Articles and papers


Jim has written a monthly magazine column on the issues facing the news media industry for nearly 20 years. Today it is syndicated to industry journals in the USA, Germany, Asia, UK, Australasia, South Africa, Brazil and Japan. Below is a listing of his most recent articles. In addition he has written over thirty strategic reports and analyses on the newspaper industry for organisations such as The World Association of Newspapers, The Newspaper Association of America, The International News Media Association, the UK’s Society of Editors, Newspaper Society, and Newspaper Publishers Associations, and the US Inland Press Association.

A strategic review of the Global Newspaper Industry

Across Europe the long term declines in print readership are being more than compensated by the growth in digital audiences.

INMA, Berlin, November, 2015

The data is grim

The total circulation of British newspapers has fallen by 36% since 2009, and their share of the national advertising market has dropped even more sharply, from 25% in 2009 to less than 10% last year, according to Jim Chisholm..

The Economist 20 February, 2016

Up against the paywall

Many publishers still see little alternative to continual cutbacks. Is it boom or doom in the news business?

The Economist 22 November, 2015

“Johnston Press’s recent woes highlight local media pressures”
Publishers are having mixed success as they target digital revenues to offset print decline – with mobile a key battleground.

Last summer, as the Scots voraciously consumed the twists and turns of the independence debate across TV, the web, and even some more nationalist newspapers, the once-mighty Scotsman was seeing its paid sales falling below 27,000. During the biggest political event in Scotland for decades, it managed to slow its sales decline for one month only from around 10% to 7%…..

The Guardian 19 July, 2015


John McGurk in his article All Nationalists Now? … But We Prefer Right-Wing English Newspapers asks why we proud Scots seem so willing to turn to the Sassenach press for our daily fix.

Less than half of print readership (1) is derived from titles solely published in Scotland, the remainder being that of Scottish editions of London papers.

ScotBuzz 11 March, 2015


Is your company a pioneer, revolutionary, evolutionary, or in denial?

“There are no case studies about the future.”

I don’t know how often I have said this in reply to the question: “Jim, can you present a few case studies on what my company should be doing?”

It is many years since I lost the inclination to deliver an answer to the wrong question. So when Australia’s Newspaper Works asked me to write “a piece on what some publishers are doing to increase revenue or create new revenue streams,” much as I love them to bits, I simply ignored them.

INMA 25 August 2014

A new future?

Time and again these days, I look at yet another set of publisher’s data and see tangible signs of what I call the “point of inflection;” the moment in time when declines in print — revenue and profitability — are being exceeded by the growth of those in digital

News and Tech, February 2014

2014: Year of transition

In the year 2014, we will see the pace of change accelerate exponentially in this industry. In terms of products, the rate of mobile-device consumption signals what will be the most rapid transition in the history of media. It’s not simply that the ownership of mobile devices has grown fivefold in the last 10 years, but rather the sheer range of capabilities, applications and patterns of consumption and communication.

News and Tech, January 2014

Is the reader a customer, or vice versa?

I was reading about Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ address to the staff at The Washington Post after he acquired the newspaper. “If you replace ‘customer’ with ‘reader,’ that approach, that point of view, can be successful at The Post too.”

News and Tech, November 2013


Weekly newspapers from an interntational pespective

The so-called ‘weekly’ newspapers are a vital element of the newspaper industry. I say ‘so-called’ because definitions are difficult.

Who should own the News?

Jeff Bezos’ acquisition of The Washington Post raised one of the biggest questions surrounding our industry. Who should own the news? Around the world, there are as many business models as there are markets.

News and Tech. 2 October, 2013

Can engagement research solve the news media industry’s revenue conundrum?
Our lack of audience engagement is the cause of our woes. The good news is that the application of best practice — and a better understanding of the how, why, and what of our audience (mis)behaviour — could and will raise our industry’s fortunes in the future.
INMA. September, 2013

Why the future isn’t what it used to be
Some 20 years ago, I wrote about what was then an emerging trend: Publishers, for the first time, letting staff go in order to cut costs. Much of the downsizing seemed logical to me, reflecting changes in technology that led to increased efficiency and effectiveness. Since then, we have seen the balance of achieving greater performance transformed into often-desperate measures in a quest for survival.
News and Tech. July 07, 2013

Leveson Inquiry threatens press freedom we take for granted
I GOT a call from a friend, Gebran, in June 2004. His request was for me to go over to his company in Lebanon to advise them on a critical strategic issue.
Mar 20, 2013

Solving the news consumption gap
A number of contradictory vectors are now affecting the future of news delivery.
November 20, 2012

Take a tablet and call me in the morning
Thinking about improving the health of your readership? Take a tablet.
Meet Roger Fidler. A lovely man with a mind like a laser. His page on the venerable Reynolds Journalism Institute website, where he works, says his career began in 1962, which strikes me as impossible since I think of him as a contemporary. But then he has always been a man ahead of his time. Perhaps the man.
News and Tech, October 17, 2012

Editors’ roles under pressure as demands for truth grow
It was 1978, and as a 22-year old research manager I was dispatched to meet Eric MacKay, the formidable editor of The Scotsman, for the first time. Having squirmed in my seat as I explained what I vaguely understood about the latest readership figures, and detecting a friendly response, I asked the great man: “What is it like to run Scotland’s national newspaper?”
News and Tech August 30, 2012

Overcoming industry’s biggest conundrum
It is funny what catches the imagination. As someone who has been advising news organizations for nearly 20 years — presenting my arguments around the world and writing for people like you — I never cease to be amazed by the topics people respond to and those they ignore.
May 10, 2012

What publishers really need to do
It is funny what catches the imagination. As someone who has been advising news organizations for nearly 20 years — presenting my arguments around the world and writing for people like you — I never cease to be amazed by the topics people respond to and those they ignore.
April 30, 2012

Facebook no savior
The death of the lifecycle.
Have you noticed how as you get older, time passes faster. If I were smarter, I would draw on some relativistic analogy, but since I just had to look up relativistic in my university physics book, I’ll just put it down to old age.
February 27, 2012

You remember humans, right?

I’ve seen it all now. Having had the privilege to see many incredible things, good and bad, in hundreds of international trips to more than 40 countries, I think I have just witnessed the dumbest thing on earth.
News and Tech, January 2012

Print’s role in the multimedia context

For the foreseeable future, print will bring in most revenue at newsmedia companies. Yet digital is the way of the future. So what is print’s role — from a revenue and advertiser perspective — in this multimedia age?

INMA Ideas 12 Mar, 2012

The death of the lifecycle

Have you noticed how as you get older, time passes faster. If I were smarter, I would draw on some relativistic analogy, but since I just had to look up relativistic in my university physics book, I’ll just put it down to old age.

News and Tech, 20 Feb 2012

2012 Another year of strife

Publishers have been the architects of their own decline and that innovation could see the journalism industry bounce back. Newspapers continue to be very profitable. The owners’ problem is debt. They continued to acquire more decline, rather than invest in innovation, which is the driver of value, long term
A survey I recently undertook for the Society of Editors found that since 2007 creative newsroom staff numbers have sadly declined by 19 per cent.
Press Gazette 23 December 2011
Full INMA article December 2011

Back to basics

An old friend of mine, Barry Henderson, is a veteran in advertising sales. Of course, like me, he will run from the word veteran, mythically thinking as I do that we are still mid-twenties, Adonis, at our physical peak. But in truth, between us we’ve been in this business nearly seventy years.
In-publishing 7 November, 2011.

Is weekly weak?
Is going from daily to weekly a sign of weakness? Is it giving in to the inevitable? Or is it a positive reaction to market dynamics?
InPublishing. 16 September 2011.

It’s that time of year….
The accountants are lurking, asking for initial thoughts regarding 2012. From my experience there are two approaches to business planning.
News and Tech. August 17, 2011.

Watching pennies even as industry strength ebbs
OK, so we newspaper people are big and strong and powerful. But who represents us among the bigger, stronger and more powerful? I would say it is our national, and increasingly international, associations – be they trade associations of companies, associations of specific groups such as editors, marketing groups, or journalists’ unions.

News and Tech, 3 May, 2011

A cure for what ails newspapers
THE LONG-TERM HEALTH OF NEWS COMPANIES depends on audience loyalty, non-advertising marketing solutions,and the changing dynamics of where media revenues lie. This likely means non-daily publishing, new revenue streams,and paid content
INMA Ideas Magazine April 2011

Understanding readers in a digital world

Anyone got an odd $150,000 lying around? I could use that money to resolve one of the industry’s most compelling challenges: how to get online readers to hang around.

News and Tech 29 March, 2011

Murdoch’s Daily

So what’s with The Daily, News Corp’s new “iPad only” service. As with every news industry innovation, it has been met with short-term derision, and criticism, but writes Jim Chisholm, this is really very interesting.
Inpublishing 11 February, 2011

Why are newspapers disappearing?
We’re all fretting about declining circulations; blaming the Internet, the weather (that old circulation excuse), and well, anything else we can think of. But here’s a thought: Maybe we’ve simply ceased to exist in the mind of our customers – our readers and advertisers.
Newspapers and technology, 30 January, 2011

The relationship between the Internet and UK circulations

This report concludes that in the UK at least, there is no correlation between the success of a newspaper’s website and its decline in circulation. This is true at both a micro-level in terms of UK newspaper titles and groups, and a macro level comparing national Internet adoption with circulation performance. Indeed the opposite case could be argued, that newspapers that do well on the web also do better in print. This confirms previous analysis by this author.

The need for a knowledge hub
As publishers, we are meant to be leaders in the provision of information. So are there any lessons we can learn from our external information gathering and dissemination to our internal practices?
Looking back over 30 plus years in our industry, one of the best moves I ever made was merging the research facility in the commercial departments with the library service in the newsroom. At the time it was seen as controversial. Today it is essential.
Inpublishing 24 September, 2010

The future of journalism

There is room for optimism in the newspaper industry, but how can journalism flourish in a market where nobody wants to pay for news?
British Journalism Review November 2010

The Female Factor
One subject has caused a bit of a stir in the Chisholm kitchen. A recent study highlights that women are far greater users of social networks than men, and hurtling toward being more enthusiastic users of the web in general.
Panpa newsletter

Searching for the least bad marketing tool.
It’s Google month. This time last year, I wrote that Google was moving into the local search arena with Android and other local mobile tools. This year, much to the anger of Apple’s Steve Jobs, Google upped the ante, launching its mobile phone. Among other considerations, the device furthers Google’s entry into locational marketing. So things are definitely heating up.

Search is clearly becoming an ever more important attraction in the drive for the attention of the local consumer, but I’ll let you in on a secret: It ain’t everything it’s meant to be.

News and Tech, June 1, 2010

Is working together working
So once again the world’s newspaper industry is about to gather – this time in the beautiful city of Beirut. It will be the first Congress since WAN and Ifra merged, bringing together the leading global industry organizations. The merger was much needed and a long time coming.
News and Tech. april 29, 2010

New product development: What’s the problem?
Newspapers are increasingly looking at diversification. Good. But the important question is why has it taken 100 years to get there? I’m not offering a lecture in “I told-you-so!” But for the record, I’ve been arguing this point for 20 years.
Now that structural change has affected the newspaper industry as much as the Great Recession, it is well past the time to find a new business model.
News and Tech. March 29, 2010
Will 2010 be new year of the deal for newspapers?
Certainly, it’s that time in the cycle, when the accountants get their slide rules out and covet thy neighbors’ assets. This time around, the stakes are much more interesting: The newspaper industry wants to secure its future, not just for itself, but (more importantly) for society and (less importantly) for the institutional shareholders who have milked the industry for the past few years.
So what are the issues that will drive this particular acquisition cycle?
News and Tech. February 25 2010

Pondering over staff numbers

It’s one of our industry’s imponderables. Suggest to the editor that he needs to cut costs, and he immediately responds that his quality will be affected (until he/she is made publisher, then sit back and watch!) Can one predict what editorial staff numbers should be? Yes. But many editors will argue that you can’t. I will demonstrate that you can. Here is an analysis based on 20 newspapers (of different kinds) in seven European countries.

Digits have their place, but paper still king

You’d think newspaper executives today would celebrate that fact. Instead, if you listen to a conversation among executives working in the newspaper business, attend a newspaper conference or read a publishing company’s report on its strategy, you’d come up with one conclusion: paper is dead.

News and Tech. January 2010

So now that they’re here, who’ll read e-readers?

The year 2009 has been an exciting one for electronic devices. In a little more than two years, the iPhone has redefined the mobile phone in the United States, and Apple Inc.’s iPod Touch has done the same thing for music players. Now comes the e-reader.’s Kindle, iRex’s large-display readers and Plastic Logic’s forthcoming display are being adopted by book and newspaper publishers in Europe and in North America.

News and Tech. November 2009

The real price of accuracy may not be what you think.

What price accuracy? Are you noticing what I am observing in your newspaper?
Two things have recently occurred to me: The first is that I am feeling frustrated by witnessing more and more errors in my two favorite newspapers. Some are spelling errors. Others are wording errors. A subset are grammatical. Of course, the number of errors is small; perhaps two or three per page, but this is a big increase in the number of mistakes that formerly appeared on these pages.

News and Tech. September, 2009

Getting out of the bathtub: Don’t splash and slash – reinvest

So there’s talk of economic recovery? My question is: Which one?
Being an old school, Scottish Keynesian, rather than a Thatcherite monetarist (Thatcher is a dirty word to most Scots), I believe we’re in a short-term economic difficulty (structural, because of greedy bankers) that is blurring the longer-term, 11-year economic cycle that has existed since The Great Crash of 1929.
News and Tech July 2009

Newspapers and Google: What’s next?

Eric Schmidt’s speech at this year’s Newspaper Association of America convention in San Diego certainly fueled a lot of speculation. Schmidt came across as smart, decent and empathetic, yet he really said very little about very little. But his minimalized comments signaled a lot about a lot. Publishers, therefore, should be aware of both the opportunities and threats Schmidt laid out.

News and Tech, June 2009

Creating value out of adversity
So here we are reporting what could be the biggest economic downturn since the 1920s or indeed of all time. Nowhere is pessimism greater than in the pages of our own papers. That’s the starting point. Here’s a five-point plan on how newspapers should handle the current crisis.

January 2009

The cost of pricing might be greater than you think.
So now our industry is reverberating to the noise of content pricing. Heard it all before? We have in more ways than one. Ever since Rupert Murdoch first began talking about charging for online access, and John Ridding of the Financial Times echoed that notion, we hear that more and more publishers are looking at how to charge for their content.

News and Tech September, 2008

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