“Declining toward extinction,” opera tears a page from Newspaper’s playbook

What do you do when your newspaper readership is aging and not being replaced with new readers? You publish online, for one, and hope to recoup some of your lost print revenue by selling ads there.

Now how do you reach a younger audience if you’re the New York Metropolitan Opera? You go digital as well. As this Economist piece reports, The Met is having some impressive success by bringing their opera to other cities throughout the world. The operas are being presented in movie theaters, for special events, using high-tech projection and sound equipment.

Here are some details from the publication.

These “simulcasts” made a big splash. During the 2007-08 season over 600 cinemas in America, Australia, Europe and Japan showed the Met’s live broadcasts. More than 920,000 people in 23 countries watched eight operas, roughly a threefold increase over the previous season, and about 70,000 more than the total audience of the Met proper during that season. For the next season 11 operas will be televised at an even greater number of cinemas.

The cost of admission is roughly $30, and formal attire is optional. It’s a cool idea.

Would you go to one of these?

Can video be the future of “print” journalism, and the salvation of newspapers?

It’s an interesting thought. As anyone watching the industry knows, Craigslist.org and other web-based classified ad services have eroded the financial underpinnings of the newspaper. Last month Mike Cassidy, in MediaPost (registration required), postulated that a new media phenomenon may actually come to the newspaper’s rescue.

… Newspapers are in a position to leverage their unique assets and benefit from the video trend. By having journalists and reporters not only file their stories in a video format, but by also providing B-roll or ancillary footage, newspapers can create more and higher-valued ad placements.

I see a similar opportunity when it comes to video and classifieds — with the real question being, who will leverage it?

The answer is that several publications are certainly trying. One of the first is IC Places Orlando. Here is an example of how the journalistic infrastructure of the newspaper could be leveraged to provide an ad product that other web properties would have to struggle mightily to match.

Newspapers have gotten into their current pickle by being too slow to realize how serious a threat the internet is to their business model. They now have to do something — or actually, many things — differently in order to remain socially relevant and financially viable.

As the 1980’s hit announced, Video killed the radio star. Will it help save the morning paper?