This upcoming weekend, I will be going back to Kansas to see my parents, as well as to visit my alma mater, Emporia State University.
On Friday, April 6, I will have a full day of speaking events on the ESU campus.
From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., I will be talking about the business of online newspapers. More specifically, I will be explaining how newspapers make money on the Internet and through other new-media opportunities.
What makes this interesting is that there are some sort of universal ways in which newspapers make money on the Internet — such as classifieds — and then there are very different ways of making money on the web that are totally dependent upon a newspaper’s size and the amount of traffic that its site gets.
When you’re washingtonpost.com, having a substantial portion of your revenue tied to CPM works. When you’re ottawaherald.com in Ottawa, Kan., having your revenue tied to CPM isn’t going to pay the bills.
There’s no real guidebook on how newspapers make money on the Internet.
Some newspapers are very creative and aggressive with their new-media strategies. And some just suck at it. (Well, maybe a lot of them.)
The one thing I’ve noticed is that if the top person at a newspaper really cares about success on the Internet, and places a high priority on it, then the website does just fine on both the revenue side and the content side.
But what’s going to make this presentation at ESU fun for me is that I’m going to focus on what I think all of this means for newspapers in Kansas.
I know I’m biased, but I love Kansas newspapers — and I know that my views on things like hyper-local journalism were formed by reading Kansas newspapers as I was growing up.
From the influence of William Allen White and The Emporia Gazette on American journalism in the early-to-mid 1900s to today’s influence of the Lawrence Journal-World on the current evolution of the newspaper industry, journalism in Kansas matters.
So, when I speak with the students at Emporia State on Friday, I won’t be talking about how I think you make money on the Internet if you’re The Washington Post or The New York Times — it will be about how I think this works if you’re the El Dorado Times or the Prairie Post.
The newspaper industry in Kansas is fascinating to me. Here is a state that is definitely in the lower-half of the nation when it comes to population (a little over 2.5 million, I think — or about half what the DC metro is), yet it has 40 daily newspapers. And there are more than a handful of newspapers in Kansas with less than 2,500 daily circulation.
I love that!
I also will be giving two other shorter presentations that day at Emporia State.
From 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., I will be focusing more on the technical/software aspects of being a newspaper on the Internet.
Then from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., I will be talking about the social and community applications of being a newspaper on the web.
My guess is there will be some overlap in all three of the sessions.
I’m told that all of these presentations at ESU will be free and open to the public.
If you’re going to come to one of them, drop me a line so we can chat either before or afterwards.
And because I don’t get back home as much as I would like, I have to figure out how to balance spending time with my family, eating at the restaurants that I miss, and then whether I take my kids to Worlds of Fun or to a Royals baseball game.
I have to note that with yesterday’s 7-1 Opening Day butt-kicking of the Boston Red Sox, my beloved Kansas City Royals are currently tied for first place.
I needed to go ahead and write that sentence right now because I might not be able to write it anymore this season. Or even this decade.