If newspapers, online and dead-tree alike, are going to move forward we have to start treating our readers as individuals. The one-paper/site-fits-all mentality has got to go away.
The auto industry moved away from the “any color you want as long as it’s black” and most, if not all, manufacturing industries are moving toward mass customization.
The newspaper industry has forgotten that it’s not a manufacturing industry (well one part of it is, but I’d hardly call online publishing manufacturing…).
I see this at work all the time… “topic x doesn’t get many clicks, so we don’t do much with it”, which is the online equivalent of “topic x doesn’t test well with the focus group so we don’t cover it that much.”
Well, does it not do well because no one’s interested, or does it not do well because you do nothing with it?
Simply put, there’s an audience for every topic you can imagine… network television is learning that lesson the hard way as their numbers flee to specialty cable stations.
In the newspaper industry all of our content is captured digitally, whether it’s coming from the wire or local sources… it’s just a matter of making our inventory available, instead of keeping most of it in the storeroom — or worse, our competitor’s stores.
It’s time the news industry wake up and work to provide every user with the content they want, the way the want it and when they want it.
The technology is there… the only thing missing is the will to do it.