The biggest threat to the future success of newspapers is reduction and deterioration of content.
The cuts in news hole, news staff and news and information are things that readers notice. These cuts threaten to alienate longtime loyal readers. When these readers begin to stop their subscriptions, that poses a major risk to newspapers.
I believe that the first priority in improving news content must go to the print edition. This should be obvious. That’s where the money is. Making improvements to the web site can be a good supplement, if you charge for all content.
In every community represented in this room today, thousands of people are paying good money for the print edition. They expect to be rewarded. Content matters.
That doesn’t mean I don’t favor improving content on the web site, as long as readers pay for it.
In fact, the Freedom Forum’s Diversity Institute has developed a program to train reporters how to tell their stories through video and audio on the web. These multi-media training sessions are relatively inexpensive and offer a way to improve the richness of content across the board. I have brought information about these multi-media boot camps for those who are interested.
An article In Columbia Journalism Review last year by David Simon offered a bleak view of the cuts taking place: “ . . .the print journalism world is in slash-and-burn mode, cutting product and then wondering why the product won’t sell . . .”
In my judgment this is the time to invest in content, not reduce it. In fact, I believe this is a great time to be buying newspaper properties, at the right price.