The American Press Institute's Newspaper Next project has been a resolute, prescriptive, helpful addition to the information the industry has long craved to help steer its course. Now one of its architects is suggesting newspapers need to help fasten businesses to customers through a strong improvement in local search capabilities online, serving effectively as brokers for such services as AdWords and Facebook.
This is not a large digression from the existing role of providing the advertising environment to find the select customer base. But it suggests newspapers need to bring forward better search engines to capitalize on an opening on the local markets and need to think about being connectors in new ways.
In drilling into Newspaper Next 2.0 from the American Press Institute, it is easy to see the gap between what it advocates and what it witnesses in the newspaper business. While it praises the good first steps of mapping out new niche-oriented microsites and digital businesses, it is clearly saying that won't be nearly enough in the years ahead.
Instead, it believes the newspaper company has to become an "information and connection utility," effectively exploring what jobs need to be done in a community and creating digital entities to serve them. It wouldn't depart entirely from the business of collecting and distributing news, but it would move into knowledge provision and collaboration.
It might be as simple as getting people to talk about issues with each other, as in the exciting new MonroeTalks site, or it can involve versions of Angieslist or Kudzu to help people find services and talk about them.
To do this, the report's authors believe it will be necessary for separate sales forces to drive revenue. On the issue of news itself, it is evident the newspaper would need to serve it through as many channels as technologically possible. While the newspaper will remain, it would emerge in years ahead as just one way of fulfilling the commitment to providing information.
The strength of this report, and the founding Newspaper Next report that preceded it, is in its optimism that the strength of the newspaper company serves as a financial foundation for these innovations.
In my next post I want to look at some of the digital revenue opportunities the report cites.
I want to spend a few days absorbing the American Press Institute's second instalment of its fascinating Newspaper Next project, released today. The first version was one of the most groundbreaking looks at how disruptive innovation can propel newspapers --- or more precisely, news organizations --- into new and sustaining markets.
Its particular recommendation was that newspapers need to perform tasks for non-readers (a mothers' Web site, for instance) and I'm interested in seeing that thread continued in the second report.
The institute's own release on the report cites these highlights:
"The idea that newspapers must broaden their vision to become local information and connection utilities, with products and services to touch every consumer and serve every business in a market;
The concept of the whole market, a universe of consumers and businesses that reaches well beyond readers and advertisers, and that newspaper companies should be striving to reach and touch;
Mega-jobs -- important "jobs to be done" that a wide cross-section of any market will want and need, and therefore the first that newspaper companies should seek to address."
It explores several case studies of organizations doing some of all of these things and, for a news manager, this report is pretty well required reading in this age of transformation.
Much more on this later, and if anyone wants to weigh in, start the thread.