Friday, January 9, 2009

Enough thumb sucking: time to reinvent newspapers

Mark Potts posts some intriguing questions on his blog the Recovering Journalist about how some folks in the newspaper industry are still resisting the inevitable change. Mark is right: the thumb suckers among us have to get over it and move on. We're going to survive, but the newspaper as we know it will go away. He writes:

"In other words, there's no natural law that says the traditional newspaper business model - hire large staff, report news, sell ads, crush trees, smear ink on them, throw on doorsteps, collect some circulation revenue, reap 20 percent-plus profit margins - is inviolate. Unfortunately the reality may be that it's not the Web news business model that is broken-it's the print business model that's screwy."

Potts is right but I'd add there remains a good future for a blended print-digital product, albeit on a different economic scale. The print product of the future will be smaller and cater to a finite but influential group of "loyal" readers, no longer a one-size-fits-all product. That might mean no more TV grids, comics and fluff but a more serious and indepth magazine-style product that speaks to a more affluent and engaged audience. And that could be fun even if it's a smaller version of its former self.

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