Ahead Of The Curve Blog

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How to get a FastPass line for my newspaper

25 April 2010 · by Blaine Sundrud

Can newspapers learn from Disney?

I am 40 years old, at least for the next few couple months.

This puts me between the young “Twitter all day” generation and the more mature “I liked my New York Times when the pages were black and white and smeared on my fingers” crowd. So while I am not about to start telling people to “get off my lawn,” I still need coaching from my son on who the last airbender really was.

I found out last week what I want out of my newspaper: “I wanna go to Disneyland!”

Well, actually, “I just went to Disneyworld.” I was in Orlando for MediaXchange, and I remembered how much I hate standing in lines and what an amazing job Disney does with FastPasses so you don't have to stand in line.

Can newspapers learn from Disney?

I think so. A normal broadsheet newspaper is too cumbersome for me to enjoy. It feels like standing in a 90-minute line to get where you want to go. Your back starts to hurt, and you start to question if it was really worth it. But the ride is fabulous, so you put up with the slogging through the line.

Broadsheet news is a pain for me. I want to read the news at my desk, but my desk is no place to read a broadsheet. Those of you who may have seen my office will agree it looks like a Brooklyn subway during rush hour. So many days, even though I subscribe to a daily newspaper (thank you, Salt Lake Tribune), I don't bother reading it because I don't want to wrestle with it.

Reading the news online only is like getting on a kiddie ride. Sure, it was fast and got me to go around in a circle, but it is not the immersive experience I want from my news.

Tabloid-shaped newspapers are my idea of a FastPass. I still get the whole ride, but I don't have to wrestle with size of the broadsheet.

I don't want a dumbed down 4 page “commuter edition.” I don't live in a place where I can take a train to work anyway. I want all the news that fits to print in my tabloid size, easy to carry, simple to prop up on my desk format.

Please don't fall into the traps some newspapers get with “small format” sizes. Please continue to jump stories. I don't want you to cut back on the quality of the writing just because you are worried about cramming each story into a single page. Jump a bunch of stories from the front to the insides. Have a story jump multiple pages. I can take it in a tabloid, because it feels like a magazine, and I expect my magazine-quality stories to run over many pages.

I want color — lots of it. Invest in a good press that does color on every page. I like magazines because, like Disneyworld, they draw me in with fabulous design. Sports Illustrated last week ran an ad with Michael Phelps, “We surf the internet, we swim in magazines.”

Cheers to them for capturing the essence of how I like my news: immersive without drowning in the size of the page.

I want my daily newspaper to let me swim through it, just like a magazine.

Now get off my lawn!

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