The Jamaica-based Gleaner Company Ltd the oldest operating newspaper in the Caribbean, held its Annual General Meeting last week and reported to shareholders and analysts what they called their worst financial results in the company’s 175 year history, posting “a dramatic loss of JMD$444.69mm for 2008, coming from a profit of JMD$98.2mm in 2007.” This information we secured from the Equity Research Company Update a report done by the stock brokerage form Stocks & Securities Ltd dated June 12, 2009 which had as its headline: The Gleaner Company Ltd (GLNR) Looks to Increase Market Share with Online Medium.
The Update which was a comprehensive report on the Gleaner’s AGM said that the meeting chaired by Chairman/Managing Director, Oliver Clarke, heard Rudolph Speid, the company’s Group Financial Controller, share some of the factors that led to a decline in revenues. He revealed that, “advertising which contributes 53% of total revenue, incurred a 7.3% decline due to shrinking advertising budgets.” Additionally, revenues from Books and Stationary fell by 16.9%, as a contract to provide textbooks to the Government Of Jamaica in 2007 was significantly reduced in 2008. However, Circulation, which comprises of about 20% of total Revenues increased by 13.8%. Speid noted that the rise in Circulation revenue was mainly driven by increased prices.” Consequently, the Gleaner, which is a publicly traded company, has vowed to focus its efforts online.
Mirroring the Global Trend
Further in the meeting, according to the Update, the Gleaner executives stated that the way their company’s business was trending, certainly reflects the global trend of dwindling demand for printed newspapers. In fact according to a TechCrunch.com story “Last year was the worst on record for the U.S. newspaper industry. Total advertising revenues (both print and online) declined 16.6 percent to $37.85 billion, according to the latest figures from the Newspaper Association of America. That is $7.5 billion less than in 2007. Print advertising alone declined 17.7. Classifieds were down 29.7 percent. And even online advertising was down 1.8 percent to $3.1 billion.”
However, The Gleaner said that it has made significant investments to enhance its online presence in an attempt to supplement.” Christopher Barnes, Deputy Managing Director, then detailed the Gleaner’s online development in the Jamaican market. According to Barnes,1.5mm people or 53% of the country’s population regularly use the Internet, with18% of the population reading The Gleaner online repeatedly. He added that he expects the Gleaner’s online usage rate to double by the end of 2009,as newsreaders are moving away from the paper edition. He said further that the largest consumers of The Gleaner Online are based in the US with 53% of its total readers, ahead of Jamaica with 22%. The Update also reported that the company is now more focused on disseminating the news to its readers as soon as they get it. Such efforts include, creating a website platform specific for Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and actively updating social network websites, such as Twitter. Barnes also stated that its Power106 radio online streaming has seen a significant increase in usage.
What has the Gleaner been doing online ?
With this information we went hunting to see just exactly what the Gleaner has been doing online.
We’ve noticed that in addition to their flagships online sites Jamaica-gleaner.com and go-jamaica.com, they have been decentralizing and re purposing the newspaper content to build out a network of niche content sites, sitting on their own unique domains.
Currently they have the following online properties in play:
-Jamaica-gleaner.com – the general news portal site
- Go-jamaica.com – serves up Jamaican news, sports, business, events as well as travel information, chat room, dating and personals and scholarships.
- Gleanerblogs.com – a recent addition offers a mixture of magazine type content as well as a fresh cadre of bloggers.
- Sportscaribe.com – a site that was built specifically to cover the Summer Olympics 2009.
- Gleanerclassifieds.com – a site to place and search classified ads.
- youthlinkjamaica.com- their weekly magazine site focused on Gen Y demographic.
- Jamaica-star.com – a site for their printed tabloid focused primarily on entertainment. -Hospitalityjamaica.com –a fortnightly publication focused on the business of Travel and Tourism.
-Go-localjamaica.com – brings parish and community level news online.
-Discoverjamaica.com – a source for Jamaica tourism and travel information.
-Sportsjamaica.com – an aggregation of sports news.
- Discovercaribe.com – a hotel-booking site.
The Gleaner’s Social Media Profile so far.
Since the report that the company would be actively updating on social networking sites, we wanted to see what their current social media profile looks like. Here’s what we found.
On Twitter @JamaicaGleaner has 54 followers, @GleanerOnline has 80 followers. GoJamaica.com has a Facebook group with 583 people. The company’s Youth Link Magazine brand has a Facebook profile with 4672 friends and a @youthlinkjam twitter following of 269 people and additional profiles on myspace and youtube. The Gleaner Company itself has a Facebook profile with 1,052 friends.
Business model online
So since print advertising has slowed, are they hoping to make more money online? I’m sure like most newspapers that are still alive and operating, The Gleaner is looking to see how they can expand their revenue generating options online and online advertising is still the chief income generator, with some experimenting with subscriptions for premium content.
Currently thought, The Gleaner earns money by selling spots on their site to local businesses (they recently launched a heavily discounted ad package which offered up to 40% discounts for ads across their online,print and radio media properties) in addition to running ads from networks such as Google and CaribClix on selected online properties.