Time magazine thinks it knows how to save your newspaper. But its “Modest Proposal” is delivered in a printed form that is remarkably modest itself – it’s 56 pages are barely thick enough to shim a coffee table, let alone support an entire industry.
Time may be girded in gravitas, but its physical presence lacks heft. The pot is calling the kettle black while newspapers and magazines head into the red.
Newspapers may want to fight back, but against whom? Craig Newmark, the guy who reinvented classifieds, or Al Gore, the guy who invented the Internet?
A recent commenter on Alan Mutter’s superb blog said, “The problem with media companies is that they don’t know how to build a successful website from scratch. Very few newspaper and local media companies have successfully established new web enterprises that weren’t leveraging their local brands.”
Mutter calls this failure “profound.”
“The reason young people don’t gravitate to newspaper websites is that most sites are more newspaper than web: staid, static and largely un-interactive. In other words, 1995-style shovelware won’t cut it.”
While Mutter delivers answers, Jeff Jarvis asks “What Would Google Do?” Based on Jarvis’ book, it’s safe to assume that Google would not deploy the kind of lackluster sites that Jarvis directed for Newhouse’s newspapers until 2005, where he was president and creative director. Ultimately, it’s these people who are responsible for the failure of newspapers to monetize online, which ultimately is driving the downfall of newspapers.
Here’s something else Google wouldn’t do: create new sites mired in old thinking.Globalpost, minnpost,voiceofsandiego andstlbeacon will fail because they merely replicate the content and revenue strategies that haven’t worked for newspapers. None of these can generate the cash they need to be sustainable. That’s why they depend upon handouts.
But consider this:
Sites like realpeoplerealstuff,videojobshopand tweentribune represent the new breed of news and advertising sites. These sites embody the new fundamentals: niche, youth, usability, UGC, geo- and demographically targeted advertising, stickiness, video, automation, mobile, distributive editing and fun.
These sites are coming to your town – with or without the local newspaper’s imprimatur. But they’re coming.
So go ahead. Pick up the current issue of Time. Its slimness speaks volumes