…this just MIGHT work…

Slid over to Colin Mulvan’s site for a quick reality check about an ongoing hot topic: will newspapers survive?

His comment:

The excuse of, “We can’t make enough money online,” needs to be banished from the lexicon of publishers. Figure it out for Christ’s sake.

Agreed and double-agreed on that one. The print audience and printed edition are both rapidly dying relics.

While Colin addresses the future of videojournalists…I have a comment regarding that of newspapers. There is a lesson to be learned from broadcasting. A big one, that might make a difference.

Both newspapers and broadcast media subscribe to news services – AP, Reuters, etc. for international and national news outside of their regions. Makes sense and saves money. But most broadcasters take it a step further…many TV stations are also affiliates of networks. They get their programming, some revenue, and even more content for their news shows from this partnership.

How it works. Say I’m a station in Sacramento, California and I want some breaking news from Timbucktoo. I give that town’s affiliate a shout and arrange for tape and a live shot from one of their reporters and trucks. Sweet – and they even tag out with my station’s call letters.

Every day I put breaking, general, and feature stories from my station up on the bird (satellite) and allow others to pick and choose what they want…all the while I’m picking and choosing from their feeds. Sweet again.

While my station may only employ a few dozen reporters and cameramen, I have access to a national network.

Plus the network has crews stationed all around the world, giving me access to international news.

Now I’ll admit there is a certain prestige in having your own Washington correspondent and being able to send your own crews off to far-flung venues…but that is expensive. EXPENSIVE. Not economical.

So dump that capital bureau. Scratch those out of town trips. Cut back to covering YOUR area and doing it right. Pare down to what you need to make YOUR community happy.

In tough economic times we all have to tighten our belts…cut back on stuff we love but don’t need. Make your choices and make them quick, cause there ain’t much time left.

And take a hint from your broadcast bretheren…form partnerships and alliances…and perhaps save your collective butts. I for one sure don’t want to depend on the slim pickings of local broadcast news (hey guys – I’m admitting print has the depth and the tradition of doing it right…so find a way to KEEP doing it right – if not for yourselves, for my students and my kids).

4 thoughts on “…this just MIGHT work…

  1. Well said Cyndy. I think you are right about forming alliances, especially with regional web-video. In fact there was a lot of talk about this last year when many papers,, including my own, wanted to dump AP. Then the layoffs came and the key people having those discussions have all left the business.

  2. Yes, great ideas here – exactly what I have been thinking this past week as we plan out a series of regular video shows on our news web site. Now I just need to find others that are doing similar projects without losing our local flavor.

  3. More thinking on the run…and something I always ask my students whenever they say, “I want to make a video.”

    First and most important question: who is your audience.

    Newspapers and broadcast news should always have a clear vision of who their audience is. Generally this means the paying public – but also the disenfranchised should not be ignored. Who reads your paper/watching your program – who does your paper/program affect – who will be lost without the services of your paper or program?

    My local paper – the Lodi News Sentinel – has never lost track of who they serve. They occasionally stray into Stockton, but their focus is Lodi and surrounding areas. The people who read their paper, are affected by stories covered, and who would have poorer lives without the services provided by them.

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