Steve Outing at Editor & Publisher has put together a list of New Year resolutions for the newspaper industry.
Meanwhile, local online ad revenues are jumping through the roof. Yahoo, Google and Microsoft are already making aggressive moves into local advertising and classifieds. (Google alone is expected to sell $6.1 Billion of online ads, more than any newspaper chain.)
It’s time to take action and Steve readies a call-to-arms:
How about if in 2006 local newspapers work to figure out how to become the primary social-networking venues for their communities. That would mean giving every user of a newspaper Web site a personal profile page and supporting communication between them. Figure out a way to allow those community users to network with each other based on interests, neighborhood, etc.
The real bright spot in all of this is precisely the thing causing the most problems - the Web. Newspapers need to figure out how to harness the collective intelligence and eyballs of their citizens.
Citizens are not only those who have purchasing power. They possess the power to create content specific to a community, something which will be more valuable as local advertising demand grows.
So, there is a lot of opportunity and a lot to lose. If newspapers fail to find a way, we’re certain it won’t be because a new business model didn’t exist. It’ll be because they never really tried to find them.
(Thanks to Steve for getting us fired up about this.)
Update: In a related post, Jeff Jarvis offers tangible suggestions for remaking newspapers.