Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Ultimate question for the survival of newspapers

Newspaper websites are picking up the pace, attracting more and more visitors as their print brethren are struggling to keep slip behind. The key is that web content is largely free, thus relying on online advertising and/or support from print revenues.

As independent.co.uk adds:

Three-quarters of the visitors to the Telegraph website do not currently buy the paper. They tend to be very desirably 15 years younger than all those ageing faithful readers. Shouldn't a major objective of websites be to achieve conversion?

Web readers expect and usually get news as it happens, so what can a print version, that has deadlines offer? There needs to be extra value cross-references to and from the paper for both to survive and feed off each other.

My solution would be to offer stories up in short, concise format online, leading to, and heavily promoting a fuller, objective follow-up story in print.

But this would effectively mean newsrooms producing two versions of all copy, tightly sub-editing copy immediately for a web audience, then subbing a full version ready for the paper.

As well as creating more work the news team, shouldn't full stories be archived online? Repeat story viewings via search engines and related backstories all add to page impressions.

The only other strategy is to provide content in the print offering that cannot be provided digitally. Currently CDs, DVDs, books and wallcharts are the solution, but surely there's only so long this tactic can work?

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