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Brent Boyer: Newspapers must focus on Web

Brent Boyer
boyercrop

News from within the newspaper industry has been pretty dire in recent weeks.

The Rocky Mountain News, said to be Colorado’s oldest business, is for sale. It’s hard to be optimistic that a buyer will emerge during these economic times to take on a business projected to lose $15 million next year.

The Tribune Co., owner of The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times as well as the Chicago Cubs baseball team and nearly two dozen TV stations, filed for bankruptcy Monday. The news came even after the company had slashed jobs at the Tribune and the LA Times during the past couple of years.



The McClatchy Co. is attempting to sell The Miami Herald, The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune is cutting another 25 newsroom positions, and Gannett will have cut about 3,000 newspaper jobs at its 85 daily newspapers by the time the year ends.

This all leads to a logical question: Is the newspaper industry doomed?



There isn’t an easy answer, but there’s no doubt the news media – newspapers in particular – must adapt their business models if they are to succeed in a rapidly evolving media landscape. First and foremost, that means figuring out how to capture substantial revenues from the Internet.

I don’t pretend to know much about generating revenues, but it’s not hard to determine what newspapers such as the Steamboat Pilot & Today can do on the editorial side to attract readers to their Web sites.

Most important is having fresh content updated throughout the day. Web sites that don’t offer something new don’t get visited again. During the past couple weeks, we’ve worked hard to keep http://www.steamboatpilot.com relevant throughout the day, including posting news from other Colorado resort communities such as Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge and Durango. We’re also adding hypertext links within stories to send readers directly to related content, be it archived stories about a similar topic or other Web pages that provide additional information about a particular subject.

I’m also committed to providing more video content, which should be easier for online readers to access once we move to a Flash video format in the near future.

Frequent weather updates and ski reports should give readers another reason to check in frequently with http://www.steamboatpilot.com, and the newspaper’s Twitter account (username: steamboatpilot) provides updated links to stories as they’re posted to our site.

The future – and, increasingly, the present – of the news media is online, and the longer it takes us to adapt from both the business and editorial perspectives, the more we’ll continue to hear about the demise of the industry.

If you have ideas for how we can continue to improve our Web site, call me at 871-4221 or e-mail editor@steamboatpilot.com.


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