They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I will agree with that to a certain extent, in that it is more difficult to get an old dog—like myself—up to speed with anything new.
For example, I recently switched from an iPhone, after six or seven years (virtually my entire smartphone life) to a Samsung. It still does the same things, but in a different fashion, under a different name, and sometimes—at least to me—takes a convoluted route to get to where you are going. Frustrating? Yes, but I have persisted, and can now at least do the rudimentary stuff without much frustration.
This is just one example, another is work related—use of the internet for our newspaper.
To me, besides providing the area with news and feature stories about the community and surrounding area, the next priority as not only a newspaper publisher, but a small businessman is to make money.
That is where the whole internet thing is tricky.
When papers first started appearing online, they gave away all of their content for free, and assumed that the newspaper advertising would follow them online.
They were wrong. We all like free things, because even if they are not what we were hoping, we have nothing invested.
None of us expect our local grocery store to give away their food for free, because we realize they are an important part of our family’s food chain, and we realize they would cease to exist if they gave away all of their inventory—although we do like it when we can wander the aisles and get some free samples occasionally.
That is where the newspaper business is currently, how many and what types of free samples do we offer, because if we gave everything away for free, advertisers have not shown a willingness to follow us—leaving a revenue void.
Today, scores of legitimate newspapers have some sort of paywall set up in which you pay for access to everything, either by the day, week, month, year or for a certain number of stories.
Here is the Graphic, stuck in the middle. We are too small to experiment with giving everything away, but realize that we need to make the website attractive to those who may not get the paper, so they will come back.
Believe me, it is difficult to find the balance.
We continually evaluate our web presence, and have added more original content to our list of free options on the website (www.lmgraphic.com). We still make available all photo galleries; obituaries; many news and sports stories and opinion pieces for free. We also allow any visitor to read our special sections for free. We do this to provide more value to the reader and advertiser, by widening the reach of their ads.
We will continue to evaluate how we proceed in the future.
We have also taken another step recently that we hope clickers will find interesting. Under the news section, we have started running articles from Family Features on family; home and garden; and, food. From the home page, there are now interactive puzzles from StatePoint, including Sudoku, and crossword. In addition to these puzzles, there are also stories that will be of interest to many.
The downside, is that many of the “stories” read like infomercials, as they prominently display brand names. This type of content does not make the cut on the print product, but for now, at least, they are useful on the website.
The website will also feature celebrity interviews, movie previews and reviews, television listings and capsules, Hollywood insider information and nostalgic features, courtesy of NTVB Media.
Having started in the newspaper business just after the big boys figured out that a free model did not work, I—like them—are still searching for the best way to get as many eyes on our product as possible, while still having the money in the bank to pay our bills.
Needless to say, it remains a balancing act, and will likely continue as long as I remain at the helm—and likely longer—unless technology freezes in its tracks.