My day just starts off wrong if my morning paper is not on the doorstep.
As someone who grew up in a multi-paper-reading family (Auburn Journal***, The Sacramento Bee***, The Wall Street Journal*, The San Francisco Chronicle**, The Sacramento Union*, and The Klam-Ity Kourier* — later known as just The Kourier*, which we received by mail long after leaving the reservation), not to mention the newspaper carrying dynasty my brother and I created along the greater Auburn Ravine Road corridor, I can’t not have my actual morning paper.
It’s no secret that readership and subscription rates of the hard-copy newspaper have plummeted. In my opinion, this is not just because people are getting their news online, but also because the concept of what is “news” has changed, so many people have tuned out. (Really? Your breaking story is about Britney Spears?)
In today’s Forum section, Bee editor Melanie Sill talks about the changes coming to the actual newspaper — different size paper will be used for easier handling by readers and also to reduce the amount of paper used.
Some of you may remember when The Sacramento Union (“call four-forty-four fifty-five-five-five, that’s the number for the classified!”) changed its format to tabloid-size, and it was gone completely not too much later, only to be resurrected a decade later. Now, I’m not saying that The Bee is going to go away because management is trimming an inch off of the actual newspaper, but I do think that you’re either an actual paper reader or you’re not.
People who grew up in actual paper households where reading the paper was a part of the daily family interaction probably still read the actual paper. Why not incorporate some content or contests that encourage families to read the paper together and get a new generation of paper readers hooked?
The “design an ad” and turkey coloring contests are great, but I’m thinking bigger, more informative, and ongoing. Think about all of the possibilities of partnering with other organizations that are interested in giving information to new audiences.
For instance, there could be some “healthy family challenge” put forth that is in the actual paper only, because health is something that affects everyone. Who could The Bee turn to for something like this? Well, for starters, talk to some experts at UC Davis, and any of the health care providers in the region. How about the Kings or the Monarchs or local running clubs? They might know a little something about fun physical activities that families could do together. What about some organizations that are already trying to solve some sticky health care issues or those that are promoting fun and healthful activities? Set up some categories for who participates — schools, churches, neighborhoods, play groups, etc. — and be able to track levels of participation and success stories for inclusion in future issues.
Features like this, of course, are not hard-hitting news, but if it gets families engaged in something fun and informative together that is centered around the paper, do you think that more people might pick up the paper?
This is just one of a few ideas. Bee: if you’re interested in a one person focus group of your target demographic (mid-late 30’s educated, career-driven, civic-minded, homeowner, married female), drop me a line.
‘Rag commenters: If you’re going to talk about what’s wrong with newspapers today, please also offer up some solutions. Let’s try to help Scoopy and his friends attract readers. Any other thoughts?
**Weekend only subscription
***I used to deliver this paper