Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Five areas where newspapers can improve

CyberJournalist.net points to this article by Curt Chandler, the editor for online innovation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Bill Ostendorf, president of Creative Circle, who offer five suggestions of what newspapers can do within their newsrooms and to their online products that will reflect equally well on the print product.

* Continuous development of different versions of stories throughout the day. This allows for quicker online updates that will enable the next day's paper to delve deeper into a topic or look at it from a different angle.

* "Cover life, not just news." There is so much going on in our respective communities that isn't covered by a daily newspaper. In many of the articles and blog posts I've read and the discussions I've had with people, the consensus is that they want more local news and items covering the unique things about their community in their paper.

* Newsroom resources are at a minimum and that means there needs to be a focus on the things that can be done "really well." This includes covering the "big story of the day better than anyone else. If we could focus our resources to make sure each of our section fronts had one must read story combined with a strong visual and some breakouts from teams like this, our papers would actually be better, even with the mindless cutbacks that have become an industry standard."

* Constant updating and adding of fresh content to the Web site. Let go of the mentality that "until we publish something in ink, it hasn't happened." No one wants to read a front page headline about an event that happened 24 hours ago.

* Be more visual online and in print. With the increasing cost of newsprint, the tendency has been to go with smaller photos, but what we should be doing is the exact opposite. "In every other part of our lives, all the images are getting bigger. And people are paying more to get them. A big TV used to be 24." Now it's 50" or 60" or more. Computer screens have moved from 12" to 20." Standard photo prints evolved from wallet size to 4"x 6." Going against major consumer trends is very dumb. Bigger pictures grab readers, increase the readership of stories, communicate quickly and sell newspapers."

Well said.


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