Congratulations to Elan Lohmann of South Africa

Congratulations to Elan Lohmann, publisher of News24.com in South Africa, and Meredith Artley, Executive Editor of LATimes.com, who will co-chair Ifra’s 15th World Digital Publishing Conference, 8 – 9 November in Dublin. Annelies Van Den Belt and I co-chaired last year’s conference, which was held in Vienna. That’s where I met Elan and learned about the work he’s done advancing new-media in Africa..

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Bob Cauthorn, Vin Crosbie, Sal Kurdi-Serafi, Rob Curley, and Elan Lohmann at the Gastwirtschaft zu den 3 Hacken, Vienna, November 11, 2006. (photo by Colin Daniels)

We’re amid the ‘dog days’ of the Northern Hemisphere’s summer. Traffic to newspaper web sites has slowed.

And on the topic of declining use, but this time for print, a story in Folio, the trade journal of the American magazine industry, reports that more than 80 percent of people who visit the Web sites of major monthly U.S. magazines say they don’t subscribe or purchase the print edition, according to a survey by Nielsen//NetRatings. The survey, which looked at 23 high-circulation monthly magazines and the traffic to their Web sites, found also that male visitors (90 percent) were slightly more likely than women (83 percent) to read a magazine’s content only online. Among the individual titles studied, the amount of web-only users ranged between 65 and 83 percent. I know that the percentage of daily newspaper site users who don’t read printed editions is only about half those percentages.

Further on the topic of declining use: research by the media investment firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson, reported in Mediapost.com, indicates that American consumers last year used media less than in previous years. The firm says it’s the first first time in recent memory that the amount of time consumers spend with media has declined. The average American consumer spent 3,530 hours with media in 2006–down 0.5% from 2005. The drop follows a period of decelerating growth that the VSS report attributes to the increased efficiency of utilizing digital media.

I’m always amazed by the number of publishers and broadcasters—all busy shoveling their content online—who not only believe that consumers will spend as much time using new-media as they did old media but believe that consumers will also pay them as much for it. If new-media is more efficient than old media, consumers will logically spend less time and money using it.

The lead story in The New York Times‘ business section (free registration required) today is about the National Broadcasting Corporation’s attempt to use iVillage.com as a mass medium after NBC last year purchased the site for USD600 million. Among the missteps were efforts to increase traffic by ‘synergyzing’ it with a syndicated television program, iVillage Live, which instead resulted in reduced traffic and low TV ratings for the program. The story focuses on “the snags that can arise when trying to bolt a new media operation onto an old one.” I think the problem instead was simply what happens when a company mistakenly tries to use a new medium as a mass medium.

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