Mark Potts who runs the wonderful blog Recovering Journalist, has a ten-point recipe for struggling newspapers. You can read the whole piece here. A couple of points are very interesting, especially the one about getting rid of the editorial page; hopefully we can have a debate on them here.
1. Make the web the primary product
2. Local, local, LOCAL!
3. If it’s widely available elsewhere, don’t waste time recreating it
4. Zero-base the news operation
5. Get the readers involved
6. Lose the editorial page
7. Expand the advertising base
8. Rethink the classifieds
9. Find new ways to serve advertisers
10. Take chances; innovate.
For those too lazy or uninterested in checking out RJ, here’s what Potts says on going local:
There are a zillion places to get national and international news, in real time. But newspapers are virtually the only source of truly local news. So why do so many newspapers splash national and international news on the front page and relegate local news to an inside section? Local news is the last unique franchise that newspapers own, and too many newspapers don’t seem to understand this. People are cancelling newspaper subscriptions because the product is irrelevant to their lives; local news and information is critical to their lives. That’s where the readership gains can be had. (Why do you think local community newspapers are thriving when big metro dailies are shedding circulation?) Every resource available should be thrown at local coverage, newsroom pay and promotions should be tied to excellence of local reporting, the front page of the paper and Web site should be entirely local, and national and international news should be relegated to an inside section. Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to get truly serious about zoning, with editions that are solely devoted to local communities, not just paying them lip service or rearranging existing local content. I don’t care what’s going on two towns away from me; don’t waste newsprint or pixels on it in my edition.