Jeff Bezos has stirred up a lot of interest in the News Paper Industry by acquiring “The Washington Post” in his individual capacity. There are a lot of expectations now from him and Washington Post to define the future of this industry. If he succeeds to turn-around the loss making paper, that could pave the way for the other players in the industry to follow suit. If he fails to turn this around, people think that it could very well signal the end of an era.
As part of an experiment, I thought what would make me love my newspaper again and I came up with the following description of the newspaper of the future.
- The newspaper is not more than 10 pages long.
- It is personalized based on my preferences (which I can set-up online or through the app). I only receive the news that I want to know about (except for may be the first and last page).
- It is in color, has a lot of pictures, infographics and is a treat to watch and read.
- It also provides me an option to go online (could use QR Codes which I could scan using the app to dive deep).
- It also provide me an opportunity to interact with the colomnists and other readers with similar taste as mine (could be through apps or physical in-person meet-ups)
- Gives me an option to go ad-free (at an additional cost) or only opt for specific kind of ads based on my current interests.
- I get an option of the frequency of the paper (once or twice a day)
Now, to achieve this, there are many assumptions that need to be questioned and re-looked at:
- Newspapers can’t be personalized as they need to be printed at centralized print facility and distributed
- The control of what gets printed rests with the editor
- We can only have daily, weekly or fortnightly editions
- The layout of the newspaper changes depending upon the news stories, almost every day and which requires a team of people who could do that.
- The medium is only 2-dimensional (Text and Pictures)
Assuming this vision is brought to reality, both the newspapers and the advertisors whom they serve will benefit hugely.
This is of course if profitability is the main goal of running a newspaper. There could be other reasons to run a newspaper, Shaping public opinion, being one of them. In which case, we need to re-look at the content strategy of the paper.
Currently, there are some interesting developments in the industry that would be worth following:
- Jacek Otko has been quietly leading the revolution of changing the design of the newspapers, to make them more interesting and pleasing to read.
- Times of India has an app (Alive) which we can use to watch videos and link to websites that we might want to explore if we want to dive deeper.
- There are others who are becoming more local and cover their local communities and depend on them for survival.
- Some like NYTimes charge the readers for online access.
- Almost all the newspapers have a digital version.
Another interesting dimension to this entire discussion is the future of advertising itself. The advertising industry itself is going through a fundamental shift and since advertisements constitute almost 70 – 80% of revenues for the newspapers, the shape that the advertising industry takes will have a big impact on the newspaper industry as well.
These are my thoughts. What do you think? Do you think that the vision that I have painted for the newspaper of the future is feasible, desirable? Please share your thoughts by commenting on the blog or by tweeting to me at @rmukeshgupta.
PS: Another thing that can really disrupt the entire industry and take it to a totally different direction is the availability of a smart material that could replace paper as the medium to be used for print.
TED Talk of Jacek Utko – Can Design Save News Papers