Computerworld's Mike Elgan writes about the new context in which radio and newspapers operate. Specifically, he argues that local can't be simply thought of as locally consumed any longer, and that radio and newspapers need to remind themselves of their non-local audiences and create accordingly.
He makes a strong point. More than half of our traffic at vancouversun.com arrives from search and a large percentage of that is non-local traffic. When content is created with a local audience in mind, the references are often understood only by them.
"The new mantra should be: Cover local events exclusively, but for a global audience," he writes.
The corollary of his point is that newspapers shouldn't be generating and carrying non-local content when there are so many other sources available.
On that point, I still can't agree. Although there are fewer people looking for a paper to serve all their information needs, the trust and familiarity of a brand extends into its choices on most-relevant non-local content. A lot of readers still want the paper to make the choices for them --- indeed, that's why they'll subscribe loyally.
Abandoning non-local coverage --- no matter how it might save funds, reduce duplication with other media, and direct resources strictly to the local condition --- still means abandoning an important element of how legacy media serve. We're not there yet.
Those arguing for newspapers to get out of non-local content are often those who have embraced technology and enjoy giving over time to it. But not everyone is in the fast lane on a highway and not everyone --- or even a majority of everyone --- wants to spend the time hunting for information that the advocates of local-only newspapers do. Pulling out of an area of service those people need is ill-advised --- at least, for now.