Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A brew, a burger and a side of news

I'm not positive, but I think the future of newspapers has been spotted in the Czech Republic.

And it looks a lot like this, as chronicled in The Huffington Post (which also is what the future of "newspapers" looks like):
Coffee, snacks, social media, reporting, producing a paper, online publishing?

This isn't your typical café or newsroom. It's all of the above.

It's a news café where people in Czech communities can relax, meet, down some brew, see their local paper being produced, mingle with editors, contribute to the copy and even nourish its Web presence.

The readers can go there and be in contact" with the pros, said Roman Gallo, director of media strategies at PPF, an international financial group that's invested in the project and operates in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, China and Vietnam.

The editorial team is available to talk to people and is in tune with the community's problems, he added.

Almost four months since its rollout, the project is attracting many fans, readers and browsers.

The weekly newspaper called Nase Adresa (our address in Czech) is considered a revolutionary business model, and "a new frontier for the newspaper industry," according to the Paris-based World Association of Newspapers' World Editors Forum that organized a study tour of the weekly's regional newsrooms.

It seems circulation is up for the different editions, traffic on its various websites is on the rise, and the cafés that form the centerpiece of the enterprise are bubbling with activities, like live rock concerts outside the storefront newsrooms.
IMAGINE THAT . . . journalists unable to hide from the public in the bowels of an office tower, behind security guards, electronic key cards, sign-in sheets, visitor badges and secure elevators.

Imagine that . . . newspaper reporters and editors willingly mingling with their readers, and even collaborating with them in putting out the Daily Blab.

Imagine that . . . integrating alternative revenue streams like housing the newsroom inside a cafe, where readers will pay for food and drinks as they bend journalists' ears -- and provide story ideas and news tips.

Imagine that . . . the newspaper's very "office space" is one gigantic public-relations and "branding" opportunity and, by the way, nurtures a paper that truly is "of" its community. You call that building brand loyalty.

AND IMAGINE THIS . . . part of the local paper's operation is to help youngsters produce their own newspaper. That's called creating readers and growing future journalism professionals.

This is exciting stuff. And it pretty much jibes with
something I posted here a while back. In other words, saving journalism ain't brain surgery -- all you need is an imagination and a servant's heart.

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