Sunday, August 02, 2009

How to Heal Newspapers

Over the course of the last couple years, many newspapers have began to lose their circulation.  One theory for this is that since the internet began to explode in the 90's, millions began to get their daily news from online websites.  That has only increased over time until now half claim to primarily get their news from online sources.  Thus, as current events and daily news became more easily accessible online, for free, the need for a paid subscription to a newspaper which gave them almost the same thing was redundant.  In addition, since many papers and online news sites both take advantage of wire services like Associated Press or Reuters, much of what they find in the newspaper match exactly, word-for-word what they read online.  Some think that it is simply a short term problem while others believe that unless newspapers perform a major reorganization, they will go extinct in an age where digital information is easier, faster, and more plentiful than its ink-and-paper predecessor.  There have been many recommendations and suggestions about different strategies to reorganize, but let me toss mine in there.

Dump the Duplicates
If your newspaper carries the same wire services articles contained in virtually every other newspaper and online, then it doesn't make sense to pay for your paper if they can get the same thing from any other or even online for free.  So, while it may seem like an easy way to pad the size of your paper at relatively low cost, it's not a significant driver of people to your paper. 

Omit the Opinions
The internet is full of opinions.  Any subject, any perspective is freely available on the web.  Many reputable and others not so much.  So why do we need a newspaper to give us the same opinions?  In fact, newspapers often give credibility to opinions that should be dropped.  Good writers with bad opinions have jobs all over the country.  Turn them loose and let them start a blog and have their ideas compete with others for credence.  If they truly have good views, thoughts and ideas, their blog will rise in popularity.

Local is lovely
Perhaps the days of international papers with thousands to millions of subscribers in nearly every country of the world are indeed coming to an end.

Investigations are Interesting
This is the meat of my idea.  I CRAVE a good investigation; I search for undercover exposes. I want the resources of newspapers to push for transparency in the government by publicizing details found from FOI requests. Investigate the connections between politicians and corporations or lobbyists or criminals or any other unsavory characters.  TRULY speaking truth to power often requires more research and time than the average blogger with a day job can keep up with.  


* Forgive the alliteration abuse. :)

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