One Way Video Could Save the Newspaper Industry

In the past few months, I’ve been taking public transportation a lot – partly because showing up to a business meeting in bicycle gear isn’t a great way to make a good first impression, and partly because the winter was so cold.

Here are two key observations about people who take public transportation:

1. There aren’t a lot of people are reading newspapers. Of the people actually reading newspapers, most of them are reading the free dailies such as Metro.

2. Most people are plugged into iPods, either listening to music or watching videos.

It got me thinking there’s a huge opportunity for newspapers to capitalize on both of these public transportation realities: if newspapers want to encourage more people to become readers – either online or off-line – they should create three to five minutes podcasts or videos each morning that summarize the news of the day.

Before people went to work, they could download the podcast/video, and quickly get a snapshot of what’s happening in the world. In addition to providing people with a valuable and informative service, the podcasts/videos could also be used to encourage people to get more information by going to the Web site or reading a newspaper.

The idea of a podcast and video seems like a no-brainer, and a way to connect with the burgeoning iPod community.

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  • Rob Brown

    Mark, you have overlapped one of my ideas.

    My idea was spawned from the Hyperlocal Media talk at the recent Mesh '09. The panelists consisted of 3 well known Toronto HLM bloggers. They concurred that one of the drawbacks of Hyperlocal Media and perhaps of blogging in general was that it is difficult for this medium to create deep, thoughtful, true journalistic content.

    My thought process led me to think that a two-way street needs to exist between online news sources such as blogs and traditional media such as newspapers.

    Practically, I see this working in a simple way:
    "Read More" is a common cross-medium prompt to encourage and inform people that there is more information in another section. My vision is to marry online and offline using either 3D barcodes or a similar technology.

    Imagine this:
    You're reading your newspaper on the bus. You're interested in an article and want more information. You snap a picture of the 3D barcode with your mobile phone and are presented with a list of additional sources including links to blogs, video, news stories, etc.

    Marriage is a two way street:
    In contrast, imagine that you're reading a blog. You read an article and would like deep, detailed information. You're presented with recent articles that have been published in print and online. The 3D barcode exists and when snapped, allows you to take all of the content that you're interested in with you for consumption on that same train, plane or automobile.

    The technology (read tough part) for this idea is in the middle. An aggregation service, programmatic or manual system would need to exist. Relevant and poignant information would be the foundation of this. idea.

    • ryanprice

      The National Post is currently using QR codes to link print stories to additional content online.

  • markevans

    I think there are all kinds of different ways that newspapers can use to drive more readers and content consumption. Right now, there doesn't appear to be much experimentation beyond the use of blogs, RSS and video.

  • Trevor

    I like it, but I have issues with it:

    1) Podcast and video format is linear. Fine for a single topic, bad for scanning for information that you find relevant.
    2) Are people not reading the Metro or other papers because they don't care about the news? Why would they care about a news podcast?
    3) I'm thinking an organization like the CBC would be much better equipped to produce something like this. Simply podcapture what they already do every morning. Voila.

    Newspapers need to go back to small-town basics AND learn how to use technology:

    Stop thinking you own the news.
    Think online first.
    Involve your readership.
    Learn Adobe Flash. Use it. Get Interactive.
    Learn email marketing and segmentation. Use it.
    Build better content platforms. More links. More quotes. Embed comments. More video. More related content. Make them friendlier to advertisers.
    Evolve. Be transparent. Lose the self-importance. Stop crying about journalism.

    Remind yourselves: it's just the news.

  • Roberto Rocha

    Some papers already do this, with mixed success: The Financial Post, The Economist, Business Week, among others. I know people who used to listen to their podcasts fanatically, but slowly stopped.

    Why? It already seems quaint to have to load up your iPod every morning with podcasts before going to work. They didn't want to do the extra work.

    Yep, we're becoming that lazy.

    Perhaps when all iPods have wifi and cities are blanketed in Internet this will become an effortless effort, and on-demand news in many formats will be a reality.

  • Paul

    There has to be a way to help save the newspapers.