Lumbering dinosaur revamped into new multimedia platform

Tom Moore

Contributing Writer

Everyone probably knows that sales of print newspapers are in decline, and have been for many years. I remember when I was a kid. We didn’t read newspapers. We read books, maybe the occasional magazine, but mostly books. My dad got his news by listening to NPR, and my mom listened to my dad. This scenario is trending more and more across the United States.

There has been a widespread attempt by many companies to put their entire newspapers online. However, this effort has resulted in limited success, mainly because the online papers, like their print counterparts, are too static and one-dimensional to hold the attention of modern-day Americans. Let’s face it: We are living in a very simplified, superficial world where people expect and demand instant access to everything. Newspapers are no exception, and those that don’t deliver are falling by the wayside.

According to a 2013 FCC report: “The advent of social media has increased the number of media outlets to its highest ever in history, but there has been a sharp decrease in utilizing the potential of these new outlets to deliver a higher quality of news.”

This is why I propose we bring back the beat model of reporting, and apply it locally. Instead of utilizing a staff reporter to cover every beat, however, we should adapt the model that has been so successful by Uber. “Citizen Reporters” can register with a paper’s website to report about what happens around their home and office. They can email or tweet stories and pictures to the website. Someone at the paper would then review the story ideas coming in, and if deemed newsworthy, a fee would be deposited into the writer’s PayPal account. A staff reporter would then do a follow-up and finish the story. With beat reporting by “citizen reporters”, we would have a constant flow of relevant information coming into the newsroom, at a fraction of the price.

Step two would be to start a newspaper blog. This blog would contains sound bites, video clips and still pictures to enhance the written reports and add authenticity to the subject matter.  With a blog, an online paper is more like a streaming interactive multimedia experience instead of a static paper.

The blog would be updated at least three times a day and would be where the citizen reporters would tweet their stories to the paper. In this way, there would be a constant, almost real-time news update from everyday citizens coming in from all over their city.

By bringing back the beat model, modified to take advantage of the current social media platforms, I believe we can bring back the flavor of local news coverage of the last century, while at the same time streamline the process and bring our readers a source of news and entertainment that everyone can use and enjoy.