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How to save the Newspaper industry: common sense 101
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, May 25, 2006

In my real job I work with the newspaper industry, but mostly on the production side. Regardless, I can tell you that newspaper people are worried. Circulation is dropping. Profit margins are erroding. Weaker papers are going under or being absorbed. All of them are wondering if they're going to be around much longer. Obviously as bloggers and consumers of news, we'd all be the poorer if the worst case were to happen.

As it happens, I'm a member, through my company, of the Georgia Press Association and get their association publication. In their most recent issue an article written by Doug Fisher caught my attention. In it he cites some tough remedies recommended for the industry by Lauren Rich Fine. She makes good sense. She feels it is a mistake to attempt to compete with TV and radio and the immediacy they bring to news coverage. So the key to success, it appears, is to adjust the focus of newspapers.

On the news side she suggests the following:

—"Quit being defensive and avoiding risk." As an example, papers have become afraid of bias at the same time people are asking them to take a stand. She says taking a stand doesn't mean one has to necessarily be biased. "It means using the logic and other tests necessary to evaluate truthfulness and authenticity and taking those into account when writing a story."

That would be a welcome change.

—"The industry has gone astray by putting things on the front page that they [readers] don't want from you. They don't want the breaking news they've already seen on TV or read it on the Internet ... They want context and analysis."

Amen to that.

—-"Stop trying to remake papers to be youth friendly. News flash, the never did read the newspaper".


She then talks about circulation, ads and personnel issues. But she finishes with "don't charge on the web unless you want to lose readers."

Hello, NY Times?

She says, "figure out how to make the Googles and the Yahoo!s that use your content pay."

Works for me.

I have to tell you this seems very good advice for an ailing industry. It'll be interesting to see if any of them listen.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

One more: local newspapers should focus on more local stories, not just reprinting what comes over on the AP or Reuters wire... We can find that stuff elsewhere.

In all honesty, there are likely too many newspapers out there, and the wider use of the internet will cull their numbers. But there is room for the dead tree media.

And she’s right about the bias issue. I wouldn’t mind seeing much wider opinion sections in the newspaper, and some original opinion content by local writers would fill a niche they’ve currently not explored.
Written By: Brad Warbiany
One more: local newspapers should focus on more local stories, not just reprinting what comes over on the AP or Reuters wire... We can find that stuff elsewhere.
I absolutely agree. The one paper in our area which is growing well is one which completely changed its focus to local county wide news. It is seeing growing circulation and ad revenue.

That of course doesn’t mean you don’t have a section that covers the big stories outside the local area (national and international) but make the focus of the paper more local. Yes. Agreed.

Written By: McQ
"local newspapers should focus on more local stories"

Amen, hosanna, alleluia in excelsis!

(Right on, you go girl, say it brother, and WORD, for those of you who would affirm the voice from the lectern but are unaccustomed to church...)

Little league games and obituaries; honor role listings and the election of officers among the Lions and Rotary Clubs; reviews of the junior college stage production of "Noises Off" and an expose’ of the assistant school superintendent who was forced into early retirement for filling his VW Beetle with diesel fuel from the tanks at the bus depot and photos of the welcome home celebration at the airport for troops returning from Afghanistan. THAT’s what I’ll buy a paper for.

I can read about missing white women, celebrity sex scandals, the virtues and sins of Bush’s "plans" and even the latest quip Kinky Friedman makes while campaigning for governor from every other source in the world, to include Al Jazzera. But who’s going to tell me about my own home town if not my home town paper?
Written By: pouncer
URL: http://
There’s always going to be a place for the local newspapers providing local coverage. It’s the big-city papers that are in trouble, those papers that think they can occoupy that dangerous middle ground of trying to be opinion makers regarding national events- because cable and the internet do it oh so much better.

And they’re dying on the vine.

Faster please.
Written By: shark
URL: http://
They want context and analysis
This used to be the mainstay of newspapers. Let the TV and radio give the 30-second soundbite versions but the paper brought it home. This is sorely lacking in our local paper.
Written By: Vivian J. Paige
more local coverage? to reporters thats boring. not what they went to jschool for. cant save the world or bring down the bush regime at a high school play.

commenting from a phone is a real pain, btw.
Written By: billy hollis
URL: http://
commenting from a phone is a real pain, btw.
Cr*ckberry addict!

[Can you believe it ... part of that is blacklisted ... as it ought to be. Heh ...]
Written By: McQ
cingular 2125 smartphone actually. too big a pain to get addicted. killing time @ airport. now if i could find a bluetooth keyboard i might be in trouble...
Written By: billy
URL: http://
A good start would be to hire reporters instead of journalists. Why someone needs a four year degree in journalism in order to write a story baffles me. The time and money would be put to much better use actually learning something about the subjects they will be writing about. Imagine, a legal correspondent with actual legal training, or a pentagon correspondent with actual knowledge of military affairs. Maybe even someone with a little curiosity and willingness to do more research than making a phone call to the usual advocacy groups for their expert opinions.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

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