newspaperIt’s not a secret that newspapers are struggling — both in printed and online formats.  For some reason, newspaper organizations find it nearly impossible to make the leap from a dying breed of traditional printed news to a profitable online news business model.

Umar Haque of Haveas Media Lab published “The Nichepaper Manfiesto” on the Harvard Business blog recently where he wrote an open letter to an audience he called ‘Newspaper Magnates’.  His article is incredibly enlightening and puts a modern spin on traditional news media in an effort to show newspapers where they’re going wrong and steer them on the right path to finding new life in the 21st century.

In his article, Haque makes the case for the ‘nichepaper’ — “a living example of the institutional innovation that is the key to 21st century business.  They’re not the same old newspaper, sold a different way.  They are 21st century newspapers, built on new rules, that are letting radical innovators reinvent what ‘news’ is.”

Haque provides a list of the 8 most important rules for nichepaper success:

  1. Knowledge, not news.
  2. Commentage, not commentary.
  3. Topics, not articles.
  4. Scarcity, not circulation.
  5. Now, not then.
  6. Provocation, not perfection.
  7. Snowballs, not sell-outs.
  8. Tasks, not tech.

You can read Umair’s description of each of the 8 rules in his complete article here.

I couldn’t agree with Umair’s analysis of traditional media and the future of newspapers more.  Publishers like Digital Journal TV and SBTV.com (who syndicate their content through Newstex), are perfect examples of the nichepaper or niche news publisher.  It will be interesting to watch the world of traditional media over the course of the next few years to see if the powers that be make the decision to move with the times and follow some of Umair’s tips or if they’ll stagnate and die a slow (or possibly quick) death.

What do you think?

Image: Flickr