Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Maybe Rupert is right, but....

Rupert Murdoch has just declared that newspapers are alive and well, and rumors of their death have been greatly exaggerated. That, according to an Associated Press article that describes Murdoch as a "global media magnate."

Presumably, Murdoch has interests in other media outlets besides newspapers, so he can afford to be objective. The Associated Press, too, sells its stories to media outlets beyond newspapers, so perhaps Rupert is right. Perhaps book publicists and others who are conducting book promotion campaigns can pitch away to newspapers, as always, and pretend that these are the good old days when newspapers mattered, and when the Christian Science Monitor didn't even have its own Web site, and when the Los Angeles Times and other major dailies hadn't even thought about cutting down on the number of book reviews they published.

Hey, this book publicist had some good newspaper-related luck recently. For one pitch, last week, I was able to report back to a client that the New York Times, the New York Daily News, the New York Metro, and the Chicago Tribune were going to cover the story. (Actually, it wasn't only a question of reporting that the newspapers were covering the story. Three of those four publications requested an interview with the author.) I'm a believer. Newspapers are alive and well, and they're relevant. So...I agree with Rupert, and I'm delighted to see that the Associated Press is spreading the word that, for the foreseeable future, traditional newspapers matter and can still do a book promotion campaign a world of good.

In fact, newspaper publicity can even give book promotion campaigns a greater boost than before. Now that just about every newspaper has an online presence, most newspaper stories (and, by extension, the experts featured in those stories) receive online visibility. So a news story automatically becomes part of an online book promotion campaign. No author would turn down the opportunity to appear in the New York Times -- particularly, when the New York Times will get you some attention on its site as well as in print and bring extra readers to you (and, hopefully, to your book).

The one hitch in my faith in Rupert Murdoch's optimism (and the Associated Press's gleeful reporting of the same) is an email that I received this morning from the Chicago Tribune. "Want more jumble?" the ad's caption wants to know. Apparently, Chicago Tribune's readers (I assume that I'm considered a Trib "reader" because I regularly pitch stories to them) can receive 10 percent off the retail value of various puzzle-related products (a couple of board games and a calendar, if I'm reading the ad correctly).

Okay, then. The Chicago Tribune is selling some stuff this holiday season to raise some cash. I find that a little bit scary. But, as I said, okay. Just because the Chicago Tribune is offering 10 percent off their toys doesn't necessarily mean the publication is facing rough economic times. It could mean...well, it could also mean that the editors of the Trib...um...like the Jumble and wanted to share it with their readers. Yeah. That must be it.

Oh, well. I'm still delighted that my client is getting a pop in the Chicago Tribune for her book, and I'm thrilled that the owner of many newspapers around the world have validated newspapers as worthy media outlets -- at least, in the short term.

But...today, the Chicago Tribune is selling board games. Tomorrow? Well, let me just say this. If, tomorrow, I should happen to find an unsolicited email from the New York Times, I will be truly cautious about clicking on it. Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.