Umair Haque always talks intelligently about economics, and yesterday’s post ‘The Nichepaper Manifesto’ is well worth reading in full. Some choice quotes:
“Journalists didn’t make 20th century newspapers profitable — readers did. 20th century newspapers were never supernormally profitable because of what they wrote: it was the natural monopoly dynamics of classifieds that fueled massive margins.”
Note: those monopolies are going.
[Nichpapers reinvent what news is:] “Knowledge, not news. Newspapers strive to give people the news. Next stop, commodity central. Nichepapers strive to impart meaningful, lasting knowledge instead.
“Commentage is the kid sister of reportage: it is the art of curating comments to have a dialogue with the audience — because the audience can fill gaps, plug holes, and thicken the foundations of knowledge. Many newspapers have comments — so what? Almost none are having a dialogue with commenters — who are mostly stuck in a twilight zone where they can only talk to one another. Nichepapers, in contrast, are always having deep dialogues with readers.
Note: this is because they understand that to do so is a) part of any good distribution strategy and b) delivers efficiencies in newsgathering.
“Topics, not articles. That’s why Nichepapers develop topics — instead of telling quickly-forgotten stories. When Talking Points Memo exposed the Bush administration’s series of politically motivated firings, it did so in a series of posts, that let the story develop, surface, thicken, and climax. Stories are for information — topics are for knowledge.”
Note: Google likes topics better than articles, which is why a number of news websites are creating mini-sites around big stories and issues.
There’s a lot more in the full post, including 4 examples of ‘nichepapers’ currently operating, including Perez Hilton, Talking Points Memo and Huffington.