“`Of all the things that have happened, [the change in telemarketing rules] had the single largest impact,’ said John Kimball, chief marketing officer for the Newspaper Association of America, an industry trade group.”
Kimball, the deluded sod, is blaming the federal “Do-Not-Call” legislation for circulation loss because, he argues, newspapers have lost the ability to cold call people with circulation offers.
That’s not the problem. The problem is that newspapers have been killing themselves for more than two decades.
I miss my daily newspaper. Oh, the Boston Globe is tossed onto my doorsteps every morning – as it has been for more than 20 years. But it’s an empty shell compared to 10 and 20 years ago.
Most of the effort at the Globe these days seems to go into “Sidekick,” a new tabloid section targeted at young people. Sidekick is “irreverent,” “edgy,” and “hip.” Every day Sidekick seems to feature another photograph of an actress in a low-cut top or a boy band trying to look tough.
Sidekick’s graphic-heavy pages are crowded with Hollywood insider briefs, movie and TV snippets, reader commentary on topics like dating and fashion, music and DVD reviews, and excerpts from the blogs of Globe reporters and editors.
In other words, all the things the Web delivers better, easier, and faster. Yet the Globe continues to entice young Internet users back to the newspaper -- alienating their base of readers clamoring for news.
It might seem like I’m picking on the Globe, but unfortunately, every daily newspapers is facing the same challenges – and responding in the same futile manner. Because despite efforts like Sidekick, circulation for newspapers continues to plummet (newspaper circulation has decreased each year since 1984) and ad sales have been dropping like George W. Bush’s approval ratings.
Yet rather than fall back on their core competencies – reporting, analyzing, and breaking news – newspapers have responded by trying to duplicate TV and the Web. This has meant shorter stories, more photographs and charts, and pandering in young audiences with celebrity gossip and “arts” reporting. In other words, they respond with Sidekick sections.
The biggest problem with newspaper executives is that they think the product is the newspaper. It isn’t. The product is content. The “newspaper” is simply a delivery channel. One of many ways now available to bring content to consumers – such as the Web, RSS, blogs, podcasts, email, and video.
Yet despite having the most vibrant, up-to-date content – newspapers have watched content aggregators like Google and Yahoo make mincemeat out of them. In a time when content is king, newspapers have failed to capitalize on it.
Here are three solutions: