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What I am losing sleep over: #5 We're too boring to read

May 17, 2014

Last week, I told you five things I'm not losing sleep over. This week, I'm writing about the five things that are keeping me up at night:

 

1. Math, numbers, digits

2. Privacy and fairness in crime, tragedy stories, reader comments

3. Plagiarism and fabrication

4. Pun headlines

 

And here's No. 5: Our content is just too darn boring for anyone to read. Or too homogeneous to pay for.

 

Good journalism costs money to produce. Good, local journalism costs even more money to produce.

 

I stay awake at night worrying that we've crossed that line ... we've now cut our ranks to the point that we're churning out too much boring copy that subscribers won't find interesting enough to pay for and that, in turn, advertisers won't pay to support.

 

 

And that we've merged so many operations and hubbed ourselves to the point that you can't tell one town's newspaper/website from the other.

 

We need skilled reporters who invest hours in their beats, in their sources and on research that doesn't always translate into hard column inches of copy.

 

We need skilled editors to coach those reporters and polish their copy.

 

We need talented graphic artists and data visualization journalists to illustrate complex numbers and concepts in unique and compelling ways.

 

We need creative photographers and videographers to capture more emotion than words can often convey.

 

We need tenacious, selfless copy editors to pour over every single piece of content created to ensure it lives up to our standards -- and those of our readers.

 

The list goes on: We need a business savvy, yet innovative, executive team; great delivery drivers; excellent sales staff; smart IT/web programmers; patient customer service reps; and outstanding human resources peeps.

 

None of these people can work for free.

 

It becomes a chicken-egg question for me. How can you sell people on the value of your product without investing in it? And how can you afford to invest in it if people aren't paying for it?

 

As I said before, this week's topics don't come with easy answers. If they did, I wouldn't be keeping Unisom in business.

 

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