Small and Sensible

I’ve increasingly found myself nodding and giving a "hell yeah!" to the writings on Jay Small’s Small Initiatives blog. The former Belo Interactive-now Scripps executive’s second post in his series on "Saving Newspapers" reads like our business plan, save for his optimism about segmenting print editions.

(There are a lot of smart people– Jay, Vin Crosbie, Sammy Papert among them– who advocate individualizing print editions. I buy it on the manufacturing side, but it’s the distribution that I can’t get my head around. Maybe at a less-than-daily frequency delivered by mail, but I can’t see the carriers making the shift to thinking about which paper goes on which doorstep.)

Jay’s basic premise for the "Daily Me" is right on, though:

Newspaper managers have to stop blindly assuming they are
producing the only — or the best — news product their readers see
every day.
That assumption is what puts Bush/Putin in the lead
spot on A1, and allows all the local sportswriters to doze because no
high school events happen to be played on Sundays.

Be sure to catch the bulleted suggestions for how best to fill the paper at the end of the post.

And, in a post on Craigsnews, Jay hits on the business problem that I think most of the citizens journalism outfits are up against:

That’s why I believe most community journalism efforts as currently
conceived, minus an overlay of agenda-setting professional reporting by
someone (I’m not presuming that’s established media, just not
occasional, amateur practitioners), will eventually fail one of two

  1. Drying up to become an empty world once the amateurs grow weary of the poor work/reward ratio.
  2. Remaining robust in terms of quantity of content, but with a terrible signal-to-noise ratio.

I’m not sure I want to be right about this. Someone prove me wrong.

We hope to prove him wrong, but if we do, I think it will be by producing a hybrid. And that’s our biggest challenge — figuring out a way to provide consistency from professionals and a respectful, open environment for citizens while still making a buck.

UPDATE: Jay provides a scenario for segmented distribution.

Mike Orren is the Chief Product Officer of The Dallas Morning News; President of Belo Business Intelligence; husband to Crystal Orren; and a Mungarian at Munger Place Church in Dallas, TX. All opinions herein are mine alone.