Changing the news(paper)
Mar 17, 2009
Today marks the end of a ten year ritual for me. Every morning, the first thing that I do is visit the Seattle Post-Intelligencer website to see what is new with my beloved Seahawks. Tomorrow, that will not happen as the P-I becomes the second major US paper to stop printing this year. In the P-I’s case, they have let go of all but 20 staff and will change their focus to more of a community newspaper.
For the past three years, we have heard that the newspaper industry is in trouble. In 2008, 40% of North Americans got their news from the Internet, compared to 27% in 2007. For people under 30, those numbers are higher: 59% now get their news from the web, compared to 34% in 2007.
What many people fail to look at is: why are printed newspapers declining? Studies show that the average person gets their national and international news from the web and get their local news from local newspapers and local radio. As newspaper revenues have declined the past few years, the newspaper industry has responded by cutting local reporters and replacing those stories with national features. So, in an effort to cut costs, printed newspapers have accelerated their demise by reducing what people are most interested in: local news stories.
As these newspapers slowly go bankrupt, there will be a huge opportunity for someone to start an online local news outlet. There are now thousands of qualified journalists looking for work. Setting up a local, online news site is inexpensive. It is just a matter of time before a few journalists figure out that they can make a good living doing what they love to do by reporting local stories.
For communicators, the declining role of traditional newspapers coupled with the increased number of people accessing news online should be a wake-up call. It’s time to alter those communications plans and go where your audience is, online.
Mar 17, 2009 11:26
Wow – it’s kinda scary in some ways. My mothers – a horoscope columnist makes her bread and butter from the newspapers.
Nice tidbit on the local news – I’m all behind that! (Vacouverite that I am)
There is a lot of opportunities arising from this, and I’m sure there are some we can’t quite see yet.
Even still, something feels sad about it.
Mar 17, 2009 14:32
Interesting post Ryan. I’m a true believer of local capital. Local has been neglected ever since big brother Global got popular. People forget how much Local has to offer. However, things have been shifting back.
My aunt works for a local newspaper in Brazil. She told me how they have had brainstorming sessions for years with a diverse group of employees to do short-term and long-term forecasting of where “everything” is heading. Sounds pretty broad and it is, it has to be. They are doing fairly well considering they forecast shifts and act on them in a timely manner. I find this practice very important — it’s a great example of viewing things from a wide perspective (globally) with locals but acting locally.
Apr 01, 2009 12:39
Very interesting…change is already taking place here at the SP. They cancelled christmas parties across the country for the canwest papers and applications for severance packages have been offered. I can’t imagine what it’s like to work there right now!
Their classified advertising revenues are down to 20% of what they used to bring in….who wants to pay $10/day for a minimum word ad when you can go online and tap into a much larger market??? I wonder if they thought this internet thing was a fad or if they thought it would would just go away. In any event they’re in trouble and it probably won’t be long until the staff is hauled to a hotel and the american idol style downsizing occurs…again.
Randy Burton has already jumped ship and now writes for the gov’t in Regina.
Apr 17, 2009 20:31
A few weeks ago I saw a TED talk video relating to this topic
The new newspaper design spawned a massive increase in customer base.