8 Apr 2016

Thinking Different with Newspapers

What can newspapers do differently? If you wanted to start a newspaper today and take a different, innovative approach, rather than being an also-ran, how would you do it?

One approach is an ad-free newspaper. That reduces clutter and, more importantly, conflicts of interest like paid news. Don’t accept money from anyone other than readers. And disclose every rupee you accept from anyone. If a company offers money to say good things about them, refuse, and publish the entire conversation. And so on. An ad-free newspaper will attract people who want reliable, unbiased news.

Another idea is a one-page newspaper. Many people are busy and don’t have the time to read an entire 15- or 20-page newspaper. A one-page newspaper will just give you the most important news of the day. It’s not as if reading ten pages gives you ten times the knowledge that reading one page does. It’s diminishing returns.

A variant of this idea is to have one page per section: one for your city, one for India, one international, one business and one sport. That’s it. That’s a five-page newspaper.

Newspapers should also switch to a smaller paper size like the tabloid or the Berliner. These are more comfortable and wieldy to read, even at home, to say nothing of on the metro. Switch to a smaller paper size, while keeping the number of pages the same, to reduce the time it takes to read the paper [1].

One can also have a weekly newspaper, to appeal to people who are busy and don’t need daily news to begin with. If I’m not going to make a decision based on the news, then I don’t need to know it right away. A weekly newspaper is similar to a newsmagazine, but much cheaper, like ₹3 rather than ₹30. It would be printed on newsprint. It could be the size of a magazine, for convenience, or it could be the size of a newspaper. It could be delivered every Saturday. Or, instead of a fixed schedule, it could be delivered on whichever day of the week there’s breaking news.

We also need neighborhood newspapers. Why isn’t there an Indiranagar Post, for example? People living in Indiranagar would find that useful, and stay connected to their neighborhood.

There’s a lot of scope for innovation in newspapers. We need such unique approaches, rather than a mindless array of clones doing the same thing the same way.

[1] Or have the same content and more pages.

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