That’s the challenge, isn’t it?
It’s no secret the newspaper circulation is dropping with each year. The Herald hasn’t been immune to this, despite producing a better product than we’ve had the past five years (in my opinion, but I’m biased). The truth is … older people make up most of the newspaper subscribers. Younger people make up most of our online readers. Nationwide, subscribers are falling in all age groups, while online readership is going up in all age groups.
And sadly, our subscription number doesn’t take into account those online readers.
So what to do? Well, as an editor, I have to go after all these age groups the best way I can.
And for younger readers, it means more entertainment and news relevant to them. It also means attacking like hell online.
That was originally the purpose of this blog — to attract online readers to our newspaper. I’ve had this blog for about a year and a half now, and I’m up to an average of 500-600 readers (or visitors) a day. When I began, I had 500 visitors in the first month.
Since then, several of our reporters and editors have begun blogs. Does it attract people to subscribe to our paper? Maybe not … but it gets our name out there. And often, what we write about on our blogs is related to what appears in our paper. The hope is to get people interested in the paper part of it.
Just this week, The Herald created a group page on Facebook. Already 45-plus people have “joined” the group. CLICK HERE to join … you must have a Facebook account.
Again, will this lead to more subscribers? That remains to be seen. But it does get our name out there on a social networking site that has millions of people who’ve joined. To have 45 people join the group in a 24-hour period is impressive.
I’ve worked for papers that send text messages to phones when news breaks. I’ve seen newspapers have 5 p.m. news broadcasts posted to their site. Newspapers across the country are thinking of innovative ways to buck the trend of losing readers.
But when it comes down to it, we have to remain relevant. It’s hard to do when papers across the country are cutting staff. We weren’t immune to that either, though our cuts were minimal compared to what we’re seeing in Raleigh and Greensboro right now.
There may be no future for the newspaper … but I’ll fight like hell to keep The Herald and future newspapers I work for relevant as long as they’re in business. I think the Obama election and the huge sales the following day are proof that newspapers have a place in our society. Unlike Internet news sites, newspapers are history etched in stone.
I think they’ll always be around. We just have to rethink the way we’re doing them.
If you have any ideas on ways to make The Herald better, please e-mail me at email@example.com.