Another newspaper post

Newspaper margins are expected to continue shrinking as ad revenue declines, Rupert Murdoch said. Newspaper revenue has slid 10-30%, according to the WSJ report. With subscriptions in decline and now ad revenue, it has become a full-fledged crisis.

Murdoch knows a thing or two about running newspapers and a profitable media company. So, when Rupert talks, people should listen. And he’s provided the advice for saving local newspapers:

The solution? Newspapers should publish articles that people “want to read,” rather than “writing articles to win Pulitzer Prizes.”

The challenges facing metropolitan newspapers are an opportunity for the Journal, Mr. Murdoch noted, saying that smaller papers would likely cut back on journalism — but stressed he has no intention of doing so. He did however enlarge on past comments about his intention to shake up the Journal — noting that the number of editors who dealt with the average story in the Journal (8.3) was “ridiculous.”

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Murdoch is on to something. Who reads most of the stories in newspapers? Lawyers, politicians, retired persons with nothing better to do.

Most of the modern newspaper is useless. We don’t subscribe to the Birmingham News to read stories on home decorating—people subscribe to get news. But it seems lost on many newspaper editors. People want to read about crime, corruption, murder—that is news. It sells single copies of the newspaper, and builds readership.

Obituaries are one of the most read parts of the newspaper. Why? Because it provides important information—who died, where the funeral is, and when it is.

Are there other parts of the newspaper that are as useful?

Oddly enough, the sports section is. You’ll find what games are scheduled for television, box scores, standings, injury reports and more.

Another valuable part of the newspaper is the comic page. It provides entertainment in a short installment—almost built for a short attention span generation. Comics are witty. They bring a host of commentary on social and political issues to readers. A comic or cartoon on the editorial page has a greater voice and reach than 500 or 1,000 words written by a columnist.

Another area where newspapers are doing well is online. According to the NAA, newspapers account for about 40-percent of Internet traffic. People still read daily newspapers. They just read them online.

Why are newspapers better online? The website is constantly updated, and online it contains much more information than the print newspaper. Just look at the blogs on al.com.

Newspapers need to take what they do well and make sure their print editions contain it. They need more stories, not less. They need more hard news, and less fluff. They need more information that people can use.

Otherwise, why would anyone buy it? You can already get the better version online, and for free.