TECH TALK: Rethinking Newspapers: More Comments

Writing in Business Week, Jon Fine made the following suggestions for local dailies:

STEAL FROM GOOGLE. Make your ads hyper-accountable. Identify the top advertisers in your local market and figure out what it would take to grab 100% of their ad budgets.

BIFURCATE. Offer a free news-digest daily aimed at your least committed readers. Then price up a more elite daily newspaper, so the old $1 ceiling becomes the new floor for single-copy prices.

REDEPLOY MERCILESSLY. Save pages and dollars: Put all stock and TV listings online. Rethink everything and ask hard questions.

INCREASE LOCAL COVERAGE. An old saw, but local is newspapers’ last unique attribute. It also provides the lens through which you view the larger world.

REDESIGN YOUR PREMIUM PRODUCT. Production values for other media are higher than they’ve ever beenA classier environment attracts richer advertisers.

USE YOUR READERS. Is there a sufficient subcultural pulse in your city to pull off a mini-myspace? Are locals writing hobbyist blogs that you can build about.coms around?

In a different context, there was a discussion recently about News 2.0. Om Malik wrote: Without the efforts of News 1.0 and Bloggers, News 2.0 doesnt mean anything. Its not News 2.0, but instead Repackaging News 2.0. We need to find a new descriptor. I do agree with Cashmore: they all look increasingly similar, which doesnt behold good tidings for the future.

Rich Skrenta of wrote:

The quality of journalistic output today is, for the most part really really good. In fact it’s too good. The product costs a huge amount to bring to market, and what the Internet enables is an alternative product built for zero, and providing a different value proposition. Citizen journalism is going to be more Citizens and less Journalism.

We were told by a New York Times insider that the staff at the NYT hates their online forums, but they wouldn’t ever get rid of them because they’re so popular. I’m not surprised that professional writers wouldn’t be happy with the level of discourse in a typical forum, especially one involving hot issues. But you know what? That’s your public in the forums, like it or not. When your readers get riled up and want to rant online, that’s what it looks like.

The future of news isn’t going to be a new Watergatish nirvana of investigative journalism. It’s going to be BYOJ — bring your own journalism — on top of a much richer set of sources: everybody.

An interesting comment from Peoria Pundit: Within 10 or 20 years actual printed newspapers will exist mainly to serve the shrinking number of news consumers who do not or cannot get their news on the Internet. The advertising problem is self correcting; businesses that insist on advertising only in newspaperswith their shrinking circulation figureswill have their lunches eaten by companies that advertise on the Internet.

So, even as newspapers in the US face tough challenges, newspapers in India are a booming business.

Tomorrow: The Indian Context

TECH TALK Rethinking Newspapers+T

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.