Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stop the Drama. Newspapers should forget about "breaking news". . . or is that breaking noise.

Originally Posted Thursday, February 26, 2009

This morning I found a post by Martin Langeveld, over at Nieman Journalism Lab. It's in the form of a "MEMO TO: Steven Swartz (CEO, Hearst Newspapers) and Dean Singleton (CEO, MediaNews Group):" It's most definitely worth the click.

But there was one sentence that I want to highlight here.
They should drop all breaking news and focus on analysis and features.
And then I said,
Do you have any thoughts about the viability of a daily edition, that might look like:
12 to 24 page tabloid that sells for $.25

(Charging something is the only way to get news stand distribution and to get a clear signal to supply the feedback to the publisher on the content.)

Page 1: a summary of the latest buzz - “the breaking news” similar to the News In Brief the WSJ runs on the front page. Global, National, Regional, Local. One column for each.

Page 2 &3: Five part feature story. Pt 1 on Monday,Pt 2 on Tuesday, etc Full five part available to read online on Monday.
Also offered as to download to a Kindle for $2.00 and available as a reprint in paperback form using Print On Demand technology for $4.50.

Page 4: Heard around the local web.
Given that almost every community now has a good number of local conversations, the content is there. This would be “he said, she said” and “if you want to add your two cents, here’s the URL”

The rest of the 12 -24 pages would be local ads, at low enough prices that local business could afford. With a frictionless sales process.

The daily tab could be printed in versioned editions, different neighborhoods getting different news in briefs. Local would be neighborhood local. Or beat local as resources allow.
And then Martin said,
Yes . . . Could be free, could be $.25, published Mon-Fri. In reality it’s a niche publication which constitutes a totally different read from the weekend paper.
Then I said,
Thank you for the response. Always nice to feel one is not merely drinking one own’s Kool-Aid.
Not running after the breaking noise is the game changer.
Once journalists get out of the buzz business, and leave that to TV and the Internet, they can get on with the real purpose of journalism, to entertain, educate and inform. Plus people can get smarter, instead of more confused. Plus newspaper companies can get back to the business of selling joint print/web ads to local business and harvest the web data to develop new products to grow their business.

"Breaking news" requires sound bites. Sound bites are pernicious becuase they seem to describe some slice of reality. But they don't. That's why they confuse, instead of clarify.

It is the "financial meltdown" instead of a reorganization of the global financial system. It's the "stimulus", instead of the Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The Federal Government buying convertible preferred bank stock is "Nationalization."

Drama used to sell newspapers. But real people don't need drama about government and policy. Drama is fine in the context of reality TV, celebrities and talking heads. It is worth considering that the President's nickname is No Drama Obama. It seems to be working pretty well for him so far.

No comments:

Post a Comment