Publications are proving that quality content can attract audiences...
If you have not seen it, consider reading Gulfnews.com for inspiration. It was recently named the top English newspaper online at the Forbes Middle East’s Top Media Online in the Arab World awards ceremony.
The site is a very functional, well-designed news site. What is inspiring is how the publication (which boasts both print and online editions) operates. Abdul Hamid Ahmad, Editor-in-Chief of Gulf News, said the publication's core philosophy is innovation and evolution.
Gulf News covers the politics and economics of this region well, but it also employs standard readership-building tools. A "Friday" section feature highlights four readers who changed their lives for the better in the past year. One of the "fab four" quit smoking. Another lost 52kg. Taking nothing away from their achievements, these are real people accomplishing ordinary things. These are not politicians or diplomats or the filthy rich.
One of the readership tools I describe in "Reclaiming Your Readers" is Gannett's "Real Life, Real News" concept. While the project has been long gone, the idea remains relevant. Real Life, Real News attempted to eliminate the disconnect between readers and their newspapers by focusing on information that assisted readers with living their everyday lives as well as highlighting real people stories. This idea of real people doing real things is still worth pursuing. Gulf News thought so.
SIDE NOTE: Quality is also paying off for the New York Times, as digital subscriptions are growing faster than ad revenue is falling. The reason the New York Times paywall appears to be working to some degree is that people are willing to pay for quality content. A newspaper does not have to be the New York Times...it just has to be the New York Times for its coverage area.