As a huge fan of what Rafat Ali has done with PaidContent.org over the years, I was dismayed to read Lauren Rich Fine’s commentary today that exhorted newspapers to tell consumers how to consume content. Specifically, Lauren wrote (in bold): “If major brands push consumers online more heavily–i.e. it’s this or nothing–there might really be a business there.”
This is utter insanity. Traditional media is in trouble today, at least in part, because they have failed to listen to consumers or notice what and how they consume. Telling your audience that “it’s my way or the highway” completely misses the point. Media cannot and should not force consumers to consume online. If you build it and they don’t come, ask why, don’t tell your readers what to do.
Lauren goes on to argue:
If enough publications really push, maybe others will be brave enough to follow. Maybe more advertisers will take notice and join them. This could be good. It could add years to papers’ respective lives.
If newspapers follow this advice, they’re more likely to go over the cliff together than to add years to their lives.
Treating your audience like misbehaving children is no recipe for success.