How to save your local newspaper

By STEVEN STARK  |  February 12, 2009

5)Provide a literate alternative to the Internet. Here the model is the English Guardian's G2 section or the Globe's Ideas section on Sunday. Give the readers a short daily magazine, with a sassy article or two that helps set the agenda and gets people talking. This could bolster or even replace the op-ed page, which, frankly, has lost much of its utility. (Isn't the Internet just one big op-ed page?)

6)Having done steps one through five, charge a Web fee. In retrospect, one of the biggest mistakes newspapers ever made was giving their product away for free on the Internet. Somehow, that decision has to be rescinded to make things work.

Can local papers charge something for what they're offering now on the Web? Well, yeah — but not much. But let's say local papers beef up their sports sections, as suggested. Would there be an audience willing to pay more for that? Quite likely, particularly in sports-mad towns. And there might be some incentive for individual papers along the line to develop types of expertise they could sell — say, rugby for one paper or international news in India and Pakistan for another, and so on.

Will this work? Well, the truth is nothing is going to work immediately in the midst of a financial crisis. But once that begins to recede, the model outlined above at least gives newspapers a 21st-century model for which they can strive.

Right now, newspapers are in a horrible downward cycle of mindless cuts, which produces mindless journalism. Even if they manage to survive at the end of all of this, what difference will it make if no one wants to read them?

To read the "Stark Ravings" blog, go to thePhoenix.com/blogs/starkravings. Steven Stark can be reached at sds@starkwriting.com.

< prev  1  |  2  | 
Related: Is Rhode Island a paywall mecca?, Murdoch & Son, How they hate him, More more >
  Topics: Stark Ravings , Media, Media, Newspapers,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY STEVEN STARK
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   MAPPING OUT THE NEW YEAR'S POLITICAL LANDSCAPE  |  December 29, 2010
    MAPPING OUT THE NEW YEAR'S POLITICAL LANDSCAPE
  •   DEMOCRATS AGAINST OBAMA  |  November 03, 2010
    Now that the midterm wipeout has concluded, analysts are already sizing up the GOP challengers to a weakened Barack Obama. Not only that: some Democratic party elders are considering the once-unthinkable scenario of a debilitating challenge to Barack Obama from inside his party.
  •   THE INDEPENDENT HERD  |  October 06, 2010
    The big news in this election cycle is the rise of the Tea Party. Fair enough. But passing under the radar is an accompanying development that could have even more far-reaching consequences — the rise of an emboldened third force in our politics.
  •   THE AMERICAN IDOL PARTY  |  September 23, 2010
    Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell might not turn out to be good candidates, but they make great television.
  •   HAS OBAMA PEAKED? YES, HE HAS  |  November 12, 2009
    To listen to some pundits, Barack Obama's public image began taking a serious beating when the off-year election returns came in a week ago. Or maybe it was the undeserved Nobel Prize, his approach to the war in Afghanistan, or when he revved up his pursuit of national health-care reform.

 See all articles by: STEVEN STARK