Making Model Newspapers

Back in May 2008 I blogged ("Newspaper Obituary") a little about the dying newspaper business.

Well, I want to revisit the topic and flush out a business model or two that just might let newspapers continue in business.

Here is what I think needs to happen:

1) The Printing Presses:

2) Distribution:

3) Vertical market approach:

4) Revenue Model:

5) Exclusive Content:

6) Multi-Correspondent:

7) New Platforms:

Now, that is not to say that some newspapers shouldn't be allowed to wither and die on the vine, they should. A market like Albuquerque lost the The Albuquerque Tribune, and probably can't support two major papers. So, some should go away, no doubt about it.

Now I personally don't take any newspapers, 1) I don't like the black ink, 2) it makes me sneeze, allergic, and 3) I hate the waste, the landfills, and all those trees. I just can't stand them to pile up. I personally can not see me subscribing to any newspaper in the future, unless I win the lottery.

That being said, I don't want the newspaper business to go away. There is something so Americana about the paper. I really liked movies like His Girl Friday, All the President's Men, Absence of Malice, Penny Serenade, etc. There is something that I have really identified with since I was a kid, with the newspaper and the newspaper business. I even really liked that TV show, Lou Grant, too. There is a romance to the newspaper business that radio and television just don't have (or maybe they have their own romance, but it is different). There is something about that tactile feel of having a newspaper or book in your hand that you will never get off of the Internet. Just carrying the newspaper (not necessarily reading it) gives you a certain sensation you'll find nowhere else.

I can remember one of my favorite movies as a kid, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and one of the things that I liked most was Dutton Peabody, esquire, of The Shinbone Star. Newspapers in America in the 1800s helped shape the nation and how it grew. There was no television, radio, or Internet then. To a small town popping up out in the West, a newspaper was as essential as a mercantile, a feed store, a bank, and a jail.

Newspapers are part of the interwoven fabric that is America. I can still remember on trips long ago, going to the hotel room and getting a newspaper from a city I had never been to before, and just having it with me, just carrying it around, it altered how I perceived being in a new and strange place. It is like now, when you go to a new city and see a restaurant that you recognize, you feel a little at home (although I go out of my way to look for unique local haunts that I can't find at home). Newspapers can help make the traveler feel that way.

What about all those books, stories, and films that would not have happened without the newspaper business? We probably wouldn't have Marley & Me (just as one example) if John Grogan had not written a column that included the active Labrador for over ten years.

Just like those old dusty towns like Shinbone, if newspapers mis-manage or don't adapt, they will just be a legend. And you know how that goes; "when the legend becomes...." But, they won't print the legend, they'll have to beam it, transmit it, and blog it.

So, let’s not the let the newspapers die away. Let find a business model that works.

(But, be warned: I will not pay a lot for content. The price points will be critical.)

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