There is a lot of intelligent debate, genuine concern and some nonsense currently being written and spoken about the future direction of newspapers.

I’m glad to hear that icbirmingham is the next in line for a long overdue and (hopefully) major revamp.

Joanna Geary’s blog is already throwing up some interesting points about what the new-look site needs to incorporate to be successful.

There are plenty of excellent suggestions on how the new icbirmingham site (hopefully the name will be changing for a start) can be radically altered to complement and enhance the traditional broadsheet format.

But one of the most important points is that newspapers need to play to their existing strengths when it comes to news websites.

In other words, in the case of The Birmingham Post, give the talented team of writers a bit of freedom and encouragement to write. Rehashing material that has already appeared in print is not the way to do it. In my experience, journalists are never short of things to say, so give them another platform and they will take advantage.

Equally, if newspapers are going to explore the brave new world of video journalism then they have to do it properly. So they either have to employ someone with the necessary skills and experience to put together a professional news segment, or provide the right amount of training to enable the excisting team to do it well.

What is the point of working hard to ensure the written stories and features are high quality, if you then let yourself down with a half-hearted video section?

Newspapers need to keep playing to their strengths and embrace the new opportunities that various developments provide.

But they need to be 100% committed to it as they are now competing with so much more than other newspapers. People gather their own news, information and opinions these days from a bewildering array of providers, from traditional sources to personal blogs.

Do it right and the future looks bright. Do it poorly and the future is more of the same – falling circulation and advertising revenue, along with a further reduction in the relevance of newspapers.


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