Capitalizing on the Demise of an Entire Industry
I’ve been talking about this with my friends and family for a little over two years now.
Daily local newspapers will be dead within our lifetime (if you’re in your mid 40’s or younger.)
More and more news is coming out of the newspaper industry that is VERY bad for them.
I have my own testimony. I used to subscribe to the Oregonian. The only option we really have here in Portland. It’s an ultra liberal rag so I stopped subscribing. (I had this ongoing fear that I would spontaneously puke while reading it.)
Evidently my cancellation didn’t mean much to the Oregonian as I continued to get the paper. I won’t get into the full story here because it’s long, painful and full of expletives on my behalf. Suffice to say, we FINALLY stopped receiving the damned thing, but only after months of multiple phone calls and much yelling on the phone. They were bound and determined to keep me on their circulation, regardless whether I actually read it or not or whether I actually paid for it or not. This is a good example of just how desparate they are to keep their perceived circulation numbers high. I say perceived because I’d be willing to bet you that a VAST percentage of the papers that go out now-a-days end up being used as bird cage liner without one eye being laid upon the text.
Here’s a test. Call and cancel your newspaper subscription. I’d lay 10 to 1 odds that they will offer you a reduced rate and if you continue to insist, they will finally offer it for free. Try it. You can always subscribe again later. (God knows why. Perhaps you have a bird.)
Eventually, advertisers are going to start getting a good whiff of the smelling tablets and awake from their love affair with the local paper. This will drive them in droves to the internet, radio and TV. Of course, that will be the end of the paper as we know it. In order for a paper to be viable and have compelling articles, they need to have a certain number of subscribers. If they fall below that number, they are history. It doesn’t matter if there are still X number of readers. If they don’t have critical mass, they are dead. That’s the problem.
So, it’s really just a matter of time. As the internet generation gets older and more used to reading their news online, in real time, newspapers will fall like flies. Think about it. We can get our top local news on our TV. As for all the other news, we’re not going to want to read about it 12 to 24 hours later. We want to read about it NOW. As it happens.
Here’s the entrepreneurial angle… identify this future trend and think of a way to position yourself to capitalize on it. Advertisers are still going to want to reach local audiences. That demand is not going to go away just because print newspapers are going away.
Here’s my take on the future of news delivery. We’re going to have a few people in each community that step forward (perhaps good names who were also top reporters left over from the newspaper implosion) and they will deliver news, in real time, via their own blogs. They will specialize in a very local angle. For a city the size of my own (Wilsonville, suburb of Portland, pop. about 14,000) we could have just one or two people who are the focal point of all news that is going on in Wilsonville. If a bank is robbed, a local person knows to email or call Mr. Wilsonville Blogger. He in turn gets it posted on the blog within minutes of the robbery. Locals who have this blogger in their bloglines list (or whatever RSS reader they are using) will see an updated posting. They read it and that bit of news is done and over with. In this particular case, the news could get out so quickly that the robber could be spotted by someone who just read the blog and looked out their window seeing a suspicious guy matching the description of the robber. He calls the police and viola!, the guy is caught. All because of NEAR REAL TIME reporting via a local newsblogger.
That same scenario could never have happened under the 24 hour wait that newspapers are hopelessly locked into.
You wanna start a blog? Start a local news blog. You’ll be way ahead of the pack and you’ll be in place and in perfect position to take over when your local newspaper exits the news delivery space. I suspect there will be a lot of little 5 person newsrooms with the blog as their method of delivery. They will be able to specialize in your community and have great, up to the minute news as well as good commentary… etc. It’s not only doable, it’s inevitable. Mark my words.