January 24, 2006

Give the reader (just) want they want

by skrenta at 12:49 AM

Jarvis's plan to fix the print paper -- he argues for cutting commodity sections, and having papers focus on what they do uniquely well in their markets -- local news.

Jeff says

Newspapers also have to have the guts to stop trying to produce one-size-fits-all products that serve every possible reader and interest in one edition
but then proceeds to suggest parts of the paper we all aren't supposed to need anymore. It's solid reasoning as usual but I say don't decide for everyone, let each subscriber decide.

Give readers a web form and let them uncheck sections they don't want. Don't want the TV guide? No problem. Only wants Sports and the Sunday circulars? Ok.

There'd still be plenty of ads, of course, but readers would be more likely to want to see them.

The carrier already assembles some of the sections. If Safeway can put fruit in a bag and get it to my door I should be able to opt-out of the parts of the newspaper that go straight to the blue recycling box in my garage.

Yeah, it's unlikely to happen. But it would be great. The per-section readership data would give print an ability to track what their readers really wanted as well as websites can, and would make a great platform for test-marketing and upsells.