I wrote a long piece partially about how newspapers might be able to save themselves, a while back.
Here’s another thought: advertising is where newspapers make their money, with local ads and classified making up a big percentage of the dough.
What if newspapers leveraged their existing ad networks, to build a localized advertising platform for local web sites and blogs. [Or if a company built such a system to sell to newspapers, to allow them to implement with little or no technical requirements, or just on their own… and finish off newspapers for good].
I’ve long thought that google adsense is a terrible tool for small websites – the ads are mostly irrelevant; the money insignificant unless you are getting thousands of visits a day.
But if there was a good way to get decent local ads on a more local blog, it would make more sense. Newspapers are well placed to provide that service to blogs.
Most local merchants are probably not savvy enough to recognize the need to be advertising online; so probably this service should be offered free to merchants to start; but with a year of statistics, a newspaper could much better quantify the value of such a proposition.