Saturday, January 31, 2009


I remember the old black and white movies and the Variety newspaper headlines they would show about the celebrity character in the film. They were big (usually all caps) and often highlighted with an exclamation point. With that, I couldn't resist giving homage to this old style when I learned recently that some of the movie industries biggest newspapers are facing serious troubles.

Mediabistro notes that "for more than 75 years, Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter have battled to be the movie industry's top newspaper, but recent layoffs due to the recession and competition from Internet blogs has Hollywood wondering if it will soon become a one paper town."

Advertising revenues are plummeting, even during the Oscars season where it is very common for the movie studios to spend big money on full page ads to get their films the recognition they believe is deserved. There are few things more powerful than an Oscar to get people into the movies. The public relations value is without compare. Furthermore, although Variety and the Reporter are expensive to buy ad space, they are less expensive than ads in publications that have larger audience. So with those ads movie makers can hit their target constituents hard to get the statue, but this year they are not doing it.

Don't worry though, the studios are still promoting their films, but they are using bloggers and other online media rather than spending big budgets on forms of promotion that often solicits skepticism rather than interest. Here are a few factors working against the Hollywood newspapers:

  • People are more influenced by the opinions of others than they are ads. Ads are insincere, "you mean they think you should watch their movie?" This is not a surprise and the movie makers are becoming aware of this reality.

  • The Hollywood set are more technically savvy than the larger population. These people are less likely to wait for a newspaper or look for one when they know the absolute latest information is on their laptop or mobile. News is about currency and that is exactly what print newspapers lack. The suffering that is rampant among old media in general is even greater in Hollywood news.

  • Although Hollywood fairs better than other industries in times of recession, everyone including tinsel town is operating with far more caution.

Increasingly print media is simply losing its relevance. People want what they want, when they want it. This does not bode well for print media, no matter the industry.

Kevin Price is a syndicated columnist whose articles frequently appear at ChicagoSunTimes.com, Reuters.com, USAToday.com, and other national media. Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review. Hear the show live and online at PriceofBusiness.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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