TAKEAWAY: To do print happily, newspaper editors must abandon the old definition of what a lead story should (must) be, and start migrating to stories that make me grab the paper and stay with it. As I left my hotel room to go for an early morning run they had already delivered two English language newspapers to my door: USA Today and International New York Times
Not that I had requested them, nor was I especially keen on getting them, but there they were. I quickly put the two newspapers inside the room, not before glancing at the page one headlines, and left for my run.
I remember when I waited eagerly for the newspaper outside my hotel door. Better yet, I remember when I would order the newspaper with the concierge the night before, to make sure I would get it. Not to mention that in some countries, the actual newspaper in English would not be available, so one would get a facsimile, like a fax, but that was good enough, or better than nothing.
That was then, this is a different now.
Much has happened since to keep us constantly informed without waiting for a printed newspaper. In fact, as I put the two newspapers that were delivered to my room on a chair, I glanced at the headlines: on this day, riots in Kiev, riots in Caracas, and Sochi, Sochi, Sochi. There was nothing on that front page to stop me from my run.
I confess I sensed a lack of urgency on those newspaper front pages.
And, OK, I confess a lack of interest on my part.
Printed newspapers and urgency
Is that how most readers feel about printed newspapers? Has the urgency gone away for that particular platform?
Have our digital addictions made us less enthusiastic about the newspaper as a print product, that fourth platform in the media quartet?
The answer is maybe, although one can’t be so sure.
Believe me, the lack of interest may have nothing to do with print per se, and more to do with print that tells me what I already know. True, we have come to print to reaffirm what we already know for years. Today, however, the front page must carry less reaffirmation and more discovery content.
We want to be surprised, and newspapers globally still manage to do that. It is always with the way a headline is written, a photo presented. The front page must seduce me and surprise me.
It is not going to do so with the “agenda of the news of the day”, which I have already perused on my mobile device.
Headlines and stories that surprise jump at us from any platform. including print. Headlines that echo the “news” that happened 16 hours ago, definitely don’t.
To do print happily, we must abandon the old definition of what a lead story should (must) be, and start migrating to stories that make me grab the paper, stay with it, and abandon my run momentarily.
For printed newspapers today, it’s the “grab effect” that should inspire the editors making decisions about page one content.
Remember, print editors, you lost the time advantage but not the interest advantage. Not yet, anyway. Probably not ever.
And, by the way, the grab effect is just as important when presenting information on those mobile devices, too.
For the record
Marriott hotels in the US used to provide every guest with a free morning newspaper on weekdays, whether they asked for it or not. Now the chain delivers 13 million fewer newspapers per year than it did two years ago, after it adopted a policy of delivering them only upon request.
According to Forbes, more than half of USA Today’s 1.78 million daily circulation consists of hotel copies.
A firm named KVH Media Company distributes a fax like 8 x 10 formatted newspaper of 8-pages to Radisson Hotels, among others, daily. See image here.
Of related interest
Look what I found outside my hotel door in the morning yesterday
Extra! Extra! Newspaper Delivery Fading in Hotels
Destination Austin for group of creative students on a mission
These students need your help!
On March 1-9, the Media Sandbox Street Team of Michigan State University – an elite group of students from Michigan State University combining journalism, creative advertising and media studies — will embark on a journey called MSU Out of the Box. Students will travel from East Lansing, Mich. and continue through Indianapolis, Nashville, and Dallas to end in Austin, Texas for South by Southwest Interactive.