St. Petersburg Times
You see, the newspaper industry is dying. Advertising is down. Classified ads are almost gone. Subscriptions are declining. Faint strains of “Na na na na. Hey hey hey. Good bye.” can be heard all over.
But, like a smoker who refused to stop when diagnosed with emphysema, the news industry’s death is it’s own fault. It is dying because it will not (can not?) adapt fast enough to the changing market place.
Ah, but I have a cure. It’s not easy. Newspapers have to rethink everything. But it’s a three step process.
The first solution: stop printing. There is no need for newsprint when computer storage and bandwidth are continuing to get cheaper and cheaper and cheaper. Delivery costs are going up, especially as fuel charges go through the roof. Paper isn’t getting less expensive either.
The future on news is delivery via the Internet — text, audio, video. It’s easy. It’s becoming ubiquitous. So why hold fast to 500 year old technology?
The second solution: understand the wisdom of crowds. From disseminated reporting to “digg” like functions, news directors need to follow Benjamin Disraeli (“There go my people. I must find where they are going, so I may lead them.“)
Editors and news directors need to stop trying to control what they think is or is not “newsworthy.” Give people the power to create their own, individual “newspaper” by selecting from a wide array of topics and stories. (RSS Feed readers come to mind).
The last solution: fewer stories from a broad angle, and more stories that are targeted to narrow audiences. There is a reason why the Long Tail model works for so many websites. Why can’t news companies understand this?
Until newspapers understand the basic tenets of how the world is changing, they will not understand the cure.