Newsosaur: What Newspapers Must Do to Transition to Digital

Alan Mutter’s “Reflections of a Newsosaur” blog has been running an excellent series on what newspapers must do to survive the digital transition. The final piece in the series is available here, and it includes a laundry list of things Mutter thinks newspaper must do  — everything from advertising to distribution to content — in order to make the leap.

Some highlights, in a Cliff’s Notes version:

Content: Newspapers must adequately staff their newsrooms, which is tough for many to hear in this age of layoffs and buyouts. They must aggregate and edit data they don’t author, delivering it to readers in an easy-to-use format. They must make their sites truly interactive, allowing for readers to comment on stories and contribute to the news. They must develop niche publications. And free content has to stop.

Distribution: Newspapers must sustain a “profitable print business as long as they can to fund the development of a diversified portfolio of media-agnostic publishing brands” — that includes publishing across other digital platforms including Web and mobile.

Advertising: Newspapers have to lessen their dependence on display and classified advertising and instead develop “modern interactive formats than enable marketers to efficiently target customers on a pay-per-acquisition basis.” They will have to develop smaller, more efficient sales teams to sell advertising to more small and medium advertisers. They must also cut sales expenses by developing systems that allow advertisers to “create, buy and pay for advertising without human intervention.” And they must get into the “interactive media” consultancy game, helping customers manage search-engine optimization and keyword advertising campaigns on third-party sites.

In short, newspapers will have to completely reinvent themselves, putting more control over content and advertising in the hands of readers and marketers. And they’ll have to enter new realms of online advertising and marketing that, so far, it appears online advertising and interactive agencies have broached.

The full post has much more detail here.

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