Why The Newspaper Business Might Want To Look At College Newspapers, Not Portals, For The Answer To Their Troubles
from the keep-looking dept
We’ve had numerous posts about the trouble the newspaper industry has had over the past few years trying to come up with an internet strategy. While the news hasn’t been all bad their strategies often seem stuck in a pre-digital age. Nothing highlighted this more than last week’s suggestion by a newspaper guy that the newspapers all agree to embargo breaking news from the web for a period of 24 hours. Fortunately, most newspaper execs can at least recognize how pointless such a solution would be and continue to look for better ways to join the internet age. There’s plenty of news today about the decision by 176 newspapers to post their classified job ads on Yahoo, followed by further integration between the papers and Yahoo. While this may be better than nothing, some see it as a sign of surrender for years of failed strategies, rather than a real comprehensive strategy for taking the news business to the next level.
While we do think that some newspapers are beginning some interesting experiments, such as USA Today’s decision to involve the community more in the reporting process rather than just viewing them as readers, and the efforts by folks like Adrian Holovaty to get newspapers to make news data much more useful, there’s still a long way to go. One place they might want to look is back at universities. It turns out that for all the trouble mainstream newspapers have had staying relevant, college newspapers are doing quite well these days by doing what they do best: focusing on a local community. The success of the papers is that they are extremely relevant to the readers in that community. They don’t try to be all things to all people, but are focused on serving a need that is less well met by others. In fact, it appears that college newspapers and their websites are increasingly attractive buyout targets — even by some larger newspapers. For regular newspapers to remain relevant, they again need to focus in on the same types of advantages: what type of news, information and community features can they provide that are different from what everyone else can provide and much more relevant to their target audience.