Followers of 101 know what I think newspapers have to do to succeed, never mind survive. It boils down to one word: local.
Newswire filler, sports scores, general interest – all that is available on the Web earlier, in larger amounts, and often plain old better. Newspapers need to focus on the local issues. They need to use the paid resources – researchers and reporters – to dig and do some work instead of producing pap like syndicated veterinary advice or – in Montreal’s case – baseball.
Bill Wyman, in “Five Key Reasons Why Newspapers Are Failing” on Splicetoday, has a far more detailed look at the thesis. Read it all, but I want to point out two of his nine conclusions, the first because it agrees with me and the second (his sixth) because one of my former students is sort of doing that in a blog.
1) Go hyper local; devote all resources, from reporting to front-page space, to local news. No one cares what the Pittsburgh Post-Dispatch has to say about Iraq.
6) Create local listings second to none. Create them from the users’ point of view. Don’t use abbreviations. Overwhelm users with insider information that only locals know; where to park, where to sit, when to go, etc. Get rid of all the site navigation levels no one cares about. Put the information people want front and center.
Fiona O’Connor’s work on her Montreal for Insiders blog isn’t detailed enough to please Wyman, and the layout could use some tweaks, but it’s a good start. I’m not sure if one person could do all that work as a sideline endeavour.
Bonus health report:
I seem to be over my latest bout with exhaustion.