In yet another example of the power of twitter, a few weeks ago I posted a snarky tweet about the Philadelphia Inquirer.
AlexValentine thinks the Philadelphia Inquirer should drop the daily news, and try making a website that doesn’t look like shit.
Naturally, I assumed that only a few eyeballs would actually see that tweet, but a few minutes later somebody from Philly.com replied.
Now, I don’t pretend to be a modern web developer. I use to be decent at making web pages about a decade ago, but I haven’t done any professional web design in a long time. I wish website design was the Inquirer’s only problem, but as we all know by now, the newspaper business is dying. It use to be considered a slow death, but the economic meltdown is speeding up the death of newspapers, and the Philadelphia Inquirer is no exception.
In the past few weeks the death of print has been in heavy rotation in major media outlets, with lots of unqualified people giving their two cents, so here is another scoop of manure to add to the pile, specifically for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- 1. Start Charging for Philly.com
It doesn’t need to be much, it could be as small as $1/month, but the newspaper industry needs to condition people to start paying for online access. Philly.com has a huge advantage, because its a regional site. There is no comparable free online alternative to philly.com. If you start introducing online payments in a phased incremental way, with tangible benefits to the user, people will pay.
- 2. Discard or Sell the Daily news.
Why does one company sell two different daily newspapers in the same market? The Daily News is redundant. Philadelphia is not a big enough market for two major daily newspapers anymore, and the whole “Tabloid” delineation doesn’t make sense when there are no new readers to replace the ones dying every day.
- 3. Move Tabloid and Sports content to new separate online entities
Its impossible for people to take philly.com seriously when the lead story is a hockey game, or every article’s footer features a picture of playmates or girls sporting bikini’s dancing at the “Wing Bowl.” I love sports and the occasional trashy article, but the widely varying quality of philly.com content needs to be properly segmented. When I go to a news website, I should have a general idea of what to expect. The current iteration of philly.com is like news site Russian roulette, you have no idea what you’re getting.