In OJR, Robin Miller has posted the recipe to save newspapers online.
Of course, I think it’s brilliant stuff. There isn’t a suggestion there I haven’t made myself. I love the confirmation of the ideas.
A few highlights:
A website that can tell me about every upcoming meeting of the Bradenton City Council and every upcoming appearance of my favorite local bands and alert me to the next meeting of the Tamiami Trail Business Association is going to get a lot of visits from me — and from a lot of other people, too.
It is now possible to outfit a reporter with a “backpack video” newsgathering rig, including a high-definition digital camcorder, all necessary sound equipment, and a compact tripod, for less than $3000. This equipment is nearly 100% “point and shoot,” too. It doesn’t take any great technical skill to operate.
Hell, you can do it for a lot less than $3,000 and not lose a damn thing in quality. (NOTE: I just notice in comments that Miller is including a laptop in his rig, in which case $3K is more like it, especially if you’re going for the Canon HV20.)
Newspapers should be out scouting for successful local bloggers — not the ones who do two-sentence links to stories published elsewhere, but those who do original reporting — and offering them a chance to put their material on the newspapers’ sites instead of their own. For pay.
Well, there’s lots of ways to work with local bloggers better, and at this point, pay is optional. Let’s get some revenue in first.
Coupons can make great ads on a newspaper website’s pages, but a whole section devoted to coupons (possibly with an accompanying stringer-generated blog pointing to special deals noticed by readers) could become a reader draw on its own, not to mention a decent income-generator.
I haven’t blogged about coupons before, but I’ve talked about it a lot. I think coupons are the under exploited print ad for the web. I’m not aware of a newspaper site that is doing coupons right, though for a short while many years ago, the Ventura County Star was close.
And Miller is right here, too:
The real question is not whether we will see the development of dominant local online news operations run by Web-hip publishers and editors, but whether those Web-hip publishers and editors will work for existing local newspapers or for new, Web-only publications that eventually replace newspapers as the dominant source of local news.