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Posted at 6:15 PM ET, 03/16/2010

How to save newspapers? Ted Rall has the answer [VIDEO]

By Michael Cavna

A coupla years back, alt-political cartoonist TED RALL told Comic Riffs: "At the end of the day, you still have as many people reading print newspapers in the future."

Now, at last, we see how. Even if only satirically.

In Rall's latest tongue-in-cheeky video -- animated, as always, by David Essman -- the cartoonist proffers his scheme for "How to Save Newspapers." Namely, by marketing your print newspaper almost exclusively to those older than 55 (the video, like many a news outlet the past few years, have cited "the average age of the newspaper reader" at 55).

The video, of course, humorously turns on the belief that newspapers, in effect, are already all but catering to those Boomer-age and older. Exhibit A: The comics page (which this video features at the 1:33 mark). "Marmaduke." "Mark Trail." "Beetle Baily"[SIC] (typo'd intentionally, perhaps -- as is "Spider-Man").

Comic Riffs will go on record as saying: The silent-film effect and ragtime music works nicely -- as does the absence of voice-acting, which sometimes has been more distracting than effective in the previous 25 animated Rall/Essman shorts.

Here's the video. Your reactions -- as well as your thoughts on how-to-save-newspaper schemes -- are welcome.

By Michael Cavna  | March 16, 2010; 6:15 PM ET
Categories:  General, The Video Shelf  | Tags:  David Essman, Ted Rall  
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To appeal to the over-55 set, the paper should offer:
(1) larger type
(2) more funnies
(3) more funnies in larger type
yet to save costs on printing, it does exactly the opposite of each of those three things. Really smart, WaPo!

Posted by: seismic-2 | March 16, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Here’s a newspaper business model:
1. Report the local news.
2. Sell the daylights out of the newspaper.
3. Put blogs, tweets, reader submissions and superficial social chit-chat on the internet. Give it away. (A newspaper can have a dozen free websites, each serving a niche.)
Newspapers and websites are totally different products.
Creative advertising in a fun and feisty community newspaper beats all other marketing media. Local business people know that.
The job of publisher is to deliver as many eyeballs as possible to the advertisements in the newspaper. If he or she is not doing that, the newspaper is not serving its primary customers — its advertisers.
Newspaper executives who keep cutting staff and going online are losing their shirts. With good reason.
The correct plan is to employ the best editor affordable and give him or her the help necessary to create a must-read sheet for the town. Do not give their fine work away online. Do not even sell it online.
Newspapers that persist in giving away content online -- the same or diluted information that’s in the newspaper -- are cheating their advertisers of the audience they paid the newspaper to deliver. That’s not very good customer service.
People buy newspapers because they know there is something in there they want to know. (If there isn’t compelling content on every page of a newspaper, it’s doing it wrong.)
That is what advertisers pay a newspaper to do, and that is what online publications cannot deliver.

Posted by: kford2 | March 17, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

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