There’s an excellent item by David Olive at thestar.com today on what newspapers need to do to survive in the digital age.
The blurb (which I suspect was written by a layout editor, not by David) reads:
Like the Twain witticism, reports of the death of newspapers are greatly exaggerated, but that’s no reason for complacency.
By the end of the article, however, I was thinking that the blurb really undersold the story. I don’t think it’s much of an exaggeration to say that newspapers are indeed in serious trouble (circulation figures are only part of the story, bottom-line results are what’s driving cuts to editorial staffing). And newspaper owners need to get a long way past “complacency” and into urgent, focused, “pro-action” if their companies are to be relevant in the years ahead.
Ironically, a good example of how thestar.com could do more to defend its position online lies in the presentation of David’s article. A better presentation for online readers would include hyperlinking from keywords in the text, a hyperlinked sidebar of resources on the topic, links to related content within thestar.com and elsewhere on the web (including blogs), and an invitation to readers to comment or vote in a poll. I’d also like to have seen a graphic or two. Yes, that all takes extra effort, but it’s what online readers increasingly expect. And, given that “the demise of newspapers” is a recurring topic, much of the effort could be amortized over dozens of stories.
UPDATE: For more on the economic outlook for traditional media, see the latest posting by Jeff Jarvis, in which he picks up on Bob Garfield’s Chaos 2.0 view of a future in which marketers don’t need mass media.