Thursday, October 29, 2009

Is On7, offbase, offputting, and offtopic?

I won't rehash all of the great stuff that PolicyFrog says about the Winnipeg Free Press' new Sunday tabloid, On7.

That is, other than to say that "On7" sounds like some old guy's idea of a hip, Internet-sounding name to lure the 18 to 35 demographic to a tabloid on the Lord's Day.

As a college instructor, I can tell you that the Free Press has its finger on the pulse of this demographic, which is just itching for more news in paper format, not to mention the ability to finally have day-old sports scores at its fingertips.

"Screw these iPhone apps," they say in unison, "we want more paper, and we want it yesterday!"

Equally useful is that On7 will only be available at convenience stores and bright, orange vending boxes, the better to get us to look up from our car seats where we're already busy driving, listening to music, talking on the phone, texting, eating lunch, and crashing into other cars.

The main push behind this as opposed to, say, producing "nothing" on Sundays is that the Free Press clearly doesn't want to give the Winnipeg Sun an even bigger boost on a day when it's already the dominant paper.

But, as I said in my comment on PolicyFrog's blog - hey, fun to say "PolicyFrog's blog!" - the argument for and against the Free Press competing with the Sun is pretty academic, considering that there’s now even an app for lining your bird cage and wrapping fish.

That said, here's the new On7 media kit/rate card the Free Press is hoping to use to lure new advertisers "seeking a younger target market."

On7 Media Kit1

What do you think, younger target market? Are you going to buy this thing or what?


  1. Absolutely not! I think you're right about them not wanting to give up in Sundays entirely, but this kind of thing weakens the Freep brand. If you're going to re-vamp your paper, do the whole thing! Don't just create a token publication aimed at a younger audience.
    The Free Press is so out of touch with the 18-34 demographic that they actually think putting something like this out on a Sunday is going to get them reading it. Friday would be a better day, to set people up for what's going on on the weekend.

    I also agree about the Iphone app - this is as much a no-brainer for a media outlet as a Twitter account and Facebook page. The only difference is that those two things are free, the Iphone app would probably cost a pretty penny to develop. It looks like they are not willing to invest any money in the future of their publication.

  2. unless it continues to come to my door (which i can't remember if it does or not) with my subscription i would never pick this thing up. Com'on newspapers, this is why your posting declining subscription rates, lack of imagination and innovation. I like a good read in actual paper, but as far as skimming headlines goes i'll keep it on my phone.

  3. It does not come to your door. In fact, your subscription rates are going to stay the same, even though you're getting one less newspaper every week. It's available at stores and newspaper boxes only.

    I give this thing six months, tops before they give up and surrender Sundays to the Sun.

  4. Not a chance. If it doesn't come to my door, I'm not going to go out of my way to read it. I have a lot of the Free Press people on my Twitter, so I get links to news stories that interest me. I'll just rely on those and the website on Sunday.

  5. The idea that people are paying for seven days and getting six is pretty bad in and of itself.

    Dan, your comment about investing in the future of the paper is a great one.

    The Free Press can't keep looking back - it's time for it to take a financial risk to be positioned to do well now and in the future, when its aged readers are gone, and its young ones don't see the point.

  6. The only print version of the Free Press that I read anymore is The Tab, because it's the fastest and easiest place to see what's going on in Winnipeg on the weekend.

    What's in On7 that I can't just read online?

  7. LoL subscription rates are staying the same because the bulk of the former Sunday paper is going into the Saturday, and from the rumbles I have heard, will weigh around 5 pounds haha. The rates are staying the same because subscribers are in effect paying for the content of two papers rolled in one, which will be more expensive to produce.

    In terms of the Internet vs. paper:

    the Internet is best-served for breaking news, in my opinion. Yes, the paper may have "yesterday's" news, but if you think about it, or even compare, the paper always has far more developed and in-depth coverage that reporters can work on throughout the day that a story breaks. Heavy in-depth coverage, like the Freep's NDP convention work, translates better on page than on the screen. At least for now.

    And, at least the Free Press has enough confidence and belief in its brand that they are willing to try something different before giving up entirely. When was the last time you saw a newspaper try something like this before throwing in the towel? I think that speaks volumes about their brand, rather than weakens it, as you say.

    On7 may work, it may not - time will obviously tell. But if, by chance, it does, what will you all say then?

  8. Well furthermore the what Dan said about investing in the future, what really makes me scratch my head is all the cash they seem to be spending on advertising this new "product".

    In the past few weeks, I've plenty of outdoor treatments, cinema, TV and on-ward.

    I know one of the big complaints is the deterioration of good hard news coverage in the Free Press. I'm sure money spent on promoting the paper could be used to hire a new reporter. Or conversely, in this value driven town, lowered the price of the subscription and used said funds to sustain the loss in revenue, which to me would be short term compared to the lost of revenue when subscriptions fall of the map afterward.

  9. Great discussion!

    Of course, anonymous, On7 could work. But we can agree that it's not a very progressive approach toward saving a newspaper, when we can see what's happened and happening in the U.S.

    The latest report is that in the last six months, newspaper sales are down over three million copies per day.


    If the CBC and Globe can produce pretty great mobile phone apps (which can be supported by ads) why not the Free Press?

    And I know tons of young people who would pay to download Winnipeg's first local-news app.

    We can also agree that great, long-form journalism is worth saving for a great many reasons.

    But long-form journalism can thrive online; remember the old-school thinking that "people can't read for very long online?"

    Well, now they're reading books on the Internet, on mobile phones, and on Kindle, which means that long-form journalism is in no danger of dying with the paper.

    Journalism itself is changing into something that resembles a hybrid of commentary, reporting, and personal journaling - and amateurs are often producing far livelier reads than the professionals.

    For instance, I'd much rather read my students' blogs than the reporters' blogs at the Winnipeg Free Press.

    It just strikes me as counterproductive for the Free Press to invest in more paper to reach a young target audience when our young target audience wants that crazy digital copy of USA Today in Minority Report and - surprise - can get something even better online and on their mobile phones.

  10. Hear hear, Kenton! I don't know anyone under 30 who reads a newspaper anymore, other than 1st year Cre Comm students!

    Anonymous, if On7 is a success, I will buy all of you a coke.

  11. Also, why is it that all of the advertising seems to be centered around sports? I have the option of watching video highlights before I go to bed at night, or trekking outside to pay for a glorified box score?

    I screen captured this on, which I find ironic, considering video is vastly superior in catching up on the score.


  12. 'On7' is what you get as a solution from a newsroom/ad department filled with people 50+ who just won't admit they're dinosaurs who just don't get it.

    On7 is artless marketing, pointless and worst of all, ugly as sin to look at. I'd rather read Uptown, and I never read that crap either.

    And as for the Sunday content being pushed to the Sat. edition, all I can say is
    We'll see. Just because it's bumped forward a day doesn't make it worthwhile reading.

    Yawn. The WFP Needs a total overhaul. Or some reasonable competition. What's with the city section? It's usually just a page or two? All the city news is up front.

    ***"The Free Press can't keep looking back - it's time for it to take a financial risk to be positioned to do well now and in the future, when its aged readers are gone, and its young ones don't see the point."***

    The financial risk they should have taken is offering the dinosaurs more generous buyouts/severance packages prior to firing a bunch of their younger staff in the name of protecting 'the future' of the newspaper. It just didn't make sense.

    The good times of the 80s and 90s are a thing of the past, and five years from now, with no new blood, who's gonna care? or subscribe? No eyeballs? No ad dollars.

    I'm 28 and don't look to Gordo or Spiers or Reynolds to tell me something interesting/thoughtful about my world. I could care less what Gerry Flood or Tom 'Old'son or Hirst regurgitate as opinon.

    With the minority exception of reporters like Kives and Welch - and sometimes Lett - The paper has nothing to say to me.

    Good luck with that Tab, FP. Can't wait to read it for free online.

  13. Good luck reading On7 online. It won't be on the web.

  14. but what about the paper carriers that are going to have lug around this 12 pound saturday paper? Can you imagine how big this thing is gonna be in December with all the christmas flyers? It's going to be like a foot thick

  15. You don't have to be thick to read it but it helps. Haw, haw...

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  17. They should have made it free like the Metro ( and put it out on Friday and placed it where the demographic is (universities, high schools, malls, etc). Most 'kids' in Winnipeg don't pay for news- they should, but they don't. 

    Also, On7 is a weird name- so is the name for the Free Press’s new weekend section FYI (Feed Your Intellect). Why would you use a clich├ęd term to describe a section that's supposed to be smart and insightful? They should have just called it "The Winnipeg Free Press's Super Intellectual Weekend Extravaganza!"


Side note: for people who think they should be getting a price-break because there's no Sunday paper anymore, just imagine how much your subscription would be if the real price of getting the paper to your door was used instead of the advert-subsidized price you're getting now.

  18. Wow, is this ever a popular topic! It's enough to even get me to break my self-imposed "wait til I have something good to talk about" blog embargo:

  19. @ John White: Ba-boom! You got him!! ps - look up "pyrrhic"


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