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Newspapers and Magazines Can Stay in the News Business

It seems like hardly a week ever goes by without another newspaper or magazine complaining that the Internet is stealing their core business. “There’s just too much coverage of breaking news online” is the typical complaint. Cry me a river. Are these guys really stopping to think of how to either combat this or improve their own services to better compete?

I’m not in the news business but I’ve got a suggestion for every newspaper and magazine out there: Offer your breaking news in other formats beyond just (a) your next print issue and (b) your website. What else is there? How about preassembled PDFs of stories based on your readers’ preferences?

For example, I subscribe to The Wall Street Journal online edition. Every day I wind up scanning the headlines on page one, the media section and the technology section for stories that interest me. Since I can only do so much reading on-screen, I typically end up printing out a dozen or so articles from the WSJ and other sites every day. I take them home and read them after dinner.

Why doesn’t the WSJ offer a service where I can tell it what topics, keywords, etc., I’m interested in and periodically build a new PDF, custom made for me, for me to download and print for my nightly reading? Think of this as a mini-issue, made just for me.

I’d use this service every day, not just for the WSJ but BusinessWeek, Time, Google News, InfoWorld, cnet and probably a half dozen other sites. Go ahead and load it up with relevant ads if that’s what it takes to make some money. Regardless of whether you like this idea, stop whining and start experimenting with new services to hang onto some portion of your remaining customer base!

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