How to save your newspaper (in 5 steps)

October 22, 2006

Not long ago, in last August 24th to be precise, the Economist cover announced the end of the Newspaper, “Who killed the Newspaper?” was their question. They argued that in a few decades most of the newspapers of the world would just vanish, as the web take over and the advertisement money flee to Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and the long tail of blogs, on-line games and social network sites. Still a few newspapers would manage to survive, but those few would have to reinvent themselves bla bla bla.

Well, if all will end up on the web, then some newspapers can indeed still manage to survive. But will they be really newspapers, or some other new category of media, merging it all? Look around the web, New York Times and CNN, what are the differences of these sites? Both have multimedia content, text, blogs, news rankings and everything media convergence made possible. Can you really say which one is a television network and which is a traditional thick newspaper?

I did not think so.

So more to the point, what should old and tired newspapers media moguls be doing to save their prrrrrrrrecious small decadent empires? Here my advice (it is free, so do not take it very seriously):

(1) Hire real smart people that understand the ways news are published on the brave-not-so-new Internet: web user interface experts, database engineers, AJAX masters.

(2) Let these guys experiment, benchmark and ask them a deployment plan.

(3) Find a way to sustain the project: Google addwords and addsense is a good start, but you should push your smart girls and boys to devise other great things.

(4) Go slowly, ask the readers their opinion and improve incrementally.

(5) Repeat the steps 2-5. Yes, that’s an infinite loop.

Ps: now and then you´ll probably also have to perform the first step again; bright people tend to get restless on a single job.


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