Can Newspaper win Local News Web Battle ?

Can Newspapers dominate the local Web? Will newspapers retain their leading position in the local online news space? Can another local media entity or pure-play take a successful run at them, or will an outsider like Facebook, or Google come in for the kill?

As an example of the turmoil and uncertainty being faced by the Newspaper industry, Merrill Lynch recently sold off its stake in the New York Times. They were the second largest shareholder in the Old Gray Lady.

How can Newspaper retain the position of ‘King of Local Online Media’? Let’s use some SWOT analysis; strength, weakness, opportunity and threat…… to see where Newspaper currently fits into the Web 2.0 landscape.

>> Strength
Writing, journalism, and photography. Strong relationships with media buyers. Trusted brand names. Big head start on TV and Radio, with their online efforts. Usually the biggest, local websites in a market, still getting the lion’s share of advertising.

>> Weakness
Circulation declining faster than originally predicted. Legacy culture. Pure plays like Monster, Craigslist, and, pummeling the #1 source of revenue; classifieds. Hard costs that are variable and usually rising: gas for delivery vehicles, newsprint, ink, staffing requirements, healthcare. huge infrastructure of printing presses, physical plant, and office buildings.

>> Opportunity
Reinvigorate their business. Leverage hyper-local advantages. Tap fast growing online marketing dollars. Move into the explosive video/database/social networking space. Aggregate, enable, and moentize local bloggers. Fill content holes not being adequetly served by building new niche content sites. Steal share from TV and Radio.

>> Threat
News moving quickly towards becoming a commodity. Google, Facebook, pure plays like and bloggers gaining ground. Competitors now have lower barriers to entry, and are not encumbered by the legacy costs and culture of Newspapers.

What should Newspaper do to protect and grow their dominant position ?

  • Aggregate, enable and monetize the local blogosphere.
  • Develop a network of niche content sites, not being adequately served by mainstream media.
  • Accelerate move into video and other multi-media. ( Don’t steal ideas from TV ! )
  • Offer robust local search for users and advertisers.
  • Provide easy and inexpensive, online marketing solutions for small businesses.
  • Tap local/regional databases, and put into user friendly form.
  • Stop just being “the newspaper online”. Instead, become the #1 online source for news/info for your community.
  • Create 2-way discussion with readers.

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