Alan D. Mutter (Reflections of a Newsasaur) ponders how local newspapers can compete when large sites like the Huffington Post and now Yahoo! are posting localized content. He points out that local operations will have to shirk off their pay-to-read business models (papers are still doing that?).
Here’s another thought. Maybe nudging local newspapers to move to advertising models for their websites will help bring local advertisers out of their caves and take web advertising seriously. Even in super high tech Korea our local businesses won’t pay nearly as much for internet ads as they would for paper and broadcast, even if the websites have more eyeballs and greater interactivity for their messages. I’d say that this is partly due to print fighting against its perceived threat. I wouldn’t be surprised if the sales folks at these local newspapers have had a hand in maintaining this perception that print is for professionals and the web is for hobbyists.
If you think about it the local newspapers are more exclusive in their sources than, say, the HuffPo. Huffington actually publishes content from citizen journalists. When was the last time you saw anything in a local newspaper outside the “Letters to the Editor” that came from an local citizen?
Maybe a move like this–maybe–would make local newspapers more open to content from citizen journalists so they don’t have to resort to something like (gag!) Associated Content.
Yet Mutter brings up an issue that has frustrated the media in general, using the HuffPo as an example. Outlets publish the first couple of paragraphs from other outlets with a token link at the bottom. That works fine on an opinion piece, but news stories are written with the inverted pyramid model. All the most important info is in the first couple of paragraphs with the lingering historical information at the bottom. A reader can click on a headline on the HuffPo, scan the two paragraphs, and know everything she wanted to know about a story–no clickthrough required.
Possibly it’s the inverted pyramid method, which was originally created to sell newspapers on the stands, that is hurting operations’ bottom lines.