Start Your Own Small Newspaper
Anyone can start a local newspaper to serve his or her area with reliable and timely information. I know because I did it myself. In a rural area only nominally served by the nearest daily newspaper.
I'm convinced that anyone can start and operate a newspaper. Well, maybe not just anyone. So let me say anyone who wants to contribute meaningfully to their community and local area, can do so, with a local newspaper. I'm not saying it's going to be easy. I'm saying it can be done. And it's being done. All over the country.
Of course, if you listen to the talk, real, printed newspapers are just about a thing of the past. Right along with economic security, good local schools, and honest politicians. But what's being said in public may have less to do with the facts than is commonly reported. It's a fact that many newspapers and magazines are history. But print media is far from becoming a thing of the past.
Every community needs its own public voice. How else can neighbors communicate with neighbors? How else can your local school show off its top students, star players, and talk meaningfully about local programs, successes and needs?
But how does one go about starting a real newspaper? and how does it pay for itself? Is it reasonable to even hope that such an enterprise might pay the person running it enough to live on? Especially in these days of economic ups and downs?
As stated above, many large newspapers are failing. Many have become only an Internet presence. Many others have already gone completely out of business. The question to ask is, Why? When you know the answer to that question, you'll be better prepared to know if you should start one.
Why do (real, printed) newspapers fail? What makes a real newspaper work? What does it provide that readers want and need? What does a newspaper offer businesses, the community, the region? The answers to these and related questions tell you what you must do in order to operated a successful newspaper.
Studying failure, and the reasons behind it is good. But we should also take a look at what works. There are reasons behind success. To succeed in any business, someone must meet a need or, at the very least, supply what people are looking for. So be sure to ask yourself why, in an era of online everything, are some print publications, including local newspapers, succeeding?
And what does the success of some faraway mega-metropolis newspaper or magazine have to do with you, as an upstart publisher? Can you really and meaningfully apply their successful working principles to your own local area? The obvious answer will be yes and no. (Just what you might expect from some online "how to" website, right?) Regions are not the same, so what works very well in one area may exist in another. But some major factors will always exist.
Four Universal Factors Contributing to Newspaper Success (at No Extra Charge!)
Factor Number One: The Public Wants Information and a Voice.
Factor Number Two: Communities Must Promote Projects and Programs.
Factor Number Three: Agencies Serving the Public Must Communicate.
Factor Number Four: Businesses Must Advertise.
As you can see from the above list, external factors may contribute to your success. Political (locally or nationally) bias in existing media is one of those factors. Intelligent citizens soon weary of any "news" source that only represents one side of things. This is true of broadcast and printed news sources. May newspapers have lost readership because the population has no desire to be spoon-fed a biased version of the facts. When the local population is only partially represented by the nearest newspaper, you may already have a readership (and local businesses advertisers) ready for a publication that will actually serve the people.
Another factor is the absence of real coverage. Is your school, church, community, local association being given adequate space in the news? Are your local students, community needs, human accomplishments being talked about in the news? In short, does your community, your local area have a voice?
And what about advertising? Are your local businesses having to pay huge prices to a paper that reaches far beyond the local market area? It may be easy for very large corporations to buy enough print advertising to reach the whole region, maybe even an entire state, but small businesses that just want to bring in local customers can't compete on that level. They need local options, and a local newspaper is one very good option for small business advertisers.
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This page last edited 08/05/13