Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Exploring a new business model for online newspapers

My tweet above was a verbal expression of an interesting problem that I had been thinking about for a little while. It's no secret that newspapers are in a heap of trouble. Just today I read that average industry revenues fell 7.9% in 2007, 16.6% in 2008 and 30% projected for 2009. But the reaction that followed was astonishing and incredibly exciting. Immediately I had people respond saying they wanted to join in on the conversation - @davegray was my first responder, followed by @nickheise, @elledog, @annaobrien and @christopherberry. I had a flurry of links sent to me, and conversations immediately started happening on what people thought the core challenges were for this industry. Our passion is there. Many people who aren't even remotely involved with this industry want to solve this problem.

But why do so many people care to solve this problem that doesn't directly impact them? This isn't global warming and it isn't the future of health care. I think people want to solve this problem for the same reason I do - because we don't want to see newspapers die, and we know they can have a role and exist profitability in an increasingly digital world.

The point of this post is to begin a series of whiteboard ideas on how we (the dispersed group of individuals passionate about the same issue) can solve the broken business model of online newspapers. I have started to house links that people are sending me in my delicious account tagged under "newsmodel" and for instant communication of ideas, I am tagging most conversations with #journchat or #newsmodel on twitter.

I'm off to a rabble event in Toronto tomorrow to discuss "what's wrong with our newspapers". I won't be live tweeting but I will be following up with a blog post.

Looking forward to the journey.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Interesting reads and a question to be answered for next week

Saturday's Globe and Mail was immensely boring again, but today's Sunday NY Times made up for the lull with a few interesting articles.

  • "States are slashing social programs for the vulnerable". An interesting look at what states are having to do in order to reduce their budget deficits and meet the increased demand on social programs. They highlight Arizona as having one of the highest deficits and the result is an increased number of elderly without proper assistance. This isn't the first time I've heard about John McCain's state being one of the worst offenders of social programs. How did this aristocrat get so far in the presidential race?
  • "Life of crime and time behind bars inspire a drug dealer to turn author". A former drug dealer who ran a lucrative cocaine business, served 20 years in jail and has now become an author. Apparently his novels, which use fictional characters and plots to express the life the author had before he went to jail, are incredibly interesting reads.
  • "Tech recruiting clashes with immigration rules". This is part of an ongoing series the NY times has had on immigration. To be honest, the whole series has been very well written and tends to look at both sides of the theme being discussed. It was interesting to learn that 60% of engineers with PHD's in the U.S are foreign born - I think this referred to the valley though.
I'm also currently working on a blog post for this week which will dive into the question, "What is more important, the message (brand) or the platforms we use to engage the audience with it?".