This post was written by Rod Overton, the recently laid-off web guru who was the subject of this post about the newspaper industry.

Here are 8 things newspapers need to do RIGHT NOW to survive (I wrote these about a month ago, but have been thinking them — and pushing various aspects for a couple of years):

1.) Immediately stop entering ALL contests. Period. They send exactly the WRONG feedback loop to reporters and editors.

2.) STOP hiring people based on their clips. Integrate online cooperation — and REAL — data about their impact on the online product into the hiring process.

3.) Start really looking at analytics and studying what you are doing well and do more of that. You can now use analytics to determine this. Start doing it.

4.) Look at what other aspects of time people use the web for and consider integrating parts of those “news” or information into your site. Weather is a perfect example. It’s the second or third most popular thing people do on the Internet. Yet, this newspaper refuses to expand its weather section to try to capture that group. It would cost about $500-$800 per month to have a completely kick BUTT weather section that would compete with TV sites and weather.com, but no one wants to do it.

5.) Largely centralize the news-gathering efforts. Keep one small group to do “think pieces” or long range investigations. Everyone else needs to report in ONE silo and have everything run through about 2-3 people for decision making. Currently there are TOO MANY silos with information that never makes it to the right people who can determine if that information would be best used (and how) on the online product.

6.) Emphasize speed and jobs that people do that no one typically wants to do. For years, the general message from newspapers is that those who do the least real work are those who will not be advanced or rewarded. Change the entire reward process.

7.) Create an assignment desk to handle all work assignments and workflow and center all actions around that. At the end of the day, take what you have and then put it in the paper — and let that be that. What is in the paper is just an afterthought. I have seen this exact model work in TV for a 6 o’clock newscast at perhaps the best local TV station in the nation. Why won’t it work for newspapers?

8.) Make NEW hires. Don’t just shift people around to keep layoffs from happening. Get new blood in the door to make the changes that are NEEDED. Don’t just try to hold on to who you have now because you personally like them. They are great people, but are they really who you need to move forward?

Rod Overton can be reached at rodneyoverton (at) yahoo dot com.


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