04/07/2009: "How Newspapers Can Be Profitable Again"
Having come from a family who owned and published small town newspapers and having published my own, I understand the newspaper business well. Newspapers depend on advertising for survival. Today, newspapers are not getting enough advertising to survive. Thus, they're dying.
We can quickly get news almost as it happens. We do not need the newspapers to tell us what the president is doing or isn't doing. We know almost instantly when something of any sort happens anywhere in the world. And those of us without Internet access or text messages get our news from the 24-hour television news stations. Print newspapers are irrelevant for this sort of news. Advertisers know this so they take their ad dollars where they'll do the most good.
So how can newspapers show a profit again? How can they survive. To me, the answer is incredibly simple. Print local news only.
What most people in every community want to know and don't get on the Internet or on television is who did what in their town. Who died? The obits are one of the most popular sections of the newspaper. What is local government doing to make our lives miserable and steal our tax dollars? We want to know.
We want to know about Hoi Polloi of the town. We want to see pictures of the man on the street. We want his opinions and ideas. We want to see OUR PEOPLE. We want pictures of people. Local people. We want local sports, local events, local ads --- everything about us. We're all narcissistic and we want to see US.
But the self-important newspapers try to be the grand news channel of the past. It can't be. Those days are gone. I'm sorry as I can be about it but it's true. Those days are gone. Newspapers do not rule anymore. Editors and reporters are drudges and quite useless. That is unless they can give us totally local news.
If they were to do that, they could get more subscribers and more advertising revenue. If they do not, they will gradually die and be forced to give their news away on the Internet.
It's not rocket science. Newspapers can be profitable again.