Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The future of newspapers

I posted this on the Dallas Morning News website - on what that paper ought to do to survive in the future:

The very word - newsPAPER - is what it should be. There will always be a niche audience for a newspaper because it contains SO many things impossible to obtain online in terms of information/entertainment.
- Try doing the New York Times Crossword Puzzle on a Kindle or on your computer screen.
- Try reading the comics, circling that pop-up ad when you go to the grocery store as a reminder or clipping that flat-screen for the coupon exchange (heck, most groceries won't accept computer-generated coupons for fear of illegitimacy).
Sadly, the older generation, that was raised on newspaper content, developed the technology to keep the upcoming generations from using that same resource. Same is true for public education - the oldest among us profited and prospered from it but then ruined that same institution for our children and grandchildren.
Community newspapers (in which I worked for 30-plus years) will always be around because they better serve smaller markets with totally local news. A more intense focus on local and state coverage (not available anywhere on the Internet) with print-based exclusive copy (available ONLY in the paper) might draw more readers.
Frankly, one can get scores of business opinions from the web and international news is splattered everywhere you look and read.But not the happenings in Dallas and the region, or for Texas. Instead of Charles Krauthammer's babblings, or even Mark Davis' tired rantings about everywhere-but-here items, try telling Dallas area readers MORE about what is happening in THIS state (sorry, but forget Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, etc.).
It will require a major change in thinking among the hierarchy - going from the major national-international voice of the Southwest to JUST being the voice ... of Texas.
Stop wasting payroll sending reporters to NFL playoff games that do NOT involve Texas teams ... why was that necessary on the same day it was announced the paper won't be covering the local/area major league baseball team with its own staff?
Why cover plays or opera in Santa Fe or New York when concerts or cultural events in DALLAS get almost NO attention of print press????
Why have someone AT the Detroit Auto Show (us old-timers know it as such)? We do NOT live or die by that industry?
I would like to know MORE about happenings in West or East Texas or in Austin, San Antonio or Houston. I'd like to read (in my arthritic little hands) from voices in those cities BEFORE anyone in Providence, Philadelphia or Miami.
It is doing to require a completely different approach to how you do business and how you cover the news. It MIGHT mean you need to examine your smaller brethren in the smaller burghs of this fair state ... and how they survive and how they serve their readers.
Because, in the end, our society is NOT well served by a dying newspaper industry - and those who advocate such as simpleton idiots! We NEED more places to learn about what is happening around us - NOT LESS!

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