2009-02-07

Newspapers - the really low hanging fruit.

With newspapers going out of print, moving onto the web, struggling to find a viable business model and not displaying a whole lot of talent in having one materialize, times are indeed bleak for the newspaper business. Who knows, any day now, newspapers may have to resort to actually figuring out what their readership wants. The horror.

I suspect that newspapers is one of those businesses that need to be reinvented and that it needs to happen from the outside. One of those businesses where decades of experience in the industry ends up being a handicap because it has eroded, and eventually oblitterated, any urge to ask really fundamental questions about what the product should really be about if you were to invent it today. These things happen from time to time. When people get rich, fat and lazy doing the same thing for decades. Then the basic premises change and they go extinct.

Tell you what I want.

I never want to see any story ever again about football, celebrity gossip or reality TV shows. I'd be willing to pay a modest fee per year for newspapers to shield me from this sort of inane rubbish. This is really low-hanging fruit. If you don't know how to deliver this then you ought not to be in the newspaper business.

Oh, and while you are at it: would it kill you to make newspapers, if not visually pleasing, then at least not reminiscent of the glucose-fueled scrawlings of a five-year old with a box full of crayons?

I'll put my 20 dollar bill here. It'll be there when you decide to give me what I want. Okay?

3 comments:

  1. http://www.klassekampen.no/kampanje/gi_bort_3_uker

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  2. Øystein: It is not so much that I am looking for an "elitist intellectual newspaper" devoid of boring stuff like football and the painfully uninteresting lives of celebrities. I am looking for a technology solution that enhances my ordinary newspaper experience.

    The first step would be to offer the most rudimentary of all personalization: the option of being able to configure with some decent level of granularity what stories I do and do not want to see. For instance, when a newspaper devotes most of its prime real-estate to news about some sports event I do not care about, I just get annoyed and navigate away from it. Most likely to some other news source.

    Second, I would be willing to pay for the privilege of being able to control the visual layout of the newspaper as well as the level and type of advertising.

    For the most part newspaper advertising never makes it to my eyes since I agressively filter it out. Not so much because the advertising offends me, but because the amateurish, clumsy, brain-damaged way it is done impacts the performance of the browser. Downloads are painfully slow and the idiotic over-use of flash just burns a lot of CPU.

    A modicum of targeted and relatively unobtrusive advertising is acceptable. Possibly even desirable for me, the reader. The barrage of tacky and loud desperation employed by advertisers today does nothing other than convince me that these people are idiots and that I don't want whatever they are selling.

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  3. @Øystein: By the way, I tried to give away a 3 week trial subscription to someone and the damn website didn't work.

    They're not really trying that hard.

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