How To Fix: The Newspaper Industry

I found this post sitting in my drafts folder from earlier this year. Seeing as I haven’t updated the blog in awhile, I thought I’d finish off some of the sentences and hit the ‘publish’ button.

The newspaper industry is facing the perfect storm of declining readership, declining print ad sales, lackluster online ad revenues, the ever-present threat of blogs and the real-time web.

I had a Eureka! moment earlier today when I originally started this post, it occurred to me – newspapers could learn a lot from the Nine Inch Nails distribution model. In a nutshell, the NIN model concedes that music is free, instead of trying to charge people for something that already free, they charge fans for limited edition tangible goods: things like special run vinyl, signed copies of things, tee-shirts, etc.

A couple of ways I think the newspaper industry could add value to their dead tree version:

1) NO ads
2) ONLY distribute coupon type ads in print, don’t make them available online. Encourage advertisers to pay extra for these premium coupons.
3) Free stuff – throw in some tickets to stuff, maybe a glossy photo of scantily clad firefighters. Whatever the audience would apprieciate.
4) Allow subscribers to opt-in to receiving an email copy of their favorite section of the newspaper. An emailed copy would be easy to take with you on a mobile device like an iPhone without having to lug around a fat wad of paper.

I have no idea how the finances work out for any of these ideas. I just really think that if the print newspaper needs to survive, then publishers need to inject some value.