Keeping Newspapers Alive

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What survival strategies daily newspapers should adopt? The New York Times’ Room for Debate blog put the question out to a panel of media professionals. Some panelists shared Walter Isaacson’s view that the papers needed to charge for content, but most were more forward-thinking. Craig Newmark, the founder of craigslist.org, suggested papers create a culture of participation. Rick Rodriguez, former executive editor of The Sacramento Bee, calls for new business models. Geneva Overholser, director of the Annenberg School of Journalism at USC, wants papers to rethink their focus:

First, look around the community to see who is doing good information-gathering and sharing. New Web-only publications may be covering various parts of the community. A consortium of arts organizations may have a reliable events calendar. Television or radio stations may have continued some substantial elements of government news coverage. An alternative weekly may have good reviews of films and theater and concerts. Bloggers may be assembling information from parents at various levels of the local school system and a nonprofit group may be gathering well-researched local health information.

Then ask, what needs are not being met? And what can my paper alone do best? It may be that investigative reporting, coverage of state government, local businesses, religious news and political leaders will make up the paper’s new, more limited profile.