The keynote interview of Steven Swartz, president of Hearst Newspapers, was one of the highlights of our Fourth Annual Hispanic Digital and Print Media Conference on September 30 in New York City’s Scholastic Auditorium, Greenhouse and Rooftop Terrace. Below are some notes of what one of the major players in the U.S. digital and print media markets has to say:
- Newspapers in some Markets are Growing Again. According to Swartz, year on year growth comparisons in several markets where Hearst Newspapers has media properties are positive. Due to the gloomy environment for newspapers, during the last three years, even a lower rate of sales decline was interpreted as positive by some analysts; so positive growth rates are definitely a good sign. Swartz noted that some categories with a positive evolution include classified (employment), and retail. Among the weaker categories Swartz cited financial (particularly banks) and automotive.
- Evolving into a One Stop Shop for Advertisers. Swartz, one of the main architects of the Yahoo Newspaper Consortium, described the partnership between Hearst Newspapers, and other newspaper groups, and Yahoo! Through the Consortium Hearst Newspapers offers it deep connections in local markets to sell Yahoo digital advertising products. Swartz emphasized that Hearst Newspapers has evolved into a one stop shop for media solutions. In fact, the company calls itself Hearst Media Services. Hearst sales teams, who have strong local connections with advertisers, sell into Yahoo!, Zillow (an online real estate classified ad site) and the properties that Hearst fully owns and operates (e.g. Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express News). Asked whether the one stop shop approach, which includes selling third party products, can hurt the branding of the properties owned by Hearst Newspapers, Swartz explained “that it is a reality of the marketplace that advertisers needs can not be satisfied with just one or two media properties”.
- General market "core" products reach Hispanics comprehensively. Hispanic specific products complement them. In heavily Hispanic markets like Houston and San Antonio, the main print products and their digital presence (San Antonio Express News and The Houston Chronicle already reach at least 45% of Hispanics. In fact, online 78% of Houston Hispanics that access the Internet click on Chron.com or Yahoo! every month. Swartz noted that in Texas, where Hispanics are a very important part of the population, the content of the general market product is very much geared to Hispanics. Hispanic specific products (e.g. La Voz in Houston and Conexion in San Antonio) complement the main product. For example, The Houston Chronicle’s La Voz is distributed 80% through racks in areas that are heavily populated by Hispanics in Houston (the remaining 20% is home delivered on Sunday to Chronicle subscribers that are Hispanics).
- Free vs. Paid: Regarding the free vs. paid online content debate, Swartz noted that Hearst Newspapers has been increasing its household penetration via free websites. He did not rule out having paid websites for very specific niche content (Hyper local maybe with very specific local contents, events and databases).
- The evolving role of the journalist. Swartz, an ex-journalist who was the founding editor of Smart Money and a The Wall Street Journal reporter in the eighties, noted that the role of the journalist has changed considerably. “The opportunities technology offers to journalist are almost endless”.
Steven Swartz, president of Hearst Newspapers, interviewed by Marcos Baer, publisher of Portada.
Watch the interview here: