Image: "Newspaper dispensers" by MY MONTREAL
Image: "Newspaper dispensers" by MY Montreal

Maybe what’s plaguing so many local newspapers these days is that they aren’t so “local” anymore. I mean, one of the ideas that Tom Foremski had about how newspapers, especially local ones, could reinvent themselves was by owning their local stories — from community reporting to business and political stories that originate within their beat. The crux of this approach is that it’d allow newspapers to offer wholly original content, something that people might be willing to keep paying for (whether through subscriptions or their eye-balls).

After all, most of what online media has done to over-saturated the content market has been through regurgitation. Even though the mainstream media (MSM) has lost revenues, it’s not like the up-and-comers have captured their marketing sure. These up-and-comers are costing the MSM more than the up-and-comers themselves are worth (i.e. generating in revenue).

So there’s still a demand for oringinal content if only because it seems even scarcer on the high-seas of content-up-chuck. Consider a recent AdAge interview with Nick Denton , the founder of Gawker Media:

On his way to the bunker, Mr. Denton sold two non-core blogs, Consumerist and Idolator; folded Valleywag and Defamer into Gawker itself; and shed some staff. Now he’s hired some new journalists at Kotaku and Gawker, and while they’ll still live and die (or at least dine) by their page views, Mr. Denton said he believes traffic rewards scoops and original reporting over snarky reheats. [emphasis my own.]

Why should we listen to Denton? Well, because he seems to have pulled up Gawker’s boot straps and gotten its head above the water while the undertow was pulling a lot of other publishers down by those very same boots.

So how does a local paper focus more on original content? Well, maybe by becoming more verticalized. And since no media does “vertical” better than blogs, maybe successful blogs offer a clue on how to save local newspapers.

Blogs have verticals. Well, so do local papers. Their veritcal is the municipality. And where blogs have categories, local papers can also learn a lesson. Instead of categories, local papers could have neighbourhoods.

Right now, the majority of local papers syndicate their national/international news to cut costs, and they are failing there because news off the wire doesn’t put it into the context of the community. Providing that “community context” will be an integral part to becoming news media organizations rather than mere “papers” (as Tom suggests), and will make it all that more viable to reinvent their revenue model for an increasingly mobile and personalized web.

One thought on “What Local Papers Can Learn from a Blog Mogul

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *