New rules for newspapers

In the article “New rules for newspapers” published by Brass Tacks Designs, writer Alan Jacobson hits the nail on the head eight times out of nine. Though Jacobson is pretty spot on there are only two rules that I feel strongly about.

The first of Jacobson’s rules to save the newspaper urges newspapers to “get real about the internet.” In this day and age where everything is accessible online, newspapers need to understand what a threat the internet is for the print business. While many share the attitude of the former Christian Science Monitor editor John Hughes, holding the belief that newspaper will always be around because they’ve previously adapted to changing times, Jacobson simply retorts “Wishing won’t make it so.”

To put this even more into perspective Jacobson goes on to say of the internet subversiveness “it provides everyone with a powerful publishing technology. It’s not merely a new way to publish – it’s the democratization of publishing. Freedom of the press no longer belongs to those who own one.”

Jacobson’s third rule incites newspapers to forget about their loyal readers and “start with the low-hanging fruit” or pass-along readers and single-copy purchasers. By switching the focus to a new demographic, the paper will no doubt expand their reader base. People who typically might not have the time or the attention span to read a full fledged newspaper, might feel more at ease with a single copy edition.

Though I can understand the allure of a redesign and a new readership, I don’t think that it’s necessary to completely forget the loyal readers entirely. There is a way to  cater to both demographics without hindering your relationship with either. My suggestion is to add new and innovative features for the casual reading crowd, but keep your main articles consistent with the tastes of your loyal readers. While one could argue that loyal readers are just that — loyal — they won’t stick around if they don’t recognize what they’re reading any longer.



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