Newspaper, as defined by dictionary.com… is a publication issued at regular and usually close intervals, esp. daily or weekly, and commonly containing news, comment, features, and advertising.
There is no doubt that newspapers were an integral part of our lives few years back. Newspapers have lost its relevance & value in our lives. I support the newspaper industry because millions of lives are attached to it & I want newspapers to succeed. But newspapers need to change its current form & rejuvenate its offerings – probably as a Newspaper 2.0? For example… few hours back, a helicopter & small plane collided over the Hudson river. First to ring bell for me was “CNN – Breaking News email Alert” and not surprisingly, minutes after that it was among the most trending topic on Twitter! Today there are unthinkable amount of sources through which we can be updated about the activities happening around us.
What do you have to say about this, Mr. Newspaper? Now the same news which most of us have already read and reacted upon will be on newspapers tomorrow. The point I am trying to make is, News currently being covered in a newspaper is outdated! Who wants to read stale news? It’s a huge waste of time & other resources. Newspaper industry should understand this… more importantly work upon creating a new product benefit. Even though I may not please a loyal newspaper reader, let me be very clear that I believe newspapers are here to stay, one big reason for that is the ubiquity surrounding the online media. There is huge amount of information overload & duplication on internet, while print is about selective display (perhaps more refined). To me (for newspapers), it looks like just replacing the old wardrobe with the more trendier wardrobe of offerings that are even relevant for tomorrow. Following mentioned are few things I would love to see in Newspaper 2.0 (or the newspapers of the future)…
1. Shed the heavy focus on general news: Most of us through some way or other get to know about what’s happening in the world. We don’t need to re-read it in the newspaper.
2. Get hyper-local: Be more specific, cater to the local audience who care about their immediate surroundings like no one else. Probably on street-to-street basis. Invite user-generated content, create local searchable database on the website, induce people to share stories on the website and showcase selected content in the print edition. The idea here is to induce greater interactivity with the audience to make newspaper more relevant to the reader.
3. How about a team of mobile journalists? This team looks out for ultra local news stories, filing several a day for the newspaper’s web site and often for the print edition too. I strongly believe that there are numerous important things that are going around in our areas that still go unnoticed. Apart from hired journalist, Newspaper 2.0 should also be more about user-generated news. People like to be heard, like to share stories and fell important about. Why limit this? This is the era of user generated content, each newsprint should include content specifically created by the readers.
4. Increase integration with the new media: Analyze trending topics on new media, share comments from new media in the newspaper, top blog posts of the day, most commented topics, recommend websites & tools to make life easier, etc. Wouldn’t it be cool to read user reviews about local businesses & events? Consumer / expert reviews about some hot gadgets or seasonal items will be good to keep a tab on. This should also extend to a point where, people can select the topic of news for the next day! Going through same content becomes boring after a point of time, let users decide the topic to read for the next day. After all, they are the ones who will read it.
5. Text Alerts: May be at a very nominal fee offer local text alerts based on individual’s interests. Be in news about events and promotions on a specific street, or online promotional deals at a store nearby…
6. Frequency of news: According to The State of the News Media, “As has been the case for several years, newspaper readership continued to steadily decline in 2008. Across all demographic groups fewer people across the board are picking up daily and Sunday newspapers.” According to me, How about offering news in following options:
- a. Newspaper_Small: Good for quick read during the busy weekday, more focused for the younger demographics. Still covers necessary updates, but in a very brief manner.
- b. Newspaper_Regular: Your daily newspaper with comprehensive round up, targeted more for the 40+ demographics.
- c. Newspaper_Large: Comprehensive round up of stories & hot topics during the week across all digital platforms. Contains heavier emphasis on user-generated stories too.
7. QR Codes: Now this may sound too much for a newspaper to implement, but this may be a great tool for cross promotions, don’t you think so? Probably works best with my proposal for “Newspaper_Small” (for younger audience). This should be simple for the readers too! If a reader has a camera-equipped phone and has the right software he could scan a QR Code using that mobile phone to get various type of information: coupons, in-dept information, re-tweet some local info (may be), links directed to videos! etc.
8. Loyalty program: This is connected to the above idea of using QR Codes with the newspaper. Why not let a user scan a QR Code daily & earn some points. These points get accumulated to an online account that is a part of larger community of that particular newspaper. Say after accumulating certain points you earn some cool prizes from the rooster of available prizes at that level of points, more points you collect or more you delay redeeming your points… better & bigger gift you get! Sounds cool, again tilted towards younger demographic – but don’t you think even elder age group can use this too? especially given the rate of adoption of Facebook, I am certain this idea will be easier to adopt across the age groups. The local community I was talking about, is nothing but a place for readers to know the other reader of the newspaper. Integrating geo-mashups with the community will be a cool option! Preferably local meet-ups and events related to some hot news content will be good to discuss over a cup of coffee. What say? This may even give possibility for newspapers to partner with some local coffee shops, may be something better than that. E.g. There was a recent topic in the newspaper about the launch of a new game for XBOX 360, why not arrange a local meet-up arranged by the newspaper to experience this new game for the interested readers? ( This is the first example I could think of, certainly there could have been many more interesting examples. This community can also foster interactivity among the readers, which is absolutely missing today… readers can comment on stories, pictures, etc. submitted by other readers. We all understand the power of a community, there are limitless possibilities.
9. Archive the content: With online, you get what you want.. no matter how old it is, a click & you get it. But wouldn’t it be good to have a copy of content related to interested categories archived based on time-line at your disposal. Probably a monthly archive of the news organized as per categories, it is your news – the news you like it & at your disposal as an small widget and even in a digital form. A year book based on the similar concept can also be made available, probably free (with advertisements) or at a cost.
10. Hyper-disposable news: Now this may sound very vague, but I request your patience here. How about a compilation of numerous headlines related to various topics of interests on a napkin roll or a tissue roll 🙂 bus shelters, buses, trains, washrooms in public places, etc will be a good place to quickly browse through headlines. Newspapers can use the space for a couple of ads too & generate revenue. I know it sounds super weird, but just trying to apply my creative juice to help the newspapers realize their full potential 🙂 Thanks for keeping up with me on this post! I am sure to have missed out on few important points & you have many better ideas for the “Newspaper 2.0”. Will surely look forward to hear from you.