Those familiar with reality television likely know “The Super Nanny,” the show starring that British gal who teaches people how to parent their insolent children so they don’t drive them off the deep end.
For those of you bringing up children and continuing to work in what’s left of the newspaper industry, I’ll let you in on a secret: It’ll be a bad day if Super Nanny Jo Frost is at your front door.
She’s effective at what she does, and I happen to love it when Frost brings out The Naughty Chair, a tool used to correct a child’s behavior.
So given the state of the newspaper industry — at least in the United States — what could be done to turn things around?
Do you succumb to the ideas of the digital people and throw in the towel on the print product, or at least severely reduce its presence?
Or can you correct your behavior — as Jo Frost might say — and design a new plan?
We’re flooded with reality shows, with the latest ones being “Restaurant Impossible” (the establishment is about to go under until Robert Irvine sweeps in to save the day) and “Hotel Impossible” with host Anthony Melchiorri (who does the same).
These shows appear to work. Irvine is a talented enough chef to know how to turn a restaurant around and Melchiorri’s experience in the hotel industry gives him equal stature.
So maybe this is the way to save the newspaper industry: provide it with some much-needed adult supervision through a reality television show.
We’ll call it “Newspaper Impossible.”
The new show will force newspaper executives to do the one thing they’re avoiding: devise a plan to return their newspapers to the robust health they once knew!
Given how other shows operate — people with industry knowledge working as host and star — I thought there might be someone in the newspaper industry that could do the same.
But then it occurred to me that newspaper execs are the ones bringing down the newspaper industry, so I reconsidered.
I had also thought Rupert Murdoch might be a great host but he’s missing a significant trait — he lacks the ability to ham it up in front of a camera.
And that’s before we consider his legal challenges and News Corp.’s money woes. Still, given Murdoch’s experience and his in-depth understanding of newspapers, I’m recommending him as the show’s technical advisor and maybe he could fill some other roles.
That leaves us with someone who can deliver common sense — a trait in short supply among most newspaper execs — to any situation: none other than Super Nanny Jo Frost herself, the perfect candidate to host “Newspaper Impossible.”
Each episode will start the same way: Frost will tour the newspaper in question, acquire the local publisher’s views on his or her competitive situation, seek ideas from the staff, maybe even the secretaries, ask consumers and non-consumers what they think of the local paper, and talk with display and classified advertisers using the paper as well as those businesses not placing the paper in their media mix.
Armed with this information — it shouldn’t take more than a few days to obtain it — she’ll force the local publisher to take a “time out,” so he or she can sit on The Naughty Chair and learn how their plans stack up against reality.
If they fail — this will likely include nine out of 10 publishers (otherwise, why did you call the show?) — Frost will then guide her publisher-protégé to a classroom and subject the publisher to a lesson on the basics of newspapering.
Lessons will include topics like delivering the newspaper on time; circulation, yes it matters; why reporters need to leave the building to cover the news; sales and marketing fundamentals; the basics of printing; why the Internet is never going away; and mobile media, among others.
New lessons may be added.
Publishers will then be forced to come up with a plan that restores their papers to prominence and profitability, which will be vetted by a star-studded panel of newspaper experts including Vin Crosbie, Ken Doctor, News & Tech’s Jim Chisholm and perhaps several others.
If the plan isn’t approved, the publisher will remain on The Naughty Chair until he or she comes up with a strategy the panel thinks is feasible.
Google will sponsor the show, of course.
It’s a total winner.
Doug Page can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.