NEW FORMULA FOR SUCCESS ? | Just got back for the Society of Newspaper Design convention in Washington D.C. where Juan Antonio Giner, a partner at Innovation International Media Consulting Group, tried to talk some sense into us about the role of newspapers.
He was harsh. But we needed to hear it.
His biggest criticism was that newspapers continue to clutch to the role they played in the past and are not adapting to people's changing information needs.
If people want to know what's going on now, TV, radio or the Web will serve them best. We come out once a day and cannot possibly compete in breaking news. When we cover an event, readers don't see our stories and photographs for eight to 24 hours. Yet, Giner estimates that 90 percent of the content in today's newspaper focuses on what happened yesterday.
Instead, Giner said, we have to focus most of efforts on telling people what's coming next. His recipe for a successful newspaper of the future: 20 percent past, 30 percent today and 50 percent tomorrow.
My quick analysis here (green=future-oriented; tan=today; red=past) of a few papers from today shows we're looking to the future more than Giner suggests. Some of my green boxes were generous, though. But, then again, these are Sunday papers and tend to be more analytical and forward-looking -- I wonder if that has any relationship to the fact that Sunday papers are also our best-sellers.
I'll do this analysis again Tuesday. I'm curious to look at the difference on the weekdays. Though I dispute his measurement of the depth of the problem, I think he's on to something. Looking at stories through a past-present-future filter did help me see that even in cases where are telling forward-looking stories, we often spend the first 12 graphs somewhere in the past stuck in an anecdote somewhere.
We have to give readers what the haven't heard or seen before -- and not make them wade through old news to get to it -- if we are to be valuable and useful. As Giner said, newspapers "need to find news, not record it."