“We all look at our slumping circulation and revenue numbers and wonder what kind of changes it will take to grow — or even keep — our audience. The good news is that we can find out. The answers lie in the people who walk, talk, drive, shop, and read among us every day.”
“The Merc” is trying to radically redesign their paper as a response to the declining circulation that afflicts almost every newspaper in the country. Being in Silicon Valley, though, they’re doing it the “open source” way, by blogging about the experience as it goes on (and soliciting feedback through the blog).
Here’s a post from last month that lays out the current prototype. The idea is that 70% of the staff would post news online, and 30% of the staff would dedicate themselves to making three really good section fronts for the print edition every day. The rest of the print paper will be plucked from online.
At the same time, the paper’s vowing to up its “personality.” Matt Mansfield, a deputy ME at the paper, wrote: “We repeatedly heard that people felt the writing and storytelling was flat, monotonous. They wanted some more lively pieces, with more flair. Our writing needs to reflect the personality of our community.”
Another post, musing on the impact of all this: “Are we zagging when everyone is zigging? Under this concept, we are becoming more a magazine, moving away from breaking news.”
You can follow the redesign/revamp as it progresses here.