After all, I had the privilege of working at the Philadelphia Inquirer for more than two decades, and witnessing smart people dedicating their best efforts to educate and inform people through great writing and photography.
Being a kind of “vision” guy, though, I developed my own set of ideas about how lure back loyal readers.
Basically, my hunch is that what people find most interesting isn’t always what’s most important. Indeed, my hunch is the average person has a limited appetite for serious news, because it’s often disturbing and depressing. Frankly, I witnessed this truth first-hand by writing for Philly.com, where often the most-viewed stories were about minor sports brouhahas, misbehaving celebrities, and popular foods like burgers and pizza.
That’s not to diminish the missions of reporting news and being a public watchdog. Not at all. For that, newspapers deserve gratitude, respect, applause and continued support. But variety counts, and being entertaining, even funny, can help woo audiences. CBS needed Two and a Half Men to help pay for 60 Minutes. Good Morning America clearly believes its ratings rely on rounding up the latest YouTube videos of funny pets and Twitter tsk-storms about the famous.
I put this “vision” together on a separate part of this blog, Newspapers.StealMyIdeasPlease.com , back in 2007. My sense is they still ring true enough to foster brainstorming and helpful innovation.
The idea for a “YourSpace” section, filled entirely with reader-generated content and even ads, might resonate not only with print readers but with audiences online. Reverse publishing of reader-submitted photos could help both sides of the publishing divide.
Peter Mucha, 7/8/2016