Actually, the time is long past for newspapers to begin conceptualizing their web site as their main product and their print product as support for the web site. Many papers have already switched to this model, and though it is really too early to tell whether it is a good strategy, it makes sense to me.
I have been saying for years that eventually the print product will become like a TV Guide for the web site. In other words, the paper will provide summaries, lots of names and faces (can you say hyper-local?), and dailies anyway will be published less frequently. The paper will “tease” to the web, where the meat of the information can be found.
First, this will be cheaper. Imagine if your paper could cut its newsprint bill in half. That’s another one or two web workers right there. Second it plays into the younger cohorts’ preference for quick-n-dirty reads on the web or cell phone, and you better be pandering to their tastes and preferences if you hope to have a business in 10 years.
This will take a re-wiring of many “older” journalists’ brains, who will fight until they have to pry that pica pole from their cold, dead, ink-stained hand.
But it is really pretty much the same thing we newspaper folks have always done. Deliver what people want and need in a compelling presentation in words and visuals. Just do it in pixels instead of ink. Yes, you will need to learn some new skills, but what could be more exciting?
Enjoy becoming a pixel-stained wretch. (More to come next post.)