Was talking to a few friends over the weekend about a Florida Today article. We got to talking about newspapers in general… the general decline of their business (due to the net)… their need for new revenue sources… and then the overall blandness of their articles.

In essence, we rarely feel that we are getting the “inside scoop” anymore. In fact, most of our local paper (Florida Today) is filled with AP wire stories. The local stuff is only somewhat interesting.

One of my favorite columns in Florida Today was written years ago by an Irish guy who would review a different pub around town. I don’t even drink or go to pubs, but the articles had spirit and criticism (although light-hearted). They weren’t spun, and they were only barely edited. They were funny. It only came out each week in the TGIF section. It made you feel like you knew the town a bit better after reading it — just in case you might go to a pub that very weekend.

Our other local paper is too new (Hometown News), but they have a lot more insight on the community — or maybe it just seems that way since they only cover the community. They have a rant section which is a bit weird, but the rest of it is good. I like what they are trying to do — just don’t know if there is any long-term money in it.

Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They DoSo, back to my point. What these papers need are a column about what it is like to work in a certain business in town… “A Day in the Life at…”, say, the Florida Today press room, or Jim Rathmann Chevrolet’s Finance Office, or maybe, one of those guys replacing the rebar on those beachside condos. It would have to be written with a real “grit” sort of feel (recall the great book Studs Terkel’s Working), so that it isn’t just a big glossy advertisement for some local business. Reporters would literally have to spend a day or more with other employees. It would have to be reporters who can quickly jump to conclusions and not be easily led or let themselves be spoon-fed corporate drool.

We’ve all seen the nasty attempts at employee profiles:

Margaret Smith has worked at ABC Liquor for 7 years.
[Insert Headshot Here]
Favorite Aspect of Job: “Helping customers.”
Biggest Challenge: “Learning about the new products.”
Long-Term Goal: “To become an assistant manager.”

That doesn’t work - ever.

Seems to me a genuine series though would help sell papers - especially if it was not available online (at least entirely). It covers something that we all talk about, too - “Hey, what’s it like working at such-and-such?”

If the newspapers could get more creative, could they be saved?

Technorati : careers, jobs, newspapers

Posted in: Ideas