The newspaperproject.org is the child of a group of newspaper executives who appear to be tired of reading their own corporate obituaries; here’s their mission in their own words:
“Unlike websites that feature negative, gloom-and-doom stories about newspapers, this website will be devoted to insightful articles, commentary and research that provide a more balanced perspective on what newspaper companies can do to survive and thrive in the years ahead.”
It’s not awash with said insightful articles just now but the crux of the good news appears to be that more people in more places read the editorial output of newspapers and their journalists than ever. Sadly, of course, they don’t always read it in the newspaper where their eyeballs earn the proprietors money, rather they read it online on the paper’s site or, worse still, on the site of some pesky aggregator from where the owners see little or no reward.
One can only sypmathize with the newspapers and some of us, who actually believe in the social and commercial value of curated and authoritative content delivered to local and national communities, see their survival as an imperative.
The dilemma is that all the proposals we see have little or no chance of driving enough revenue to preserve the newsrooms that gather and process the information that give newspapers their value to the consumer.
It seems to me that the industry has four options that do not involve death by a thousand cuts:
- Charge the reader more per copy.
- Charge the advertiser more and maybe force them into reducing frequency (and your paper bill).
- Find a performance metric across your offline and online properties and earn your revenue by investing in your advertisers.
- Bite hard on editorial principle and look to partners that might receive a big benefit from editorial association with our content (one or more online business that make transaction revenue) and look at how to integrate them into the heart of your properties without losing editorial integrity.
The risk profile of these strategies are different and it may be a combination of all four that solves the puzzle. It’s unlikely that the puzzle will be solved by a ‘good news’ web site.