Thursday, 18 September 2008

"When the news you need is not always the news you want." (An IHT Reader)

I often blog about the International Herald Tribune without putting much of a face to IHT readers, because I feel I know them so well myself. Evidently we're all ahead of the curve, smart, engaged, charming, good looking, well-travelled cosmopolitan people (WHO LOVE FASHION AND LUXURY GOODS)!

However, I'd like to pick out one IHT reader who I think is representative of a large number of readers, but who, unfortunately for the IHT advertising department (except those selling the value of IHT readers as opinion formers) isn't worth much to them (because he isn't a senior exec. in a large European or Asian business, with corporate purchasing decision making power).

(How the IHT needs to get out of that trap laid so well by the FT and also used by the WSJ, is a discussion for another day.)

So let's meet our reader, and find out why he reads the IHT.

His views are especially interesting because he works on the Internet edge of media, and is extremely wired in the supposedly post-print age.

Graham Holliday works for in London.

Graham lived abroad for almost 15 years. He used to subscribe to the Guardian Weekly when he lived in Korea and later in Vietnam. Then Vietnam got the Internet and he didn't seem to need the paper.

However, to quote him, "I've been working heavily in journalism/blogs/social media for 7 years or more now and I realised the Internet was making me stupid as the way I use it to find out information is very niche. I miss too much. So, I decided to re-subscribe to a daily paper [the IHT]. First time I've had a daily since 1987 and it's great."

Graham outlined his reasons at his site Noodlepie, which I'm going to quote from (NB date - June 2008!)

Yes, I know I'm going against at least 250 grains, the general drift and the zeitgeist, but I've gone back to the future. For the first time in my life since 1987 I have subscribed to the print edition of a daily newspaper. The International Herald Tribune to be precise. Over the last five years I have increasingly hit my very tight, very niche RSS feeds for news before I ever glance at the BBC, NYTimes or Guardian front pages. As a result, I'm less informed. The Twitter feeds from NYTimes World and IHT are very useful - they don't overwhelm like some other newspapers - and I regularly click through to read more on a story I first see there, but... over time I have come to realise the way I have configured the internet to deliver me my news has made me an expert in some areas, but ignorant in far too many more.
I got into the habit of picking up the IHT whenever I passed the local newsagent. A newspaper the size of the IHT is manageable, it's readable, doesn't break the delivery boy's back, doesn't beg you to bin sections, advertising supplements and the countless other bits of throwaway claptrap that stuff newspapers with non-news stuff. The IHT is news on paper. There's a beginning, a middle and an end. When I go to a newspaper website there are umpteen beginnings, a gazzillion middles, shedloads of ends and more than a few deadends. I don't read the news online, I reject what I don't want to read and read what I think I want/need to read. I simply miss too much, too often and don't get enough depth in a logical manner from the internet. RSS feeds are invaluable for my work and interests, podcasts are great for niche news interests, I don't really watch TV and so, I've come to the conclusion that until news on the internet is as readable/logical/intuitive as the print item I'll stick with the deadwood edition while it's still around.
Two months later, Graham made another comment on Noodlepie, his 10 reasons for subscribing to a good print newspaper.
I'll just quote his summary:
"The crux of it is; print can steer you towards stuff you wouldn't otherwise encounter, whereas the online experience is designed to help you avoid stuff. This has only gotten worse in recent times with every other online newspaper giving you the opportunity to make your very own "My News page". Yes, yes, I know, you get to the news you want quicker, but I can't help thinking this drive towards speed, efficiency and personalisation is sometimes over emphasized especially when the news you need is not always the news you want."
Two things stand out for me, and it goes back to an earlier post I made today about Bob G. Jr and content for regularly, engaged people, who advertisers KNOW will be there.

The Internet was making Graham an expert in some areas and IGNORANT (my emphasis) in others.

The other (and IHT reader surveys show this), is that we watch very little TV.

What good print does, as you scan the page or turn the page to go to the areas you want to be an expert in or are interested in, is draw your eye to things you're not an expert in or did not know about but do not want to be ignorant of: something I once coined as the Broader Business Perspective, but lets just call it for now, the big picture.

The Internet has not yet found a way to deliver that.

So that's the good news for print, from where Graham is standing as an Internet media expert.

The bad news is that he's not so sure newspapers will be around for much more than a decade, not because of its inherent faults, but because, and I quote him: "There's no money in news."

However he adds one VERY important caveat to that: "Not the way things are currently modelled anyhow."

When we hear talk of dinosaurs and me banging on about Newspaper 2.0, it is exactly this that I am talking about.

Newspapers are stuck at Newspaper 1.0, with onerous legacy costs of failed imagination when it comes to what type of content they offer, how and when.

Newspaper 2.0 can overcome that.

I hope it's going to be the NYT/IHT who gets it first.

If not, and they hang on to Newspaper 1.0 because it still brings in juicy revenues and they haven't ever done anything different, they will go under, sooner or later. Just like Lehman Brothers, Merrill and all the rest who didn't realise the game had changed.

And someone else will develop Newspaper 2.0 and it's going to be very much a question of (committed and aggressive) first-mover advantage.

P.S Thanks to Graham for his fond IHT Flickr group and for taking the time to write to me.


International Herald Tribune
New York Times
Vacation /Business Trip Furnished Apartment in Paris

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