Suggestions for Saving Newspapers

Irascible Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban had some interesting suggestions for the rapidly evaporating American newspaper industry on his blog recently:

The quickest and easiest place to start would be by making sure that every time I went to DallasNews.com you knew that my credit card was on file and you offered me specials. Free or otherwise. If some local artist has a small or large hit, go to the label and try to license it and offer it for free to those of us who pay by card. I may not want “Jessica Simpson’s latest hit, free to EZPay Subscribers”. I might just download the soundtrack to the local musical that you helped sponsor, or a special track from a performer coming to the local performing arts center. Or what about the speech that an author gave at the local college ? Or the presentation at the local breakfast club ?

There are no dates or source citations to the data on this site, but it lists the Hartford Courant as the biggest daily newspaper in CT, followed by the Connecticut Post, the New Haven Register, the Waterbury Republican-American, and the Manchester Journal Inquirer (city guides are excluded).  

A brief review of each of paper’s website shows that customers can subscribe to all the papers online, do vacation stops/starts, and each sell advertising space on their websites.  However, it does not appear that any of the papers have the ability to collect and hold credit card numbers in the fashion that Mr. Cuban suggests.

What do you think?  [poll id=”23″]

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14 responses to “Suggestions for Saving Newspapers

  1. Newspapers are dinosaurs. Unless they can make the leap to the Internet they are finished.

  2. Bruce Rubenstein

    Newspapers are the past…the future is the net…with specialized blogs like this one…

  3. scanman1722

    Newspapers will always be around but the problem is that there will only be a few national newspapers (NY Times, Wash Post, WSJ) that we rely on for major news and then (sadly) blogs like this for local stuff. Local newspapers are dying because they sacrificed content to save money and then have been forced to cut more and more because the paper began to suck and people stopped reading.

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I like to come on this blog to argue about politics and see what other people think about local politics. I don’t come here for news. The front page people do a good job of putting some things into perspective but they are not professional journalists and, as history tells us, we need professional journalists to keep democracy in check.

  4. as history tells us, we need professional journalists to keep democracy in check.

    Yes …but…

    They can’t be everywhere nor can they be totally impartial all the time.

    What we really need is a few additions to FOI, like webcams at every public meeting with audible sound (ie: enough mikes to go around) *and* it should all be available online quickly and forever along with every map, document, etc. etc.

    Once the public sees for themselves that Joe Blow shows up for the roll call at every meeting for some board, panel, commission but that he bolts soon thereafter and never returns – they *might* get the picture and stop voting for him.

    If the press is doing the story with the help of the minutes and a phone call as opposed to actually attending the meeting, they wouldn’t know about it and thus wouldn’t report it.

    Executive sessions should be discouraged as well as too often they’re held solely to keep discussions off the record (out of the papers) and not for any legal reason.
    Going into an exec. session w/out a bona-fide legal reason should be a criminal statute therefore piercing any “official duties” protection.

  5. Scanman1722 says that only national newspapers will survive, and that local news like this one will be provided solely by blogs such as this.

    I’m not sure how that’s possible when this blog, in just the past week, has cited news reporting done by local newspapers at least 27 times (and only once a national newspaper, the Washington Post), not including the other blogs it has cited that based THEIR items on reporting that was done by newspapers.

    Ctlocalpolitcs.net is great, and we sometimes quote it in the print edition of our newspaper. But I think if you really analyzed the situation, you would find that the more local the newspaper, the better it is doing right now and the closer it is to a solid base of local advertisers that just can’t be served well by national newspapers, magazines, TV, etc.

    And those local advertisers are also ill-served by a very, very fractured landscape of national Web sites and search engines. They will spend more and more online, but with the dominant source of online local news in their market, their local newspaper’s Web site.

    Matt DeRienzo
    Publisher
    The Register Citizen
    http://www.registercitizen.com
    Torrington, CT

  6. Bruce Rubenstein

    Matt…I see some blogs evolving into their own internet newspapers…and lets not forget that there are now newspapers with net features….just hit “onlinenewspapers.com” and see…There is also online television now….more evolving….its an exciting time for this medium…

    The local newspapers will either form a net paper and/or blog of their own or advance into some joint venture with a local blog in their areas.

  7. scanman1722

    Matt,

    This blog may be citing local news now and your paper may cite this blog, but my point is that in a few years papers such as yours are going to be forced to close because of low readership and low ad sales because things will be going online hence my point about there being only a few national papers after the demise of local print media. And I don’t mean just smalltown papers like yours – I mean the Register, Conn Post, the Day, the Courant, etc.

  8. The local newspapers will either form a net paper and/or blog of their own or advance into some joint venture with a local blog in their areas.

    I don’t disagree. I think newspapers will evolve in terms of medium (we already are), and won’t be afraid to see migration of some or even a significant portion of readers from print to online, because the advertising can also follow.

    The top stories each day on our Web site (and this is from a daily newspaper with print circulation of only 8,500) get 50 to 100-plus comments, including heated back-and-forth debates between readers, and readers reporting news. In addition to our print circulation of 8,500, we have monthly unique visitors of 60,000-80,000, of which 75-80 percent are local to Northwest Connecticut.

  9. wtfdnucsailor

    I suspect that local newspapers will fade away when the baby boomer generation passes on. It is the last generation that grew up pre internet and developed the habit of getting their news from a newspaper, along with TV and weekly mags. The younger folks get their news tailored via internet and podcast downloads and probably other ways that I do not know about. Until then it will be hard for newspapers to adjust to the new way of doing business. As for me, I would miss starting my day with the DAY.

  10. scanman1722

    Here’s a little perspective. I’m in my early 20s. In college, the Times and WSJ were delivered to my campus every day and the majority of my friends would take advantage of this resource every day. Since graduating college, I still read the print edition of the Times daily on Metro North. If I want local news, I’ll check the Courant website but couldn’t tell you when the last time was that I actually paid for a copy of the Courant. Aside from my friends who work on Wall Street (and thus read the Journal religiously), I don’t know a single person in my age group who subsribes to a newspaper let alone reads one in print form on a daily basis. So wtfdnucsailor, I see what you mean.

  11. I suspect that local newspapers will fade away when the baby boomer generation passes on.

    The smaller locals that actually do their job, such as the Day or The Register Citizen will probably survive as they offer something of value.
    (The Torrington paper is really pretty good and offers superb coverage of their own area.)

    The big rags that cover nothing well and can’t keep their editorials on the right page (regardless of which way they lean) should and I hope do, fail.

  12. …In addition to our print circulation of 8,500, we have monthly unique visitors of 60,000-80,000, of which 75-80 percent are local to Northwest Connecticut.

    Yep, those relatively tiny circulation #s are not enough for the JRC to keep you open much longer.

    IF someone figures a way to get a decent number of those web visitors to pay for content, the Register-Citizen might stay around a bit longer.

    This isn’t unique to that newspaper, no one has really figured out how to get revenue from web-based news, hence why the dwindling of print editions has not concluded.

  13. Bruce Rubenstein

    if ACR comes by with a pound of shrimp I might use a newspaper to wrap them…

  14. if ACR comes by with a pound of shrimp I might use a newspaper to wrap them…

    I don’t subscribe to anything either Bruce.

    I do however pick up the Torrington paper occasionally when I’m working that area – it’s a pretty good paper and I like Torrington.

    Friendly town, lot’s of normal people and they consume 57 packs of cigarettes per-capita vs the pathetic 3.4 packs they manage to consume in towns like Wilton.

    Lotta good that does – and me with a kid in college too.

    Besides; what about the children? (SCHIP tax)

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