If I owned a newspaper…

Over the years I have worked in and written extensively about news media. Sometimes I have felt the love, and sometimes that love has been of the tougher kind with people (wrongly) suggesting I must feel a burning hatred towards old media (which I BTW don’t at all). So with that said I don’t know why on Earth, I should be writing the following.

But after a ton of discussion over the past weeks, months and even years on Twitter, I thought I wanted to do a thought experiment to myself:

“Mads, what would you do, if you woke up tomorrow and owned a newspaper?”

Myself asking myself a question

Well, here goes (after a deep, deep sigh). I would:

  1. Get out of the ‘Breaking News’ clickbait business (if I was in it) NOW! and leave it to pretty much anybody else and his dog(s). There is absolutely nothing to be won in that space from both a business and end user value perspective, and it is detrimental to long term viability of the newspaper as such. In sum: It is an easy call to make, and it would be made within the first couple of hours after taking charge.
  2. Resist the temptation to try to continue the uphill struggle of wanting to be ‘something for everybody’ and go for ‘crucial for somebody’ instead. And then start working out what the heck that means in terms of the end user profile, the editorial profile and services, I could offer in the context of the readers and users, the newspaper should truly serve in the very litteral sense of the word.
  3. Reduce print to a weekend thing at the very maximum and perhaps (in time) more towards a monthly publication (if at all), make the necessary cutbacks to the cost base, and then go for offering our content via the distribution methods and in the scenarios where my readers and users are and can find time (or free some up) for actually engaging with the content and getting the value add to their daily lives.
  4. Draw inspiration from the point above to start figuring out if there were areas to branch out to. Ex. if sound/podcasting seem to be the way forward (as witnessed in inspirational ways here), I would ask: “Are there other areas, where sound/podcasting has a unique strenght, where we could make a play that makes viable sense for the business?”
  5. Use the insights to get to a position where we were the best and brightest in terms of understanding what drives perceived value of media within our chosen niche or geo. After having figured that out then use that knowledge to create an algorithm for a new digital subscription model that rewards subject matter expertise, facts and supporting the daily lives of our readers and users. I would rather be “Mr 10 Percent of Something” with a flexible crew of killer freelance contributors than “Mr 100 Percent of Nothing” with a big fixed cost editorial staff.
  6. Build out a super strong, compelling digital subscription offering. Get rid of traditionel advertising and focus only on value adding partnerships with the emphasis always being on the pay-ability of the core offering in the eyes of readers and users.
  7. Make an absolute effort – again and again – in getting the best and brightest contributors onto the platform and do whatever needed to be their new best friend. Quality pays – and can command payment. (And probably shed some potential deadwood from the editorial staff in the process).
  8. Get a better understanding of the whole value chain of the things from above that proved to generate the most value for readers and end users and then investigate if there were other places in the same value chain other than the very end, where I could actively engage to play in a bid to drive new revenues and diversify the business without blowing it up.

What would you do?

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

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