Mark Potts, fresh from the demise of Backfence, rolls out a to-do list for newspapers who actually want to re-invent themselves — as opposed to those that want to have lots of meetings about re-invention.
A few of these I’ve been throwing in your face for quite some time, dear readers, so I won’t give you the blow-by-blow, but obviously one of my favorite bits is the one about giving readers what they can’t get anywhere else:
“Get local. Very local. Does every paper really need to have the AP story on Iraq or Bush or Paris Hilton on Page One? That news is available all over the place. Bring your readers something they absolutely can’t get anywhere else–news about what they care most about.”
Lots of good ideas, of course, if you can get your organization, or corporation, or mega-conglomerate to implement any of them.
But that’s the catch, isn’t it?
Are news organizations just too damn big to turn around at this point?
“In other words, no institution as hidebound as a newspaper can possibly have the agility of the nascent startups that are going to replace them.”
Yikes. He’s right, of course.
So here’s the mission: Make your newspaper function like a start-up. How would you serve your community if you were the small, agile online news site in town?* That’s the question we’re all trying to answer — that we must answer — if we want to survive.
Get busy re-inventing, or get busy making plans to get out of the business.
*Credit where credit is due: I didn’t use this “let’s pretend we’re a start-up” bit until one of my bosses said it. In a meeting. About re-invention. I’d love to hear some real answers to that question.