Thursday, March 29, 2007

Print People and Online People - One metal twist away

I wish I had enough time to make these shorter! And I promise I will get off newspapers soon. Send me mail/comment if you have something you would like for me to think about.


I spent the last newspaper post trying to address the point of view of a print newspaper guy. I really felt for the guy. This guy works hard and earns his salary. The things the online people were saying to him were just horrible. That content isn't worth paying for. That newspapers are now worthless. That a blogger working out of their living room is a better than a whole newsroom. I don’t agree with any of these things and they would make me grind my teeth, too.

Would a paper newspaper still be a thing of value if all it had was its masthead? No, its value lies in its content. The value is the printed word, but nobody ever said how that word needed to be printed. Running a local online newspaper takes exactly the same content generation and management strengths as a paper one. It’s the same basic business and the same basic processes apply. But the pulp world has different limitations than the online world. And the online world works differently. Bridging these is just one mental twist away.

So rather than looking at a newspaper and talking about how it could go online, I want to look at online sites and talk about newspapers. These trends are from report called the Digital Outlook Report by Avenue A RazorFish. The general opinion is that this report is one of the best reports made. It's 75 pages long, and I think well worth reading, but I acknowledge that statement is probably untrue for lots of people! :-)

So what do these online experts see as services that will allow sites to be more profitable? What are some of the modern site vision, mission and functionality ideas that working now? Are there things that newspapers, or should I say "News companies", are in the unique position to cash in upon?

Web Trends

… And now a show from our sponsor.
Brand communications are moving beyond being a disruptive source of product information to a functional source of content and entertainment. This could be a branded desktop application that notifies them of special deals, a banner ad that allows customers to chat with one another or a series of ultra-short films.
Brand-sponsored content can help engage an audience that is increasingly looking
beyond the television for their entertainment.

Get Local.
Think about how you make your brand locally relevant. Could you create a map mashup that will help customer’s locate places of interest (and receive a brand impression in the process)? Could you use geographic targeting to provide place-specific messages? Can you connect customers on a local level and help them interact with one another?

Spread your brand around
People are not waiting to visit your web site. You need to take your brand to where your customers are living online. Think beyond your site and consider how you can distribute your brand in as many places as your customers are likely to be – both online and offline.

Extend your story
Yes your message can be longer than 30 seconds. Look to deliver your message in installments to keep your audience on the edge of their seat, guessing what might come next or eagerly waiting to see what you’ll do next. Serialized storytelling, if
it’s relevant and entertaining, can help hold your audience’s attention and dramatically increase the time customers spend with your brand.

Virtual reality gets real.
In the future the line between what is real and what is digital will blur. Think about ways you can extend the experience your customers have online to their real-world lives. How can digital experience and tools enhance and enrich life in the real world? Can a digital experience substitute for a real-world test drive?

Takeaway: Is the web moving towards local newspapers or the other way around? All the trends above are a page out of a newspaper's best practices. Emphasize your strengths around your local news and engagement. You have incredible amounts of expertise around these items, now figure out ways to embrace new communities, new tools and the new functionality enabled by the Internet.

All of these trends could be "owned" by either old or new media in the local news area, but the local newspaper -- it has the shortest path to being the new king.

There’s no middle.
In every category, traffic is going to a few big players as well as a growing field of small players. You’re either MySpace or a small forum and blog site dedicated to ultimate Frisbee. … Middle-sized players are getting squeezed; lacking the focus of a niche site by trying to appeal to a broad audience, but without the size enjoyed by their field’s leaders.”

Takeaway: Don't try to compete with the national news guys. In the print world, people chose between limited options. It was one or two local newspapers and the TV. A lot of people did both.

For global and national online news you need to compete with the following web sites:,, ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

And many, many, more, plus the six more somebody will dream up tomorrow. Most of the above companies spend more money in a year supplying food for their meetings than the local newspaper company has for their entire annual advertising budget. (Ok, I just made that up, but doesn't it sound great!! And the point is valid anyway.)

If I could partner with a big national guy so that I didn't have to put *any* resources on this daily stuff, I would. I would still want some simple form of the content and I would want to own the local conversation about these stories, but that’s about it. Well, I might have part of one person whose job it was to write about the local angles to these stories.

But in general, Anna Nichole Smith's death is not for us. Let the people that care about this get their news from either watching a 24 hour news channel or hitting a site that is updating their ANS content every 30 minutes. They already are anyway. For normal people it takes effort to get away from stories like this and I would applaud if my local news company gave the whole thing a pass.

But that does not mean that I wouldn't put any resources on the national or global news. If I could afford it, I would put more resources here. I wonder what breaking Watergate did for the Washington Post? How proud their community was to be affiliated with them? How much their circulation grew? The benefits are probably still rolling along as more contacts are willing to talk to them and more people around the world give them instant creditability. And I’m sure that this feeds into more credibility and more circulation.

Unlike the daily “display the national news grind”, Investigating and breaking national news stories is critically important. It is something that every paper should seek out and subsidize. Over time it will pay off and give a large boost in branding and circulation and advertisement, but it may take a reporter three (or more) years to achieve this. What would a story like Watergate do in today's world where all site traffic is converted to cash? How many people across the world would check the site every day for updates? Which advertisers would be drooling to get a piece of that? Could a large percentage of the traffic be kept forever? I hope that Watergate level stories are rare, but I don't think that good investigative stories are rare; they are just generally resource starved.

The Internet is where general interest goes to die
The digital media space is widely viewed by marketers to be a means of tapping into niche audiences and content interests. … The digital space has allowed for users to connect, purchase and understand products and content once unimaginable in a mass-culture world. That said, we continued to sense pent-up demand among the digital class for even more content, connection and interaction surrounding the specific interests. … This leads us to believe that low-cost ways to create specialized communities, social networks and content sites will continue to proliferate and become increasing import means of augmenting and supporting both the user experience and display media campaigns. "

Takeaway: Give your valuable reporters time to dig in and really get into the details of a story. In the print world you were limited by column inches and number of pages. These items do no apply to the online site.

Increase coverage of local niche communities. There is nothing wrong with amateur content on your site as long as it is identified as such. Create an area for pee-wee baseball and get a volunteer from the league to keep it basically up to date and upload pictures. They are going to do that work for somebody's web page; the whole league will be thrilled if it it’s on the news company’s site. Make this a generic tool and allow other local sports teams to do the same. With some minor development work you could become the go-to place for all amateur league sports. This will impress the local sports stores and gyms and your advertising base and the number of advertisers and your revenue will rise.

Get Nordstrom's make-up counter to do a weekly makeover with pictures and text just by doing a few point and clicks in your tool. This could give you increased ad revenue by local salons and maybe international makeup companies that wouldn't give you the time of day otherwise. Maybe Nordstrom's would be willing to offer a coupon to go along with this. Maybe they would give the company a cut.

There are a couple of themes here. One is that you need to develop tools to enable others to produce content. This takes a team of web professionals. In hindsight I think I might have dismissed the savings that a news company could reap by not printing. These people are the cost of success in the online world, but they are your conduit to great content and an abundance of readers.

Get in on the interaction.
Static, one-way conversations are dead. Consumers use brands to build and reflect their personal identities. Consider ways you can enable customers to personalize or take ownership of your brand without sacrificing its integrity. Are you making it easy for customers to tag your brand or incorporate it into their creations, their worlds, their personas?”

“The digital channel is kinetic; it requires constant innovation. Marketers who embrace this dynamism will evolve their message from 30-second commandments to open ended dialogs with customers … a much more favorable interaction!”

Takeaway: Don't just throw your content over the wall and be done with it.

It’s the perfect storm. All the players come together in your space for a perfect interactive storm. Other sites might be able to pull this off, but not as well, not as quickly and with a lot more work. Every article you write is the beginning of a conversation if you capitalize on it. Every advertisement is too. Every special feature, every weather map, every photograph, every link, everything can be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

The online news cycle is not a daily one. It's not even a few times a day. When you post new stories is a side issue. There should never be a second when your site isn't growing. Unlike the 24 hour news channels, you don't need to say every word, but you do need to enable the interaction. News is now about having an ongoing conversation.

“Yes, I said it. Newspapers are a dying medium. They have been for the last several years, and it's only going to get worse. Ask anyone in print journalism behind closed doors...they know their days are numbered. And don't just think I'm ripping print people because I'm a broadcast guy, because I've been involved in print for nearly nine years.” Jason Salas

Someday I may take on Mr. Salas’ whole article because it’s about 10% dead right and 90% really clueless. Mr. Salas works out of a Guam TV station and this was in a blog post of his. As Mr. Salas puts a wreath on the future grave of print newspapers, he makes the most poignant argument yet for why news companies will live. As I read this page, I actually (hand to god) saw an ad with a link on a topic I’ve been researching and I clicked on it. His company made money off of something he wrote 2/16/2005.

The old delivery mediums, paper, radio or TV, doesn’t really matter. Broadcast guys can still be newsman. Radio guys can still be newsman. And writing a blog post doesn’t begin to make somebody a newsman and everybody knows it.

Five years ago, if somebody suddenly made printing on paper illegal, newspapers could have moved their format online without too much work and not much would have needed to change. Most of them started echoing their content online anyway. This print on paper or no paper or both argument is a side issue. The answer will probably change depending upon the location. Northern rural routes where delivery is expensive may go with a 100% online solution. Florida, where the older generations flock, may stay mostly on paper.

Paper has many advantages over online. The smell of coffee and the Sunday paper screams lazy Sunday morning to me and I don’t want to give that up forever. So if any competent local news company has to (or already is) suppling both print and online content, what’s the beef? If the question is not which delivery vehicle is better; what is the online advocate’s point? What are the online people upset about?

“Each time there was a major advance in the ability to generate, store or disseminate knowledge, it was followed by an "information surge" and with it a sudden acceleration in the level of innovation.

When information surge happens, it sweeps through human society in a powerful, innovating wave that in some way changes everything everywhere. Surge brings together people and places and ideas in totally new ways. From these new relationships come new entities and new ways of living.”
James Burke

Newspapers have been delivering on this paper based information surge for the last few centuries. When newspapers were first printed they changed the world in such fundamental ways that those of us who were born past that time can not imagine how profound the change was. Nothing works the same way any longer. Newspapers are our society’s bedrock. For god’s sake, they have their own amendment. Not just that, but they have the first amendment. They are a beast whose powers are so vast and strong that nothing can kill it. Although one or two may be perverted ten more spring up to take its place. Even during the darkest times of WW2, underground newspapers were the lifeline of many people, even though possessing them could mean death.

This is the heritage of the print newspaper and it is a great one.

Online people are merely asking for the same thing.

But they want the information produced, designed and packaged for the online world. News companies will not be able to successfully create magic online (or for society) by repacking paper content in a design that mirrors the strengths and limitations of the printed page. Their world is fundamentally different, although the principles are the same. Online people can do different things. How information is generated is very different. Online people can tackle displaying different kinds of information. The time flow and display characteristics are the opposite that exist in the paper world. And online people can interact. Online people can interact with everything. Online people want to generate, store and disseminate information online. Online people can smell the information surge. Online people are reaching out with all our might.

But the paper newspaper people, so far, have not embraced the online world.

Online people want to interact with you, with the facts and with other readers. Online people want companies and other players that have a vested interest in the information come to the table as they play well with others. Online people would like to interact with anybody who might have something interesting to say. What you do on paper is good, but it is so last century. What you are doing right now has little to do what is being done in other areas online. And all of it, all of it so far, is nothing compared to what will be done online.

And that’s that mental twist I wanted newspaper people to make:

Rather than looking down on print people, online people are jealous of them.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

James Burke Information Surge talk

James Burke came to Microsoft and gave this speech when I was on WinWord 2.0 (or so). It rocked my world. The whole Word team changed a bit of their focus away from adding more features and towards creating ways for people to re-order information. I just found this talk online and didn't want to risk such a treasure getting lost in the mists of time. I think you can still see the truth of this reverberating through society over the PC specifically.


Each time there was a major advance in the ability to generate, store or disseminate knowledge, it was followed by an "information surge" and with it a sudden acceleration in the level of innovation.

Thanks to information surge, each one of us in the modern world has more machine power available at a fingertip than any Roman emperor. A medieval king would have needed legions of horsemen riding for months to be able to deliver one-thousandth of the number of messages we can transmit in a few moments to the ends of the earth by phone or fax. A single CD-ROM can carry the whole of Renaissance science and philosophy.

When information surge happens, it sweeps through human society in a powerful, innovating wave that in some way changes everything everywhere. Surge brings together people and places and ideas in totally new ways. From these new relationships come new entities and new ways of living. Most important of all, information surge changes the way we think. We are experiencing a transformational surge of innovation and convergence of information technologies.

Three thousand years ago the Greek alphabet was the first truly transparent means of communication, because it could be used to express any language. But in the way left-to-right script was processed in the brain, the alphabet also triggered the analytical, step-by-step mode of thought that would give us logic. We could now cut up the universe the better to understand it. Before the alphabet, such an idea was, literally, unthinkable.

Today we stand on the threshold of another such revolution in thought. It is already happening in the most esoteric disciplines of science. Some of the most important equations in fundamental particle research, for instance, can now be attempted only because supercomputers can solve them in a few months. Before, since they would have taken more than a researcher's lifetime to complete, they could not even be attempted. Bringing this extraordinary aspect of knowledge manufacture to the service of society as a whole raises questions that will have to be answered. For example, can we accept and live with innovation that cannot be explained by the innovation machines because we do not live long enough to hear the whole explanation?

The answer to this kind of challenge may lie within the same systems that generate them, in the form of electronic agents. These surrogates are not new. Each time surge occurs (and with it, massive increases in the levels of innovation), society has delegated responsibility for handling the effects to filtering entities. After Descartes' scientific method triggered the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, the avalanche of data was diverted into different management disciplines. Today there are over twenty thousand of them, from anatomy to zoomorphology.

Electronic agents will explore the treasure house of this specialist, arcane knowledge that will be made available to everybody by the next information surge, in order to find for us only what we need at the time and to translate the data into forms that are individually meaningful to each of us.

This new freedom of access to information through the networks spanning the globe will also change the social meaning of information. Up to now, the limitations of communication technology at any time gave special importance to all knowledge, irrespective of what it might have been, simply because it was inaccessible. What was not generally available was usually regarded as valuable.

The innovations produced by the few people who had access to this secret knowledge were, from time to time, let loose upon communities who had to adapt to it as best they might. Such esoteric innovation was impossible to prepare for because it was inaccessible, its effects were serendipitous. How could anyone have foreseen that Venturi's investigation of water-flow dynamics would lead to the perfume spray that would in turn make possible the carburetor?

The coming information systems will offer the chance for people to see these patterns of innovation even as they occur and to make judgments about them before their effect on society has to be accommodated. With open sources of information, technology assessment will finally be possible, unhindered by ideological half-truths. The same will be true of the process of political participation, suggesting a rapid end to the present representative system, designed for the eighteenth century and failing us today.

Institutions of many kinds will be changed or even removed by the next surge. When an American manager can, in real time, run automated factories in Argentina the way a Rome accountant says the Berlin headquarters requires, with software uplinked via a Japanese satellite from Korea, what happens to national sovereignty and the hundreds of items of domestic legislation that will then be obsolete?

This kind of networking is typical of the way in which information surge generates social complexity and, with it, diffusion of power outwards from the center. The fifteenth-century printing press broke the hegemony of Rome, gave political control to a hundred kings and princes around Europe, and brought the birth of the nation-state. The next surge will also shift power in much the same way, but at every level and in every place around the world.

(c) James Burke

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Newspaper Lament

I had a comment (which I HUGELY appreciate) suggesting I read a column and rebuttal by David Lazarus that appeared the San Francisco Chronicle to get a feeling for how people in the industry feel about the same kind of things I’ve been saying about their industry.

I think the author is feeling a little depressed about the kind of things that people said and rightly so. I would have been devastated by the things the clueless idiots were saying. But he is still wrong.

But these articles say it’s really all about paper and the business model that has grown up around it. It’s absolutely fascinating reading, especially by us online types that have created large web sites.

Here are some of the most relevant quotes:

"The main point of my earlier column was that newspaper content has value. Once you acknowledge that, you have to acknowledge that newspaper Web sites are giving away something valuable in exchange for ... what? "

I acknowledge that. I'm a huge fan, especially of reporters and editors. If my life had run a little bit differently it might have been a journalism major in college. My browser’s home page is the Seattle Times, so I generally read it several times a day. I acknowledge my local paper as THE best site for quality local content. I acknowledge the sacred trust you hold in your hands and understand that this must be a heavy burden to bear for a lifetime.

But I don't agree with the rest of this statement, but let me rebut it in a second.

“The harsh reality, though, is that most newspaper Web sites account for only about 5 percent of total revenue. That means a news organization that relies primarily on the Internet couldn't possibly support a newsroom as large or resourceful as what the paid-for print product allows.”

Two points here:

1 – This is a self fulfilling point. The companies that make their money from publishing on dead trees make their money by publishing on dead trees. The delivery method doesn’t make a difference to the content or the quality of the content (Layout yes, functionality yes, content no.) And the Seattle Times costs around fifty cents a day. I doubt that with all the costs from pringing and deliver they make much money off of this, but rather the advertising that goes onto the pulp.

2 - Another harsh reality; just because YOUR online revenue is 5%, it does not follow that:

a) it has to stay that low

b) YOU couldn’t be replaced by a different news site who does as good a job delivering high quality content. Somebody else could hire reporters and have a sustainable online profit margin with free content. Imagine a newspaper where everybody works from home, with no printing costs and hence no printing office space. I’m not saying that this is what I want, but their bottom line would be substantially lower with out a drop in the quality of the content. After all, this is the model that “foreign correspondents” used to create their great content and they have broken many an important story.

Compare the amount and quality of the online advertising on the Seattle Times and an offbeat local newspaper called The Stranger. I bet the Stranger makes more that 5% of its revenue from online advertising. (But I don’t know for sure.).

“And that means this glorious new paradigm of content that's not worth paying for would allow news organizations to be capable of doing only a fraction of the investigative and watchdog work they currently perform.

The stakes couldn't be higher -- that is, unless bloggers and cyberreaders are satisfied to accept the words of Washington politicians, or companies like Halliburton and Enron, at face value.”

Again, you are right.

And I’m very sad about it. Especially when we are talking about the old quasi-National pages that are in very deep trouble now. They were the ones with the deep pockets and super contacts to really protect the world. But the sacred trust that professional journalist have isn’t going to go away no matter if it’s pulp or bits. And news companies are just going to have to find new ways to accomplish this if they want to stay competitive.

I also reject your assumption that online newspapers will never make enough money to support a large staff. So you make 95% of your profit on the pulp side now. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t another 95% to make from the online side. Maybe you will be able to do more. Maybe the disaster that was the build up to the Iraq war would never be able to happen in the new world.

Perhaps newspapers will need to join together to investigate and break big stories. Maybe a reporter working for the Seattle Times could partner with somebody from the SF Chronicle and NY Times to expose a scandal. This could create an army of smaller newspapers who currently don’t have the resources to play on the big stage. Maybe they could even partner with the best of bloggers. Maybe instead of two reporters breaking Watergate, it could have been 6 and they could have ferreted out the details in half the time.

On a side note, I do agree with you about 99% of the bloggers out there. They are like eager puppies that really don’t have a clue about “real” reporting. But that doesn’t mean that you couldn’t train them or find some other clever ways to use them. That’s what Editors are for, isn’t it? A lot of reporting is dull drudge work, if you could offload some of this from your reporters or rely less on wire services; the quality of news could go up, not down.

Rather than lamenting that the Internet was invented, newspaper companies need to be asking themselves how they can take advantage of it.

"… I suggested in my earlier column that another, albeit temporary, remedy may lie in seeking an exemption to antitrust laws so that newspapers as an industry can unite in charging for some or all online content."

You go to antitrust laws for your answer? That’s your answer to this huge opportunity? Not to join the 21st century and innovate but instead to have the government protect your right to carry on like you used to? And even if you get the government to protect you, it doesn’t take a newspaper company to put quality news on the internet. MSNBC – a web site with no newspaper has over 3 million visitors a day and doesn’t charge for content. TV stations are putting more and more local content on their web sites and have unparalleled free advertisements. If the newspaper industry creates a vacuum for free, quality, local content, somebody else will just fill it.

It will always be about quality content no matter if it’s delivered on pulp, bits or both. The business model and monetization for the online segment must change. The online experience for the Seattle Times is not as high quality as the print version and I resent that. If I had a better local choice, they would be my home page.

But, what if the best seller’s list had links to a book seller that was willing to give the newspaper a cut. What if they got a cut from coupons (thanks anonymous comment person!) What if this “get a cut” model was available to almost every ad in the paper? What about for links in the main stories and columns? What if when the newspaper published a map to a location, the map showed some advertisements for businesses that were along the way? What if, what if, what if, I could go on and on. The world has already changed and most newspaper companies are not taking advantage of it.

These are exactly the kinds of things that people mean when they say the Newspaper industry needs to change. Just because the news world used to work a certain way, it doesn’t mean that it still should in the future. Radio didn’t kill all newspapers, but it did change them. TV didn’t kill all newspapers, but they did have to differentiate themselves from them. I don’t believe the Internet is going to kill all newspapers either, but the newspaper industry must again embrace change. They are still thinking in pulp terms and I don’t think that will win in the long run.

The question really is: Will it be an existing pulp newspaper company that is up for the challenge or somebody else?

In a year, will it be my local newspaper company that is my home page or will I have found somebody else that works better online for me? I would be sad to change away from the Seattle Times, but it wouldn’t take much to entice me to switch to a new source that has embraced the 21st Century.

Yea Seth Godin!!!! -- Doing the Basics Well!

I slammed Seth in one of my posts in January, so I thought it only fair that I promote him to almost godhood in another.

He says about upping your site's traffic --

Hey. It's not so hard. If you make great stuff, people will find you. If you are transparent and accurate and doing what's good for the surfer, people will find you. If you regularly demonstrate knowledge of content that's worth seeking out, people (being selfish) will come, and people (being generous) will tell other people. It turns out that it's easier and faster to do that than to spend all your time on the shortcuts.

I've been trying to tell my clients this for years. Like everything else in business, it's all about doing the basics well. When you finish that, you can move on to the fancy-shmancy things. The misleading part of that statement is that I don't know of anybody that has ever finished with doing the basics well.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Local Newspapers again. They really are feeling well!

The Economist did a scary story on how newspapers are dying and everybody freaked out to the place where corporations have started divesting themselves of their newspaper business. But as an industry trend, it just isn’t true. There is very little data to back it up and lots of data that contradicts it. One study did say that print circulation is down 2%. (Yes, but is circulation up on the newspaper's web site?) TV viewing is also down by about that same amount, but nobody is saying that the TV is dead.

I talked about this once before. About how they are measuring increases of market penetration of over 50% for papers with a web site.

And here is another link to back it up:

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, newspaper circulation is growing and new
newspapers are being launched at a remarkable rate, new and revised data from
the World Association of Newspapers shows.“

I think the big guys may be in trouble and that is creating a skewed picture. It used to be that one of the few choices you had for national / global news was a big newspaper. It was the local paper or the NY Times or Wall Street Journal. But now national and global news comes at us 24 / 7 from every direction and every type of media format. I see this market continuing to splinter. The success of Fox news and Olbermann’s rocket growth makes me think that more and more people are seeking out a news source that matches their own biases.

I wonder if this is a trend. It used to be that news sources did their best not to have a bias. Most would say they still do, but I’m not sure it’s possible in today’s time. Is news like Fox News a trend that is going to grow or a flash in the pan? Something I need to think about.

On the other hand, the local newspapers themselves are doing fine. It’s a little scary right now because things are changing for them, but I think that local papers have some amazing opportunities now.

Good web properties can make millions and millions a year from online advertising and sponsored links. Anybody or anything that can capture a good chunk of readers is in line to make money. I think local newspapers have a huge advantage going into this business. For example, they already have relationships with all the big local advertisers; they already have brand awareness and trust from the readers, they have niches for in-depth, investigative and/or local coverage.

And probably their biggest advantage they have is that they already have me. Eventually I realized that I was going to have to make some space and time for my local news. Where does one go for local news? Duh – the local newspaper. And once I get started with one news source it will take a lot to make me feel like picking up another

It’s a huge advantage.

And although some people will tell you that the bloggers (i.e. new media) are going to take over the world, I would answer that this might be true as soon as they get off their asses and actually cover a 5 car pileup on the highway at 11:00 pm on a rainy Sunday night. Right now 99% of what they do is sit around and criticize the content created by old media. This isn’t a bad thing. Actually, it’s a really, really, really cool thing, but not an empire toppling kind of thing. Especially the same empire that gives them their content.

Maybe the print side of the newspaper is going away, or at least slowing down. But to me, the delivery format is not what a newspaper is about.

A newspaper is:

· A lot of useful information in a useful package.
· The go-to place for trusted investigative information.
· The go-to place for trusted local coverage. Nobody else does that
· Good judgment and cachet. If they cover something, it’s important and it’s real.
· Free (or pocket change.) They make their revenue from advertising.
· What ever else I need to achieve the basic goal of being part of “a well-informed citizenry.”

On a high level I want my local newspaper to take their responsibilities seriously:
· Original Content -- Not just a rehash of news I can get elsewhere. This content needs to be touched by a local human.
· Branding -- TRUST -- How do you know if it's true? A known bias. Be my friend.
· Investigation -- this is the value add over blogs. Again – a local human.
· Murrow level reporting: Justice for the powerless and protection from the powerful
· Pride – I want them to break open a national scandal occasionally. Play in the same sphere as the NYT or LAT. We need every media outlet to step up to the responsibilities now. Local scandals as well, but that’s more obvious than national ones.

I was in Miami for this winter's big Seattle wind storm and blackout. My husband had lost power and so I could only talk to him once or twice a day. I lived on the Seattle Times site. I felt like they were there for me and I felt like they were fanning out across the area for me. They were on the ground, seeing and feeling and helping. This is something the local papers know how to do. They’ve been doing it for two centuries. They are not going to be taken down by the cost of paper and ink.