Newspapers can survive as portals, content service providers

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The last few years have not been kind to newspapers. Everywhere you turn, there is word of layoffs and bleak financial news, but Joe Lichtman offers a survival strategy in his latest FastForward blog; it involves a two-pronged digital approach that could be applied to practically any big city paper. First, Lichtman prescribes transforming a newspaper's website into a go-to portal for all things related to the city where the paper publishes, instead of just an online version of the daily paper. That might mean including links to competitor's content, as Boston.com has done with its local search tool. Sure, you may lose eyeballs for a moment, but if you are the go-to destination for all-things Boston, those eyes will return soon enough.

His other strategy involves opening up the publication as a content service, which allows other sites to access your publication's content. He cites the New York Times' recent announcement about developing an API to provide an easy way for other sites to publish and incorporate Times content. The New York Times last week also announced an agreement with LinkedIn to deliver custom content on the business and technology section based on an individual's LinkedIn profile. Lichtman points out that it's entirely possible for newspapers to use both approaches, and since the Times and the Boston Globe are owned by the same parent company, it's likely they will share ideas with one another moving forward. Regardless, Lichtman's advice provides a way for newspapers to survive online, and that's got to look pretty good to desperate publishers right about now.

For more information:
- read Lichtman's blog entry