Accidentally in Code

It’s Hard to Sell a Newspaper

Posted on: November 17, 2009

There are two things that are almost guaranteed to bring out the giant ***** in me. One is people who accost me in the street trying to convert me to one religion or another (it’s amazing none of them have punched me for suggesting they’re mentally ill). The other thing is sales calls.

I think this allows me to be nice to almost everyone else, even when they’re being annoying.

Anyway, this morning I got a call from the Ottawa Sun, asking if I wanted a trial of the newspaper for as little as $0.20 a day. I said,

My boyfriend and I are 24 and 28. I don’t think either of us has ever bought a newspaper, apart from The Economist. We get all of our news online. So I don’t think we’re really your target market

This guy he took it really well, laughed and complimented me, and told me his kids were the same way.

I was talking to Treena the other day about her start-up, Betidings. She observed that the people who had really “got it” were my generation.

Now, it seems obvious. People used to hear about events in the paper (perhaps some people still do). However, I don’t know anyone who reads a paper – I’m the exception, and I only read the Economist! We get our news from various sources online, and hear about events from our friends or via Facebook or Twitter. But you can’t export Facebook events to your calendar and Facebook doesn’t really display them that helpfully either. The thing about Twitter is that in order to hear about events someone is going to you have to be tuning in to everything they’re saying, and even then you may only hear about it on the day (when it’s too late to get tickets). Betidings means you can just tune into their calendar. That’s kinda awesome.

I think newspapers will die, but I also think that presents an opportunity to those willing to look for them. Betidings is one such example. Do you have another?

Check out what events I’m going to through my Betidings calendar.

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4 Responses to "It’s Hard to Sell a Newspaper"

Your post reminds me when I was a teenager. There was a period when I was trying to push myself to read newspapers. At one point, I really enjoyed the only English newspaper available in my country. But I guess it didn’t last long ;). Not long after, internet access became available to where I lived – the year of 1999 or 2000.

Online articles are easier to skim for important points. I tried again 2 years ago to subscribe to the Globe & Mail when my aunt & uncle were away for vacation. Only to find I had to recycle the papers without reading most of them :P.

I agree with you on online articles being easier to skim, especially now I have gestures on my macs, it’s so easy to scroll down. Newspaper print is small and hard to read, and the newspapers themselves are bulky. Also, dynamic linking is really useful. It’s nice to be able to clink on links right in the post, or flip to Google or Wikipedia to look things up quickly if you need to.

Your observations mirror mine made working in an office with a lot of under 30’s, and my stint as a prof too. For me, a 38 yr old, I feel l am living a double life. I adore the on demand real-time nature of online news. I have little patience, and when I want to know something, I want to know it NOW.

However, the time I spend daily with the newspaper and especially the weekend papers is sublime. I have such fond memories of lazy breakfasts and the broadsheet (man, they don’t exist anymore) Sunday papers in the UK. I rarely have the patience to read a long article online and I enjoy the editorial and special posts in the papers. I sometimes wonder if reading papers is a bit like Radio 4 – you grown into it, but I doubt that is true.

There are certainly consequences for marketers and event planners – I was at Ottawa Festival’s last week for a workshop and they are finding better uptake for volunteers in less time commit by going online. But, of course, you need to use the right channel for your audience. Lots of folks are not happy online yet too (a whole other discussion about target users 😉 )

You’re right, I read the economist and I definitely read it in more depth than is typical with online articles. Mostly I skim them, ascertain if they may be useful and file them if so. It’s rare I find one that I want to read in depth. For academic papers, I used to read them online but I’ve discovered that it’s less of a chore if I print them – I find it easier to focus, and make notes etc.

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