The newspaper business is in doldrums due to many reasons but one of the primary reasons is the inferior quality journalism being practiced by most of the journalists. The worst forms of journalism – if you just observe two major democracies of the world – were experienced in recent times in India and America. So, a big part of the blame of the demise of the newspaper industry lies on the people responsible for bringing news.
But the Internet also has had an impact. People would rather go online to check news then pick up a newspaper lying on the table. To be frank, it seems hassle-some to go through all those pages when the same pages are available on the computer in digital format.
The problem is, people have stopped reading conventional, printed newspapers, they have also, sort of, stopped relying on their online versions. Very few people are reading New York Times in its printed form but then, very few people are reading New York Times even on its website.
A big part of the problem is also that most of the news is freely available so why would people pay for something that is freely available? People would pay for analysis and opinion but most of the analysis and opinion these days are skewed by political and business agendas and people are cynical about paying for them. We come back to the same old problem then.
Keeping all this aside, according to this Business Insider link, Microsoft is working with local newsgroups to resuscitate the newspaper business. As the report insists, Microsoft is primarily focusing on local newspaper business – new sources that provide local news, rather than bigger, more renowned newspapers. It’s the local newspapers that have suffered the most in the age of the Internet. Social media and digital news have left local print newspapers useless.
Microsoft has partnered with the small media company called Pioneer News Group that provides daily and weekly newspapers in different US states like Washington, Idaho and Oregon. The company gives its subscribers an 8-inch Windows tablet if they sign up for a $15-a-month annual subscription. The subscribers get a digital version of the local newspaper that they can access using the tablet and every Sunday they also get the print version. Subscribers can also access local news on any other Windows, Android or iOS device they already have.
The company is also encouraging crowdsourcing. The subscribers get an app called uReporter that allows people to report news themselves.
I think offering the tablet with a subscription is a good idea. If nothing else, people will go for a subscription to get the tablet. Such attractive packages can be used by other news outlets also. In fact, this can also be used by companies like Amazon trying to encourage people to read more books: offer free Kindle readers with an annual subscription of online book library.