7 Steps to Save Your Local Newspaper: Introduction

September 26, 2010

Over the past few months I’ve been offering up my ideas, little by little, of how newspapers need to change in order to adapt to the new technological and economic climate. I’ve been authoring posts for this blog and peppering a few provocative comments throughout the web, hoping that a few local newspapers will understand the urgency of the moment and start making the necessary changes. I’ve even posted examples of specific revenue generating systems that they could employ. All in all, I’ve been pretty critical of the status quo among local newspapers: the urge to hold onto past success and old business models.

To my own chagrin, local newspapers seem dead set on continuing this trend. I don’t say this to be hypercritical; after all, I greatly respect the work that local journalists do and I understand the immeasurable value that this type of business provides to the community. But at the same time, it saddens me to see local news slowly succumbing to economic inevitability.

Last week, I visited a local newspaper, and I finally realized just why it is so difficult for them to change. With each hard-working person I talked to, I realized that they had been in this industry for years and years, and they had done things the same way since practically the beginning. And until now, these old fashioned methods had worked just fine. This has fostered an inherent bias against change so that they now find it difficult to see the big picture that is becoming quite evident to outsiders: an industry on the verge of collapse.

The lesson that I took away from this experience is that local newspapers will inevitably see any need for change as insurmountable. Even the slightest change is going to  be difficult for them. Hence, perhaps the only way to effect change in local news is piece by piece, one step at a time. This gave me the idea for this next series of posts: “7 Steps to Save Your Local Newspaper.” Over the next seven weeks, I am going to give you seven things that local newspapers can do to make the transition into a viable 21st Century model. I’ll be elaborating on the following steps:

1. Shift Your Mindset.
2. Become Comfortable with New Media.
3. Expand Beyond Print.
4. Make a Personal Assessment.
5. Recognize the Role of Technology in Your Business.
6. Build a New Business Plan.
7. Execute These Steps One at a Time.

The importance of this system is not completing it within a pre-established time frame or making sure that you do them in order. The most important thing is that you start. You need to pick one of these steps and make it a priority to carry it through, because believe me, the market isn’t going to work this problem out for you. It is going to continue trudging on to the tune of consumer demand, and if you don’t learn to march to this tune, that could be the end of local news.

Sorry to put things so bluntly, but I wouldn’t be saying these things if I didn’t think they were true. Just remember, the only way to learn to march is by taking one step at a time.

Think outside the newsstand,

Photo by ppphotographs

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