Your Newspaper Is In Trouble
They all are. When I was a child I lived in a 2 newspaper town, and it was great (even if one of those papers didn’t carry the comics). The morning paper died in the mid ’70s. And every time I visit my folks, I’m reminded that the surviving paper just isn’t what it used to be. It’s become mostly wall to wall ads and AP rehash.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the major papers I’m familiar with, the Detroit Free Press, The Philadelphia Enquirer, The NYT, The Washington Post, they’ve declined even more. When The Washington Star closed shop, The Washington Post responded by – doing nothing. Absolutely nothing. Today still, the Post actively strives to be exactly as they were during their glory days (which, of course, they perceive to be during the time of Watergate).
Jeff Jarvis at Buzz Machine thinks the patient can be saved, but only after radical surgery. For The Boston Globe, he recommends:
…the most radical restructuring of a newspaper anywhere in the world and use that as a laboratory for the Times itself and for other newspapers
Before Google “eats their lunch”, he recommends they go local, while their owner, The New York Times, focuses on National news.
The Globe should then define itself first and foremost as a digital company and, more important, as a community company, a relationship network. It should become a platform for local news, information, and action and for new local sites and companies. That’s what comes after being a content company. This means that the staff must change radically as roles evolve from producing content to organizing, enabling, and educating collaborative and distributed networks.
Well, why not? I find myself buying a news paper only to get a good Sudoku puzzle, and going online to get the news. I go to separate sites for village-level local news, to two different sites for city and metropolitan coverage, to about four or five for national and to the BBC for international. In each case, I’m frustrated by the lack of content and quality, which is why I go to so many, like an addict looking for that news fix.
With few exceptions, the best blogs don’t deliver news, but commentary on the news. The best are driven not so much by their writers, but by their regular commentators, and it’s hard work keeping up with them. Blogs have their niche, but hard news ain’t it.