My View on Snoozepapers... I Mean Newspapers
From the time I was a teenager and all the way through college, I wanted to work for a newspaper -- first the Daily Local News (aka the “Daily Joke of News”), my local suburban Philadelphia paper, and then The Philadelphia Inquirer. As a journalism major, I figured this was the natural progression toward a successful career. I was able to accomplish both, as a correspondent for the Daily Local and then as a publisher for an Inquirer technology magazine.
My opinions on newspapers are all over the place. I always hated getting newsprint ink eveywhere so now they are pretty much banned from my house. Yes, the OCD in me comes out. Regardless, I still think there is room in our lives for newspapers just as much there is for print magazines.
Two great examples come from Mr. Magazine” Samir Husni and his simple argument regarding what I call the “so-what” or “no duh” content that continues to appear in newspapers and magazines alike. As he pointed out during this year’s Publishing Executive Conference, every newspaper had the final score of the Super Bowl on their front pages the morning after two-thirds of the country watched the game... no duh! Who didn’t know the results of the biggest sports event perhaps around the world, and needed a newspaper to tell them?
Husni’s opinion on newspaper content was reinforced this past week when I read a comment by Gordon Crovitz, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, in B2B Media Business: “[Our readers] don’t want yesterday’s news from their morning newspaper--they got yesterday’s news yesterday. Instead they want the print Journal each morning to tell them what news of the previous day really means.” According to Crovitz, 80 percent of The Journal is now devoted to that type of content. Read it lately? I doubt it’s 80 percent.
Our magazines, not unlike newspapers, need to take a hard look at editorial. If I were a print publisher or editor-in-chief, long gone would be the “In the News” and “People on the Move” sections as well as any new product announcements. All of this stuff should be on your Web site, e-newsletter or available via RSS. Of course you may not want to do something so drastic without consulting your readers first.
Magazine (and snoozepaper) content should take news stories further, detail the “nuts and bolts,” the “how-to’s,” the “this is how it was done.” Not the “so what” and the “no duh’s.”