nancynall.com » Blog Archive » Does this make me look fat?
Nancy, otherwise known as "she who annoys me," is right on with this one. I read the column by Kevin in the NS last night and thought it was the dying cry of an old-school journalist who just doesn't get just where the future is headed. You're looking at it right now. Not that I think traditional forms are dead--I just don't think they have even begun to change as much as they have to. No one has ever asked me what I want in a local newspaper, but if they did, here's what I say: I want local stuff. I get my national news and analysis from other, more immediate sources--online, TV, text alerts. By the time I get my evening paper, I know more about the lead national story than it does. So I skip it. If somebody's written an editorial that brings in a local angle, I'll read that. But I don't need my local paper repeating what I already know. Drop your subscription AP and Reuters and hire more reports. Cover local stories to death. Local people. Local arts scene. All the stuff people complain about "never reading anything in the paper"--cover that. Not like Neighbors, either...not like a weekly. Like a real newspaper. Only, all local.
[Added info]The new local paper might be very different from the current one...it might be shorter, or longer. It MIGHT have even more local advertising. It might be a different shape. I would hope it would still be a daily. But I think the question, if I were a local newspaper publisher, that I'd ask myself, just as an exercise, and I'd just let myself brainstorm about it a few minutes, and not think about bottom lines (I know, impossible!): What would totally local coverage look like? What else would we be covering? How much could we expand our reach to the community? How could we partner with smaller-town papers? How could we let our readers know where they could find the national news they want? How could we partner regionally--with Indy, S. Bend, etc.--to better cover state news? How do we organize our web site to be easier to navigate? How do we podcast, text message, email? How do we partner with other local media (which is happening, as I hear local newpapers stories read on WBOI and see the newsroom latest on Indiana's Newscenter)
And...how do we still (still!? start?) make money at it?
See what fun it is? And if you let yourself imagine enough, which you HAVE to, to survive as a publication into the next century, some kind of answer will appear.
Or...no answer will appear, and your newspaper will be clippings in the library.