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Out of Our Minds
Tuesday, November 15, 2005 10:29 AM
Are Newspapers Obsolete?
Anita Sharpe on Business

Newspaper giant Knight-Ridder has put inself on the auction block as more people turn to the Internet for news.

It strikes me that the problem with newspapers isn't so much that people get their news elsewhere, it's that most big city newspapers no longer serve a community. I was sitting in Starbucks in Atlanta recently watching two women from the country-club circuit talk, with an hispanic couple seated to their left and, on their right, a group of young artist-types in leather and nose studs.
Atlanta, like most sprawling metropolitan areas, is a city of many communities. But, unlike New York, the numbers aren't big enough to support several daily newspapers targeted to each group.

If you owned or ran a daily newspaper, what would you do?


Glenn - 11/16/2005 2:40:40 PM
One of the problems with narrowcasting in that way, Jory, is that you end up reading only in the categories you expect. As a result, you don't 'stumble' across the things you might in a daily newspaper -- the front-page piece you never expected to read on the Palestinian situation, the new gift craze among high-schoolers, etc. Pre-filtering your news is, to my mind, consciousness-compressing not expanding.
Jory Des Jardins - 11/16/2005 12:24:06 AM
If I had my own paper, I would offer RSS feeds by category, giving my readers just the stories they want, and thus offering only what they considered relevant. Eventually I would offer POD issues that provided a print version with only the sections they read as well. I think of all the sections I don't read in my Sunday paper--what a waste of trees!
Janet Auty-Carlisle - 11/15/2005 7:54:27 PM
Hey, up here in my part of the country we have a very successful chain of community newspapers. Each town has it's own little paper, run by local editors, owned by one large company. The vision has grown and they do include a huge web presence. That said, they still do quite well and I know most people enjoy receiving their weekly copy of local news. It's free and it's informative of local stuff.....I used to deliver the Mississauga News when I was a kid, my second job after babysitting of course, and it had just come out then. I am dating myself but , more than 30 years later it is still doing well. The same holds true for all the other districts. Talk about the local people, the community affairs, local sport teams, small business people,politics and do some good news stuff too. That always helps. People still like the tactile feel of the paper and not everybody wants to be connected via the net. Living la vida fearless, Jan www.tobeyourbest.net
Kent - 11/15/2005 3:59:00 PM
Daily newspapers may be losing readers, but they're not losing money. Most still have profit margins that other industries would kill for -- they're just not as high as they used to be, and investors don't like that.

If I owned a newspaper, I'd be independently wealthy so I could run it my way and not be a prisoner of Wall Street. I'd tell my editors and reporters to find stories that have universal appeal, so that your country-clubbers, Hispanics and arty types would have something to talk to each other about. Local newspapers are still in the best position of any media to bring a community together.
Garrick Van Buren - 11/15/2005 10:57:51 AM
If I ran a daily newspaper, I'd sell off the printing presses and set each columnist up with a weblog and drive innovative ways to reach those still demanding a printed version.


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