Thursday, April 30, 2009

If I was a Newspaper Publisher

If I published a newspaper, I would be very nervous. I would be more than nervous; I would be scared. Scared that the parent company of my paper would shut down my effort, as well intentioned as it may be and send me packing - literally. Scared that my advertisers would find other options or venues to sell their wares. Scared that subscribers would cancel their subscriptions and move permanently to the Internet, or TV for their news.

How could this happen to our beloved print edition news form? How is it possible that folks would rather look at a boob-tube or monitor instead of holding the classic tried and proven newsprint in their hands? How can a publisher get a handle on this situation and get the word out that the newspaper is still something the future should hold dear? Read on dear reader.

Personally, I love printed material. Personally, I am educated just enough to realize the fantastic mental exercise reading print does to promote a healthy brain. Of course reading is reading, but the printed version, whether it is newsprint, books or magazines are so much more convenient, than say, the Kindle,’s version of an electronic book reader, which incidentally allows owner/subscribers Wikipedia’s many online encyclopedias free at anytime anywhere and is a wonderful resource, but I do not see it as a replacement for the printed newspaper.

Many of us love to sit on the couch in the morning, read the paper quietly with a hot “cuppa Joe” and not be bombarded to buy sandwiches from a guy with a Styrofoam head or car insurance from a stack of money with eyeballs.

How about the millions of American readers who sit on the throne each day and peruse a magazine, inspiration of the day, or John’s Bathroom Reader? Somehow, I can’t fathom a person blurting out “Hurry! Where’s my Kindle? I got to hit the can stat!”. No, we grab that mag or bathroom reader from the bookrack on the floor and perform flawlessly and at our leisure.

As a Publisher of a local newspaper I realize the lifeblood of any community is reflected in the local print and that print is the newspaper and the newspapers future depends on new readers. The more new readers the paper has, the greater its chance of long term stability and this will be reflected in eager advertisement placement by sellers.

The more local information, news stories and commentary/columnists a paper has, the more valuable and informative it is to the local reader. Sidestep this with AP newswire stories and regional/state or federal columns and you basically insult the local guy or gal who wants to know about the parade or car show on Texas Avenue and degrade the paper’s credibility as a local source of information.

So what is the answer Mr. Know it all, says Sherman the pupil?

The solution is to visit every junior school in GCCISD and recruit sixth, seventh and eighth grade reporters for a one day a week extra edition of who is who and what they are thinking. Follow this first set of students through graduation and even college, and at the bottom end, replace the sixth graders as they move up.

Who cares if no other paper in the country is doing this? Who cares if it’s different than anything our city has seen? One thing is for sure, it will breathe new and fresh air into the paper and if one column per teen reporter per month is assigned to cover a particular aspect of the city and it’s resources, so much the better.

So, when do we start?

1 comment:

Natalie said...

Well...I've been invited to speak to an entire 6th grade class at a local junior high next week for "Career Day" :) I hope to inspire some young minds to consider writing/journalism as a profession. I'm very passionate about the written word and kids that age -- It's going to be a FUN day!

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