Apocalypse 5: Change begins at home

Posted: July 6th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Journalism | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

In a previous post, I flagged Sam Zell’s approach at the Tribune newspapers as a future business model for the industry. What Zell is after is “a smaller, slimmer, all-print, all-local product that capitalizes on the fact that internet news sources have an edge in fast breaking headlines, but don’t have the time for local color coverage,” to quote myself. Of course, I’m not alone in saying this. Jeff Jarvis has similar comments about some bold moves at the Tampa Trib, while Jon Fine has some thoughts on how bloggers could seize the local space too.

If there’s one city where every internet source, ever TV source, and every paper DO compete for local credibility, however, that city is New York. Over the last five years, the New York Times has beefed up the Metro section, added a Metro blog, and a section of local human interest stories, “The City” on weekends. But to rise above neighborhood newsletters and blogs galore, the Times had to do something more.

On Friday, they took a snapshot of New York’s demographic diversity, achieved by sending a whole team of reporters and photographers to ride the Subway across the Brooklyn bridge and interview commuters. Not only did this make for a great 4th of July story, but it was the Times’ way of saying that with the big resources of a major paper, they can do local color better than the smaller fry in this media saturated town. Whether anyone buys that claim, sales figures in the next few years will show, but the attempt is noteworthy none the less.