Hope for bastards

The pace of newspaper failures (folding?) is going to pick up. It’s sad, but true. Here in our area, the PI is obviously in dire straights – the Bellingham paper has one foot in the grave – the Puyallup Herald is going to be making some changes I hear – and the News Tribune is rumored to be facing another round of layoffs. Makes me ill. Bastard

With that said, there is one type of newspaper property that I think may have a fighting chance. I may be completely wrong about this, but very few people have been right when it comes to predicting trends in this area – so what the heck.

I really think an opportunity still exists for newspapers in bastard child markets. What? Bastard child markets? Yes, the Tacoma in Seattle-Tacoma. The Stockton in Sacramento-Stockton. The St. Paul, in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. You get the picture.

Those properties have the opportunity to be BOTH newspaper AND TV and radio if they take some risks and play their cards right. May fail, but seriously, how much worse can it get?

Take Tacoma. Every Tacoma-based radio and television property has bailed. But taken by itself – Federal Way and south is really a pretty big market! If plopped out in the middle of Nebraska, it might be in the top 50. I had have to do more research to really put a number on it.

Anyway, the bastard child newspapers should be working overtime to re-own their franchises in their bastard child markets. They have size, but are largely ignored from a newsgathering perspective. It represents a huge opportunity for the dominant brand to step in, do some meaningful “convergence” and really be THE local news source. The papers in those bastard child markets already are THE dominant news voices – they just have to migrate their content to new, untapped platforms and devices.