, full disclosure, sound news judgments 1) obligation to the truth 2) serve public interest first 3) monitor powerful/offer voice 4) provide forum for comment, criticism 5) maintain independence 6) make news engaging, relevant 7) keep news comprehensive, proportional 8) remain true to personal conscience

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