Welcome!

GovIT Authors: Ignacio M. Llorente, Trevor Parsons, Kevin Jackson, Carmen Gonzalez, Lori MacVittie

Related Topics: Web 2.0

Web 2.0: Blog Feed Post

Why Local Newspapers Require Radical Reinvention to Escape a Very Grim Future

They provide too much of what readers can get anywhere and too little of what readers really want

Local newspapers and business-to-business publications face similar challenges as drastic drops in ad revenue drive equally drastic drops in relevant and compelling content.  But for newspapers, ad revenue declines are exacerbated because the highly profitable classified advertising sections have almost disappeared as readers flock to the Internet.  Moreover, business-to-business magazines that are well positioned still offer uniquely valuable niche content that helps readers succeed. Their readers still count on them. That’s not so true for our local dailies.

I believe that the potential nail in the coffin for local newspapers is the ease with which readers can access national and international content thanks to the Internet.  Conversely, I believe that the potential salvation for local newspapers is to become resoundingly local.

woman reading newspaper in front of windowLocal Newspaper News Monopoly Disappears
In the heyday of local newspapers they enjoyed a virtual advertising monopoly that was reinforced by an effective information monopoly.  That is, in a region like ours, the Naples Daily News was the most obvious source for local, state, national, and even international information.  They did a great job of aggregating content that enabled readers to get a good snapshot of everything they likely wanted to know once they had finished their ritual reading of the daily newspaper. 

Because most Americans were never blessed by a hometown newspaper like the New York Times or the Washington Post, they read the syndicated content from sources like the Associated Press which was bundled into their local daily.  Of course, healthy advertising revenues also supported lots and lots of local news coverage, too.  In addition, as we publishing veterans would point out, in many ways the advertising was just as important to readers as the articles.

As an example of the declining relevance of a local newspaper, the Business & Commentary section of the July 4 issue of the Naples daily news underscores the declining impact and relevance of the local press. 

  • there is no longer a stand-alone business section.  It is combined with a commentary section.
  • the entirety of the business coverage is on a single page. 
  • the lead story on that single page comes from the Associated Press and relates, perhaps ironically, to the reinvention of the Saturday Evening Post. 
  • four news briefs from unnamed wire sources populate a hodgepodge column that includes a story about an oil brokerage firm losing millions to trading
  • the two local stories on the page are openly credited to contributions by outside sources, one of which is a local PR firm. They don’t even pretend not to be press releases.

The net effect of this dearth of local news is to reduce the relevance of the newspaper to local readers.  I did a quick count of the Sunday edition of the paper and found that in the lead section a tiny fraction of the stories dealt with local issues.  Everything else consisted of Associated Press articles on national or state topics. 

This formula of combining local and syndicated content for business and other feature stories worked when there was plenty of local information provided and when readers had only expensive, if any, access to sources like the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the London Times. Today, any reader with Internet access can read not only those fine newspapers but what are now effectively daily online editions of Business Week, Fortune, Forbes, The Economist, and a host of other fine business publications.

The unfortunate bottom line is that we rely much less on our local dailies for essential news and information both because we have excellent online alternatives and because there is less compelling local substance.

A Modest Prescription for Local Newspaper Survival
I am certainly not alone in suggesting that local newspapers will have to reinvent themselves in order to survive. But, I believe that a really radical reinvention is required. 

Local newspapers need to focus like a laser beam on local coverage.  It is the one obvious area where they can outperform any national or international competitor.  It is also an area of abiding interest among the local community.  We all want to know what is going on with local businesses, growth and development, the local and regional economy, government institutions, community organizations, social activities, entertainment, and much more.  Therefore, they need to add, rather than reduce, local content.  Perhaps, they could even jettison all that expensive syndicated content completely thereby reducing printing costs while increasing relevance.

The other area of opportunity resides in well organized citizen journalism.  I don’t believe that this can be done in the tentative way that is typical of so many publications.  For example, The Naples Daily News has opened up virtually all of its articles to commentary in an effort to engage readers.  But, because they are unable to monitor the commentary closely, we wind up with a wild array of commentary from the thoughtful to the lunatic fringe.  This means that even positive articles or reviews about local companies can be poisoned by unsupervised comments.  

This doesn’t  mean that citizen journalism cannot work. Quite the contrary. We are blessed with an intelligent, affluent, and informed local population who could almost certainly generate world-class citizen content with the active and enthusiastic supervision of trained editors.  We are capable of creating local content that would be so relevant and compelling that it would recapture readers—and all those recaptured readers would lure back the advertisers.

In fact, there are early indications that the Naples Daily News may be moving in this direction.  If they do, and if they get it right, I’m confident that our own daily and its newspaper brethren across the country can thrive once more. I certainly wish them well on our collective behalf.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Newt Barrett

Newt is a leading thinker on the new discipline of content marketing. He urges marketers to think like publishers by delivering essential, relevant, and timely information that makes customers smarter and wiser–and much more likely to become buyers. Newt is a successful publishing executive with more than 25 years of experience as both a manager and business owner. He has launched profitable publications in the high tech arena for both CMP and Ziff-Davis. He was an early player on the web in 1996 as Publishing Director of an early Yahoo competitor, NetGuideLive. As an entrepreneur, he launched Southwest Florida Business and BusinessNewsNow.com in the late nineties, later selling them to Gulfshore Media. His publication still thrives under its new name, Gulfshore Business. In addition to his sales and marketing skills, Newt is a published writer for Business Currents and Gulfshore Business magazines. He writes on topics as diverse as healthcare, education, public policy, growth, business best practices, and technology. He knows how to build great brands that serve client marketing needs. He is comfortable driving dramatic market-driven changes. Newt is recognized as a leader with the ability to move teams in new, unexplored directions. He is effective in high level sales and marketing conversations with senior executives in client organizations of all sizes. He delivers successful consulting engagements to improve products, people, and processes.

@ThingsExpo Stories
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...