What are the 8 dignity factors

The dignity factor: How a publisher saves a newspaper

A few years ago, a media journalist who praised the Internet and its possibilities boasted: My daughter can no longer get hold of a newspaper! She spoke at a congress in which the chances of making young people want to read through projects such as "Newspaper in school" were explored. Anyone who stood up for the newspaper was ridiculed at the congress as someone who had missed the train of the day.

In order not to be ridiculed further, many publishers rushed into the online world, invest millions in high-click and blue-light portals, hid journalism behind barriers - knowing full well that this will neither attract enough young readers nor non-readers of the Newspaper.

Journalism professor Iris Chyi from the University of Austin in Texas examined the effects of neglecting newspaper journalism in the United States. Last year she provoked the American media with a study whose core thesis is: US publishers have invested a lot in online - which was right, but they didn't invest anything more in printed newspapers - which was wrong. She told 4c magazine: "I don't think readers have given up on the print product in favor of the newspapers' websites."

Chyi examined 51 regional newspapers: in eight years their reach has fallen from 54 to 29 percent, while online reach stagnated at 10 percent. So the billions that publishers invested in online have done little; online readers of all ages prefer to get information from Google & Co.

The young, the millennials, also avoid the online pages of the regional newspapers: The reach of the online editions stagnates at 8 percent for 18 to 24 year olds. In fact, more than twice as many millennials read the printed newspapers. Iris Chyi's advice to the publishers: "Give priority to the product that your readers prefer. And, according to our study, that is the printed newspaper." And she warns:

"Most newspaper readers are still tied to the print product. But that won't be the case for long if the quality continues to decline." So if you offer less quality in the printed newspaper, you lose an above-average number of readers and a lot of money. Even if developments in the USA differ from those in Germany, they have one thing in common: Anyone who plays with the quality of journalism decimates their readership. On the other hand, those who increase quality continue to bind the readers, so that the circulation stagnates or only falls slightly. Proof of this is provided by the Straubing publisher Balle, who saved the insolvent Munich "Abendzeitung" and even slightly increased the circulation last year with his newspaper in Lower Bavaria.

Martin Balle defines in one"kress pro" interview (issue 3/2017)with Bülend Ürük, what he means by quality:

  1. Strengthen the home.

  2. Exercise criticism if need be - for example when a celebrity makes criminal mistakes,

  3. Don't scandalize, don't wait every day for something to go wrong; not artificially badmouthing the world.

  4. Don't rely on the quick headline, it won't help the circulation in the long run.

  5. The solidity of trust.

Martin Balle gives an example of the success of his home concept:

"Do you know Konzell? This is a wonderful holiday destination in the Bavarian Forest. Nobody else reports about these relatively small towns with 300 to 3,000 inhabitants. But there is life there that only the local newspaper reflects. This is also important for young people there. Vom Football club has to be in the newspaper until the flag is inaugurated, because that is a dignity factor of the region. My credo is: someone who no longer receives an obituary notice has received less dignity than he could have. "

This homeland journalism is successful, but also controversial. Axel Hacke quoted Balle three years ago in the magazine of the "Süddeutsche Zeitung":

"If we were to write everything we know about the city in the 'Straubinger Tagblatt', nobody could live in this city anymore. Then the city is finished. You have to take that into account." With a trace of cynicism, Hacke said of the Wohlfühl-Zeitung, which is close to the reader: "A journalistic concept that is well covered by the Basic Law, Article 5 of which, as is well known, says:" The freedom of the press has to serve the well-being of the reader. " "

Martin Balle is not only the publisher of the "Straubinger Tagblatt" and the "Landshuter Zeitung", but also a professor at the Technical University of Deggendorf. He teaches journalism: forms of representation and media ethics; in a second seminar he asks: What is seriousness? And which newspapers are serious?

How did Balle save the "Abendzeitung" in Munich?

1. You have to build a new structure if you can't go on with the existing structure.

2. You have to cut a budget when everything is bloated.

3. Offer reasonable severance pay for employees who have to leave.

4. You have to move to cheaper rental premises and, when new employees are hired, negotiate lower salaries.

5. You shouldn't look for synergies between the regional newspaper and the boulevard in a big city.

6. See the rescue as an "idealistic project", not a money-making business. "We didn't want to buy cash, we wanted to do a nice project and keep it going."

And the future of regional newspapers? Martin Balle doesn't talk it nicely, he also knows: "Significant decreases in the circulation. That happens when the digital natives, as family fathers, no longer read newspapers in the way they still do today ... Then in five to ten years a new era begins with different problems and answers. We will deal with it too. We'll have to learn to tighten our belts a little and still make a good newspaper. "

Another look at America: A few days ago "The Strom Lake" received the highest award in the country, the Pulitzer Prize. Art Cullen is a publisher, along with his brother, and editor-in-chief of the local newspaper, which is published twice a week for ten thousand residents in rural northwestern Iowa. The newspaper has a circulation of 3,000.

In the editorial office, his wife works as a photographer and his son as a reporter. "The Storm Lake" receives the Pulitzer Prize for its investigative journalism: it denounces soil erosion, the pollution of water, which nowhere in the USA is as bad as it is here. And Senator Chuck Grassley is a "rickety fool who has to go" to the paper.

Editor-in-chief Art Cullen is exactly the kind of local journalist, writes Fortune magazine, that some children dream of becoming when they grow up; he is someone who sees the dirty water and is not afraid to call it that ".

Homeland journalism of the best kind.

The author

Thirteen years ago, Paul-Josef Raue received a special prize for "the local journalistic life's work" at the "German Local Journalist Prize". He worked for 35 years as editor-in-chief of local and regional newspapers, most recently in Thuringia, before that in Braunschweig, Magdeburg, Frankfurt / Main and Marburg. During the GDR revolution he founded the "Eisenacher Presse", the first German-German newspaper; Two years ago he wrote the German-German story for Klartext-Verlag: "The unfinished revolution". Today he advises publishers, editorial offices and especially local editorial offices and teaches at universities.