Will local newspapers adapt or die?
New Orleans has become the latest (and biggest?) major city in the United States to cease having a
daily newspaper. The Times-Picayune
, celebrated for its work and investigative journalism during and after Hurricane Katrina, will now publish in print only three days a week
Will other dailies, especially smaller local and regional
ones, evolve or will they keep patting themselves on the back and telling what’s
left of their readership “You’ll miss us when we’re gone”? So far, they've preferred the latter.
Most seem to think 'evolving' constitutes posting video
s on their websites. When I visit a newspaper website, it doesn't even occur to me to watch a video -- that's not what I go there for -- unless someone I know has told me they're in it. I don't know of anyone who does otherwise.
This is really part of the smoke-and-mirrors (or razzle-dazzle lasers
) approach most papers are taking to avoid truly transformative action that might actually save their business. Videos. Semi-paywalls. Giving blogs to people who already have columns. None of this matters.
Truly revolutionary change in the newspaper industries would be for local newspapers to focus on *local* news. Drop the wire service for everything (except for the cartoons and puzzles which I guess people freak out about if messed with). Take the money you save and use it to invest in more local reporters and better local journalism.
The national and international news they publish is half-a**ed crap written which is usually hacked for space reasons to the point of being... well... pointless. No one *pays* for The Post-Star or Saratogian for national or international news, when they can get the same stuff for *free*, and much better quality, from hundreds of different websites or, for that matter, on television.
Local papers ought to focus exclusively on local content. Why? Because that's the one thing that's truly unique. It's the one thing they offer that people, particularly in smaller areas, can't get anywhere else. If it's truly unique, they're more likely to be willing to pay for it. If a newspaper is 30% unique customer and 70% stuff you can get for free else where, it diminishes the value of the entire product. If the newspaper is 90% or 100% unique content, then it has a much greater value to the potential customer.
Labels: journalism, media, newspapers