This is Doc Searls great prescription for ailing newspapers, which are threatened with extinction as online activity trumps all things offline.
However I’m not holding my breath. It was recently pointed out (can’t remember the source) that almost no innovation comes from within an industry. Rather it is outsiders who bring the innovation and then often eat the lunch of those who generally fail to adopt the new strategies.
Often those clicking on a newspaper are greeted by a screen asking for demographic information prior to granting free access. If the newspapers really want to stay in business the first thing is to get rid of those pages.
That’s a great comment from fools gold, I want my news after I click, not after I answer a few questions. If I wanted a bunch a questions folled by a bit of news, i could call my mother!!
Well, thank you QueenOfSuburbia.
Its possible to view the newspaper’s annoying behavior as a severe restraint on their profits which they imposed on themselves due to a failure to acknowledge changed technology. Newspapers are so used to having their Audit Bureau of Circulation wherein circulation figures of newspapers were certified so advertizers would have facts on which to base decisions and newspaper rankings would have more meaning. It was this carryover of obsolete attitudes into the ‘new online economy’ that made newspapers want to collect such information and made them not realize the self-strangulation they were engaging in.
Fools Gold I totally agree. It would seem to me that smart sites will have simple “email only” signups – they can ask for other info later once they have some loyalty.
Interestingly, big newspaper sites tend to have huge web traffic – some of the biggest sites in the world are newspapers and here in Oregon the Portland paper site is the key Oregon-focused site. However, I don’t think the websites produce much revenue compared to print, so I’d guess these papers are very conflicted about their online/offline operations.
Yes, there is conflict as to revenue generation. Some papers try to make their archives searchable for a fee to recapture their costs but I think its really a matter of advertising placement. Until the papers can shows ads that are unique to the individual reader advertising revenue will remain low.
One thing I have noticed with regard to online and offline media, is the trend for traditional newspapers to comment on the news much more than they used to.
Online media tends to merely report it. Maybe they view the need to promote their own agenda…ie to almost hold up a mirror to the reader as the key to their survival.