SPECIAL: “Winning Online” — A Manifesto
“Moving newspaper websites onto common platforms will deliver improvements in quality, cost reduction, traffic and revenue.”
Can we say: no shit.
Editor and Publisher has published a manifesto outlining how newspapers can save themselves in the 21st century. I did the same a while back.
E&P is not saying anything that newspapers shouldn’t know already. The problem is they are too dogmatic, and run too inefficiently to ever implement in a way that will save themselves. Its only when they truly believe in online that it could save them. Until then, its just meaningless action. E&P is stating the self evident really.
Local is not defensible online. Right. Local means nothing in a medium without temporal/spatial relationships.
Common platforms, networking and aggregation of content will help newspapers in terms of competition in the online space. Yes. No shit.
And the last: “the key is leadership at the highest levels.”
Here is where we have a problem. I’ve worked in newspapers most of my life. I still have a lot of ties to it. Never have I seen leadership at the top that in any way will shape the future of what newspapers will become. Newspapers are not entities that are singular in focus. For the most part, they are factionalized around the money and the creative, with neither side seeing eye to eye on function. At the Register (which I use as an example because I’m most familiar with it), the newspaper was an isolated place with actual culture, liberal leanings and creativity to spare. It was the third floor. I worked on the third floor and I never saw most people in the company ever pass through it.
Newspapers are fundamentally flawed as a business in todays information society in the sense that they are too dependent on physicality for their validity. The entire company is based around this, from advertising (inches, lines, picas) to editorial (jumps, bylines, column space, etc). The business is architected to produce linear experience with a clearly defined line between the audience and the generator of content, and the entire culture dependent on a hierarchy between Us (paper) and Them (readers) which in a unilateral media environment, does not exist.
Newspapers built their entire value proposition off the supposition that they knew more than you. In a world where you are represented informationally in the same manner as them, this is not value anymore.