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How would you save this industry?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by DemoChristian, Mar 7, 2008.

  1. If you had the power, what would you do with newspapers to get things back headed in the right direction?
    I think I'd start by being willing to pay the money to get and keep good people. It might cut into the profit margin, but it would also keep/increase demand, which would pay off in the long run.
    I would put everything online and hire people for online layout. I'd even be willing to go exclusively online if that was necessary. There are some older people who will never go for it, but it's clear the Internet is here to stay and we need to follow the example of the tobacco companies and hook 'em while they're young to have sustained success.
    I would explain to investors that the profit margins of the past are probably never coming back, but there is no reason we can't continue to make a healthy return by being the top news source for our coverage area.
  2. Rex Harrison

    Rex Harrison Member

    I wouldn't save this industry. This industry is fucked up. Maybe letting the industry collapse and starting over would save journalism. But that's too radical/stupid an idea to really work. I know ...

  3. steveu

    steveu Well-Known Member

    Have the paper chains buy the newsprint companies.

    (Okay, okay, that was half meant as a joke, but considering we've been through 1,000 different solutions would this be feasible?)
  4. Newspapers owned by non-profits. It's really the only solution.

    In the short-term from strictly a sports standpoint, and nobody's going to want to hear this, but really localize the crap out of everything. Newspapers are already doing this - well, they think they're doing this. But most of them suck at it. They think that means put five high school volleyball matches on the cover every night and call it a day. That's a lame, cheap, easy way to "localize." Localize issues. Keep up with guys who played at the local high school or local university once they've moved onto the next level. If Joe Fastball is now a middle reliever with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, whenever the Rays come through Metro Stadium two hours away, get your ass there and write a feature about him the first day of the series.

    Work to plan compelling local stories on your front almost every single day. Always strive to go deeper. There are way too many hacks in this business who show up to press conference and "availibility" and interview the high school coach after the game and call it a night. Unacceptable. Too many hacks treat it like a hobby. Demand more.
  5. Monday Morning Sportswriter

    Monday Morning Sportswriter Well-Known Member

    Well, Singleton's money man owned a paper company. That hasn't really seemed to help.
  6. BigSleeper

    BigSleeper Active Member

    Either that or have a model with a more reasonable profit margin of 5-10 percent. That's still more than most businesses will ever see.
  7. 2muchcoffeeman

    2muchcoffeeman Active Member

    Can't be done.
  8. Wendell Gee

    Wendell Gee Member

    Simply put, I'd stop trying to be something I'm not. Instead of trying to be more like the Internet and TV with audio and video, go back to focusing on the printed word. Newspapers survived TV because they offered something TV couldn't - depth. TV gave you a 30-second clip showing what happened. A newspaper could go into depth explaining what happened and why it happened. Now it's "keep it short and try to get some audio or video to go with it." Print isn't going to beat TV and the Internet at their own game. It needs to stick with what it does best. It can survive doing that.
  9. captzulu

    captzulu Member

    But what can print offer that the Internet can't? That's what makes competition from the Internet different from competition from radio and TV.

    If I had the power, I would just let the current crop of newspapers die and start anew. That way, you are not constrained by or beholden to any expectations of the past, both in terms of business and editorial practice. Business-wise, you're not beholden to past expectations of 20-30% profits. On the editorial side, you're not constrained by the "this is how we always did it" mentality. You'll not feel compelled to dedicate resources to running every MLB boxscore simply b/c that's what you've always done. Your would not be held back by the mentality that your print product is always the more important product, or that your print and online products are in conflict/competition with each other rather than complements to each other.
  10. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    And leave the national to ESPN?

    The "national" is why many of us are in the business.
  11. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    The basics: Enforce independence of editorial from advertising. Pay people competitive wages and good enough benefits where they don't have to look elsewhere.

    The next steps: Encourage writers to -- and train them to, if necessary -- look more deeply into issues. Have us all take writing classes or do something so that we can create more compelling copy. Stop pandering to the lowest common denominator. That means no more Slutney stories, folks. Integrate the print side with the Web site. If you're a weekly, post your big story the day it happens whether it's your publication day or not. If you're a daily, that still means get your story up pretty much as soon as it's written. Realize that doing less with more is the real reality and that doing more with less is an impossible fantasy.

    The deep cuts: Learn some customer service skills. Yes, that means coming up with less snark when parents whine about why little Susie isn't in the paper when she works just as hard as Johnny Halfback. Granted, many parents aren't reasonable. But neither are people like Lean Dean.

    MO, YMMV
  12. I'm not saying this applies to the New York Times. And, yes, it is why many of us got in. But it's just not the best thing for small and mid-sized papers at this point. There was a good article about this, applied to news side, in one of the Nieman Report Magazine issues recently - how disenchanting it is to get into this business high on the hopes of covering the White House and the CIA and national stories, and find out that, even at bigger papers, you're doing school board meetings and street and sanitation issues instead, with little hope of moving onward and upward.

    So I can definitely see it from the writer's point of view.

    But is it really so bad if you work at say, the Columbus Dispatch, to ramp up the coverage of Ohio State even more. Or to send the NBA finals inside for a day in order to get a localized issue story that has been planned for a while out front?
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