What must Newspapers Do To Survive in the Digital Age?
When you ask the editor of Metro Pulse what the state of crisis is for a newspaper company in the digital age, he will respond “Why should people pay for the print edition for a daily newspaper when most of its stories are already a day old?” They keep this question in mind in all aspects of writing, production, and sales. Newspapers know of the threat that lies within the rapidly growing new era. All newspaper companies must ask themselves what determining factors make a successful publication in the digital age, and what can be applied to their specific title.
There are many factors that determine whether a publication is successful. First, the publication must remember how newspapers began. The daily newspaper used to be “part of the family”. It used to focus more about serving the community than raking in profits (Clark). When they put the emphasis on the community, they are able to develop such a strong readership and relationship with local businesses. “Give up on the idea of being profitable enterprises that make money for investors… Build a strong community of readers who believe in you because of your integrity and accuracy.” says Turczyn from Knoxville’s Metro Pulse (Turczyn). Metro Pulse is one of Knoxville’s beloved local newspapers, a regular accessory in the hands of anyone spotted wandering around downtown.
Turczyn also suggests writing for the people. With no target demographics, they are able to reach a wider audience, including the younger generation. Newspapers that listen to their audience’s suggestions know what is currently interesting and relevant. Metro Pulse is so successful partially because it utilizes a comprehensive events calendar that can’t be found elsewhere. Even readers that aren’t particularly article readers can find information specifically for them. It provides this go-to resource for free to anyone in Knoxville. The editor says, “This draws in a good number of advertisers as well — they want to connect with the people who like to get out and do things here” (Turczyn).
Third, one must also know its threat. If a newspaper wants to compete with its digitized counterpart, the company will have to understand how the communication age is changing and adapt to it. Some newspapers are trying to put up paywalls on their websites, but will that compensate enough for the loss of subscribers? Then there is the challenge of website advertising. Why would a business pay for space on a local newspaper’s site when they can stretch their dollar over a wider audience on Facebook? (Turczyn). These are all costly questions newspapers must face balancing in the tech age. A printed newspaper company that understands the transition its competition is going through may be able to adapt. What is your online competition missing that you can provide?
While not all newspapers have the opportunity to serve as a niche publication, this is what makes Metro Pulse thrive. “Our niche is people who like to read about Knoxville — its issues, culture, people, politics, etc. Our goal is to find stories that haven’t already been fully told.” A newspaper company, no matter where they are in the world, has an advantage as long as it a fresh story, or take on a story, or fitting for its audience in general. Newspapers that continue to provide what the big website news companies can’t will always have an advantage and always have a place in our hearts.
Clark, Tor. “Can Local Newspapers Survive in the Digital Age?” Hold The Front Page. Hold The Front
Page, 20 Aug 2013. Web. 9 September 2014. <http://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk/author/hold
Turczyn, Coury. Personal interview. 15 September 2014.