I’m usually not a big fan of Seth Godin’s visions and ideas but in a blog post published yesterday, he stumbles upon a BIG idea. “Time to start a newspaper” he writes in the title of his post. You can stop reading there, the rest of the post is less interesting (he talks about idle real estate agents (?!?) having time to start a paper and he suggests a way to execute the idea), but the title contains a brilliant insight.
Yes, it is the right time to start a newspaper.
Yes. Even if we read dramatic newspaper industry news every week (like Hearst Corp putting the Seattle Post-Intelligencer up for sale “saying that if it can’t find a buyer in the next 60 days, the paper will close or continue to exist only on the Internet.”)
Think about it. Why are newspapers struggling? Is it because the need for local information is going away? Au contraire, I would say the need for local information is higher today. Look at initiatives like Huffington Post (who recently launched a Chicago version of their site) or Outside.in (who aggregates local blog posts) or Silobreaker (an aggregator of online information I covered here) or even unsung individual placebloggers throughout the world! Many people have started to re-think the newspaper industry.
Now, if you work in the newspaper industry today, you might think the sky is falling but once-in-a-lifetime moments like the one we’re going through are usually the best times to change the system. As I wrote last August, “I’m not convinced that most traditional media organizations will just rollover and die. I still see tremendous (but underutilized) assets in most traditional media firms.” I still believe it but your call to action is:
Yes, it is the right time to re-invent the newspaper.
If you could re-invent the newspaper today, what would you do differently?