Some Proactive Thoughts On Making Newspapers Better

from the build-community,-sell-scarcity dept

Last week, in discussing my debate about newspaper online business models with the NY Times' David Carr, one of our commenters wanted more actual examples of what newspapers should do. Luckily, an anonymous commenter put up some ideas and some suggestions on how to structure a news business. Meanwhile, over the weekend, Steve Yelvington posted a nice list of seven keys to building healthy online community, which newspapers should mostly follow (my one quibble: I think he's wrong to deny anonymous commenting). But most of the other stuff in there makes a lot of sense, and includes things that newspapers rarely do, such as giving the users more power, participating in the community, and even just recognizing that the community is a priority.

Then, Mathew Ingram points us to a list from Dan Gillmor about things he would do if he ran a news organization, most of which focus (also) on involving the community a lot more. The whole list is worth reading, but one thing I really liked was the idea of including a box with each article that includes "Things We Don't Know" with an invitation for readers to fill in some of the blanks. So, along those lines, we certainly don't know "the answer" to news business models (as if there is a single answer), but would love to hear more ideas in the comments.

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  • identicon
    Not, repeat, definitely NOT MG Siegler, 21 Sep 2009 @ 8:53pm

    Inquisive Minds want to know...

    ...if Dave Carr related to Paul Carr?

    I kinda like Paul better. But not all is lost. If they're brothers, maybe Paul can work it out so Dave can spend a week over with Dave at Arrington's super cool office and see how this "building a community" thing really works.

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

  • icon
    ChadBroChill (profile), 21 Sep 2009 @ 9:24pm

    If Techdirt was newspaper, I would buy it. It focuses on issues that I care about and allows me to interact with the community. If newspapers did this, they would be able to monetize like crazy [CwF+RtB]. The fact they don't just illustrates how backwards-minded they are. They can no longer decide what we consume, so they must convince us that it is worthwhile.

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

  • identicon
    Big Al, 21 Sep 2009 @ 10:48pm

    Re: The trolls above

    Maybe that's what the poor hard-done-by newspaper people could do...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2009 @ 11:04pm

    "I think he's wrong to deny anonymous commenting."

    I probably wouldn't enjoy this site as much as I do without the ability to make comments in an anonymous fashion.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2009 @ 12:53am

    Embrace bloggers as consumers for services and products that decades of working have honed in.

    Find out what you do and how you do it and put a price on that services for others what is so difficult about it?

    News papers should learn from the opensource community that in fact are now a multi billion dollar industry and they compete with free or learn from banks that can turn crap into gold, screw everyone and still get money to stay afloat LoL

    Damn those guy's from wallstreet are good. They did everything wrong and still got us to pay them.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2009 @ 1:30am

    By the way I love the first amendment and think anonymity is a key factor for a healthy democracy so I will have to disagree in not permitting anonymous posts but have nothing against moderating language form(not ideas).

    And I love how it is implied that all anonymous are cowards It brings out the rebel in me :)

    Mattew Ingram seems to have some interesting ideas too. But I would do more.

    To see a commercial company trying to cut it in the digital age you have Revision3 which I think do a good job delivering things and they even go talk to the people in the forums. But there is so much more that the news media could do and the tools, use Miro to deliver your news, or if you have the money contract a programmer to contribute code to some opensource project that will create specific tools for your ventures it can't be that bad IBM, intel, Novell, Oracle all do it why should newspapers not?

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

  • icon
    Chargone (profile), 22 Sep 2009 @ 2:15am

    now i have this weird mental image of a newspaper [item, not entity] making a salad...

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

  • icon
    Robert Ring (profile), 22 Sep 2009 @ 4:23am

    One idea

    I haven't read the lists, so this may have been covered, but I was recently thinking that, given all the blogs and websites that are "stealing" the news from the newspapers' sites, the newspapers could probably charge to build custom feeds (RSS, or perhaps otherwise) for bloggers/website owners. I myself would pay for this. The newspapers are often the first to get news, and they know how to get news about things that people like me could never do on our own. I would gladly pay a fee for the newspaper to send me a custom feed with all news related to certain topics, instead of having to scour dozens of feeds being sent to my RSS reader, 95% of whose content I can't use.

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

  • icon
    packrat (profile), 22 Sep 2009 @ 4:59am

    newspapers, better

    to the rear, march...

    reporters could retain ownership again..
    the wire would be independants, not corp shrills
    local personalities (uhmorists) could be independant
    more comic (most pop[ular section (stolen, that is)

    want more? They killed the people end. put it back.

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

  • identicon
    Peter, 22 Sep 2009 @ 12:26pm

    link to further information

    Newspapers seem to think their job "ends" with the article. It would be great if their articles also served as an investigative tool to learn more about a given topic.

    For example, if I read an article about a political issue then it's my responsibility to research further if I care to. Aside from providing some keywords or names the source material doesn't help me at all in this regard.

    It seems ridiculous that an article that quotes the statements of congressional officials wouldn't link me to the recent voting records of the politicians involved.. along with who provides their campaign finances and some contact info. Perhaps that sort of information could be provided and maintained by the AP or similar organizations.

    Another example would be basic historical and geographical details for the countries involved. If I could actually approach the New York Times as a learning tool for studying the world I'd be a lot more interested in their reporting.

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

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