For years now, the publishing industry has been having problems. From Magazines to Newspapers, readers are leaving in droves to the web.
So, what is the obsession with having an newspaper delivered to your door every morning? Why does it matter if the same content is delivered via email, on a phone, or on a browser? Why are so many people so upset about having their local newspaper shut down?
It’s not the Format, it’s the Experience
Like many Americans, there’s nothing I enjoy more than sitting down on a Saturday morning with my family, a cup of coffee, and the local newspaper. It’s a change of pace from the rush of the weekday mornings getting ready for work and school.
The last thing I want to do is be sitting in front of my computer or straining my eyes trying to read an article on my phone. It may be fine while at work, or any other time, but not on the weekends… that is my time.
I’m not reading the newspaper for the latest news or stock quotes… I get those from CNN.com or the various Tech Blogs I read on an almost hourly basis.
Instead, what I’m looking for are stories or in-depth reporting. My wife goes right for the Baby, Wedding, and Engagment announcements, and then there’s the ads for this week’s specials.
A Game They Will Not Win.
To date, nobody has found a viable model to keep the local news industry afloat. It costs a lot of money to produce a print publication…. much of which is centered around creation and distribution of the product.
The natural reaction for most publishers is to go digital. They’ve tried web sites, digital editions, email blasts, everything. The problem here is you’re trying to beat the compeition using rules they created and you don’t understand.
The competition (mainly blogs, newsletters, and Digital only sites) has too far of a lead for you to catch up. They’re quick, they’re nimble… they’re profitable.
So why do they keep trying to fight this? Why not play your own game?
Change the Model but Keep the Experience.
My suggestion to this industry is to take a new route. Keep the print experience, but change the distribution model.
Since one of the biggest costs associated with a newspaper is the creation and distribution of the product, why not remove that from the equation all together?
The premise behind this is simple… Almost everyone (even my Grandma) has three things: A computer, a printer, and an email address. Why not use those tools as your creation and delivery method for your newspaper.
At first, you may think that they’re already doing this. Most magazines and newspapers have some type of email newsletter associated with it. But, the problem here, is the content and format is still optimized for viewing on a screen. Everything from the ads, to the layout… everything is meant to be viewed on a screen.
Why not optimize the email and the content to be printed out?
So, what does this mean exactly? Can’t people already print out a newsletter? Not necessarily.
Most email newsletters are constructed with the intent that the bulk of the reading will take place on the corresponding web site. That’s why they typically include just a summary of an article with a link to the main story.
So, you would need to change the format so the content AND THE ADS can be self contained and consumed off-line.
This would substantially reduce the costs of producing a magazine or print publication, but still leave the audience with the experience and portability of a newspaper.
Ok, so maybe this isn’t perfect, but if this industry is going to survive, they need to go a different route. The current print model is not going to work and they can’t compete with every Joe or Jane Blogger out there.
I love my newspaper, but if they can’t adapt to the new realities… then they’ll be replaced.
The content will always be there… but the format won’t.