Newspaper business models are failing modern readerships

February 23, 2009

Another great post from Jeff Jarvis here on the ongoing paid-for content debate.

With newspaper sales in continued decline, and the burgeoning number of readerships sourcing their news online, and mostly for free, it pushes the number-crunchers in traditional newspaper organisations to the very limits of what can be achieved and maintained as more and more newspapers go the wall.

Jarvis argues that new business models are urgently needed, and in part I agree: if the older newspaper hierarchies are unable to compete with newer, online models, they must adapt – and more rapidly than they might at first seems able to. We have seen great steps forward with most of the daily newspapers in the UK, with the larger regionals following suit and presenting a content offering online. But it doesn’t go for enough.

Take a look at the way the American news organisations present themselves – the case of the New York Times is a strong example. It has fought hard and continues to lead the way with innovation and revenue-building ideas.

What do we have in the UK? Take a look at the offer presented by Northcliffe in the regions – a homogenised offering which cut and pastes the newsroom stories mixed with generic features and a fingers-crossed approach to revenue building. Or so it seems.

But with news-based organisations stripping down their news-gathering resources in the regions – more and more regional newsrooms are being closed and pushed into a reduced version in the Bristol Evening Post building by Northcliffe, for example, we can see the strength of pure, focused, professional journalism suffering daily.

Not that I am a harbinger of doom. Far from it. But change needs to happen – from the top down, perhaps, not the other way round?

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