Friday, August 10, 2007

Washington Post & Hard Times

In "Hard News: Newspapers are dying. At the Washington Post Co., CEO Donald Graham is banking on the Internet to save serious journalism," Fortune's Marc Gunther takes a very interesting look at the need for old media to adapt.

Citing the Post as his "'$0.35 edition' in his blog," a Post reporter is lauded for being "platform-agnostic, which is a nice way of saying that his bosses are no longer big believers in print. Today a small army of bloggers, podcasters, chatroom hosts, radio voices, and TV talking heads, as well as a few old-fashioned ink-stained wretches, populates the newsroom at the 131-year-old Post. "If circulation is dropping," the Post reporter said, "and we're trying to figure out how people are going to get their news, who am I to say no to trying out new avenues?"

One of the secrets of the Post, according to an editor there, "Investigative reporting is our brand."

According to Fortune, "The Post has two goals online. It wants to become a must-buy in Washington while increasing its share of national ad dollars. Right now ads aimed at local readers account for about 60 percent of revenues. The site offers a vast trove of local content - going-out guides, traffic, weather, sports. Says Graham: 'We have a map of D.C. with every school listed, with test scores and other things parents would want to know. It's not all-inclusive, but it's a lot of information, and you couldn't do that in the paper.'"

The implications for those of us in PR is that we need to make sure our information is platform-agnostic, and look to use the Internet in ways that go well beyond the paper-based press release. It is likely to cost more to produce, certainly at first, but be much for effective.

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