Can personalization save the newspaper? Should news be individualized? Should newspaper be social? The irony is that this steep economic downturn is a well-timed catalyst for progressive, pragmatic change in media business models – both print and broadcast. It is time for a “reset”.


I don’t need a big printer at home printing just for my morning paper. Do I need newspaper when my news feed now coming to my Blackberry and may be in the near future my Kindle? The question remains around the issue and the rationale that content producers and distributors must be paid. There is no free lunch for consumers. So far there are plenty of free lunches and there are no shortage of volunteers to provide those.

I’ve stopped reading newspaper for almost three years. Stopped my WSJ and NYT subscriptions and instead get all my news online. Now they go into my Blackberry inbox, so whenever I have a few minutes to kill (elevator or airport boarding) I just read them from my device and if there’s a good one, I will go back to it later and read it on web or share it on Facebook etc. Or I will just Google it. What’s the role of newspaper? It is time for a complete RESET and separates the “news” and the “paper”.

A report from the media private-equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson sees 2011 as the year the Internet surpasses newspapers as the nation’s biggest advertising medium. I generally don’t treat these data seriously but it is very likely. Everyone knows it is coming but no one knows what to do. I’ve spoken with many media execs and almost everyone understands the challenge but it is hard for them to see a solution. Between industry dogmas, current economic climate and crazy disruptive technologies, it is not an easy job being a senior executive in that industry.

Peter R. Vandevanter (MediaNews) in an interview with the New York Times argues that "individuated news" (MediaNews' trademarked term for this idea) will give readers the ability to "decide what they want to read and on what platform." Well readers already have that choice. Just look at Twitter. I can't imagine that people would want to have yet another big printer at home that is dedicated printing the morning paper plus stocking about paper for that. That just won’t work. Tool like FeedJournal is giving us a sense of one future possibility. With Google Reader and you want a magazine-style feed reader that you can use to read on your screen. I can easily come up with another dozen of ideas that is totally outside-the-box or in this case outside-the-column.

I will share one here and save the rest for my clients. Think paper as just a surface that we need to print news on. Take the paper away and ask what other surfaces can use for that purpose (other than electronic screen-based). There is a company Tinejet with a technology to customize printing on any pop cans. Imagine all pop cans are printed with featured stories whether it sports, music or politics? Soda cans might seem a fairly frivolous use of the technology; the Tonejet process can also be applied to plastic film, paperboard, and "an array of substrates. Readers can pre-configure to create a custom news experience and order pops for the office custom printed with fashion news if it is for fashion company or technology news for a software company etc.

Tonejet has signed a deal that it hopes will allow images of people of the moment to be printed onto drinks cans the day after they have hit the headlines. Or may be Twitter feeds for your beer? Or the most popular blog posts? Think 250 billion drinks cans are produced per year globally and who says pop drinks is not a media business? Instead of “newspaper’, call it “newspops”.

Need to get back to my day job, which is relentlessly helping clients to perform a do full 'reset". I like this job.

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