I have given this some thought and I realize that rather than a “top-down” disruption of the newspaper business, you would need to do a “bottom-up” approach. I say this because it’s highly unlikely you could find an egotistical billionaire willing to put up with the slow-mo mentality of the legacy newspaper organization. But if you told them you were going to completely disrupt the newspaper business with a fleet footed startup, I think you might be surprised.
So, what I would do is, rather than buy up newspapers and convert them to a social media platform based on Usenet, I would design such a platform and use it to strike at the jugular of the traditional newspaper business. What you do is, you design the platform in such a way that quality content bubbles up to the surface and journalists would be make money off of the content they contributed to the system. You might have a few well-paid journalists to seed the system at first, but those people would not be the point of the platform.
The point of the platform would be to completely destroy the traditional newspaper business. You would do so because of how it was designed. You would give journalists an entire page to work with and that content would be threaded. End-users would also be given the ability to in-line edit what you had originally written. You start the service off somewhere like New York City where there are a lot of journalists hungry to make money. Once you get the kinks out, you expand the service to the cities across the country. The point of all of this would be to provide a platform for world, national, local and hyperlocal coverage. If you loved covering city hall, you could do that and the the system would provide you with a platform to that and make money.
Now, I think Korea has something similar to this but I don’t think it’s a social media platform. That’s the key difference. This would be a social media platform designed specifically to promote and reward quality content. Everyone who contributed to the service would be graded by users and they would also receive points for the number of views or clicks they got.
You would have to be sneaky though. If you didn’t do it right, the entire media industry would gang up on you and scream bloody murder for you killing the traditional notion of how news is distributed. It’s one thing to kill the taxi industry and quite another to kill the newspaper business. But the newspaper business is dying anyway and this would be an example of burning the village to the ground to save it.
It’s possible that Reddit could co-opt all of these features if your service became popular enough, but, then again maybe they wouldn’t. But this is definitely something to think about.