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Executive Report - By Thomas Baekdal - May 2019

The trend around creating a news oasis

If I were to ask you to tell me what a newspaper looks like, you would probably show me something like the New York Times, the Guardian, Le Monde, and many other similar newspapers. You might also mention some of the more tabloid style newspapers, like Bild, the Mirror and many others.

And while the specific editorial focus might be different, the overall definition is mostly the same. Newspapers are defined as being this generalized package of random news, with a mass-market focus, resulting in a very high volume of stories that people will mostly just snack on every day.

Obviously, I'm generalizing here, but the standard concept of a newspaper is something that looks like this:

This is often true when it comes to magazines, too. While most modern magazines have a more specific focus, many of the older magazines are much less defined.

Take something like Wired. It does have more focus on technology, but as I'm writing this, the front page features stories about measles, how to throw a boomerang, the college scandal, Huawei vs the US, Game of Thrones, moon dust, and news about the new MacBook Pro.

This is the same concept as before. Yes, Wired is very different from the New York Times, but it still doesn't really have that much focus.

I have talked about this many times before.

Before the internet became a thing, people were living in a world of information scarcity, so it made sense for those old magazines to have a broad focus. The role of publishers was to bring people information, and the wider the focus you had, the more people you could become relevant for.

In other words, the wider you were, the more successful you could be.

The problem today is that this is no longer true ... or rather, today we have a different baseline.

The internet is now the norm (and has been so for 20 years), and people have access to everything from everywhere, which means that we are now living in a world of information overload.

Suddenly, this old model no longer feels relevant. Now we live in a world that by default has too much of everything, so offering people something as wide and random as a newspaper just adds to that 'noise'.

In other words, we already have this:

And what you offer me is this:

Don't get me wrong, I personally think that both Wired and the New York Times are producing very good journalism, but it's so easy to find similar content from hundreds of other sources.

For well known publications like the New York Times or Wired, they have enough momentum and history to be big enough to still be relevant to enough people to make it work. But if you look at other publications, many are seriously struggling to make a difference, because fundamentally, people don't need what they have to offer.

This is particularly true for local newspapers.

In the past, a local newspaper was a window to the world. It was the only place for you to learn about what was happening in the city you lived in. Without it, you only had the local word-of-mouth.

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What is Baekdal?

Baekdal is a magazine for media professionals, focusing on media analysis, trends, patterns, strategy, journalistic focus, and newsroom optimization. Since 2010, it has helped publishers in more than 40 countries, including big and small publishers like Condé Nast, Bonnier, Schibsted, NRC, and others, as well as companies like Google and Microsoft.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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