Newspapers and change

Change in newspapers — upgrading, updating, inventing, innovating — should be celebrated, no matter what causes it. See the story of the Madison Capital Times shifting — “reluctantly,” says the NY Times copy editor — from print, 90 years after it was first printed, to the web. Bravo, I say. This is the kind of bold move the American newspaper industry should have made five years ago, when they easily could have foreseen this future. The public is online, the new means of gathering and sharing news is online, the medium is more efficient and cheaper to run, the old business model is shot. Why wait? Yes, I sympathize with the staffers who lost their jobs, just as I sympathize with those on other papers who’ve lost theirs because their managements have not been strategic and brave and have not retrained them (or to put the responsibility where it better belongs, they they haven’t retrained themselves). But every newspaper in America should be delighted this is happening and should be watching it closely to see what works and what doesn’t. I think Jay Rosen shares this view as he reports on the shift and gives good advice to the former paper’s editors:

* I know this isn’t how they’re thinking about it in Madison, but from my perspective Saturday marked the debut of a local newsblog and opinion site in Madison with an editorial staff of 40, and a web-to-print engine that is ready to start clicking. Those are basically good facts for the Cap Times. It’s up to the staff to bring journalistic imagination equal to them. . . .

* If I were Paul Fanlund, the editor of the Cap Times, I would set a first year goal of developing 400 solid contributors of news, expertise and opinion able to work with my 40 pros at headquarters, and I would calculate that to get the 400 I would need a to register about 4000 participants in various networked journalism projects.

  • http://groundreport.com Rachel Sterne

    While it’s just a piece of the bigger picture, I was struck by the mention of sports updates– this has been a big growth area and huge opportunity for digital print. It has also been echoed to me in conversations with people in big media over the past month.

    Allowing newspapers to report on sports helps them edge out strategic advantages of TV– as it did for stock market updates.

    From the NYT article:
    “And while Mr. Fanlund takes pain to stress the need to continue the progressive editorials and watchdog role of the reinvented Capital Times, it is sports that serves as a perfect example of the changes he says have been long overdue.

    As an afternoon paper that did not publish on Sundays, he says, his sportswriters would be covering a college football game and “it would be 48 hours until the articles would be read.” Those writers, who will be making the transition online, “see the Web as a new lease on life.”

    In my post I cite a CNET article on sports trends from earlier this month : http://www.groundreport.com/Media_and_Tech/Save-the-Media-with-Sports-Madison-Capital-Times-G

  • /www.nickburcher.com/2007/11/8-great-examples-of-newspapers-using.html Nick Burcher

    I think it is interesting the way that this has been reported. Some of the stories read like obituaries and lament the death of the printed paper with the NYT saying that it was with “reluctance” that they are doing this. The simple fact is that Newspaper publishers need to innovate to survive and thrive in the new world.

    Across the world there are some great examples of newspaper innovation in recent times. From the death of the subscription model through to things like Dagens Nyheter in Sweden selling branded mobile phones with free mobile news access to Axel Springer experimenting with a Second Life virtual paper to initiatives such as the Guardian’s Comment Is Free.

    Every time there is a big change like the one announced today it gets easier for others to innovate and revisit their business models. I agree that other papers should be pleased to see what is happening at the Madison Capital Times rather than seeing it as a negative move.

  • http://www.nickburcher.com/2007/11/8-great-examples-of-newspapers-using.html Nick Burcher

    I think it is interesting the way that this has been reported. Some of the stories read like obituaries and lament the death of the printed paper with the NYT saying that it was with “reluctance” that they are doing this. The simple fact is that Newspaper publishers need to innovate to survive and thrive in the new world.

    Across the world there are some great examples of newspaper innovation in recent times. From the death of the subscription model through to things like Dagens Nyheter in Sweden selling branded mobile phones with free mobile news access to Axel Springer experimenting with a Second Life virtual paper to initiatives such as the Guardian’s Comment Is Free.

    Every time there is a big change like the one announced today it gets easier for others to innovate and revisit their business models. I agree that other papers should be pleased to see what is happening at the Madison Capital Times rather than seeing it as a negative move.

  • http://ozy.i.ph Ozy

    Times are changing. But all in all, it’s either they do that or pack up and leave. because printing a traditional newspaper for a dwindling readership would cost money they can’t earn.

    At least people now have the option of accessing the news whenever and wherever they please.

  • http://meanbusiness.com smcnally

    Good to see this happening, and you were quite relaxed in your wishing it happened five years ago. You must’ve had a good weekend as 5 years is a *long* time …

    Interesting to see Cox making a move of their own with their Adify buy.

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