The needed newspaper revolution could learn from the one on TV: Faltering ratings were boosted, temporarily at least, with the surge in reality TV. Basically, such shows were (a) cheap to produce, and (b) based on providing contrived vicarious thrills. How do real people behave? In a way, isn’t that one reason we read newspapers? To find out about ourselves? So why not (remember we’re talking the life or death of a business, a medium here) brainstorm ways to find out some of those answers using real people? Create a serial that runs every day, hooking readers to find out what comes next …
Help for the Helpless. Go to a halfway house or hospital and find people in need of a little support, a hand up. Tell their stories. Arrange sessions with experts. Chart progress. Appeal for help finding the people a job.
The Biggest Loser. There’s no reason a weight-loss group / contest can’t be a continuing saga.
Read Dating. Why not chronicle attempts by singles to meet a mate? Follow the tales of a small group as they try this service, these ads, this author’s advice, that online service.
The Apprentice. Again, why not a print version? A local business personality gets publicity in exchange for conducting an in-print talent search. With A-to-Z tips on finding jobs. Maybe run this in your Help Wanted section, to attract more attention to those ads.
Columnist for President. Sure, put your most lovable grassroots-stained wretch on the ballot. Then let him conduct the campaign in print. Offer equal time, of course, to the real candidates. Stupid? Subversive of the election process? Hey, maybe it would actually get people to pay attention to politics and even vote.
This is just a sample of the possibilities. In small towns where the local news is yawn-inducing and the national news has already been coopted by TV and CNN.com, sure could bring a little fun and life back to pulp.
Maybe coordinate this with a local TV news or radio talk show, boosting both parties on the Buzz Meter.
See what happens when you suspend focus on “news” and instead just think about what else can go on “paper”?