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Internet Taking the Upper Hand 'Against' Newspapers: What Can Publishers Do? covers the news from the Carnegie Corporation and their findings, which indicate that younger audiences (18-34) have mostly abandoned print newspapers as important sources of current events in favor of the internet.

As cleverly states (taking my line:), only the content delivery channels really changed, since for a large part newspapers are the internet. This facet of the story is not about media houses losing readership, but about their content consumers switching content consumption channels.

And it doesn't come as a shock. At the Business daily Finance in Slovenia, where I previously served as their Internet Manager, our internet edition had 5 times more regular users than the print edition had subscribers (although the actual print edition readership was not "so bad" when discussing measured readership against physical circulation).

The other facet of the story is that media houses are seeing competition from citizenship reporting and bloggers, who often cover some news first.

Many media houses are already going with the flow, by not only providing their print content online, but also enriching it, while many have also started their own blogs.

But will that be enough? Probably not ...

Some Ideas For Newspaper Publishers

a] Rich-media Content

Content can no longer be only "printed"; rich-media is the keyword. One of the reasons the television got the upper hand over print was rich-media content, but the internet and broadband access are leveling the playing field.

Much content is better communicated via printed words, but that doesn't mean that end-users wouldn't benefit or want additional rich-media content to compliment the original articles.

Start equipping your online content with video and audio recordings, for starters. Whenever you do an interview, on which you base printed stories, also do a video and audio recording of it and make that available via the internet. Make it available through the Web, RSS (podcasting and videocasting both) and link to it in your e-mail newsletters.

There are many more opportunities to "record" stories instead of only "writing" them. Just do it.

b] Citizenship Reporting

It's becoming evident that professional reporting cannot cover (or discover) all the stories of interest to the public. The other problem is that most professional reporting is "cold" and impersonal, except for the commentary.

Before anyone jumps the gun, I'm not saying that citizenship reporting can replace professional reporting. Rather, publishers should embrace both.

Start developing large citizenship reporting networks around the globe and for all the key markets, even niche markets, and find ways of integrating that with your editorial content.

c] Produce Supplemental Online Content

  • Start online consulting rooms.
  • Start formal blogs that cover specific subjects, written by top experts in their respective fileds. At the Business daily Finance, one of our most important projects back in 2004 was the development of foreign financial markets "blogs", which achieved incredible success. These blogs are not personal and would probably fail the "traditional blog test", but rather provide top-level news coverage and expert advice from the experts currently working on these foreign markets, in 2-4 paragraphs per day.
  • Move in to other content markets, beyond your print focus. Start niche sites that cover a wide array of topics, which are at least remotely related to your core topic.
  • Start building relevant content databases with in-depth articles, research, case studies, video recordings, interviews and so on. Make this content available as "additional information" for every story, wherever possible.
  • Start developing additional highly-focused content services. Relevant tenders announcement service is just one of those. Just take a look at how small businesses are starting to use RSS to deliver critical informational to end-users (job searches, stock updates, etc.), and try doing the same for your markets.
  • Focus on developing interaction tools. Interactive investment portfolios, provided by financial sites, are only the beginning. Check out to fully understand the power and scope of such tools.

d] Personalization, Customization and Usability

Personalization and customization are two of the key benefits of the internet versus any other channel. Unfortunatelly, most customization features are much to complicated to use and take too much time.

Users are lazy. Make it a point to implement customization, but have usability in mind. If it takes more than two steps, it won't really work for the masses. Take as an example.

As for personalization, is the best example. Study it carefully.

e] Pay Attention to Changes

Start by reading this article.


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