Tech-media guru Leo Laporte last week went to the Online News Association convention and laid it all out -- why traditional media is a dead business model walking (but just barely walking) and what media types must do to transition from What Was to What Will Be.
Three keys I came away with: Be nimble, target a passionate audience, build a community. Or, rather, insert yourself into the community that's already there.
I think the last point is crucial -- the linchpin of the whole thing, in fact. It's all about community. It's all about being of service to your community.
IT'S ALL ABOUT being of your community.
Newspapers, radio and television didn't start going bad because they got behind the technological/new media eight ball. Newspapers, radio and television found themselves behind the technological/new media eight ball because they decided "community" no longer fit into their cost/benefit models.
Newspapers grew remote from their readers, acting as if people would continue to give fealty to their oraclelike presence just because, well . . . "We're oracles, dammit!"
Regarding your precipitous circulation and advertising declines, it would seem to me that 1) you're not God, and 2) you haven't even played Him on TV. Finally, 3) the real God doesn't charge me 75 cents a day to worship Him ($2.50 on Sundays).
John Q. Public
JOHN Q. LISTENER would write a similar letter to his formerly favorite radio station, except that no one actually is there anymore. I guess you could send an E-mail to the computer running the automation program or controlling the satellite receiver pulling in all the syndicated fare, but it's probably running Windows, and that might cause it to lock up.
Finally, it also seems to me that what Laporte was telling the ONA audience dovetails pretty dadgum well with something I wrote a while back about our dying local papers. I won't repeat myself, but I will link to myself.
It's how we do things in the new-media world.
HAT TIP: Buzz Machine by Jeff Jarvis.