Survival strategies for newspapers

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.

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2 Responses to Survival strategies for newspapers

  1. Mukund Mohan says:

    Neil

    Doc S has a very good piece on how to “save” newspapers. Worth a read if you have not read it already.

    I think the death of newspapers (because of blogs) is overrated. Cant argue the drop in subscriptions, but its like saying in 1999 that Amazon will be the death of retail.

  2. This one makes sence “One’s first step in wisdom is to kuesstion everything – and one’s last is to come to terms with everything.”

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