Look mom, no newspaper!


4.16.09 :: The fate of the daily newspaper has been the talk of the town for some time now. Here in Chicago, The Sun Times has filed for bankruptcy. In Minneapolis, their daily is discussing reducing itself to a once a week publication and the Seattle city newspaper has gone entirely online. The reasons are the same– newspapers do not have the ad revenue to compete with the ad dollars and real time news found on the web.

While reading The Reader (a local Chicago indie paper) on my way to work today, I discovered a simpler reason why the newspaper is failing: you have to turn the pages. On any given day, you will see plenty of people hold a  coffee and bag in one hand and a newspaper in the other. To continue reading a story, a messy ballet of appendages and items ensues that eventually results in someone using their mouth as a third hand.

So, what happened that the newspaper became cumbersome? Well, we’re busy. In fact, Americans still work the most per week out of any country. And we’re mobile. We now change jobs more, travel more and demand information sooner. (Thank you, Al Gore and the Interwebs!)

So, I would argue the mere design of the newspaper is failing. It wasn’t the business model or the ROI, it began with a product that simply did not keep up with our new nomadic lifestyles. Proper design takes into account it’s user and the environment. Reference the iPod, iPhone and the Amazon Kindle who all knew ease of use with one finger is paramount. Even Yoplait figured this out with one handed yogurt, GoGurt. The newspaper failed to recognize its user’s experience. Save the NY Times, which can explain itself.