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.