Just got back from the Texas Press Association, where I talked about the importance of digital media for newspapers of all sizes (most of the newspapers represented there were small weeklies). I talked about the need to know your community, and what your customers want from its primary information gathering organization. And as I made the torturous flight back home (delayed plane, sat on the tarmac for an hour, turbulence so bad I couldn’t enjoy a nice Crown Royal), I thought more about knowing your community.
I’ve said before that big newspapers can certainly charge for their content because they have unique information, while on the other end of the spectrum, small publications may not need to put anything online because the only place to get information is from the newspaper.
At the Texas Press Association, a number of newspapers asked whether a pay site is the right way to go. My answer: know the community. Is the community older, and doesn’t use technology much? What percentage of the community is still on dial-up? Does your community have a large immigrant population, which would call for an entirely different digital strategy? How much time does your community have to fuss with digital (farming communities might not). Does your community still prefer to get its information in paper form? What do your local advertisers think? How do the civic groups, boy scout troops, little league teams view digital information and will they post information to your site?
These are just a few of the questions newspapers need to ask. The answers to those questions will help define a strategy that will lead to success.
The views expressed on this blog are mine alone.