It’s not just the Internet that’s holding newspapers back; it’s the lack of experimentation and innovation, a kind of collective blindness to what is working with today’s consumers.
If newspapers are to survive as a viable medium, they need to adapt to a new media age in which even loyal newspaper readers face many challenges in dealing with an old form of information delivery.
One of the oft-cited positive attributes of print media in general is that they are portable, easily read on trains, planes and in bathrooms. However, it is hard to apply the word ‘easy’ to reading a broadsheet on the scale of the New York Times or Wall Street Journal even on one’s breakfast table (unless one dines alone). And all of those sections!
Consider, on the other hand, how easy it is to read tabloids such as New York’s own Post and Daily News. No folding and refolding just to view and inside page. No moving from section to section to follow an article. Just turn the page; it’s nearly as easy as clicking a mouse.
Moreover, the tabloid format has to be much more profitable because of reduced paper costs.
Ad pages smaller? Well, to the reader it has been my experience that a page is a page is a page; i.e., it fills the viewing ‘frame’.
Feature sections harder to find? Why not tab sections with little half moon cut-outs on the right edge to indicate key editorial offerings such as entertainment, business, sports, etc.?
No, I don’t have all the answers. But I think the newspaper industry can find them if they move more boldly to make themselves more user-friendly and accessible.