End of an Era: II

Yeah, so the meteorite has landed. Calm down. The last thing you want to do is panic, and call for all newspapers to close their websites for a week. You would have a better chance at surviving Russian Roulette. There is a better solution.

 Follow me on this. Let’s look at what has found success on the Internet. In the past, we saw the birth of AOL and Napster. They provided a way to for people to create an online community and they allowed it’s users to receive benefits for participating, with free songs and instant messages. Today, social networks like MySpace/Facebook provides a way for you to connect with your friends, share media and create you own personal online community. Digg.com allows users to share your news articles with their community of online friends. Twitter helps you share your thoughts about your experiences with your followers and friends. See the trend?

Newspapers need to focus on creating and cultivating online communities. This is where they can start to rebuild their lost revenue. That does not mean journalists will have to change what they do. Not at all. It means instead of maintaining a staff working on printing presses and in delivery trucks, newspapers should focus on a smaller staff that will help provide a more profitable service in an online space.

People do pay for online services. They use Flikr Pro accounts to store and share their photos, they buy Yahoo mail accounts to store nearly anything. They buy storage space on WordPress to store audio, video and still images they use in their blogs. They will pay Skype to let them call their friend’s cell phone. They will pour hundreds of dollars into Second Life or WoW to enhance their experience, or into their XBOX to be able to connect to their friends.

News to Generation Y is not a service. It is more like a human right. So it will be a hard sell trying to make it a service once it has been established as being free. However, it is worth looking at why they choose to pay for services online. Each service allows them to build and maintain their own online communities in one way or another. To them, it is worth paying for services if it benefits them in some way. So if a service was created that would allow them to maintain their online community and serve as a meeting point for others, it could find a groundswell of support. The media company that can create a platform where people can build and maintain their online communities will reach new audiences and will be able to find new sources of revenue.

It is the groundswell that will help shield newspapers from the meteorite fall out. They can’t change the rules mid-game. They will be forced to adapt. They will have to start by realizing they are no longer just a newspaper, they are now a multimedia company. So the old rules and processes that helped them find success on paper will not guarantee their success online. The rules are different here. The sooner they can adjust to the new atmosphere the longer they will survive.

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