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Newspaper industry realities

The "more content is better" myth

Despite what some people think, content is not a commodity where the more you have of it the better off you are. In fact, the opposite is often the case; we're all swimming in content and unable to keep up with the constant flow of new articles, books, etc. So why do some publishers still think more is better?

I'm reminded of this flawed "more is better" logic by my local paper, The Indianapolis Star. The Star has spent the last week or so hyping the fact that their daily edition will start getting larger next month. More local coverage. More state coverage. More sports coverage. More of just about everything. Pretty much every newspaper has been shrinking over the years, so on the surface this might sound like good news. I often joke that Tuesday's and Wednesday's editions of the Star are nothing more than brochures, so you'd think I'd be on board with this move.

While I do believe this strategy might help slow the short-term drop in circulation, it's definitely not a long-term solution. All they're really playing to is the die-hard print newspaper fan, probably in the older demographic and getting older every year. Meanwhile, the younger demographic, most of which have never subscribed to a paper, won't find anything appealing here.

I don't want more content from my local newspaper. I want more better targeted content from them. I want content that fits my particular interests, not just more content in general.

This is why I, like millions and millions of others, tend to spend more time getting my news from sources like Google News, Flipboard, Pulse, Zite, et al, than I do from my local paper. These services let us tailor our content feed, so even though they start with infinitely more content than the local paper, the results are customized to match our needs and interests.

Yes, local papers allow customization like this, but they're starting with a base of content that's a fraction of the size served up via Flipboard, Pulse, etc.

Publishers, rather than trying to wow us with the breadth and depth of your content, please give more thought to the services you're really competing with (e.g., Google, Zite, etc.) and what level of personalization you'll offer your customers.



I want to read about something I've never thought about before. I want something unexpected. I want to read a story that hasn't been written before, that no one had thought to write before, that I could not anticipate because the writer could not anticipate it. How do you personalize and customize that? What's great about a newspaper are the stories that alter the blindered pace we walk every day. The more content, the more possibilities.

Joe Wikert

Hi Dean. I think most of us share your same desire. Serendipity plays a role in what we like to read. That's one of the things I like about Zite, btw. It's far from perfect but I do like how it exposes me to new sources of content that I'm very interested in. You should check it out if you haven't already.

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