by Shelton Bumgarner
It appears as though if nothing else, Trumplandia has sparked a fierce newspapers battle between The New York Times and The Washington Post. But the long-term survival of the newspaper business continues to be up in the air. While those two newspapers are well financed, the industry as a whole continues to struggle.
I have written at great length about how I would save the newspaper business and for various reasons, I will try to do a quick recap here. Though, I must note that I know no one listens to me and I’m kind of shouting into the void as things stand.
One thing that is clear is the newspaper business is ripe to be disrupted. But, if I was going to disrupt it, I would disrupt it from within. One of the reasons no one has figured out how to disrupt the newspaper business already is it’s a tough nut to crack give its social component.
But let’s talk a little bit about how you might do it.
To me, to disrupt the newspaper business, you need to re-imagine newspapers altogether. Instead of coming at it from a tech angle and hiring a lot of young reporters on the cheap then throwing algorithms at the problem, I would buy a few regional newspapers — they’re pretty cheap n real terms now — and then go from there.
Now, if you had a big chunk of change to play with — say upwards of a $100 million, I buy a company like Tronc which owns The Chicago Tribune and The LA Times and hook the entire chain up to something that aimed to be a Twitter Killer. Because I think given how desperate things are for the newspaper business, only by embracing social media in a full throated manner can newspapers possibly expect to thrive.
What, exactly, would the feature set of this Twitter Killer look like?
I have go into great detail as to what I think it would look like elsewhere — most notably on my Instagram account — but let’s do it again real quick.
First, you’d have Sections. These would be your typical newspapers sections and would help group content produced by your reporters.
Second, you’d have Groups. This is where things get interesting because only verified account holders could make Groups. Groups would be similar to the old Usenet Newsgroup in that they would contain threads, though in this scenario I call them Discussions.
Discussions would allow your reporters to post articles that people could inline edit in the context of a threaded discussion. It wouldn’t have to be a newspaper article, but that would be one option. There would be a robust live chat feature similar to Slack, but for the masses. It would be archive and searchable.
This concept only works if you buy up a bunch of newspapers and give them something akin to a national footprint. That’s why you might also use this concept with Time Inc., given that it is a national brand.
But, regardless, it’s probably too late to impliment this concept for various reasons. Chief among them being VR and AR are where all the money is these days and it’s doubtful you could get the investment needed to pull this off.
I still think, though, that if you did Twitter one better that something pretty cool could happen. Twitter is the center of the national and global debate these days and yet it has a horrible interface and a sharp learning curve in some respects.
Produce a better mousetrap, if you will, and maybe something cool would happen.
This is more of a general talk about issues of the day, but it’s worth a watch.