Doc Searls: How to Save Newspapers

Today, the blogosphere is aflame with comments around the future of newspapers following this posting by Tim O’Reilly re: some possible financial problems at the SF Chronicle. Many are again saying newspapers are dead but I think the best reply so far has been this posting from Doc Searls on “How to save Newspapers”. He offers 10 suggestions:

  1. Stop giving away the news and charging for the olds. Okay, give away the news, if you have to, on your website. There’s advertising money there. But please, open up the archives.
  2. Start featuring archived stuff on the paper’s website
  3. Link outside the paper
  4. Start following, and linking to, local bloggers and even competing papers (such as the local arts weeklies)
  5. Start looking toward the best of those bloggers as potential stringers. Or at least as partners in shared job of informing the community about What’s Going On and What Matters Around Here.
  6. Start looking to citizen journalists for coverage of hot breaking local news topics
  7. Stop calling everything “content”. Your job is journalism, not container cargo.
  8. Uncomplicate your websites. And please, get rid of those lame registration systems.
  9. Get hip to the Live Web. That’s the one with verbs such as write, read, update, post, author, subscribe, syndicate, feed and link.
  10. Publish Rivers of News for readers who use Blackberries or Treos or Nokia 770s, or other handheld Web browsers.

What it means: these are very actionable simple to-dos for any newspaper Internet operations. I strongly espouse the following recommendations: opening up the archives and referring to them in your current news. It’s one of the things I’ve learned while blogging. You want to bring back to the surface your “old” content as much as you can to create a stickier environment. I also fully support the idea of linking outside your “garden walls” and using bloggers and citizen journalists. Searls says “You’re not the only game in town anymore, and haven’t been for some time. Instead you’re the biggest fish in your pond’s ecosystem.” I totally agree! Overall, I think it’s all about redefinition of a newspaper stands for.

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