In the scramble to develop a new business model, we risk losing sight of what the old model did well. Let’s avoid that pitfall. Let’s start by listing all of the benefits the traditional newspaper business model produces — for readers, the newspaper staff, and for society as a whole.

Notes:  Click on the link at the start of the benefit for a longer explanation. The first “it” refers to a financially robust, well-run traditional print-only daily newspaper.

  1. Reliable delivery — It arrives at one’s home each day, despite power outages or storms.
  2. Limited delivery frequency — It is delivered just once a day (not every moment).
  3. Layers of review — News content is reviewed more than once, by more than one person. Each reviewer has a different skill set or a greater level of expertise.
  4. Newsroom career path  —  A hierarchy of expertise in the newsroom creates a ladder of progression for novices.
  5. Newsroom longevity — Opportunities for growth entices reporters and editors to stay longer.
  6. Content experts — Longevity in the newsroom builds a staff of experts whose broad knowledge of the communities served by the newspaper reaches back in time.
  7. History in a nutshell — A traditional daily produces a snapshot of yesterday’s events in a given community — its raw history in a comprehensive, discrete package.
  8. Common base — Once read by the people in that community, the paper, literally, puts everyone on the same page, enabling all to share a common base of knowledge.
  9. High wall between news and advertising — The integrity of news content is protected by a high wall between the newsroom and the advertising staff.
  10. High wall between news and opinion — The integrity of news content is protected by a high wall between the newsroom and those who write editorials and columns that appear on the paper’s opinion and op-ed pages.
  11. Tangible product/portability — It is easily carried elsewhere.
  12. Tangible product/permanence — It doesn’t change — it’s a static product.
  13. Tangible product/shareability — It can be shared in whole or in part.
  14. Tangible product/page caching — It can be saved with the assurance that future generations will be able to read it as easily as its original owner.
  15. Tangible product/sticky ads — It continues to display advertisers’ messages in the reader’s home as long as that reader remains interested in the news content of the paper.
  16. Tangible product/staff satisfaction — Holding a product one has helped create provides a daily dose of joy.
  17. Tangible product/supply chain — Producing a daily requires an investment in equipment and supplies (a press, newsprint, ink, delivery trucks, advertising and newsroom computer systems, etc.), the creation of which creates hundreds of jobs in distant forests and manufacturing centers.
  18. Tangible product/tax revenue — The equipment, supplies and the plant in which they are housed create property tax revenue for communities and/or states that tax such things and are lucky enough to host a daily or its suppliers.
  19. Tangible product/jobs — It provides steady employment for those who run the press and distribute the paper seven days a week.
  20. Ethical reporting & editing — Reporters and editors strive to understand their own biases and apply ethical values when going about their daily work.
  21. No tracking — A traditional print-only newspaper and its advertisers don’t know which articles or ads a subscriber reads, or where or when that occurs.
  22. Coincident ad delivery — In a traditional daily, the ads arrive with the news. The newspaper carrier drops both off at one’s home at the same time. The ads don’t slow delivery of the news, nor do they get between the reader and the news.
  23. Targeted ad buys — Advertisers can buy ad space in a traditional daily near the news that is most likely to attract their potential customers (a content buy) and/or can send their ad where their customers are most likely to live (a zoned buy).
  24. Local headquarters — Its offices are located within the subscription area, usually in the most populated community. Centrally located, a physical presence that draws the eye and the imagination, a daily’s headquarters help establish its role as the public’s watchdog.
  25. Columnists — It has columnists whose work becomes a point of connection between the paper and the community, and between readers within the community, creating a sense of belonging for all.
  26. Original reporting — It produces original news. Reporters, columnists and editors get their information from primary sources.
  27. Community calendars — It provides nonprofits and other organizations with a free way to spread the word about upcoming events.
  28. Jobs — It provides carrier jobs, a part-time gig for youngsters, retirees and anyone in between.
  29. Daily contact — Carriers are the contact between the newspaper and its customers each day. Sometimes, the benefit to the customer and community goes way beyond the news.
  30. Brings world news home — It provides its readers with well written articles from all over the globe, supplied by a wire service.
  31. Sends local news around the world — It supports a wire service staffed by veteran journalists who collect and circulate news around the world.
  32. One-to-many dialogue — It reserves two pages in each edition, the editorial page and the op ed page, for the publisher as well as readers to express their opinions.
  33. Copyright protection — In the United States, the traditional daily newspaper’s exclusive right to its news content can be protected by our federal copyright laws, which are well understood.
  34. One platform — It is designed for one medium: print.
  35. Gatekeeper role — In the traditional print newspaper model, the paper is the content gatekeeper.
  36. Economies of scale — Its press achieves economies of scale, potentially increasing revenue while dropping the per-unit cost.
  37. Peer associations — It supports state and/or regional press associations that provide continuing education opportunities and encourage excellence by conducting contests judged by newsroom peers.
  38. Distribution control — It owns the distribution system, so it can control what the paper looks like, when it arrives and the costs associated with the system, and it can exploit its daily contact with readers by showering them with excellent customer service to keep them happy.
  39. Capitol coverage — Many newspapers could afford to post a reporter in our nation’s capital to cover their state congressional delegation.

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