Amy Webb talks today about newspapers getting rid of entire sections — and they hear no complaint, no protest. She takes this opportunity to wonder why we’re not spending more on R&D. Well, I’ve long agreed.
But I take something else from her observation, something more ominous: What if papers kept killing sections and nobody cared? Do they care about the newspaper? Or will there be good news in there — you finally kill something they do care about? Get rid of the business section, as the Baltimore Sun just did, following the example of other papers: Yawn. Most local business sections suck anyway. Get rid of the features section as another paper did: Silence. That one surprises me, which is why I think there’s a dangerous message in that. So what if you got rid of sports? People may be getting all they want online and on TV. National? International? Well, I’ve been arguing that papers should no traffic in commodity news anymore, that they should do what they do best and link to the rest. My very local paper does a crappy job with national news so I think they shouldn’t bother.
Local? Well, if a paper killed that and nobody cared that’d be time to lock up and turn off the lights. I’m hoping — praying — there’d be an outcry.
Or maybe there’s good news in what Amy reports: Papers can get rid of their commodity news and crappy sections and can concentrate their precious and dwindling resources on what matters, which I still believe is local reporting. Maybe.