Tuesday, August 05, 2008

How I would save the local newspaper

Take this one for what it's worth, but with newspaper stock prices in freefall and absolutely no buyers stepping up for the many local papers that are for sale (since no one can figure out how to turn around the fundamental economics of dwindling subscription base, falling ad revenues and flat costs of staff and newsprint), here's my take.

If I bought a local paper, I'd do the following things:

1. Start charging for access to the website at about $100 a year (roughly the cost of a print subscription). 

2. Drop the daily printed version and switch to a weekly printed version more like a thick magazine than a Sunday newspaper.

3. Mail the weekly version instead of paying for my own distribution network.

4. Film the reporters talking about their stories and put that video on the site for paying subscribers.

5. Start cutting deals with the local network-owned TV stations to provide lots of content for their local news (the networks make a ton of money off of local news).

So, who wants to back me buying Gatehouse? Or who wants to hire me as a consultant?


Suzanne said...

Good points, Dan. See recent acquisition of Booster and News-Star by Chicago Journal. They're following your plan almost point for point. Unfortunately, the dailies just tend to help themselves to downstream content, whether local paper or local blogger, without so much as a hat tip. Their spiral may be karmic.

Steve Bartin said...


You've got some good ideas here.The market place seems to be moving in this direction.