Rebranding The Washington Times

The latest blow to aspiring area journalists dropped earlier this week with news that The Washington Times will cut its staff by 40 percent and pursue a different business model.

The development that I found most interesting has little to do with the online side of things-the fact that it's likely the entire sports department will be cut after a 60-day evaluation period. But as with any paper failing, there is definitely a new media side to the story.

In this New York Times' report on the situation, it's clear that the paper has battled issues for a while, but the lede makes an important point. John Solomon, the paper's former executive editor, joined the staff last year, one of his charges was to push the paper "into the digital age."

He left earlier this month, seemingly without accomplishing many of his intended goals for the paper, which seems likely to pursue a free model similar to the Washington Examiner that focuses heavily on politics and other local news reporting.

It's all summed up pretty well in this quote from an anonymous staffer:

"It’s pretty clear they can’t support it on this scale, and they’re trying to figure out what kind of product they can put out that’s economically viable and competitive with what’s available to them."
To me, that means it will have to really focus on new media, specifically its website. I think it will be especially important with the elimination of the sports section because studies have shown that many men pick up the paper primarily for sports news. The Washington Times will be alienating those potential readers, so they will have to be able to target market effectively to get the readership and sponsorships to allow them to continue.

Further more, here's The Washington Times' own write-up on the news, which includes excerpts from the official statement from acting publisher and president Jonathan Slevin.

Slevin offered this bit of comfort: "A new Washington Times will continue to reach readers and more effectively earn new audiences via digital, broadcast, print and wireless media."

That all amounts to a lot of changes from this local paper that has competed in the district since 1982. It's probably more bad news for people about to hit the job market like us, but maybe these kind of complete rebranding projects can offer new niches for people with fresh ideas to compete in tough markets.

With that in mind, what steps must this newspaper take to stay viable? Which facets of its media empire should be deemed most important? Based on some of the ideas we've discussed in class, how can new media help a struggling entity like The Washington Times to stay relevant as it becomes less traditional?



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Advertising on mobile phones to help newspaper?

I read an article from The Hindu (http://www.thehindu.com/2009/12/01/stories/2009120155921100.htm) which said many newspapers are beginning to advertise their content more on mobile phones in order to draw in more readers. By featuring more content for mobile phones, newspaper companies are hoping to gain a leg up on competitors in this newer medium. Because the use of mobile phones to search the internet and finds news is steadily increasing, I was wondering if any of you thought this was a good way for media outlets to gain popularity or readers?


Good and Bad Headlines

We spent a lot of time in class a couple weeks ago and I found a good and bad headline to show:

GOOD: "Knox's Parents Probed for Alleged Defamation"

This headline appeared on ABCNews.com today and this is a solid for the online platform. It is straightforward and clear, it does not contain jargon, and you can read it one time and understand the meaning of the story. The other thing that is good about this headline is that it contains many search terms such as "Knox," "probed," and "defamation" which would probably do a good job to find the article.

BAD: "White House to 'Name-and-Shame' Lenders

This headline also came from ABCNews.com today on the front page of the website. This headline is not terrible but it has a possible double meaning. At first when I read it I thought it was an incomplete statement such as the White House talking to lenders and the lenders were the ones that were naming and shaming. After I read it a couple of times I read it correctly; the White House will be identifying bad lenders. I'm not sure if the quote is the best thing to put here; perhaps it should be more direct such as "White House to Name Bad Lenders." Additionally there are not as many good search terms because 'Name-and-Shame' could turn up unrelated results. 'White House" is also extremely common and could turn up unrelated results. While this headline is not terrible, it could use a little work.

Interesting Headline

I know that we had been talking about good and bad headlines. I found this headline on the homepage of aol.com

"Man Cleared in Wife's Death, Moose Suspected"

The headline is actually pretty good in that it describes the story and on top of that it certainly caught my attention. But it definitely is not something you see every day.