English General Media Social Software

a future-proof newspaper

following an interesting conversation with thomas jöchler who works for the online service of the austrian newspaper kurier about how newspapers should face the internet challenge, i asked myself how my ideal daily newspaper would have to look like. today’s newspapers haven’t yet transformed enough to complement online media rather than to compete with them. (magazines by nature fit much better into the media mix.) i believe that to be future-proof newspapers will have to adopt their product definition.

paper can’t compete with the speed of the internet and it’s research and personalisation capabilities. yet it is the strength of offline reading to be less tiring and compatible with morning coffees, train commutes or other offline activity. the perfect medium for anything beyond simple news.

here’s some ideas taking into account paper’s strenghts and weaknesses how such a newspaper could look like:

  • it would mainly consist of background analysis, opinion, caricartures, polemics, satires, reviews and feuilleton as opposed to news, wheather, sports or stock listings. i can get the news as quickly as the newsroom, so there’s no point in printing them on paper for next day consumption.
  • articles would mostly be contributed by pronounced experts in their field or stand-alone intellectuals rather than by a fixed experts-in-all-fields team of journalists. i wouldn’t mind if articles weren’t originally written for that newspaper but for another or for a weblog. (a newspaper as aggregation of other sources.) i wouldn’t mind if some articles were in english (but i admit that that’s probably a minority proposition).
  • about half of the contents would focus on topics beyond what i can read anywhere. i want to be stimulated with interesting niche topics, within the context of the big picture or without.
  • it would be guaranteed that my voice as a reader would be heard when i refer to an article, be it in a letter to the editors or in my weblog. (later i’ll try to write about how reader’s comments could be leveraged and integrated.)
  • articles would be clearly shorter than typical magazine articles (but longer than typical online-texts) and rich in info-graphics. their titles would make it clear what the article is about. (many more activities rival for our time than for that of earlier generations of readers, so let’s spare out prosaic excercises – unless in labeled sections for literature.)
  • every article would have a short and easy-to-remember URL printed below so i could easily email the story or refer to it online. the online version of the article would be layouted in an uncluttered way focusing on the article (e.g. one or two column layout). thomas made the interesting comment that people like to link to print versions of articles so this seems to be a common need. unnecessary to say that URLs would never change.
  • it would be thin (<30 pages) and not too big so i could read it on trains, in a car or on the toilet.
  • needless to say that it would be delivered to my door every morning (as opposed to mail) and i could temporarily divert it to another address or pause it very easily.

in case you’ve got some spare millions to start the adventure you know where to find me;-)