Newspapers need to take a distributed approach

It seems that everyone agrees – newspapers must innovate to salvage their business in the age of the Internet.

But what exactly should they do? Jeff Jarvis suggests on “CalacanisCast 23” that newspapers must adopt a distributed approach and accept the fact that they are no longer the single conduit of news that they once were.

But what does that mean – distributed approach?

In my mind a distributed approach means that newspapers would distribute their content across the Internet to whoever wanted to publish it, so long as it came attached with advertisements controlled by the newspaper so they could get paid.

You wouldn’t necessarily go to the washingtonpost.com or wsj.com, but instead, you would visit sites centered around vertical interests like the war in Iraq, or more likely, the latest celebrity gossip.

The content of these sites could be supplemented or entirely supplied by professional journalists. But the sites themselves would be run by individual publishers who could pick and choose what stories to run.

eNeighbors is one publisher that would be interested in taking advantage of professional journalism.

The content on our neighborhood websites is entirely supplied by residents, which would be greatly enhanced by professional journalists in local communities. And what do newspapers do best? Yep, local coverage.

For eNeighbors this would be a perfect marriage to bolster traffic to our site and provide more value to our users.

For newspapers, eNeighbors’ network of online neighborhoods creates a hyper-local platform from which they can distribute and monetize their content without the overhead that they have today. In addition, they could charge more for the advertising since the audience is much more focused.

I’m sure other website publishers would find professional journalism a valuable addition to their site too. Citysearch is another example of a website that could benefit from professional journalism.

As Jeff Jarvis said, you’ve got to ask yourself, “WWGD?” (What would Google do?)