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Time for newspapers to leave ’09 in the past

An industry that only a few months ago was suffering massive layoffs and closures now sees one of its leaders embarking on an ambitious marketing campaign. The Wall Street Journal announced this week that it will launch a new brand awareness campaign with executions across print, online and broadcast.

The paper’s first marketing initiative in three years is designed to improve people’s perceptions of the quality and breadth of the newspaper’s coverage. With the tagline “Live in the Know,” the campaign stresses the importance of moving beyond bite-sized news briefs to longer, more comprehensive coverage and analysis – like only a newspaper could deliver. WSJ hopes “Live in the Know” will appeal to readers looking to be better informed about current affairs, especially in the wake of the financial crises of the last year.

Despite the shuttering of long-established papers like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Rocky Mountain News, declining ad spend and 15,000 layoffs in 2009, refocusing on content and quality might be just what the industry needs to get back on track. Although downsizing was the trend for newspapers in 2009, Rich Boehne, CEO of newspaper publisher E.W. Scripps, doesn’t see that as a sustainable business model for the industry. “In the longer run, we will need to add (newsroom) jobs, add content and raise (circulation) rates.”

For the sake of all newspapers, and those of us who read them, let’s hope the WSJ will deliver on this promise and lead by example.

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