There’s something about reading a physical piece of paper that may never be replicated by online media. Whether it is TMZ magazine or The Wall Street Journal there is still a market for print. Structure and design is extremely important. Who is your audience? What do they like to read? What would attract them to your paper?
Beginning with the actual paper, I am a fan of “Magazine Style” newspapers I feel that they are much easier to read and flip through. If you have a magazine near by grab a hold of it. Doesn’t it feel comfortable? Newspapers like the New York Times are great reads, but physically going through it makes it almost a task. Especially when you want to get to a particular section. With magazine-style papers you can easily flip-through a paper to get to the section you desire.
A big part of telling the news is visual. With that in mind some newspapers choose to use color more frequently. Color is best used sparingly; too much of it takes away from the related written article. Color should be used when the visuals are necessary (like in a parade or fashion piece).
Photography is sometimes as important as the article. Though only articles with significant importance should have them. Imagine reading articles about the September eleventh attacks without photos of the pentagon with a giant hole in it, or the twin towers on fire. Wouldn’t be the same? Right? Photographs, like color should be selective, today’s newspaper reader is looking for something to “read.”
The frequency and delivery of the content is equally as crucial. I would print the publication weekly, printing the “biggest” news that week allows people to catch up on news or get a jump on the week ahead. Though building a newspaper on the basis of print only would be a mistake. Getting content out to a readership requires a multitude of platforms and sources.
Beginning with the paper’s website, I would publish and achieve news on it. Though because websites can be changed and edited, unlike a weekly paper the material will vary slightly. The website would include, articles than don’t quite make it to the issue, a story that deserves a more in-depth analysis, and perhaps off-topic stories. Websites give you an immense amount of flexibility, since they are not bound by space or time (mostly).
Before you can start writing your articles you must first figure out what are you going to write about. In a 24-page newspaper, my target would be about six daily topics. I believe with six topics you can write about three-pages per topic. That gives you wiggle room to cover a few stories per topic and at the same you will be able to cover a wide demographic in the paper.
Beginning with “News,” I would talk about stories around New York from the local level, like something to do with the MTA or community events. This being the holiday-season I could talk about Christmas tree lightings, Menorah lightings, and holiday shows. On a national level I could cover news on politics. As of December 1, 2014 the government is 10 days from shutting down. The previous shutdown affected parks, museums, visa and passport processing, and the Veteran’s Affairs office.
In a city with people from all over the world, an international section is important. With a slew of ethnic newspapers in New York, there are plenty of people looking for information on what they call “home.” By having articles from Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas you can attract more readers while at the same time providing fresh content. Articles on terrorism, business, and climate change all cover international dialogue.
Business is a key section of all newspapers. Many of us have investments, companies that we work for, or simply looking for work. Business sections provide insight on job-growth/decline when people are looking for employment. Business sections also provide tips on financial planning; I can’t recall how many times I have seen an article that says, “Where your retirement savings should be at 40.” News coverage/predictions, on topics like oil prices are relevant to small business owners, who spend a fair amount of time driving.
My fourth section would a mix of politics and justice. I feel that these are both very appropriate topics for a newspaper. Lately, they are in the spotlight of news with cases like Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Justice doesn’t necessarily have to be hard news, but could have some comedy. For example a streaker, running into a field during a baseball game or someone drunk calling the police on themselves.
Politics is it’s own animal, it could potentially cover a myriad of topics. From immigration and gun laws to abortion and police brutality issues. It is a section that could also be seen as entertainment. If you have paid attention to politics at any point in your life, a politician has made you laugh, made, or shake your head. Whether its a the City Council, Mayor’s office, or the President of The United States politicians have an affect on us all.
Politics affect stretch to every topic of conversation, even topics that it shouldn’t be in. As passionate as people are about their politics, so are some people about their sports. Typically stuck in the back page of most major publications, sports would be my fifth topic. I feel that the market for sports is huge and any paper that doesn’t have some sports coverage is doing itself a disservice. New York has an abundance of sports magazines, radios, sections, writers, and shows. All dedicated to sports here and around the country. People need a section to unwind and get their minds off of “ the real world.”
My final section would be a mish-mash of topics. With one to two pages of arts,culture, technology, things-to-do, and advice. Although all of these topics are newspapers in themselves, I am not sure if a print section is totally necessary for all of them. I would imagine most tech users get their information from a web-source, rather than a printed one.
Amongst the final section would be a twist, a reader-submitted section. The reader submitted section would consist of ideas or reports done by readers. We all have a favorite magazine, blog, newspaper, or website that we read and wish we could give input to. These days that is possible via chat rooms, Twitter, or emailing the editors, but it is not widely practiced. I feel that a newspaper is meant to be written for the people. So, why not have the people get involved as well?
One may think that the topics, that this paper would cover are narrow. I would agree, in the age of free information why would one want to pay for a newspaper with so little content. Because, simply put there is a demand. The New York Times was ahead of the curve, when it started charging for online access with it’s “paywall” almost four years ago now. At the time it seemed like a ludicrous move, many websites thought it would fail. The fact of the matter is, it hasn’t.
Readers are willing to buy content that almost catered to them. We all have a subject of interest that we’re drawn to, and the numbers don’t lie will pay for them. Media has stopped taking the “one size fits all model” with their content and have spun-off or created content specifically targeted towards certain individuals. I myself have a magazine subscription to EVO which is about $110 a year. Sounds expensive? Well plenty of people like myself, are looking for content that is beyond the norm.
My own newspaper would not be so expensive. I think that around five dollars(the same as a Sunday Times subscription) is not out of reason. People still get newspapers for many reasons. I like to read printed content, because if I am eating I don’t have to worry about the paper, because I am going to put it in my bird’s cage when I am done. Sometimes though, I just don’t want to look at a monitor.
I have a smartphone in my pocket, a smart watch on wrist, an LCD in my car, and a computer in front of me most of my day. I need an escape, with no batteries or notifications or pop-up ads. The same would go for related website. Rather than be at the mercy of advertising dollars all the time, I would like the readers decide what they prefer.
Advertising for newspapers has been falling for years now. I would not want my readers or the publication be at the mercy of Bloomingdales or Apple to get content out. Thus in order to keep readers happy, they will be able to make a choice. A paid version of the website with no ads or an unpaid with a limited amount of views per month.
Reading the content digitally will also be a priority. Mobile formating for the website or application is important building-block for any website, as of this year, according to Comscore.com more than half of webpages in the U.S. are now viewed via a mobile device. Whether they use an Android, Apple, or Windows device, diversifying your mobile platforms is crucial, in order to get your content out. Creating an easy-to-use, sensible, and functional mobile experience is a requirement of any great website today.
No matter how good your stories, photos, or website may be there’s one key thing that I believe is necessary to have a successful paper. A great staff. There’s so many potentially great reporters/writers out there, getting them on the same page ( no pun intended) to take content and organize it in the most coherent manner is essential. Readers appreciate when reporters take an extra step in order to get content.
Publications that hire reporters that are willing to take that extra step are renowned. People live-vicariously, through the stories they read. So whether your reporters are sleeping in the jungle with natives of another country or riding shotgun with troops in a tank you’re grabbing and owning the attention of someone. Getting reporters that are able and willing to put themselves “out there” will ensure your success.
People are attracted to a variety of media formats and publications. In order to create a successful newspaper, you must create one that attracts those readers to your publication.
With millions of websites, in hundreds of languages creating a new-newspaper is a daunting task. Many will say that the market for newspaper is dying and they will use statistics to prove that. I will tell them, that newspapers are not dying, at all. The only thing that is being put to bed, is the paper that we print them on.
Great work Cristian – look for feedback via email…
I really like the concept of a reader-submitted section. It engages the audience and also allows for people to gain journalism experience.
Excellent work Christian. I liked your breakdown sessions and the explanation you provided about a practical and nor cheap either expensive edition. It provided the reader with a concise information, which attach the reader to your edition.
Very clear and concise Cristian! I think it’s great how you continued to express how an individual can balance where they can receive their news from, as long as the convenience and entertainment is shared with the audience in a way that would appeal to their daily readers. Some newspapers I believe can use a make over and I believe the ending statement in your post perfectly depicts that.
“… newspapers are not dying, at all. The only thing that is being put to bed, is the paper that we print them on.”