The San Francisco Chronicle announced it will cut 25% of its news staff due to falling circulation and ad revenues. Mark Cuban thinks newspapers and TV stations should merge, reduce duplication of efforts, and make a strong push on the web.
Newspapers are dying slowly while craigslist and Monster.com attract most of the lucrative classified advertising. The San Jose Mercury News has certainly felt the impact of readers moving online, losing $100 million in classified ad revenue. Remember this quote from my March 2006 post;
At its peak in 2000, The Mercury News had a Sunday circulation of 326,839 subscribers, according to the newspaper. Last September, the company counted 278,470 Sunday subscribers, a drop of about 15 percent. Revenue from the company's help-wanted ads fell to $18 million a year from more than $118 million, according to the paper. The newsroom was whittled to 280 people from 404, a 30 percent decline.
Newspapers are in a tough spot. They publish once a day, so they are usually 24 hours out of date in terms of breaking news. TV, radio, and the web can react faster. Magazines have the advantage of being published once a week or once a month, so they take a longer, more in depth look at news events. So newspapers are stuck in the middle...too slow for the breaking news, not in depth enough to compete with the news magazines.
Newspapers should go hyper-local. Focus on local news, school sports, local businesses, and local people. Radio, TV, and the web can't do local reporting as well as the newspapers. Newspapers should play to their strengths. Provide the best classified advertising rates, and make it easy to place and monitor ads online. Local newspapers should be THE source for local search results...which I believe is The Next Big Thing in search. Take a look at CitySquares Online as an example of how to do local search right. The newspapers should be doing this...and more.
UPDATE: I just read Mark Evan's blog. Mark is a former newspaper writer, and agrees that newspapers should go local.