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Read Steve Outing's interview with Alan Jacobson and learn why newspaper web sites are seriously flawed. Then see alternatives.
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A redesign is a waste of time and money if it doesn't deliver a return on investment. Download our report to learn how to make your redesign pay off, then see how four newspapers boosted readership and revenue by following our advice.
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See in detail how a content-driven redesign did more than make a community daily look better – it made it a better paper.
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The bell tolls for Time, too

By Alan Jacobson, Brass Tacks Design

Time thinks it knows how to save your newspaper. But its "Modest Proposal" is delivered in a form that is remarkably modest itself – its 56 pages are barely thick enough to shim a coffee table, let alone support an entire industry.

Time may be girded in gravitas, but its physical presence lacks heft. The pot is calling the kettle black while newspapers and magazines head into the red.

Newspapers may want to fight back, but against whom? Craig Newmark, the guy who reinvented classifieds, or Al Gore, the guy who invented the Internet?

A recent commenter on Alan Mutter's superb blog said, "The problem with media companies is that they don't know how to build a successful website from scratch. Very few newspaper and local media companies have successfully established new web enterprises that weren't leveraging their local brands."

Mutter calls this failure "profound."

"The reason young people don't gravitate to newspaper websites is that most sites are more newspaper than web: staid, static and largely un-interactive. In other words, 1995-style shovelware won't cut it."

While Mutter delivers answers, Jeff Jarvis asks "What Would Google Do?" Based on Jarvis' book, it's safe to assume that Google would not deploy the kind of lackluster sites that Jarvis directed for Newhouse's newspapers until 2005, where he was president and creative director. Ultimately, it's these people who are responsible for the failure of newspapers to monetize online, which ultimately is driving the downfall of newspapers.

Here's something else Google wouldn't do: create new sites mired in old thinking. Globalpost, minnpost, voiceofsandiego and stlbeacon will fail because they merely replicate the content and revenue strategies that haven't worked for newspapers. None of these can generate the cash they need to be sustainable. That's why they depend upon handouts.

But consider this:

Sites like realpeoplerealstuff, videojobshop and tweentribune represent the new breed of news and advertising sites. These sites embody the new fundamentals: niche, aggregation, youth, usability, UGC, geo- and demographically targeted advertising, stickiness, video, automation, mobile, email marketing, sponsored content, advertising keywork linking, distributive editing, outsourcing IT offshore and fun.

These sites are coming to your town - with or without the local newspaper's imprimatur. But they're coming.

So go ahead. Pick up the current issue of Time. Its slimness speaks volumes.



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