The key to a successfully run newspaper is the content. It is the driving force behind the readership numbers. If these numbers are up, the publisher is happy; the advertisers are happy and above all else the readers are happy. Having the wherewithal to anticipate the readers’ interests in a subject and then to report on it in a professional manner is a fundamental component of journalism.
In this age of social media, newspapers have lost some of their edge with regard to landing the “scoop”. Many times, the subject is being discussed on the social media sites before the newsprint is dry. A newspaper is best served when it utilizes the skills of the professional journalist in conjunction someone who has both the ability to follow the trends on social media sites and is familiar with the area it serves and its demographic base. By utilizing a teamwork approach as a management style, the work product tends to be of a better quality since everyone has had a hand in its creation.
A newspaper’s staff must have a thorough understanding of economy’s effects on both local businesses and the residents. They must realize the difficulties facing our education institutions and the effect they have on the residents. In the instances where the newspaper is considered a local publication as opposed to a national one such as The New York Times or Wall Street Journal, the editorial board needs to recognize which political subjects are relevant in terms of newsworthiness. Simply because a national political story is trending on the social media sites, does not mean that the newspaper needs to focus all their resources on that topic; unless it is able to relate it to how the event effects the local demographic.
Social media has created competition between all news sources and, in its quest for survival, print journalism has had to join in the fracas. It needs to rethink its management style and the way it presents itself to the community it serves. If it doesn’t adjust to the changing times, it will only alienate it current readership and lose out on the potential of many more.
Update: Since the original publication of this post on May 8, 2012, a lot has transpired in the world of print journalism. Many newspapers have gone through a dramatic shift in how they engage with their readership both in print and online. Many papers have transformed their online sites into multimedia sites with the addition of accompanying videos. There has been an increase in the frequency of posts on the various social media platforms which affords their fans a greater opportunity for engagement. From all appearances, there does seem to have been an increase in fan comments. Unfortunately, this increase in engagement continues to seem one sided. Whether it be on Facebook, Google Plus and, even, Twitter, the newspaper sites are still lacking on their part in responding the reader comments. Even more disconcerting is the fact that we have seen many experienced journalists lose their jobs all in the name of cutting operating costs. In my opinion, that is tantamount to a dairy farmer getting rid of his cows so he can save a few bucks. Once the farmer resorts to such drastic cost cutting measures, is he still considered a dairy farmer? The experienced journalist – whether it be print, broadcast, or online – is the one asset a news organization must never let go of. Is the loss of experienced journalists the last gasping breath of the newspaper industry?