Media Magazine

Rediscovering the Evening Editions: Desperately Seeking Those” Lean Back” Readers

Posted on the 14 June 2011 by Themarioblog @garciainteract

TAKEAWAY: They disappeared one after the other, those lively evening newspapers that commuters in most major American cities picked up on their way home.  But now, in 2011, many voices are clamoring for the return of news in the evening, especially on the tablets.  Let readers “lean forward” during the day, but “ lean back” for a good evening read.  PLUS: The Russian daily, Izvestia, really really likes The Wall Street Journal front page, it seems AND: Packaging your deodorant with your news, Dubai style

News in the evening

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Images of front pages from The Miami News, Miami’s evening newspaper, which ceased publication in 1988. It is in this newspaper that I cut my teeth and learned so much.
Big headlines, lots of stories tempting commuters on the way home!

Part of the reading I have done during my 10-day hiatus in the sun, in the beautiful Canary Islands, land of my maternal ancestors, has had to do with a sudden interest, especially among US newspapers, about evening editions, those long ago abandoned reminders of another time, what some call the golden era of newspaper publishing.

As someone who began my career in an evening newspaper, The Miami News, in that Miami of the 1960s, when two newspaper towns were the norm for most American cities, I am happy to see that people are giving the evening news edition some serious consideration again.  When the Miami News shut down at the end of 1988, Bob Greene, of The Chicago Tribune,  described its demise this way: “if you`re at all interested in this kind of thing, you know some of the reasons that are invariably given for the deaths of evening papers. Competition from late-afternoon and early-evening television news broadcasts; difficulties in delivering evening papers in congested cities; changes in the leisure habits of newspaper readers.“

But, alas, Greene was a visionary, and his column went on to add:

Every instinct tells me that the time is right for the growth of evening newspapers again.
Yes, there are still evening TV news broadcasts. Yes, it is still tough to maneuver a newspaper delivery truck through a crowded city during afternoon rush hour.
But more and more people I talk with tell me that they are reading their newspapers at night. I`m not referring to people in cities where the newspaper is delivered in the late afternoon; I`m referring to people in morning-newspaper cities.

Absolutely, this was true in 1988, and it is even truer today.  As someone who has participated in hundreds of focus groups, I can testify that for years now I have heard readers telling us in various parts of the world that they read their daily printed newspaper in MORE than one seating: a little in the morning, some later during a coffee break, and a LOT of it in the evening.

For years, at every opportunity I have had in front of editors and publishers across six continents I have said: there are opportunities for evening newspapers.

The tablet and evening editions for both print and tablets

Ever since the iPad came out, and during my first discussion with the team of Colombia’s El Tiempo about their iPad edition, I have
%0A" title="maintained ">maintained that the tablet lends itself perfectly well to an updated evening edition.

Now, the little research we have on tablet reading habits points to a high rise of readership in the so called evening prime time, from 7 to 11 pm.

But this is a call that printed newspapers need to heed.

If, as we know, the mobile phone and , particularly online editions, have monopolized the time advantage for constant updates, and, if those are the most likely platforms for people to rap into in the morning and during working hours, then it makes sense that the most relaxing and contemplative platforms of the printed and tablet editions capitalize on the down time.

As Audra Martin, VP, Customer Engagement and Operations at The Economist,  describes it like this:

The main thing for us was to provide an immersive experience. The principal audience needs we uncovered were the ‘lean back’ experience on weekends - to keep yourself fully informed, and the ‘lean forward’ one throughout the week - where discussion and debate come to the fore.

The iPad user experience seemed to fit with the immersive/lean back need - so we tailored it around the detailed approach of the weekly edition, added functionality so that you can also read it offline, and listen to the audio edition.

In terms of daily newspaper operations, I can see that the mobile phone and online editions are definitely lean forward platforms, used throughout the day, when we are seeking constant updates, while the printed edition and tablet are lean back platforms, sort of take off your shoes and read the longer pieces, contemplate, meditate and understand that which you leaned forward earlier in the day to get as fresh news.

To me, this was always the object of evening newspapers.

Meanwhile, in Dubai

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Notice the circles where I highlight the Morning Coffee or Going Home editions for the Gulf News Tablet

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Morning Coffee and Going Home landing pages side by side

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Sometimes the lead piece in the evening edition is all about fashion, why not?

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…or it could be the sports story everyone is talking about

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El Tiempo of Colombia: two editions a day

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Here is landing page for morning edition of Monday

I happen to be in Dubai this week, where we have collaborated with the Gulf News team in the creation of the Gulf News Tablet, a customized product especially designed for the needs of tablet readers.
The GN Tablet experience is NOT a replication of either the printed edition of the Gulf News nor its online edition.

With a global audience, it is a digital edition that capitalizes on Middle East news and features, with emphasis on UAE and Dubai news, of course.  While the 1.0 edition premiered in April, we now prepare to tweak and to launch the 1.5 edition, which will include news feed components.

But one thing is the key to its success: the editioning concept.  The Tablet calls its editions Morning Coffee and Going Home.  Each has a special way of handling the content—-newsier in the morning, more feature/magazine, longer pieces in the evening.

This is what we are doing here, and it is what apparently the industry is beginning to turn its attention to.

In California: The Orange County Register

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The Orange County Register has entered the tablet field with an especially “curated” edition published late in the day, to cater to the preference of tablet readers who use the platform more extensively in the evening hours.

A good idea, and one that we have followed in both Colombia’s El Tiempo and the UAE’s Gulf News.

It is early to tell if this is the only way to go, of course, but the early signs are encouraging.

And, not just for tablets.  I can see that many printed newspapers may consider evening editions again, and, indeed, abandoning their morning editions all together.

It is “lean back” time for the printed newspaper if it wants to move forward.

Of related interest:

Time to bring back a P.M. news product

Russian style flattery

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Front pages of The Wall Street Journal and Izvestia: any resemblance is a pure case of admiration

I can’t help but think of actress Sally Field’s reaction when getting her Oscar: for Places in the Heart (1984). In her acceptance speech, Field said : You liked me, you really, really liked me!

Change it to You Like Us, You really,really, liked Us, and I imagine that this is what those folks at the Wall Street Journal and Newscorp are saying after seeing the new front page of the Russian daily Izvestia which holds a, should we say, a close resemblance to that of the venerable American newspaper and chronicler of the financial world.

One thing is for sure, those folks at Izvestia really, really liked the front page of The Wall Street Journal.

My Russian contacts tell me that, indeed, there is a resemblance, but that Izvestia people consulted with the WSJ, perhaps to express their total admiration.

Maybe with a message wrapped around the front page: From Russia with love.

Start spraying the news

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This week: Nivea’s sample of men’s deodorant in plastic wrapper around the entire newspaper

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Earlier this year, Nivea cream for the ladies, also in wrapper around the entire edition of the newspaper

Surprise, that is a can of Nivea deodorant for men you find wrapped around your morning Gulf News of Dubai. Yes, sir, it is a plastic baggie, with the Gulf News edition inside, and a sample can of deodorant to one side. Spray yourself clean before you head out the door.  And, yes, there was one day with Nivea’s deodorant for women, too.  From what I am told here: those editions of the Gulf News sold out quickly.  Indeed,in a city where the temperatures rose to over 44C today Monday, deodorant is quite a necessity——and, of course, the news, too.

TheMarioBlog post #784

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