Tom Grubisich of hyperlocal news analysis site, Street Fight Mag, says that to save local journalism, we need not only revenue but also vision. Grubisich lays out one vision. The one challenge with these grand visions for local media is that editorially they stil need to be relevant in the communities that they serve.
Local print journalism is challenge right now for fairly obvious reasons. Print is declining, and while digital audiences are rising for many local outlets, a local audience does not reach the scale of the internet giants or digital news start-ups. We have to develop business models that don’t rely on scale.
In just a few short months, the tables have turned. I’ve gone from interviewing for a job to interviewing candidates for jobs as a relatively newly minted executive editor. In this hyper-competitive job market, interviews can be tough to get. I’ve been shocked by what journalism job seekers have failed to bring once they land that interview.
This isn’t abstract advice. I’m hiring again, looking for a reporter in one of my newsrooms. We’ve got a lot of exciting plans for the coming year, and this is a great opportunity to gain valuable experience in a great community.
Reminding me of the brilliant conversations that we had in the early days of journalism blogging, I’ve recently been discussing how newspapers expand what they cover in their communities and how they set priorities. The issue of priorities came out loud of clear from working journalists who feel stretched thin. To do more with less, I think, quite passionately so, that we can forge a new partnership with our communities.
John Robinson, a former editor in the US, has challenged newspaper to break out of their paradigms and choose a niche. His call to action in many ways reminds me of 2007 report called the Frontiers of Innovation that challenged newspapers to do a better job of “translating the lived experience of their community”. The challenge in 2013 is a lot harder for most community newspapers. How do they broaden their agendas when their staff has shrunk? It is going to take newsroom leaders who can set out a strategic vision and prioritise their remaining resources. We can’t be everything to everyone anymore so it is better to be something to some.
Comments are broken! That’s been a common refrain lately, and while I do think comments are a mess, I think this is down to a lack of strategic thinking around audience engagement and passive, or non-existent, community management strategies. It’s not rocket science though, and Lifehacker has shown a simple way to foster good conversations online.
The discussion around paid content in journalism has moved on from the silly, binary free versus paid discussion to a sense that journalism has always been paid for by a mix of revenue from advertisers and revenue from readers. That mix is changing and is quite fluid at the moment. As some news groups ask people to pay for content they used to receive for free, leaders in those groups will have to ask: Will consumers see a change from free to paid as simply a change in price or a change in their relationship to news organisations? Consumers will accept one but reject, often with disastrous results, the other.
News organisations are still facing a lot of challenges. You only have to look at continued cost cutting at large groups including Tribune Group and Gannett as well as the failure to launch of Reuters Next to see that we’re still in a period of significant disruption. However, we are also learning how to be more nimble and experiment more successfully, and Joy Mayer and LSE’s Charlie Beckett’s have some good suggestions on how to get better faster.
A number of forward-looking editors and media managers are advocating a mobile first mindset as the mobile revolution becomes a reality. In a great overview of a recent Hacks/Hackers talk in Buenos Aires, US National Public Radio’s news app editor Brian Boyer explains why mobile doesn’t mean on the move anymore and why we should be creating content for audiences’ “cracks in the day”.
Newspapers and print media saw the ‘asteroid’ coming, as Neil Thackray of Briefing Media put it, but like so many other industries facing disruption, they failed to adapt. In this piece that originally appeared on The Media Briefing, I look at ways that news organisation can increase experimentation and therefore increase their ability to adapt to the rapid changes that digital is bringing to their industry.