Papers' suffering began before the current economic crisis. We already occupied the front seats as the roller coaster started down this twisty slope. Sweeping global deleveraging makes quite the thrill ride, like an out-of-body experience during your own massive heart attack.
Steve Outing cautions that style-over-substance print newspaper redesigns miss the best chance to retain loyal readers from older audiences:
"The key ... is to retain older readers by making the thinner print edition emphasize serious, quality journalism, retaining or expanding your paper's watchdog role in the community. Forget the stuff that's solely geared toward attracting young readers; they're for the most part gone from print.
"Then use the print edition to guide your paper readers to the extra stuff and the goodies that are on the digital side of the business."
Juan Antonio Giner calls this "commodity non-journalism": newspaper front page after front page, all carrying the same photo and strikingly similar, unfulfilling headlines trying to cover the scary crises in high finance.
I agree. Few in American journalism take on the challenge of explaining a story this severe and complex in terms that would be truly useful to everyday people that don't happen to be economists.
Tell me, friends: which of the following home pages, each representing a major news site on the Texas coast, has a more appropriate sense of urgency about the impending landfall of Hurricane Ike?
Before you cite any bias on my part because the second example, caller.com, is a Scripps site: The first example, khou.com, is a Belo site that I used to help oversee when I was regional director there. I have friends in both places, and great respect for both organizations.
I just found it interesting that khou.com, right in the path of the storm, seems a lot calmer (too much so, methinks) than caller.com, which was in the path until about 36 hours ago.
Links in search of steady work: