Jeff Jarvis Offers Suggestions for Remaking Newspapers

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By: Jay DeFoore

Former newspaper executive and current blogger/professor/lecturer Jeff Jarvis has started an interesting discussion on his popular Buzzmachine blog today looking at how newspapers can change to better serve their readers.

Jarvis, always a provocative critic, starts from the premise that “newspapers waste too much money on ego, habit, and commodity news the public already knows.” He then argues that unique local reporting is key to maintaining readers and advertisers in an era of shrinking circulation, classified, and retail ad revenue.

Among Jarvis’ recommendations, which are sure to ruffle some feathers, largely revolve around the idea of cutting back on coverage and features that are duplicative or can be done better by wire services. To name a few, Jarvis advises newspapers to dispense with stock tables, reduce coverage of national business news to digests and major stories, reevaluate whether they need their own movie, TV, and music critics, eliminate TV listings, and concentrate on local political coverage rather than national issues.

Jarvis is a big proponent of online, and he argues that entertainment listings, sports agate, and some business coverage are better suited for the Web.

He calls local news the “marrow” of newspapers, and says “newspapers need to find new ways to gather more local news.”

As with many of the Buzzmachine posts, the reader comments are both illuminating and humorous. One writes that “we already a have a newspaper out there that fits all of your recommendations to a T: it’s called the Metro, and it’s a syndicated cut-and-paste abomination before God and man.”

Another comments: “I’m looking forward to gettting [sic] The Daily Jarvis (a blank white sheet of rolled up newsprint) thrown in my yard.”

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