Monday, 2 June 2008

WAN 2008 shows way forward for newspaper industry

The 2008 World Association of Newspapers (taking place in Sweden, 1-4 June) reports on positive findings for newspaper readership and audience - "global newspaper sales were up +2.57 percent over the year, and had increased +9.39 percent over the past five years" - but there are important messages for news providers online.

The Guardian's Roy Greenslade reported on the snappily titled session: "The new consumption model for news: why the old routine is over for the 18-34-year-olds" showing that young adults are overwhelmed by news and information from various media, 'news fatigue' is cited.

Also being time poor, they crave more "good quality in-depth reporting".

Associated Press have taken on board this feedback and put together a more integrated and convergent news model:

"1-2-3 filing," starting with a news alert for breaking news, followed by a short present-tense story for the web. The third step is to add details and to format stories in ways most appropriate for various platforms
Quote from Roy Greenslade reporting from WAN 2008.

Greenslade also reports that "The old newspaper model is destined to die - so get over it!" Dean Singleton, chief executive MediaNews Group, adds:

"It's time to get over it and move to a print model that matches the times."

The "local and deep" rather than "broad but shallow" point is a telling image of one big problem regional/local newspaper websites face, trying to do too much with their own resources, spreading time and skills too thinly.

Inevitably some content or services fall short in terms of quality and the audience finds better sources. Quality content will shine through, doing less, but well is worth far more in terms of long term audience retention and revenue.

I think those inside the industry all knew this type of stinging but honest comment by Singleton was hitting the nail on the head a few years ago, but now it rings truer and louder than ever:

Singleton says that print has a chance in the future "if we discard our arrogance and our old ideas"

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