Tag Archives: newspapers

A Newspaper Comeback Plan – Part B

PART B: BE BOLD

So now: What can newspapers do to lure readers back to print?

As our quiz last week suggested,  after our 30-year honeymoon with computers, and 20 solid years on the Internet, people are getting tired of screens and starting to miss the newsprint experience.  It’s time for newspapers to earn their way back into readers’ minds and pocketbooks. Here are some suggestions:

Fight for Your Paper

Everybody’s waiting for publishers to do something — to, in the first place, define the benefits of newspapers that computers can’t offer. If you run a newspaper, the time has come to get out there and tell readers: Our paper publishes the kind of stories in print that you can’t find on the Internet.

This means that the newsprint version will be different from the website version, so you  have to believe in it. If you don’t think that newspapers are far ahead of the Internet in key ways, get outta the biz. 

Create an Aggressive Ad Campaign

Billboards, cable TV, talk radio, buses, cabs and yes. computer banners are waiting for newspapers to re-stake their claim.

Run the most simple kind of ad:

*a giant photo of the morning newspaper invitingly spread out on a kitchen counter or desk,  next to

*a cup of steaming coffee

*a blank computer screen.

*a headline like one of these:

GIVE YOUR EYES A BREAK

NO CLICKS, NO BANNERS, NO POP-UPS, NO NOISE

WE PUT  IT ALL ON THE TABLE

YOUR WRISTS, YOUR EYES, YOUR BACK WILL THANK YOU

TAKE A MINI-VACATION EVERY MORNING

WE PAY PEOPLE TO BRING YOU THE WORLD AT A GLANCE

Get Your Executives Behind It

Start right now to train your executive management to place this campain on a person-to-person level. Get your PR department to book these top guys on the media and lecture circuit. You should join them and speak to groups ranging from Rotary to Wiccan, Unitarian to Morman, book clubs to fight clubs and every school and library in town. (Take the Freedom of Speech-in-jeopardy angle and you’re in.)  Go on talk shows, start blogs, help with charities, sponsor events.

This old-fashioned passionate appeal 1) heightens morale, which is currently in the gutter because you’ve cut your staff to shreds and nobody knows who’ll be terminated next, and 2) it stops general readers from feeling sorry for newspapers as expendible dinosaurs and reestablishes high journalistic standards (and deliciously low entertainment values) that work best in newsprint and promise to enrich daily life. Continue reading

A Newspaper Comeback Plan

PART A: TAKE THE QUIZ

If I were a newspaper publisher, I’d be waiting for that great sea change that’s bound to come when people who use computers start pining for newsprint.

Think that’s never going to happen? Take this easy quiz and see:

Dear Reader:

1) Don’t you get tired of looking at screens all day? There’s your computer at work, your computer at home, your TV, your cell phone, your camera, iPod, e-Reader, camcorder, iPhone. That’s about 10 different screens hitting our eyeballs all day.

2) Aren’t you running out of patience with bloggers like me endlessly citing “facts” you have to go verify? Not to mention all the bad writing, poorly expressed opinion and empty blather that parades around as “the democratization of publishing” (still a good idea but perhaps only in theory)?

3) Don’t you find it a blessing to read news sources where people are paid to write responsibly, where facts are already checked for you, where good critical writing has little to do with passing fashion or personal rant?

4) Has your healthcare professional encouraged you to take frequent breaks from the keyboard-and-screen so you won’t get RSL, tension headaches, blurry vision, stiff necks and back pain from holding arms and head at unhealthy angles for hours at a time?

5) Instead of discovering minor (to you) news by accident while you’re streaking around the Internet researching major (to you) news, wouldn’t you like everything that matters laid out for you every day by veteran editors and trained writers who can give you the world at a glance?

One Last Question

If you answered yes to three out of five questions, you may be on your way to a rich cultural mix that didn’t seem possible only a year ago. Here’s one more:

Wouldn’t it be a relief to find a nice resting place for those tired eyes, let’s say a noninteractive print environment that’s easy to read with no pop-ups, videos, podcasts or cookies? Just you and a cup of coffee and the morning paper. The world at your fingertips as you turn each page, the news (truly) factual and intriguing, reviews well stated without the hint of harangue, editorials put together by actual boards of knowledgeable (also paid) people.

But here of course is where newspaper publishers have to be bold. If they’re going to lure people back to newsprint, they have to put something in the newspaper that you can’t find on the Internet.

More in Part B next time.

“Ms. Cahill for Congress”

A LESSON THAT NEVER ENDS

Well, this is the most upbeat and inspiring story I’ve heard in a long time.

It came out in joyous original trade paperback last fall but somehow fell through the increasingly narrow slats of our distracted media (see *personal note below). Now there’s a chance of resurrecting it, but more about that later, too.

The book is “Ms. Cahill for Congress” (written with Linden Gross; Ballantine; 246 pages; $14), and here’s  how it starts:

In 1999, a  gifted teacher named Tierney Cahill was introducing the concept of democracy to her sixth-grade class in Reno, Nevada, when she pointed out that in America, anybody can run for office.

Nobody believed her.  “You can’t run for office in this country unless you’re a millionaire or you know a lot of millionaires,” one girl said.

Cahill tried again. “All citizens in our country have the right to run for office,” she said. “Would having a million dollars make things easier? I’m sure it would. But not having the money isn’t going to prevent someone from being able to run.”

And the class shot back. “Well, then, why don’t you prove it?” they asked. “Why don’t you run for office?”

*A Personal Note

It just kills me that during the presidential election,  Barack Obama stood for exactly what Cahill was telling her students – that anybody (even “a mutt like me,” as Obama half-jokingly to himself) can run for office and be taken seriously. Obama’s belief that the biggest lessons come to us from the ground up, not the top down, couldn’t find a better example than “Cahill for Congress.”

What stopped the media from seeing this book as a great story during and for the presidential campaign? Well, here is one idea: traditional media are failing because they’re  addicted to reporting ONE STORY ONLY – Olympics, Election, Super Bowl, 9/11, Oscars, Bank Disasters, War Hot Spots, or Environment [if fun, like electric cars for everyone]).

And newspapers have dropped to the lowest of the low, following rather than leading TV/radio  news. No wonder three more just failed. What newspapers have forgotten they do best is to give readers a feeling of community through stories all around us that we don’t know exist.  IF editors would get off their own addiction to the ONE LOCAL STORY (mayor, murders, teams, colleges, events, scandals) and assign some real reporting on long-unseen districts and neighborhoods, neglected arts and offbeat human interest features [plus wouldn't advertisers love to appear in a center spread with a hundred fascinating websites per day called NEWS FROM THE INTERNET], the print version no matter how brief might find a grateful audience returning.  It would be great to see newspapers launch a simple  campaign that shows people enjoying the morning paper with their coffee under a headline like AH, THE LUXURY OF DOTS ALREADY CONNECTED or some fun thing. Of course they have to connect those dots first.

Continue reading