Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
5 April 2018
Saving Newspapers. Rebranding Newspapers.
Saving Newspapers is a worthy endeavor. It’s also close to my heart. My sister spent her career serving as a reporter and noted columnist. Yet, I represent part of the problem – as well as part of the fix. I’ll explain my complicity.
Our Greensboro NC newspaper is a rag of an instrument. Because I have no kids or grandkids in high school, I don’t care much about local sports coverage. And there is only so much one can take of shootings and house fires.
Sadly, the reporting staff is yearlings and most of the copy comes from wire services. The News & Record serves as a case study in how a once fine newspaper can embrace irrelevancy.
The advertising hole dried up
Here is my confession. I cancelled my home delivery years ago. Getting the News & Record was not worth the costs and the aggravation. I’m not the only one.
Records show that, as of September 30, 2011, the paper sported an average weekday circulation of about 54,789 and an average Sunday circulation of about 81,600. Today, the circulation sits at half that.
Thinking of finding strategic ways for saving newspapers, I admit I have not given it much thought. I subscribe to the Washington Post and New York Times on my iPad. So it’s not as if I don’t follow the news.
“In the hands of every homeowner in Greensboro the paper is once again a formidable commercial force.”
A light bulb went off. Saving newspapers can be done.
My mother-in-law has been in and out of the hospital the last week or so. You don’t mess with pancreatitis when you are 87. A bevy of tests, procedures and interventions make Moses Cone Hospital my family’s second mailing address.
Each day, a copy of the Greensboro News & Record arrives. There it sits, at her bedside. And, each day I read it. Not a major investment in time. I think the entire newspaper fills up less than 20 pages.
On the back it says $1.00 per issue.
My clue to saving newspapers rests in my behavior. I read it because it was there. Saving newspapers does not require a full rebranding of newspapers. It requires a rethinking of the business model.
After all, few have been able to transition to a digital model successfully.
The old model stopped working. Sell the paper cheaply and pay for the salaries, newspaper printing and deliver through advertising revenue, right? Nada.
Give the newspaper away
That is my solution to saving newspapers. Give it away for free. Not just to some but to EVERYONE.
Greensboro has a population of 269,666.
The newspaper already understands the logistics of delivery. So damn it. Deliver it to every home and apartment. Done.
Then sell the advertising to all the local merchants and businesses guaranteeing a circulation of 269,666. I know it’s not PAID circulation, but the model is every changing.
In the hands of every homeowner in Greensboro the paper is once again a formidable commercial force.
To the owners and newspaper producers who don’t want to see the old financial model go away. Well, folks, that ship sailed.
Save the newspaper business. It’s a worthy cause.
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