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Articles by Donald E. L. Johnson

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Today is Saturday, December 10, 2016


Some political bloggers are paid by parties, candidates

I am not paid by anybody to blog. And I don’t accept ads, although I’ve thought about it and discarded the idea because I’m too busy being retired to start another business. Been there and done that.

But the Daily Caller reports some well known blogs take money from candidates and parties. That’s ok if the money buys ads, not blog posts like this one. It’s not ok if a blogger is a consultant to someone the consultant works for. There are a lot of ethically challenge people in politics, business and life as well as among political and nonpolitical bloggers and posters on YouTube, FaceBook and Twitter, etc. 

Readers beware.

LINK: True story of bloggers who secretly feed on partisan cash. By Jonathan Strong.

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 08/24/10 at 09:35 PM
EthicsMarketing and SalesAdvertisingBloggingPermalink

Ali Hasan plans to run his radio commercial for at least a week

Ali Hasan, a Republican candidate for state treasurer, is running a strong radio commercial on KOA 850’s Mike Rosen show and on the local version of the Glen Beck Show for at least a week, he told me. Then, he’ll assess the results of the advertising and decide whether he will continue to air the commercial. If you can’t catch Hasan’s commercial on the radio, he is making it possible to hear it on his web site.

Speaking of web sites, I’m wondering why politicians don’t use their radio and TV commercials to invite viewers and listeners to go to their web sites for more information?

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 01/27/10 at 06:10 AM
ColoradoPoliticsMarketing and SalesAdvertisingPermalink

Political candidates need to rethink their radio advertising plans

Top-of-the-ticket political candidates may do more advertising on easy music radio stations than on talk radio stations now that they have more accurate audience data. Mike Rosen’s KOA 850, the powerful talk radio station is only 10th in the Front Range Market, and another talk station, Peter Boyles’ KHOW doesn’t make the top 10.

Whether political commercials would

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 01/12/10 at 07:24 PM
ColoradoPoliticsMarketing and SalesAdvertisingRead More

How could newspapers be more useful to small, local advertisers?

Several large newspapers are going too be closed if they can’t be sold, and potential buyers are trying to figure out how they might bet into the newspaper business cheap and change the business model in ways that preserve the papers’ editorial products while profitably competing with the online advertising services that are driving some papers out of business.

In addition to our Rocky Mountain News, the Miami

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 01/23/09 at 10:02 AM
MediaNewspapersMarketing and SalesAdvertisingRead More

E.W. Scripps (SSP) may outlast competition in Denver newspaper war

E.W. Scripps (SSP) may not have to close or sell its Rocky Mountain News in Denver because its joint operating agreement partner and competitor, MediaNews Group, is in a lot worse financial condition and may have to sell or close its Denver Post.

This assumes that


Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 01/22/09 at 03:28 PM
ColoradoEconomicsMediaNewspapersMarketing and SalesAdvertisingStocksColorado StocksRead More

What will replace metro daily newspapers, mass communications?

The more I think about the death of metro newspapers, the more I try to figure out what entrepreneurs will come up with to replace them.

We’re seeing more than the death of metro dailies. We’re seeing the end of so called “mass communications.”

While consumers are spending less time reading newspapers and the national networks’ nightly news programs, they’re spending more time searching for more news about the iPhone, Apple, Dell, specific hi-tech games and toys and their professions, employers and industries.

And the internet allows Yahoo, MSN, Google,, eBay,, and many other pay-per-click and auction sites to put readers in touch with advertisers who want to reach them.

So if you have a clean sheet of paper, $300 million in venture capital from investors who won’t put you deep in debt, what kind of business would you create to help advertisers reach their prospects and customers and consumers to find what they want to buy, keep informed about and discuss?

Would you follow CNN, which is considering taking on the Associated Press and Reuters, which are the primary national news providers?

Would you try to create a local news and advertising vehicle that focuses on community news and merchants rather than trying to cover a whole metro area?

Would you create an all news and commentary sight like a blog and count on readership that would make running Google’s Adsense profitable?

Or would you create an all advertising business that goes after local niches such as entertainment, foods, real estate, autos, sports and health care?

Maybe you’d try to do all of the above. If you could pull it off, you might have a local monopoly that would be close to legal. If you did parts of the service poorly, you could fail.

Who will be the first movers? Who will let others innovate and then come along with a better business plan? Who will be the Dairy Queen and who will be the McDonald’s, the Sears vs. the Walmart?

McDonald’s and Walmart are successful not because they invented fast food restaurants or retail discounting, but because they executed their plans so much better than their competitors.

In the communications world, the next big idea is still to emerge, much less a McDonald’s or a Walmart.

We still have the old fashioned, ancient, obsolete mass communications companies trying to re-invent themselves. We’ve yet to see a real innovator that will take us to the next generation beyond newspapers, network news, nightly news, weekly magazines, blogs and social networks.

I’m thinking the new communications entrepreneurs will begin to make their moves during the next 36 to 60 months. With the economy and credit markets in the dumps, the time is ripe.

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 12/29/08 at 10:08 PM
e-commerceEconomyMediaFinancial MediaNewspapersMarketing and SalesAdvertisingPermalink

No bailouts for Tribune, NYT, Miami Herald,  Enquirer, News, Rocky Mountain News

Many of the nation’s leading newspaper publishers are on the verge of bankruptcy and are making drastic moves to deal with the continuing credit crisis and the long-time shrinking of their classified advertising markets.

So far, unlike the financial, housing and auto industries, nobody is recommending government bailouts for major media companies.

The Tribune Co., publishers of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, today filed for bankruptcy. And, The International Herald Tribune adds, “The companies that own The Inquirer and The Daily News in Philadelphia and The Star Tribune in Minneapolis recently suspended debt payments but have not filed for bankruptcy.”

Reuters reports that the New York Times plans to borrow up to $225 million “against its mid-Manhattan headquarters building, to ease a potential cash flow squeeze as the company grapples with tighter credit and shrinking profits, the New York Times reported on its website Monday.”

Two major papers are on the block, the Rocky Mountain News, and the Miami Herald. Sacramento Business Journal reports, “Financially strapped McClatchy Co. is attempting to shed The Miami Herald, one of its largest and most-respected newspapers, according to news reports.”

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is also being mentioned as being in financial trouble. It recently asked its unions for $20 million in cuts to help it meet its long-term debt obligations.

Gannett (GCI), publisher of USAToday and some 85 papers in the U.S., is being watched for signs of more cost savings moves. It reportedly already is in the process of cutting 2,000 jobs.

Here are daily charts for newspaper publishers, including GCI, NYT, MNI, LEE, WPO, MEG,  SSP, TCMI, MDP and NWS. One-year views are here. Click on a chart for more views.

I don’t own any of these stocks.

For educational purposes only. Investigate before you speculate. I am not recommending any trades and take no responsibility for how others trade stocks, ETFs, commodities or anything else.


Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 12/08/08 at 08:24 AM
EconomyMediaFinancial MediaNewspapersMarketing and SalesAdvertisingStocksPermalink

Rocky Mountain News is for sale; how can newspapers make money?

Chicago’s American, The Chicago Daily News and The New York Herald Tribune all failed while I was a young reporter at The Wall Street Journal and Chicago Sun-Times.

Newspapers fail every year for various reasons.

Last week, the owners of our Rocky Mountain News announced that it is for sale.

This probably means that large display advertisers will quickly drop the Rocky and that it will close early next year. No buyers are in sight at the moment, but miracles do happen.

The Rocky’s innovative and unusually communicative editor and publisher, John Temple, laments here. Note the comments by readers who are mostly unsympathetic and unhappy with newspapers in general.

Today, newspapers, which historically have been among the most profitable businesses, are failing because their business models have been rendered ancient by the Internet.

The question that newspaper industry executives and consultants haven’t answered is, what will make papers viable?

That some very smart people haven’t come up with a real answer tells how difficult the question is. So the still surviving publishers are holding on for dear life, hoping that their slide in advertising market share will bottom out at a level that allows them to be at least modestly profitable and relevant.

I have a few thoughts. None, new, I assume.

Newspapers are tanking due to their loss of most of their classified advertising to eBay, and various jobs and auto sites on the Internet.

Classifieds historically have attracted almost as many readers as business news stories and the comics. Almost 39 years ago, a couple of bright young guys in Chicago started the Weekly Reader, which allowed anyone to publish classifieds FREE. They made a fortune, publishing one great feature a week along with a few fillers and hundreds of ads.

Even today, alternative weeklies are filled with ads and one or two interesting stories. I’m not sure they’re thriving. Indeed I think some are hurting.

But they present a business model that daily newspapers might adapt.

Print free classifieds for individuals. Charge affordable prices for commercial and job ads. Craigslist charges $15.

Since the Internet has a tough time beating local display ads published in newspapers, wrap the classifieds around the display ads. 

Cut editorial costs to the bone while increasing readership of the paper and its related web site.

Publish one or two major investigative and trend pieces a day. You might also publish comics and puzzles that aren’t easily accessible on the net. Publish briefs on national, local, sports and business news with refers to the paper’s web site. Make sure all stories include tons of links to source materials and related stories. Keep it simple.

Invite all governmental agencies to submit their news releases and related propaganda. Group by town, county and school district. Publish the lede graphs in the paper. Publish the whole thing on the paper’s website. Open every item to comment by readers. They would provide the content that people would want to read.

Support this venture by selling affordable advertising to local merchants. Some would buy links to their web sites. Others would buy banner ads and text ads and others would buy display ads in the paper.

Automate ad sales, letting customers buy the ads on the web site. Advertisers would be responsible for writing, editing and submitting ads ready for publication on the web and/or in the paper. Payment would be by credit card, improving cash flow and collections as well as profitability.

Buy the software and systems needed to make the business work. Self-development is a huge waste of money. Not invented here is stupid.

To survive, newspapers have to make money on display ads and circulation. This means they have to cut editorial and advertising sales and admin costs while producing products that serve some need that can’t and won’t be served by the Internet. While millions of us read most of our news online, we still like to read newspapers and subscribe to them. That fewer people read newspapers means that they have to be made attractive to those who do read them and to advertisers who want to reach newspaper readers.

Solving this puzzle won’t be easy. I don’t know of a major paper that has adjusted to the new market.

The smartest or luckiest publishers are those that serve small communities, cover local news well and attract local advertisers. But even Gannett which owns some 85 papers, mostly in small towns, is hurting. So who knows.

Just some thoughts by a frustrated journalist, newspaper junky and entrepreneur.

Comment here.


Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 12/06/08 at 11:48 AM
EconomyEthicsTrustMediaFinancial MediaNewspapersMarketing and SalesAdvertisingPermalink

Google’s Adsense is a waste of time for serious bloggers

Google’s Adsense is a waste of time for major bloggers who don’t think Google is giving them the revenues they should be getting.

The Big Picture’s blogger, Barry Ritholtz, is pretty open about his frustration.

And he confirms my concerns, which have kept me from putting Adsense on this site. At the moment, it costs me only $240 a year for hosting this site, but since I’m not a techie, I have to hire a consultant to do some of the coding and site maintenance. So far, I get paid by my own investing activities, which are enhanced by the thinking and research I do as I write my blog posts. But a little revenue would be welcome if it didn’t require too much time, which I prefer to spend on blogging as opposed to selling ads and administration. I assume a lot of bloggers feel the same way.

If anybody has some advice, please e-mail me at thebusinessword (youknowthesymbol)


Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 10/28/08 at 09:21 AM
Marketing and SalesAdvertisingBloggingPermalink

Google (GOOG) disappoints speculators; ad revenues hold up; cash managment is the problem

At least Google (GOOG) isn’t blaming its disappointing earnings report on global warming, the weather or even oil prices.

Instead, Google says in this report by Reuters that it didn’t earn as much interest income as expected because it spent some $3.5 billion on an acquisition, and hedging currencies cost more than expected.

Thus, the 8% drop in GOOG’s stock price in extended hours trading after the company announced its results was all a big mistake, according to at least one analyst.

If so, GOOG may go up Friday instead of sinking on the news that its earnings only rose 35% from a year ago.

But its charts, which are shown here, are all bearish, and maybe the stock will reach its bearish price objective of $465 after all. The stock closed Friday at $533.44. In after hours trading, it fell to $492, well below its all time high of $741.79 per share. Prior to the earnings announcement, said GOOG’s fair value is an estimated $625 and gave the stock three of a possible five stars.

What matters for GOOG is what happens to consumer spending. If consumers reduce their spending, advertisers will cut back on their ad spending on Google and in the print and broadcast media. But a drop in oil prices could cut gas prices and give consumers more confidence about the economy. This would help Google.

So speculators should keep close eyes on department store sales, new car sales and what they and their neighbors are buying or not buying.

Analysts don’t think Google’s prospects will be well known for several months. The economic outlook is pretty uncertain.

I don’t own GOOG but my investment club does.

For educational purposes only. Investigate before you speculate.


Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 07/17/08 at 08:34 PM
e-commerceEconomyMarketing and SalesAdvertisingStocksPermalink

Can Microsoft overtake Yahoo, Google?

Microsoft (MSFT) has a chance to parlay its strengths in technology and display advertising and growing skepticism about the effectiveness of pay-per-click search advertising into long-term wins against Yahoo (YHOO) and Google (GOOG), according to the cover story in the May 19, 2008, are here. Of the three stocks, only GOOG has a bullish point and figure chart price objective. Reuters offers data on all three companies here.

Based on the BusinessWeek story and my experiences as a web surfer and pay-per-click advertiser, this is how I see the relative strengths of the three companies:

1. Resources for the technological and marketing wars: Microsoft is stronger than Google, but not much, and both are a lot stronger than Yahoo.
2.  Technology that will make search and advertising work for advertisers: Microsoft beats Google beats Yahoo.
3. Pay-per-click search advertising: Google has a 75% market share and Yahoo is way ahead of Microsoft.
4. Display advertising technology and market share: Yahoo is a bit ahead of Microsoft, and both are way ahead of Google.
5. Traffic on web sites: With 500 million unique visitors a month, Yahoo is ahead of Google, which beats Microsoft.
6. Content: Yahoo beats Google beats Microsoft.

Microsoft is making a major pitch that pay-per-click advertising is way over rated, and as a former advertiser, I’d have to agree. Pay-per-click fraud is still a big problem on Google and Yahoo, I think. But will display advertising be better? I notice the ads and only click on them accidentally.

For small business advertisers, Google is still the best deal. And it’s the only place Mac owners can use their favorite computers instead of their WinTel backups.

Full disclosure: I do not have positions in any of the stocks mentioned here.

For educational purposes only. Investigate before you speculate.

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 05/11/08 at 11:58 AM
e-commerceMarketing and SalesAdvertisingSmall BusinessTechnologyPermalink

How can banks and small businesses capitalize on social networking, personal CPM?

J. P. Hannan, a media guru, offers some intriguing ideas about social networking, personal CPM and online advertising over at Seeking Alpha.


Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 03/24/08 at 09:23 AM
Marketing and SalesAdvertisingBloggingPermalink

Capital One’s attracts me with an ad in the Rocky

Capital One Services Inc. (COF) has launced, “the new business marketplace designed to bring Denver business owners and customers together.”

The ad promoting the new site that


Why regional newspapers are cutting business coverage; how to fix it

Newspapers’ business sections typically have been edited and written by journalists who love the big national stories and are too lazy to dig out the local stories. That newspapers are cutting business coverage is discussed by Ken Doctor over at Content Bridges. Hat tip to

Most business journalists are liberals, and they go for the negative, scandal story over the positive profile of a local employer or industry sector such as printers, agribusiness firms, bankers, Realtors, etc. Even worse, local business sections pander to advertisters such as retailers, auto dealers, Realtors, home builders and supermarkets. Coverage of those advertisers is 95% puff and 5% news. This saps their credibility as business news sources.

Creating a successful business section is not that hard. Just cover the local markets and employers. Report on contracts municipalities have up for bid. Report the winners and losers in local and state government contracting. Report on both publicly-owned and privately-held local employers, investor-owned, not-for-profits and nonprofits. Cover local charities as businesses and employers as well as do gooders. Make local CEOs of all types of organizations high-profile personalities, reporting on their failures as well as their successes. Cover the rumors. Rumors sell papers. Readers sell advertising. Increased advertising would pay for the labor-intensive coverage.

The problem with most newspapers is that they’re run by sales people (publishers) who hire lousy editors and skimp on the editorial product.

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 03/11/08 at 11:03 AM
MediaFinancial MediaNewspapersMarketing and SalesAdvertisingPermalink

How long will banks advertise in newspapers; how can newspapers save their franchises?

Jack Shafer writes in Slate that newspaper executives knew they were in trouble 30 years ago, and they still haven’t figured out how to attract new readers and retain the some 70 million they have.

Banks continue to advertise in newspapers, but they’re also expanding on to the internet, especially the national banks. You see community newspapers filled with ads from local merchants, but how long will they continue to advertise in metropolitan papers that represent so many wasted ad dollars?

Be sure to read the articles that Shafer links to. They’re actually as interesting, if not more interesting than his piece.

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 12/02/06 at 09:17 PM
BanksMediaNewspapersMarketing and SalesAdvertisingPermalink
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