Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Printed Newspapers are the Next Big Thing

Interesting discussion started over at The Next Newsroom by Chris O'Brien. The issue is the decision of the Detroit Press to drop home delivery. In this blogger's (that would be me) opinion that is the dumbest thing they could do. ( I later discovered that they are still publishing a print paper every day, just stopping the home delivery. So it's not as dumb as I first thought.) Anyways....

Chris said
. . . I keep hearing folks over and over say we should stop the presses, but there's still a lot of life, and money, left there.
And then I said,
Not only is there a lot of life left in them, but the presses and the delivery is what newspapers can do that is very hard for anyone else to do.

Gathering and telling the news is easier outside the walls of the newspaper organization. All this business about going to the web just puts the newspapers into competition with everyone else. Already newspaper sites have a huge numbers of hits.

But hits don't pay the bills.

The idea that newspapers will be able to make enough money to support their operations through hits doesn't scale, in my opinion. So..newspapers can outsource gathering the news to community blogs, to investigative non profits, to Congressional committees. Then they can concentrate on their real defensible advantage- printing and delivering stuff. At first it could be a way slimmed down version of the print. 3-3-10. Three pages of briefs with links to their site, 3 pages for a longer story in print, 10 pages of local advertising.

Then they could use their excess print capacity to use the long tail of content they already have to print specialized newspapers for K-12 education. Science writers/editors replacing sciencfe textbooks. Economy/ business writers/editors replacing economic textbooks. Political reporters teaching kids civics, which is no longer taught in schools any more.

re the money: School systems already waste a huge amount of money with the big three textbook publishers. Why not replace that with a much lower cost, more effective, series of subscriptions to a news, you can use in the service of education. I wouldn't be surprised if the kid's parents would want to subscribe to a "teaching' version of the Paper, themselves.
Then, around 2014, when it is common place for cell phones to connect Print to the Cloud, we can all get back to our day jobs and families and stop all the blablabla about the death of Print.

more on Read for Free, Pay for Print.

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