There has been a lot said about the future of newspapers, and whether they can survive in an era of readership shifting to nimble and niche digital publications, declining revenues and shorter attention spans.
Newspapers around the world are faced with this reality, but so are other legacy media products -- television and radio stations are suffering through some of these same issues. The impact of the Internet, broadband delivery to homes across the world and the rise of powerful mobile devices and applications has fundamentally changed our lives.
These changes enable people to view media on multiple devices, increasingly bypassing traditional methods like cable, satellite or traditional over-the-air broadcasts. Increasingly, the consumer will have greater choice of how to receive their content.
On Monday, The Californian will embrace that opportunity with the debut of "First Look With Scott Cox," a joint partnership with local radio station NewsTalk 1180 KERN. Running from 7 to 10 a.m. weekdays, the show is hosted by local talk-show personality Scott Cox, with veteran broadcast journalist Jeff Lemucchi providing up-to-the-minute news.
Listeners of NewsTalk 1180 can hear the radio broadcast of the show in their car, stream online and download podcasts at their leisure.
But this is also a video show. Over the last six weeks, The Californian has built a new video studio to accommodate "First Look" in the newspaper's historic downtown Bakersfield headquarters.
Viewers will see Scott and Jeff discussing the issues they care about most. Topics can range from breaking news and politics to local sports and music. Anchored by news segments every 15 minutes, the show will also feature Scott's irreverent takes on pop culture, food and politics. The Californian's staff will also join the conversation with news analysis, interviews and breaking news.
And by streaming a live video simulcast of the show on bakersfield.com, viewers will see complementary graphics, photos and video clips, as well as the faces of hosts and guests. They will even experience a separate stream of advertising.
The new set for "First Look" is a celebration of all things Bakersfield with iconic photography from the staff of The Californian and graphics displayed on high-definition monitors. The set was built to be flexible, and can be changed in a moment to allow for another show or setup.
The Californian is already planning other shows and uses for the new studio, including expanding its popular "BVarsity Live" show for the 2013 high school football season.
More importantly, this studio helps us expand our strategy to deliver content to as many audiences as possible. For example, one of our first guests will be Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield. His "First Look" interview will be live on radio and bakersfield.com. My colleague Christine Peterson will write a story from the interview to be posted later on bakersfield.com, where visitors can also watch an on-demand clip. We'll also have a story available for the next day's newspaper.
When breaking news happens, the new studio allows us to deliver up-to-the-minute news to our radio audience and those on the web and mobile.
Jamie Butow, our community engagement coordinator, will send updates about show content via Twitter, Facebook and through our website.
The preconceived notions of what a newspaper should be, at least in my opinion, need to be tossed and replaced with nimble, transparent, innovative and aggressive thinking when it comes to opportunities to best serve our audience in print, on the web, in mobile and across other media platforms.
There are some who firmly believe a newspaper is designed for one thing and one thing only -- to be printed and delivered to your driveway. I believe a newspaper must always remember its first mission -- to deliver news and information.
While some suggest newspapers will die, I believe they will thrive thanks to these new technologies that allow us to diversify and provide a wider range of service. Just looking at the numbers, I know that our audience hasn't shrunk, it just engages with us differently. If anything, the newspaper audience of the 21st century is an insatiable consumer of content: print, audio, photography and video.
"First Look" is an important step in that evolution. We hope that you join us on Monday and that you continue to join us as the show grows, evolves and prospers. The future is bright.
--Louis Amestoy is the Digital Content Director for The Bakersfield Californian and the Executive Producer of "First Look with Scott Cox."