Valuing Your Assets: Newspaper Edition

Doing this would require listening to, you know, their own history and not to consultants who are still blithering about hyperlocal micro-local digital paradigms: 

Chicago Tribune food writer Kevin Pang’s tweetstorm:

1. Been thinking about how newspapers can compete in media landscape. You know who we should take lessons from? The Numero Group.

2. Numero Group is the Chicago record label that digs up dusty records and spiffily reissues it for a new audience.

3. What is a newspaper’s most valuable asset today? (Certainly not our ad revenues.) It’s our archives. Our back catalog can’t be matched.

4. Most stories pre-Internet have 24-hour shelf life. Think about it. Reporters work on it for months and it’s tomorrow’s bird cage lining.

5. Even stories published online 10 years ago are mostly gone from the Internet. It’s as if it never existed, unless you have LexisNexis.

6. So why not reissue old feature stories with 2015 presentation? All the assets (photos, text) are available, waiting to be dusted off.

7. Benefits: Introduces long lost stories to new audience. Bonus page views. Elevates reputation, shows newsroom serious about storytelling.

8. Or, build a landing page featuring the “Best Of” stories from newsroom history. It’s a living museum of good journalism.

9. Bottom line is this: 99% of every newspaper story ever published is gone in one day. It’s time newsrooms leverage this to its benefit.

But first they’ll make you answer six survey questions, click on an auto-play video for a car dealership, scroll past the same dozen Google ads that are on the whole Internet, assiduously avoid the in-article links to content farms, wonder if the byline on the story is a reporter or an aggregator, and then maybe you’ll get to see a couple of grafs before your device overheats and your browser crashes.

Newspaper companies don’t do this because they don’t value content. Maybe they never have, but they used at least know what to do with it. Now they’ve been so thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea that you should have to pay a toll every six minutes on the Internet (digital subscriptions! gatekeeper ads!) and that search engines shouldn’t return results in any particular order or without a hundred other irrelevant things attached to them, and that all anybody’s there for is a list of things that are trending on other sites or that other people are Tweeting. They used to at least have faith in their own value. Now they don’t even have that anymore.