Editor & Publisher columnist Steve Outing lists his New Year’s resolutions for the newspaper industry here.
It’s a good summary of many of the challenges facing the newspaper industry, and it echoes much of our own analysis and recommendations to the newspaper industry over the past year including;
— Become the primary social-networking venues for their communities¦ Not only do users benefit from such social networking, but the publisher gets to collect all sorts of useful information about its users’ interests and preferences, a la MySpace. That can be mighty useful for targeted-advertising purposes.
— Add an open comments thread on top of all content published on your news Web site. That means that for every story you publish, there’s an easy way for people to post their feedback, questions, etc. Add this to every article, every photo… If you can’t even open up to the public enough to allow an open feedback mechanism, then I’d say you’re still at odds with the basic tenets of the Internet.
— As Google so aptly demonstrates, the real future is in automating the advertising marketplace. I’m not saying to fire all the sales reps. But I do think there’s much to be gained by automation used to attract new advertisers to the newspaper brand€¦Newspaper Web sites can be and have been used to attract advertisers who previously have had no relationship with the newspaper. Lower ad prices to reach audiences online have opened up the newspaper brand to local merchants who previously found newspaper advertising too expensive, or who only wanted to reach a small segment of the community.
— Publishers of daily newspapers may well keep some categories as fee-based advertising — just as Craigslist is free but charges for job listings in a few cities. They will figure out how to get money from people who place free ads by offering paid "upsells" that improve a seller’s chances of success, such as premium placement, enhanced photos (slide shows, larger images, etc.), video, etc. They will sell advertising around the classifieds "content"; for example, for classifieds search results on household appliances will be paid ads for appliance retailers and repair shops. And they will learn how to make money from the transaction itself between buyer and seller.
— We all know the "problem" with newspapers: Young people aren’t picking up the habit of print readership, because they’re too distracted by the Internet, cell phones, Playstations and whatnot. So let’s resolve to reach them where they are: on the Web, on instant messenger services, on cell phones, on Playstation consoles, etc€¦ I think we’ve reached the point in the evolution of the news industry where online is equally as important as print.
It’s an interesting list that will be the subject for discussion well into 2006. Look for more newspaper industry analysis at the Kelsey Group’s Drilling Down on Local Conference this March, and in an upcoming white paper.