Report: Local info may save papers
Newspapers grappling with declining circulation and profit margins can turn themselves around if they quickly develop publications and affiliated websites packed with local information, according to an eagerly awaited industry report Wednesday.
"The land rush to meet local information needs has barely begun," says Newspaper Next: The Transformation Project, based on a study of business models and practices sponsored by the American Press Institute.
For example, the report says that newspapers might assemble databases about parks, medical facilities and restaurants, information about schools, consumer-supplied ratings for restaurants, mechanics and contractors, as well as chat groups for parents and shoppers.
The report also says dailies could produce special editions for commuters and niche publications for tourists, young adults, parents, seniors, non-English speakers and sports and entertainment fans.
Along with the local initiatives, Newspaper Next urges papers to develop online ad standards and joint sales teams to create a single national ad buy for their websites.
"We thought that was fascinating," says Stephen Gray, the project's managing director. "Newspaper websites (collectively) have a substantial user base that can be competitive" with Internet giants, including Google and Yahoo.