Competition Demystified (getAbstract Summary)
Where Do You Get Your News?

One Newspaper’s View of the Future

Dennis Ryerson, editor of The Indianapolis Star, offered this perspective on the future of newspapers in today’s edition. Btw, as I’ve mentioned before, I love reading the Star every morning…but I worry that a lot of local papers are going to implode if they don’t develop a sense of urgency and get creative with their business model.

Here are a few excerpts from Mr. Ryerson’s column, along with my thoughts on each:

The Star installed a new $72 million printing press four years ago, an indication of our confidence in print.

Yikes. I would think now is the time to focus on your core competencies, not lay claim to the previous or next stage in the production process. If I’m running a newspaper I figure out what our brand stands for and put all my energy into leveraging that brand with new and exciting business models, not investing in a printing press. Granted, this investment occurred four years ago, but the future for newspapers had to look dicey back then too.

We will focus more on local news, and on stories that provide context and perspective rather than “breaking” news. After all, why should we tell you something you already may know?

Kudos to Mr. Ryerson for acknowledging the fact that even a daily paper can’t be as timely with the news as the Internet. Also, it’s often the perspective and the expertise the reporters bring to the table that make a paper interesting. I can get the news from a variety of free sources, but I’ll always be willing to pay for insightful commentary.

We know we must provide more “local, local” news, what’s happening in your neighborhoods and home communities. We must provide more niche publications that serve narrower segments of our readership.

Hmmm…sounds like a series of blogs might be a better solution.

If we don’t do that (exercise a “watchdog” role over government), who will? Bloggers who often don’t do deep research, but rather re-post what the mainstream media report with a twist that supports their personal views?

Ouch. Dennis, I think there’s room for both your services and those provided by bloggers. Readers will ultimately vote their preference with eyeballs/subscriptions, but the final result might be that they support both.

Speaking of blogs, The Star has a family of them and they’re all accessible from their home page. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they all appear to be an afterthought at best. Looking at the first few, I can see one hasn’t been posted to since 6/23 (Colts Insider – Jeez, what about all the news surrounding training camp, etc.?!), the next hasn’t been touched for over a week and only had five posts for the entire month of July (Hoosier Insider – btw, as a Purdue grad, I’ve got to ask why isn’t there a Boiler Insider?!), etc. If you’re going to feature blogs you need to make a commitment to them. My guess is the traffic to The Star’s blogs is weak. That’s a shame since their website is the ideal place to host a lot of great blogs with a strong local focus.

Mr. Ryerson, if you wind up reading this post, I encourage you to consider some other thoughts I offered on the newspaper business in this previous post.

Comments

Juliana Aldous Atkinson

Hi Joe,

You may be interested in the new Pew Research study on news usage. It includes some stats on newspapers, and you can find it at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14109032/

--Juliana

Joe Wikert

Hi Juliana. Funny you should mention it. This article appeared in my morning paper today and I was going to do a quick post about it...

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