(Irony intended in the post title/pic relation)
It has been a recurrent issue lately around these parts, and every week we can read about in a more or less desperate manner, in blogs, industry websites, think tanks. Scholars, managers, professionals, students, everyone has thoughts on the reasons why the newspapers are commiting suicide, but it is as clear as the explanations available for the mistery of whales coming to die on the shore. There are lots of options, but if we knew what was the true reason, maybe we could solve the problem. That was the appeal of Richard Koci Hernandez in his post Conversations: Am I Missing Something? Help!, that he wrote as a reaction to Jeff Jervis post Newspapers are f’ed. So, my insomniac me decided to answer to Koci’s appeal and give my two cents on how we can help newspapers save themselves.
My purpose in sharing these ideas is to create more dialogue, instead of the odd comment, so feel free to juxtapose, complement,tear apart, even grin with contempt for my ideas. Let’s build a castle, burn it down, then build it better. Or just sit around it, and share your best frightening campfire stories.
Newspapers and newspaper people are in panic. Should they be? My question is: why are they the ones who fear the future the most? Newspapers are here for ages, and as media jurassic creatures they are, they have trouble to adapt to the undergoing technological changes. Radio and TV don´t seem that scared because technology is a fundamental part of the business. But technology is not the main issue in the future of the newspaper business, but still, that’s where so many freeze, and can’t take the next step in working out viable procedures to turn what will burn down to ashes into a phoenix. Here’s the wake up call: newspapers as sheets with ink are not enough. They will work fine for decades like they did before, if we apply some changes (even if we get another physical support different from paper, but with similar application, this can be used). These changes don’t imply only placing video on your website, or to teach your journalists to create multimedia packages, this is not changing, this is evolving, and if 50 years ago you “only” had to know how to write, now you also have to know how to create and produce. The more you know, the better you are.
The change needed is a paramount background operation, that will affect the structure of media organization and market, but also social and corporate fabric. Ambitious huh? Follow me.
Where newspapers need to change?
There are five keypoints where changes must occur. Maybe there are more, but i’ll leave the others to you:
Method -> newspapers need to change the way news are gathered and presented;
Posture -> newspapers must change their editorial guidelines;
Involvement -> newspapers need to interact with the audience, not only regarding them as users or readers, but as people;
Investment -> newspapers need to spend money to make money, and charge less to more;
Technology -> use technology to make better, faster, unique;