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CREATED BY
BRASS TACKS DESIGN

1.21.09

What makes this page a BFD: The right crop on the right photo.
 
 
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You can see all the inauguration pages elsewhere. But you came here to see the best, and here it is:

The newspaper with the best front design today is Newsday for the best crop on the best photo.

It's better to show than to tell. Many newspapers echoed Obama's words – "We have chosen hope over fear" – but few chose this photo which tells the tale. The Obamas' smiles say "confidence" better than any words ever could.

And of those papers that chose this photo, none cropped it for maximum impact like Newsday, putting Mr. Obama front and center where he belonged.

An honorable mention goes to The Salt Lake Tribune, for trying something different and elegant.

Today marks a beginning for America – and an end for newspapers.

Four years from now, at the next inauguration, there will be fewer front pages to look at – if there are any pages to look at, at all.

So we should take a moment to savor this page and all the others published today, then get back to work and find a way to monetize the journalism that supports our democracy – that's what Obama would do if he were a journalist.

Choosing hope over fear is only the beginning. The work has barely begun.

And speaking of new ways to monetize journalism:

See the stories that tweens are reading today at TweenTribune, like the conjoined twins who are thinking about marriage, the hamburger that is impossible to eat, and the woman who was arrested after a 4-year-old ratted her out.



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Innovate or imitate? The answer – and what it means for Web sites – will surprise you

Third in a series

Innovate or imitate?

Ask any creative person – or anyone who still possesses some modicum of self-respect – and they will praise the innovator and eschew the imitator.

Look no further than Innovator-in-Chief Steve Jobs and that Vicar-of-Vista Bill Gates. Steve's a Mac. Bill's a PC. 'Nuff said.

Or is it?

Once again we need to take a lesson from the book of counter-intuitiveness. The world of business depends on Bill's Windows OS – the origin of which he bought from a guy down the street – literally. In contrast, Steve's "insanely great" products are still a boutique buy, even if Apple is better off today than it was when it was trading at $16 a share. Granted, the Unix-based Internet has leveled the playing field a bit, but when it comes to computers, America doesn't run on Dunkin', it runs on PCs.

So how did Microsoft come to dominate the computer landscape at a time when newspapers still dominated the local advertising landscape? (That's right – there's a connection.) By imitating, not innovating. To wit:

When Apple had the best user interface, Microsoft copied it and called it Microsoft Windows.

When Quicken had the best personal finance software, Microsoft copied it and called it Microsoft Money.

When Novell had the best networking software, Microsoft copied it and called it Microsoft Windows NT.

When Netscape had the best web browser, Microsoft copied it and called it Microsoft Internet Explorer.

When Google had the best online search engine, Microsoft copied it and called it Microsoft Windows Live.

So what's this got to do with newspapers?

I believe newspapers should take a page from Microsoft's playbook: To succeed, they should imitate the market leader. And who might that be today?

Newspapers spell success in two words: advertising revenue. And who is the market leader? Google – with a market cap of about $100 billion.

But more important, Google is the market leader for online ad revenue. And newspapers' future – if they have a future – is online.

Newspapers should take the title of Jeff Jarvis' book to heart: "What Would Google Do?" Or in this case, do as Google does.

At the very least, newspapers should copy these strategies of the company that dominates the world of online advertising:

1. Charge based on clicks (CPC) rather than impressions (CPM), as I described here.

2. Provide easy-to-use, self-service tools for advertisers, so they can create their own ads and manage their own campaigns.

3. Make simplicity a virtue – in user interfaces and in their business relationships with their customers.

4. Deliver targeted audiences to advertisers with informational products and services that are useful and meaningful to these audiences. Like this.

It is often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But to quote another bromide, it may also be the way to succeed in business without even trying.