Newspapers Aren’t Dead; New Era Beckons

My communications career began as a newspaper reporter so I will always have a great fondness for newspapers. I still receive mine each morning tossed in my.

Christofferson and Haddad

Brooke Christofferson and Richard Haddad discuss a new era for newspapers with NFPW. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

I’ve watched with sadness as reporters are laid off and newspapers fold. For years, it has been doom and gloom. During the NFPW 2012 Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., I heard a different story – one that promises a new era for newspapers.

The focus is on community. “Gannett is producing content in local markets, embracing and being part of the community fabric,” said Brooke Christofferson, vice president of marketing and business development, Republic Media and Gannett West Group marketing director.

She noted that for years subscriptions only paid for the delivery cost. Today, newspapers are offering full access subscriptions that include the print newspaper and digital, which includes mobiles, tablet and desktop.

Christofferson said Gannett is investing in content and “how we tell our story.”

For now, individuals can go to Gannett newspaper website and view a limited number of pages. “Once they reach a certain point we want to have shown them the value of the content,” Christofferson said. “We want them to subscribe.”

She added, “The print product has an important place in society but to be viable we have to rethink our business model.”

Newspapers are valuable, echoed Richard Haddad, digital director of Western News & Information, because they remain the most trusted of the media. “Part of being trusted is being there,” he said.

“The news media needs to recognize the quality of what we do is worth paying for,” Haddad said. “It’s about credibility. It’s about reliability. It’s about trust.”

He is opposed to even offering free paragraphs to view online. He urged the use of compelling headlines to lure in readers. “We need to market our value and market our content better,” he said. “Your headlines are a promise to come in and deliver.”

Both stressed that content is king. And while I was encouraged about the future of newspapers, I am still waiting to hear when media companies are going to invest in the reporters.

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