SEARCH BLOG: NEWSPAPER
The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press began their "pay for play" electronic editions, so I thought I'd take a look since I subscribe to both print editions.
The Free Press edition simply failed to load completely:
The Detroit News... well....
I'll chalk this up to pre-game jitters on their part... waiting until after 10:00 pm on a Friday evening with the NCAA games playing improved performance significantly. But I suspect that the most loyal readers are older residents who enjoy flipping through the print edition with a cup of coffee on the table. They are probably having breakfast before leaving for work or some other activity and will find this new medium unacceptable as a primary source of news.
As for younger readers, I suspect they will simply ignore the electronic version or use it for finding specific news about issues... something that can be done without subscribing to the print edition. Younger readers are more likely to disregard the distinction between news sources [e.g., Detroit News vs. New York Times] and focus more on finding what they want quickly. And the "chatty" news items of the print edition will simply disappear from their radars.This is the kind of desperation that kills off companies. They become cost conscious above being product conscious. They forget why people buy their products. They believe that because they can do something else, they should do something else... and then they do something that alienates their main customer base.
Ironically, the New York Times and USA today, among other papers, offer local delivery. There is an option for mail delivery of the local papers, but the morning readers are just not going to be happy with the change.
General Motors and the other domestic manufacturers focused only on costs during the 1980s and 90s and ended up with Chevrolets "rebadged" as Cadillacs. It didn't take the customer base long to see through that ruse. It made sense to the accountants; it made no sense to the buying public. And once you lose your customer base, it is difficult to recapture it.
People buy a product because it fills a need in a certain way. A local newspaper is a tactile as well as visual experience. If I simply want information about a subject, there are a variety of electronic sources available. For the most part, a local paper is a redundant electronic source. I can turn on the radio or TV for the 30-second "in-depth" blurbs. I can "search" a subject and get 354,672 online sources from Google or Yahoo!. I don't need a crawlingly-slow page load on a laptop screen for my local news... and really don't see myself "browsing" the "edition" the way the print version allows. I want to be able to walk past the stack on the table and grab a section for a casual second re-read of something that caught my eye earlier... I don't want to have to log back on and search for it.
And then there is the trip to the home "library".... Try dragging your computer in there.
The print editions will be delivered three times a week. But I'm thinking that the customer base will be trained to live without their morning paper as the unintended consequence of this strategy. After awhile, they will simply forget about subscribing. It will no longer be part of their routine.
But I'll give the devil its due: the interface is well designed, readable, and flexible... even if it is not the way... or where... I want to read a newspaper. I can see this as the future of newspapers when ultra-light weight, voice controlled, "take anywhere" computers become available. I'm talking about something about 1/8" thick, about 1/2 pound, with a 15-20" diagonal display... and indestructible. That's when newspapers will be obsolete... a decade or so in the future, perhaps...
Video: Future Vision Montage