Can Newspapers Be Saved? YES!
Posted by Psychomike 13 years ago
On Friday Howard Stern announced on his broadcast a new radio show in development featuring Artie Lange and George Takai for the station. As predicted here in my first post can we learn from old radio shows? the entire history of radio is now game for new shows- in fact, on the show Stern and Takei spoke of the "theatre of the mind" and shows like THE GREEN HORNET and CISCO KID- the radio shows not TV.  
Even if you don't like Stern- he is once again doing the new and innovative in a move that can only help writers, actors- by taking ideas from the old.  
If you are an actor or writer and you are not that studied in old time radio this is a good place to start:  
classic radio shows You'll be surprised at how many Hollywood stars had radio shows (Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall on BOLD VENTURE, Vincent Price on THE SAINT) to stars who appeared on shows ( Cary Grant on SUSPENSE). Although an often quoted "entertainment fact" that actors lose credibility by doing TV is false. There is no such study. Back in the 1950's when Hollywood tried to stop television by keeping their stars from TV and their films off the then new medium (although Japan and Germany had TV during and before World War 2) that rumor started. Kirk Douglas broke that rule first on TV when he appeared on a Hollywood TV show ( a forerunner to all the Hollywood shows today) and it had no negative impact with audiences. Recently Charlize Theron appeared on ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT and it did not have a negative impact on her career. (But then again, she also survived AEON FLUX.....) The industry started the rumor to keep stars from crossing over, then began to believe their own propaganda.  
There is no reason actors can't be on the radio either.  
The new technology has hit newspapers hard. Papers around the country have tried to chase after young readers alarmed that they are no longer capturing them young. Classified ads are in freefall and "youth sections" have replaced stories with big pictures of stars.  
How did the papers lose the young?  
Years ago the in the comics section of the papers, strips were printed large and were an important part of the Sunday paper. Kids couldn't wait for the "Sunday funnies" to come out. And the strips weren't just "office" oriented jokes. PRINCE VALIANT was a brilliant adventure strip, L'IL ABNER was brilliant satire, FLASH GORDON was brilliant science fiction for the time. PEANUTS spoke to both the old and young.  
Gradually the strips got smaller. Office jokes replaced adventure strips, satire and science fiction. Kids stopped caring.  
The comic section needs an overhaul. Strips currently being used by alternative papers should be bought up by major papers. New strips developed for kids- with an adult twist ( SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS anyone? POWERPUFF GIRLS? Are you starting to get my drift?) is one approach. How about a rock band strip and their trials and tribulations?  
How do the papers avoid becoming like the Enquirer? Well- take the "alternative papers" concept and sections like FLUFF and- do the Enquirer one better. Get columnists to cover nightclub scenes in the city- turn folks who go to places like SONOTHEQUE and SOUNDBAR into local celebs. Hire writers that will actually go out and give them a per diem. WONDERBAR, VISION- check out each scene. Blues bars, rock clubs, the works. Then do movie and music gossip- not just negative stories but positive ones as well. Control this tendency to slide into Enquirer land by going them one better. If not, you will be the Enquirer before you realize it happened. Go one better. Irv Kupcinet was brave enough to plug local talent as well as national. Get writers who will cover these up and coming entertainers too. A writer does not have to get the Hollywood stamp of approval to discover someone new.  
Once I managed a band that opened for major acts at Metro, a rock club in Chicago. However, the critics didn't show up until the major acts went on. One critic wrote for two papers here, so I wrote a press release to him that he didn't know was sent only to him, calling for critics to give the local talent an ear. He wrote a column for the Sun Times afterwards on why he didn't have time to cover the local scene. When he found out what I had done, he called the manager at Metro and warned him to not let me or my bands play there anymore, or allow my film society to have shows there. I was crushed, and had a falling out with the bar management.  
The band was crushed as well. They moved to Seattle and changed their name in search of fame. The band?  
SOUNDGARDEN. Articles began appearing here about this bold new Seattle sound. The writer, who would suspiciously review albums after reviews appeared in ROLLING STONE, was hired to write for Rolling Stone. I never patched things up with Metro because they didn't fight for me. Or- the band that became SOUNDGARDEN.  
It should never have happened. One need only look through the entire section of our local free paper devoted to bars to realize that biz has lot's of money- yet gets almost no coverage. Get out of the house newspaper writers!  
Get that advertising dollar.  
Speaking of ads, there is an innovation going on in advertising that has cost the newspaper industry a ton of money. CRAIGSLIST. GOOGLE is about to jump into the market, so is eBay.  
The newspapers have an internet presence, but are losing to these innovations.  
Craigslist has already cost the newspaper industry over 50 million bucks.  
Every paper should have a "craigslist" on the net- free ads for individuals looking for romance, reduced price ads for garage sales and the like, free classifieds for individuals who subscribe. Nominal fees for businesses, cars etc- have one price for under 35 words, one for additional. Newspapers don't seem to realize there is a classified ad war going on. Almost none of the papers have reacted to this threat.  
Craigslist has less that 20 employees. Worldwide.  
Every ad should be on the newspaper net version the second it is verified.  
Whatever price and free rules the papers come up with they must have the net presence and overhaul the classified section at once. Hard to follow rates based on days the ad is run and other odd specials should be stopped. A flat fee for an ad, free ads to subscribers, radical solutions are needed.  
Finally, to learn more, contact me. I'll be happy to speak to your execs.  
Because I still love the medium.  
Michael Flores  
Good read
Novelhead: The comics section really needs to change. It's so frustrating that dull, unfunny garbage like "Blondie" and "Cathy" and "Garfield" get to be in every paper across the country, but really funny strips like Medium Large (done by the guy who does Sally Fourth) can't get any attention...