This has been on my mind for some time now, and I know I’m not the first blogger to share his or her thoughts on this medium. Having spent 15 years in Media via Radio & Television mostly, I’ve considered Newspaper a distant cousin rather than the opposition in my years of selling advertising. The Media mix for marketing has always been these big three, Radio, Television & Newspaper, but something happened along the way and they seem to have missed it.
If you’ve noticed, the paper has been getting smaller, or shorter. The paper is getting fatter with inserts and more grocery coupons than one person can count. The content is smothered by ads, there are more ads in the paper than actual content for us to consume. What used to take two cups of coffee to read, takes less than minute. There is always the big headline trying to get your attention, it is almost always a headline like – Another Hit-And-Run! After all, blood and guts is what sells papers right?
So what’s happening to local Newspapers? It’s as if they are in a different world, a world of their own, and we’re not invited to participate in that world. We don’t have a say in what goes into the paper, in fact, we have virtually no hope of being heard by our local Newspapers. I just don’t understand that way of thinking. The old saying comes to mind, “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”, and I know business owners are tired of being bitten.
Radio used to be theatre of the mind, a real connecting point for communities, a huge service during the war, they used to get involved with communities without charging you to be in your community. Radio reached more people than any other medium, it was the 1st medium on the scene really, and it almost didn’t see the light of day. Why? It was free! The music industry alone tried to stop it, but then they figured out how to monetize Radio, there was an acceptable business model. That business model was the 1st real Open & Free Business Model.
Television captivated us by the sheer magic of how they were able to make it happen, TV used to be live not pre-recorded, those were golden times for TV. They too figured out the Open & Free Business Model, just as Radio did, Newspaper’s like the other two lost their first love, being truly connected and got involved in their communities. They provided a service, and for the most part it was free until money became the primary focus. Money is and always will be the 1st love of almost every business on the planet, that’s why so many businesses fail, they focus on the wrong things because of money, and most still do today. But that’s changing.
I will give Newspapers some credit, they are adopting the Internet, they have to, that’s where the people are. Just because papers are moving to the Internet, doesn’t mean they will survive, it merely means they are making a shift to a digital format. One of our local papers has started using Twitter, they have 13 followers as of this writing, they have a ways to go to get attention of the Twitter crowd. In fairness, there is more than one local paper, one with 1006 followers, the rest with less 1,000 followers. The problem isn’t following & circulation, the problem is….the way they think, the paradigm shift is too difficult for many, they look at the problem with old industrial age thinking, and then try to solve this shift problem internally. No, they don’t need to hire a Social Media Guru, they need someone to come in with a fresh pair of eyes, someone who sees the future of business and what it’s really doing. Business, not the Newspaper Business.
If 60% of commerce is going to be done online in the next 2 -3 years, why are newspapers so slow to adopt this movement? They should have begun the move, from denial to foresight, but sadly they are resisting, eventually they will subcumb to this global movement. The times are a changing baby!
The control they are trying to hang onto is a greased pig. Consider the life span of one simple Newspaper Ad, about a day & a half. Radio would have you run campaigns that require multiple ads in an hour or a day for consecutive days. Television does the same thing, you must run 10 ads a day to reach as many consumers in a day. Ka-Ching! If it takes 30 days to develop a habit, imagine how many days it takes to keep a brand top of mind, the numbers get staggering.
The future of the big three has been at risk for some time now. Individuals are now the competitor, so pay attention. I challenge Newspapers to make one change, this one simple change: listen to what your readers want, let them decide, don’t get in the way and question it, just do it. Just once don’t let money think for you, Don’t tell readers how wrong they are, don’t treat us like we don’t have a clue what we are doing, just do it! You’re already loosing money and more importantly, readers, so why not try it, trust the people formerly known as your readers (consumers). If you don’t, they’ll find local news a different way, like here: The Fraser Valley Daily
There is so much more to say on this topic, would love to hear your thoughts. Someday we will see the end of the Newspaper Editor, why, because he/she will be redundant.
What do you think, do you think your local Newspaper is failing you & your community?