Two Solutions for Journalism’s Most Pressing Digital Problems


“Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing the matter with this, except that it ain’t so.” Mark Twain

I apologize for the audacity of suggesting that I know how to fix the media’s digital problems. I have been associated with state and national media for over 30 years and I want to see them prosper. For whatever it’s worth, here’s my take on solving two:

Problem: Newspapers cannot make a profit from their websites.

Solution: Create a television version of news coverage.

Why do newspapers try to compete with themselves through a digital presence that replicates their publication?

I understand that it can take a day to create one article and time is of the essence “but” the digital tools are available to create a news studio complete with a virtual set for $4,000.

Turn every newspaper into an Internet television (or radio) station. It requires one anchor and producer per eight-hour shift. You interview your reporters. You do an hour’s worth of news and play it for two. Thus you have two separate products (and income streams) that don’t compete with each other.

The audience for television news is far larger than newspaper circulation yet the irony is that TV news gets most of it’s content from newspapers via the Associated Press. Is turnabout fair play?

It’s not difficult to create a classy, green-screened studio with a digital set (think Sports Center). It’s easier than most people think. Stream it live and send to iTunes for podcasting.

Background: http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/165288/pej-newspaper-are-losing-7-in-print-revenue-for-every-1-in-digital-gained/#.T1bBjGzUaFg.facebook

Problem: Newspapers are losing money and laying off staff thus quality journalism suffers.

Solution: Assign expert bloggers to journalists

Some surveys put the reduction of newspaper staff around 30 percent during the last ten years.

There are endless blogging experts on any subject who will be happy to assist journalists; all they want is a link from the paper to their blog or website. Newspapers should be prepared to pay expert bloggers if the conversation and research goes beyond 15 minutes.

The point is that there are endless sources of context and research/statistics that are there for the asking. Context is the heart and soul of great journalism.

The Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University seeks answers facing journalism’s fiscal crisis while creating solutions that create good reporting. All Nieman has to do quit the philosophy and start the hard work that makes newspapers great; get the right information into the hands of the right reporters.

It takes someone to find and screen the best expert bloggers and to assign them to journalists. Who better than Neiman?


Best, Len.

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