Friday, February 18, 2011

Two mindsets, two products, two platforms

Alan Mutter’s recent “Reflections of a Newsosaur” discussed the extraordinary adoption rate of mobile devices. This phenomenon reinforces the idea that to sustain professional journalism, news organizations will move from publishing one branded news product (flagship newspaper) on two platforms (print and digital) to publishing two branded news products (timely lists and leisurely serendipity) on two platforms (phone and pad). 
Consumers have historically used flagship newspapers to satisfy both their search and discover mindsets. These mindsets continue today and will into the future. The Internet has made it both possible and necessary to design two distinct products for two distinct platforms to serve these distinct mindsets.
  • The products serving those in the search mindset, those seeking timely answers to questions, will be list-formatted and designed for phone devices. 
  • The products serving those in the discover mindset, those seeking leisurely serendipity, will be display-formatted and designed for pad-devices.

The timely-answer products will be free to the user. Whether the leisurely-serendipity products are free to the user or paid for by the user remains a question.
Some leisurely-serendipity products are and will continue to enjoy user fees. My bet is that the content satisfying the discover mindset, provided by geographic-centered news organizations, will be free. 

Geographic-centered news content, by nature of the fact that it is produced so frequently, does not have the lasting value of content produced for books, music and movies. And geographic-centered news does not offer the opportunity for financial advantage as does the news from The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and The Economist. 

So while people will likely pay, if seamless and in small amounts, for books, music, movies and financial news, they will not pay for news and information that informs them as citizens. There are too many other ways to get this. It is of fleeting value. It does not have enough influence on the reader's investing acumen. 

Advertisers, using the new capabilities of these platforms, will continue to be the bedrock upon which geographic-centered news will be sustained. Dramatically reduced printing and circulation costs will compensate for the lost subscription revenue.

Phones and pads, while advancing rapidly in adoption, do not yet render the current pc and paper platforms obsolete. So, for now, the product designed for phones will also appear on pc's. And the product designed for pad-devices will also appear in print. The two distinct phone/pc and print/pad products will have the following characteristics.
  • The phone/pc product will be brief.
  • The pad/print product will be in-depth.
  • The phone/pc product will feature trusted “who, what, where.” 
  • The pad/print product will feature trusted “analysis, context, reflection.”
  • The phone/pc product will be published 24/7
  • The pad/print product will be published monthly. 
    • There will be four, possibly more, monthlies, spread for publication across the month. 
    • Each monthly will target distinct sociographic and psychographic segments of specific 20,000 to 40,000 population demographic markets. 
    • Each monthly will have a distinct content focus varying by locale. For example:
      • News Summary & Analysis
      • Sports & Outdoors
      • Arts & Culture
      • Design & Life Style
I do not pretend to have enough understanding of the needs of metro, regional, national and world newspaper markets to envision their future. I am confident that the above is at least as good a vision as anyone else has at the moment for those news organizations targeting the 20,000 to 40,000 population urban neighborhoods, suburban villages and exurban towns. And as I said in a previous blog, this is the market with the most exciting opportunity.


  1. With a bit of spare time today, I decided to spend a little more time on your site and found this blog.
    Enjoying the content, found a few typos:
    [1] in the title itself: should be
    "Two mindsets, two products, two platforms"; [2] "bedrock of upon which" s/be "bedrock upon which"; [3] "pad-devises" s/b "pad-devices".
    Looking forward to reading more of your writing when time allows.

  2. Thanks Uncle Don. Corrections happily made.