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Building a new newspaper

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by writestuff1, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. writestuff1

    writestuff1 Member

    Here's the scenario: Lets say a newspaper with a circulation of between 50,000-100,000 goes out of business. You are part of a group of investors that buy the assets, press etc., for 10 cents on the dollar. You start a new paper. You want to make it the envy of the industry. You want it to be a place where journalists would love to work. How would you run the paper. Be realistic - the paper won't have a thousand copy editors and writers and journalists won't be making six- or seven-figure salaries (what would you consider a fair salary). What would you do to make the paper successful in current economic times. We like to say that current management has no answers and that the current business model doesn't work. What would be your sage advice. (No, I'm not looking to start a paper - just dialog).
  2. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Use cash to pay for it. Newspapers are in trouble because they leverage their assets in the drive to consolidate.
  3. Jeremy Goodwin

    Jeremy Goodwin Active Member

    I would make sure I had a strong group of advertisers lined up before I opened or bought anything.
  4. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    One-size-fits-all formulas robbed newspapers of their individuality beginning in the mid-1980s, and contributed to their downfalls. In my opinion, the solution for each newspaper must be very specific to its market.

    So if you want this exercise to be worthwhile, narrow it down a bit. Pick a real market or create a hypothetical one. What kind of competition is there and which news organization is dominant? Average income and education levels of the residents? Lots of old people or lots of young people? Leading area employers? What's the retail market -- big-box discount stores only, or a trendy downtown with some indy stores? Big college town? Cultural center? Buncha dumbfucks? Pro sports in town or within 100 miles? How far from state capital?
  5. JoelHammond

    JoelHammond Member

    Use question marks. [/smartass]

    Good topic/questions, though.
  6. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    I agree with Frank. You need to know if your community really needs a daily or if it could be scaled back. That comes from researching demographics. You also need to know if all local works or if it would be worth it from a business standpoint to join the AP.
  7. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    I would charge to put the product on the web. But not after giving out a free preview.
  8. crimsonace

    crimsonace Active Member

    1. Focus on investigative journalism, news analysis, enterprise and human-interest stories -- the type of stuff you're not going to get online.
    2. Have a VERY strong opinion page with columnists from both sides of the political spectrum.
    3. Make sure we're filling our role as watchdogs of government.
    4. Band together with other newspapers in the region to share stories and create regional/state news.
    5. With regard to sports, focus heavily on local pros & colleges -- with a lot of emphasis on takeouts and columns. Have a strong editorial voice. Depending on the market, high school coverage could be important.

    As far as market goes, the ideal market is middle-aged 25-54 professionals who may be comfortable with the Internet, but still want to read the newspaper in the morning. A market where there is a widely-used system of public transportation (e.g. Washington, Chicago) is big, because then you get a lot of commuters purchasing your product.
  9. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    If I were to start from scratch, or start all over, I'd do exactly what Detroit is doing. Daily home delivery on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, complete with the coupons, inserts, etc.

    I'd use my website to break news, treat the site as a fluid "daily" paper — a 24-hour news cycle if you will.

    I'd have my best and brightest reporters writing in-depth feature pieces that MATTER TO THE PUBLIC for those home delivered pieces. I'd have my other reporters writing for the web. No crossover. Ones who write lengthy, gritty, gotta-have-it pieces for the print. Ones who write 400-word court reports, developing stories, gamers, etc. for the web.

    I'd also have someone surfing the web 24 hours a day (three eight-hour shifts) and being alerted via google/twitter/facebook about stories that affect our readership and major breaking international/global news. Just linking shit up and writing a local spin.

    I'd want reporters writing day and into the night — two shifts, like a factory, day and afternoon. The only person left from say 12 a.m. to 7 a.m. would be one of those web editors.

    That about covers it. For now.
  10. FuturaBold

    FuturaBold Member

  11. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    Not the thread starter, but let's say, for shits and giggles: Roanoke, Va.
  12. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    The Roanoke Times is doing very well with readership:


    So I probably wouldn't screw with the print edition much.

    The market is remote with minimal competition, and both population and newspaper circulation have been relatively stable. It's not a wealthy place, and isn't likely to become one.

    I would make the free part of the website mostly audio/video to compete with radio/TV (hiring broadcast professionals), with only capsule written coverage online, and charge full print subscription prices for online access to the newspaper's full coverage.
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