Keeping comics in newspapers

Interesting piece in The Baltimore Sun over the weekend on the future of newspapers — well, US newspapers, although the issues they’re facing as new media gains in popularity across all age bands is affecting all print media.

Howard Weaver, the head of news for the McClatchy chain — which bought the Knight Ridder chain of US newspapers and then sold off about half of them — argues “There will be lots of audio and video” on future newspaper sites. “It should not be the mirror image of the newspaper. Newspaper content is a tremendous starting place, but it is only a starting place.”

There’s a clear recognition of the way the Internet is developing ‘niche’ audiences in the article, and recognizing that the newspaper audience of the future will be a specialized one means giving up the department-store, something-for-everyone approach. I think that’s possibly true, and as an editor of various ‘niche’ magazines down the years, if you can get the economics right, then you’re on a winner.

As part of that ‘niche’ marketing Peter M. Zollman, a former journalist, now a newspaper industry consultant, says he would keep the comics — “You can’t blow up your entire core audience” — but, for instance, jettison stock tables as up-to-the-minute prices are available on the Web.

This is one of those rare occasions where comics have been recognised as a piece of ‘unique content’ that helps retain readers that I’ve read in a while, and it’s a welcome argument on these pages…

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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