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.

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  • identicon
    dorpus, 20 Nov 2006 @ 6:46pm

    college newspapers my ass

    In my experience, they impose opinionated views even more than the mainstream media does. 18-year-old "journalists" are allowed to fabricate whatever stories they want to suit their agendas. The local hucksters know how to take advantage of these kids to promote their scams.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      mikie, 20 Nov 2006 @ 8:41pm

      your ass can't take differing opinions

      hello !!!!

      didn't you hear what the article said ?

      the college papers ARE being successful by focusing on local news ...

      which means lots of local 18-year-old and 64-year-old opinions and fabrications ...

      it will all come out in the wash eventually ....

      isn't free speech what this country is about anyway?

      whine .. whine ... whine

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    rstr5105, 20 Nov 2006 @ 8:50pm

    hurray for dorpus!

    Yay! Dorpus finally got a first post! Now maybe he'll stop tormenting us.

    In other news, I'm going to attempt to explain a problem I've had with newspapers.

    Last year, my uncle passed away in a mill fire, this was covered by the major newspapers in my area, I had had a copy of the article covering the fire, but over the course of about six months, the article was lost. (Egad!) So, I turned to the newspapers website figuring I'd be able to find a copy of the article.

    No dice. I searched by keyword using Mill fire, my uncles name, and a few other rather explicit (as in the coding form of explicit, not vulgarity) keywords. Nothing. So I tried doing a search for articles posted on that date. Again nothing, (Although I did find some interesting information on how "Superior" this newspaper's website was compared to it's local competition, written on the same date but in some obscure corner of the paper, as opposed to the front page mill fire story)

    It seems to me, that if the papers want to "embrace" the internet than they should at the very least include their articles on the website. Or at least the cover pages.

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    • identicon
      Get Real..., 21 Nov 2006 @ 9:59am

      Re: hurray for dorpus!

      You are pathetic...just because you were irresponsible and "lost" the article, you expect the newspaper to have all of this information at your fingertips when it is convenient for YOU!!!???!?! You are a typical useless waste of a species...everything for me, when I need it, and regardless of anyone else... It costs money to host and deliver data over the web....and if it was important enough for you to cut out the article to save, then you should have made copies (or purchased more!) when you had the chance. Just because you were irresponsible...it is not the newspaper's responsibility! It was yours! Suck it up and take responsibility for your own problems and issues...don't shove them off on to the newspapers! Idiot!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dorpus, 21 Nov 2006 @ 3:00am

    So what business model is there to emulate in college newspapers? Their university-subsidized model, handing out newspapers for free, publishing once a week? Or do we want to read editorial columns by angry little 20-year-olds?

    The local news space is full of competition anyway, between the real newspapers, TV news, and the alternative weeklies. There isn't much money in the market, so the quality of all outlets is low.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      mikie, 21 Nov 2006 @ 4:46am

      dorpus - dufus

      oh ... so now I see where your motivation is ... business models ...

      I know ... lets sit around and make up a viable business model for a couple of years, then will test it, then we will roll it into production ... at least 4 years behind it's time ... and with no ability to "change" the model ... and oh yeah, something that no one really wants (except the people who wrote the model)

      yeah ... that will work ....(not)

      and oh yeah ... lets equate having money with high quality ... another good business model ... (not)

      no wonder you whine all the time ... your old school ways of doing things are proving how they cannot work in todays fluid society ...

      wake up ... todays world is dictated by businesses evolving and quality work being done for fair (not extravagant) market prices ...

      business models ... I am only interested in the tall female ones ....

      :)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rico J. Halo, 21 Nov 2006 @ 5:49am

    Newspapers and buggy whips

    The latest news possible on a newspaper is going to be several hours old. Thats geologic ages on the 'net. The newspapers just havent run out of capital yet. As soon as they do they will dry up and disappear. They will either choose to adapt and migrate to being web based or they will die. Personally I think physically printed newspapers are as doomed as the buggy whip industry was with the advent of automobiles.

    www.thatpoliticalblog.com

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Solo, 21 Nov 2006 @ 10:36am

    Wow, angry comments.

    Who reads newspapers? I mean, local paper, written for the uneducated average Joe, uninteresting articles missing critical questions, heavily tinted with political ties?

    This newfangled thing, the internet, is bringing a little bit better access to information, allowing to compare different sources for info (something impossible to get from _one_ newspaper, by definition) plus all the thing that you can do with digital media (archiving, clipping, comparing, forwarding) that's not quite possible with a piece of paper.

    And re: the ads on yahoo, it'll bring the paper ads crows some exposure to the internet crowd, but other websites have a much bigger headstart already (craigslist, ebay) and are most better suited, bigger, hipper and better than newspaper...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Steve Richert, 31 Jan 2007 @ 4:25pm

    Student News

    I agree completely that the quality news content lies in the localized stories. The problem there is that your local fish wrap is only feeding you news from inside your county lines. CampusReader.com has university news from over 300 school papers across the U.S. The local stories are there. The world news is there. Sports, culture, opinion, etc. Plus Campus Reader itself is put together by a couple college kids. You can't beat that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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