September 7, 2016 Last Updated 10:27 am

New name for the Newspaper Association of America as it drops ‘paper’, launches new ‘News Media Alliance’ website

Trade association representing US newspaper companies hopes new name reflects the future of the business, but will it move to represent the entire ‘news’ business, or only the declining side of news?

The return of ‘print’ meme took another hit today (actually a few days ago), when the Newspaper Association of America announced that it would drop ‘paper’ from its name and become the News Media Alliance (you can read their press release below).

The NAA, or rather the News Media Alliance, has also launched a new website here.

newsindia-logo-parrot-greenThe NAA is not the first publishing trade association to decide to change its name. In fact, it is a late comer to this phenomenon. The ABM, which used to represent B2B publishers, has undergone a few name changes and is now called Connectiv (you can stop giggling now).

The MPA, which represents the consumer side of the US magazine business is now called MPA – The Association of Magazine Media, which clearly must have been a compromise, and one that makes creating business cards and stationary a real pain.

You see the pattern here, right? With the traditional publishing business declining, and the media world become more digital, the trade associations that represent those businesses eventually decide they have to rename themselves, supposedly to better represent the current activities of their members.

For me, these changes reinforce the notion that these trade associations no longer really represent their industries so much as the membership that continues to belong to them. I suppose it has always been that way, but many of these associations were synonymous with their industries.

What rarely happens when an association changes its name is that the association itself actually changes. With the Newspaper Association of America now called the News Media Alliance will the association work to broaden their membership to digital-only news organizations? and if they do, will the newspaper chains think that is a good thing, or a betrayal of the association’s mission?

The press release below, like others seen following similar name changes, is a justification of the name change, claiming that the new name better reflects their membership.

“‘Newspaper’ is not a big enough word to describe the industry anymore,” David Chavern, new head of the association told The New York Times. “The future of this industry is much broader.”

Yes, we’ve heard that one before. But I disagree. Newspapers are still a unique and vital segment of publishing. A ‘newspaper’ website is something different than just another news website. Sadly, it is often a junk filled mess of a website, as seen in what Gannett and tronc produces, but often it is a far superior source of news content than most digital-only news websites.

I suppose it was inevitable that the Newspaper Association of America, with its CEO coming from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Export-Import Bank, would move in this direction. He has little invested in the newspaper business. And now, neither does the Newspaper Association of America, I suppose. And why not? Even The New York Times brought in a TV guy to run the place. That’s got to tell you something about what the industry thinks of itself.

But today’s newspaper executives have a misconception about their own industry. They seem to believe that newspapers were, just a few decades ago, a mass market medium. But now, thanks to the Internet, it has seen its audience decline and now it is too much of a niche product. Isn’t that the way newspaper people see things? Oh, woe is me, we keep losing print subscribers.

But newspapers, when I was selling both advertising and circulation, competed with radio, television, and marriage mail, all of which could claim to be more mass market than newspapers. Many of those in the competing industries used to complain that they had a larger audience, but newspapers had all the profits. The reason why had to do with the fact that newspapers used to know how to sell demographics. You want to sell cars? Then run a newspaper ad, because you will reach those in the market, with the financial means to buy a new car. Run a TV ad and you can see yourself on television, stroke your ego, but you won’t sell cars. You need that weekend full page ad to do that (or, at least, that is what we said).

Times have certainly changed, people shop using their cellphones, for instance. But I wouldn’t expect someone from the Chamber of Commerce to understand the reasons newspapers once dominated. But I wouldn’t expect Mark Thompson of the NYT or Michael Ferro of tronc to get it either – few executives who are running newspaper companies today have ever sold an ad to a local customer, what do they know about how newspapers made their money in the past?

Newspaper executives today want to be in a different business than newspaper publishing, they want to be in the paid content business. I think that is something the association understands, and why the name change will make sense to most of the membership.

Here is the Newspaper Association of America’s announcement of its renaming to News Media Alliance”

Arlington, VA – September 7, 2016 –– The Newspaper Association of America today announced it has changed its name to News Media Alliance and launched a new website, The announcement is the culmination of a larger strategic plan to highlight the news media industry’s evolution to multi- platform, digitally-savvy businesses and premium content providers.

The organization’s new focus better reflects the fully-integrated multi-platform media organizations that comprise its membership. The new website visually depicts this expansion of news media into digital and mobile formats, with a modern look and feel that incorporates imagery of what it means to be a news media organization today: communicating in real-time across multiple platforms. The site is also mobile-responsive to accommodate the increasing number of readers accessing the site on mobile devices.

News Media Alliance Vice President of Innovation Michael MaLoon says of the changes, “Our transformation efforts are designed to show the positive trajectory of the industry and to share the innovation and growth taking place, especially in the digital space. There are so many great things happening in our industry right now, and our job is to tell those stories.”

In addition, for the first time the organization is broadening its membership requirements to allow digital-first and digital-only news organizations publishing original content to become members. The association has a number of new tools and resources it will be making available to members in the coming months that reflect the digital focus of its membership, including:

  • ideaXchange, a new online community for News Media Alliance members launching this fall. Accessible through the new website, ideaXchange will provide a platform that will make sharing, brainstorming and learning from one another easier than ever.
  • metricsXchange, a new digital benchmarking tool exclusively for members. This dashboard will allow comparisons between markets and publications, providing new insights into the news media industry’s digital business efforts. The Alliance will also provide analyses and highlight newsworthy trends mined from the tool.
  • mediaXchange, the News Media Alliance’s major annual event, will take a reimagined approach. Taking place in New Orleans in 2017, the event will focus on the future of the news media industry. The Alliance will hold other events for members designed to share information and foster innovation.

As the industry has expanded to reach audiences on digital, social and mobile formats, the association’s approximately 2,000 news organization members have become increasingly optimistic about the future of the industry.

“The news media industry should be optimistic. All evidence shows that people of all ages want and consume more news than ever,” states News Media Alliance President and CEO David Chavern. “We need to focus on new ways to address the needs of audience and advertisers. Advertising on news media digital and print platforms continues to be one of the most effective ways for advertisers to reach important audiences. Publishers are working to adapt advertising across all platforms, make ads less intrusive and increase consumer engagement.”

The News Media Alliance will continually evolve to ensure resources are available to members that facilitate growth and revenue diversification. Chavern doesn’t see the challenges as insurmountable. “All industries periodically face disruptive market and technology changes, and like many others before us, I believe we will come out of it stronger.”

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