Dietmar Schantin of Newsplex on Newspapers’ New Channels
Apr 8, 2008
IFRA is a global association of newspaper publishers and Newsplex is a consulting operation intended to help the association members move to the digital world. Dietmar’s speciality is integrating online and print operations at newspapers, something he was very involved with at Britain’s Daily Telegraph.
In this rapidly developing digital world, there are many exciting new ways to communicate with those people formerly known as newspaper readers.
The problem – to Dietmar – is that newspapers seem to hate new technology until they love it too much. Once a paper falls in love with a new channel, the order goes out to “use video!!” or some other new channel. At that point every story is done in video, regardless of the merit of using video. This causes frustration since nobody understands why they should be investing resources in a channel that does not work.
Each channel should, as described in an excellent posting on Dietmar’s blog, offer its unique advantages to help build a broader brand loyalty. Channels should cross-pollenate for the greater good of the brand, in the way shown in this graphic.
In fact, each channel – including good old fashioned print – has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Some of Dietmar’s ideas on how channels are best used:
Video – Good for issues that involve emotion and moving colors. Newspapers should not compete with TV stations by showing straight news.
Social networks – Use the tools of social networking to build communities and get people involved. Use the ideas behind Facebook, but not necessarily Facebook.
Mobile – Great for breaking news updates and linking in with the database channel.
Database – Create directories that will be useful to your readers, this could include restaurant or – as one British paper did – a list of hospitals with those that do their job best.
Online – Unique strength is hyperlinking and allowing people to travel around the web.
Print – Great for portability and the “lean back” experience of information absorption.
Audio – Not a channel that has obvious strengths, but one newspaper has started doing high quality audio guides to recently opened exhibitions.
Face-to-Face – Dietmar does not advocate slapping the newspaper’s brand over conferences, but instead working to create meetings and encounters that get the newspaper involved as a player within the community. One Danish newspaper, for example, has started creating face-to-face meetings between adversarial parties. The parties are placed in a locked room with two newspaper editors for 24 hours in order to solve the problem. (I see a problem when a newspaper gets involved in finding a solution: How can they report on it independently?)
Smell – While nothing has been developed for smell to work as a channel for newpapers, Dietmar suggest that even smell could open up one day. Smellevision anyone?
More details on the video: