An interesting front page piece in the Kansas City Star on the dismal state of the newspaper industry, with all sorts of “sky is falling” copy despite the fact that the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (editor’s note: more “pew” than “excellence”) reports that newspaper pretax profits last year averaged a robust 18.5 percent.
While many decry the death of the daily newspaper, a study published earlier this year by the Associated Press portends a shift in the way that news is vetted, reported and edited that could lead to a new era of prosperity for the newspaper industry.
The Associated Press report, “A New Model for News: Studying the Deep Structure of Young-Adult News Consumption,” examined the habits of consumers ages 18-34 in three American cities, the UK and India.
The study found that many young people (and presumably some of us older folks as well), are not entirely blown away by the way that news organizations have pretty much adapted their old style of reporting to new media.
However, some news organizations ARE evolving with positive results.
The UK’s Daily Telegraph, has completely overhauled the way it runs its news operation, with amazing results. “In a year’s time, the Telegraph has become the third most-visited Website in Britain—17 million unique users visited Telegraph.co.uk in March 2008, compared to 7.2 million in March 2007,” reports the AP study.
By adapting a broadcast-news style structure in the news room, the Telegraph has created “a simple-to-manage news strategy: headline first (via any available communication method—SMS, e-mail, phone call), followed by a 150-word brief, and within an hour, a 450-word multimedia story. Following that, assigned editors decide whether to commission analyses, opinion peices, additional multimedia, etc.”
Their Website enables visitors multiple entry points for a given story, as well as multiple avenues to interact with news content and each other, or to explore topics of related interest.
The print edition has essentially become a “greatest hits” version of what appears online.
Which brings me back around to the incredible shrinking Kansas City Star, which could do itself and this community a HUGE favor by focusing 100-percent on local news, sports and entertainment.
Although the average edition of The Star wraps a lot fewer fish than it used to, it’s still way too big. I would wager that most of us turn to other news sources for national and international news. Same with Hollywood gossip and features.
But The Star is uniquely qualified to cover in-depth stories related to crime and neighborhood issues, our crumbling streets and sewer systems, the circus otherwise known as City Hall and a thousand other things that affect area citizens.
And using The Telegraph’s news-gathering model, they could perform this function efficiently and in a manner that would engage enough online (and in-print) readers to drive revenues for years to come.