MediaShift Presents: An After-Life for Newspapers

Earlier this week, I was invited to participate in the second episode of 5Across, the new Web video show being hosted by MediaShift’s Mark Glaser.

The episode was dubbed: “An After-Life For Newspapers.” And it’s now available online, both in its entirety (which I’ve embedded above) and in some shorter clips at MediaShift.

Here’s the description from Mark:

“Everywhere you look there are dark signs for newspapers: bankruptcies, less print editions, the threat of closings in San Francisco and Boston, layoffs and pay cuts. But the journalism of newspapers will live on in digital form online. How will this after-life look? We brought together five people for the latest episode of 5Across who are working for newspapers — or who have worked for them in the past and are now making their own independent forays online — to discuss what’s working now and what will work in the future.

This was not a disussion about gloom and doom, but about things that these folks could see working at the ground level in their own experience. The informal talk ranged from business models to building site loyalty to how people can network online through “goodness” and not just trying to game the system. Here’s the lineup of guests for this month’s video show (who largely were beer drinkers)*:”

Eve Batey, editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal.
Michele Ellson: She writes and edits The Island, a daily local news site in Alameda, Calif.
George Kelly, online coordinator at the Bay Area News Group-East Bay’s Contra Costa Times.
Alexis Madrigal, science writer for Wired Science, the largest science blog in the world.
Chris O’Brien, columnist at the San Jose Mercury News.

*(For the record: I was drinking bourbon.)


6 Responses

  1. @ Krista,I’m thinking that if the content from that wiki were pulled out and published in versioned print, it would work both for the community, the local businesses and the business folks at the newspaper.

  2. Thanks for the great discussion and professional production. As a New Media editor at an Old Media company, I think the comment that people want newspapers to solve the problems in their lives is dead-on. It’s just as much about the content as it is about the platform. However, the economics of print are just as challenging as those of the Web. Those of us on the electronic side are often seen as not supporting print. That’s just not true, as it was said in the show, “None of us hate print, but it’s just so expensive to get it out there.” Of course, with the Web it’s easy to get it out there, it’s harder to monetize it. At this point, media companies need to be moving quickly toward multi-platform strategies and try to find an economic balance.

  3. Lots of interesting ground covered in this panel regarding traffic, economics, local news and so forth. And thanks for the bourbon caveat!

  4. Very interesting discussion and really like the idea of a sort of editorialized wikipedia of a city’s local politics / economy / culture / societal issues and concerns.

  5. Just one note about the Kindle. This is very consciously a single purpose appliance for readers. It is not a mass market item for newspapers. Amazon has already captured the attention of the widely dispersed, small but big enough to make money, tribe of readers. I heard estimates that the Kindle is projected to add a full 10% to Amazon’s to either their profit or their top line revenue ( I don’t remember which.) It is not on it’s way to something else. It’s a niche product for the readers niche. It’s not going to work for newspapers, except as a nice but small revenue stream. Not because of the tech, but because most people don’t read.Meanwhile, I read yesterday that the big newspapers are going to package their long stories as e books. Nice but also for a niche. If they packaged their long stories for high school ed, it could be a winner. High School is the only place that people are supposed to read.The only piece missing in that app is to get editors to talk to high school educators. If the stories are edited from the viewpoint of the teachers of english, history, civics, in my humble opinion, textbooks get replaced by WikiNewspapers. 20 page newsprint products that are pulled from the newspapers website by teachers and help them teach their students how to read and think.

  6. The fact that print is still hard to do is the feature not the bug. It’s why local advertising wants to be in Print. The physical newspaper is the mass information appliance. Journalists tend to miss or ignore the fact that as someone said, people want Print. There is a blindness that I think comes from the fact that journalists read and are mostly word and info junkies. But, that’s a small tribe. Most people don’t read, and don’t want new information. They want to solve the problems in their own lives.What is missing is what you brought up at the beginning, but which didn’t get traction. ‘mass customization.” It’s obviously what’s working for every product manufacturer. Contrary to the common wisdom of journalists, the newspaper is first and foremost a product. Read the description of the job of a city editor. It’s about crafting a product. Not about curating the news.With practical ways to do mass customization of newspaper product, the cost barrier of reaching hyperlocal audiences is offset by the much larger opportunity to sell ads. Once the ad sales process is fixed. I truly believe what I said this week in my column at MediaShift. I think a mediabids functionality can fix the ad selling process on paper so that a completely new source of revenue is now available.

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