IfraNewspapers need to forget news if they are going to prosper in the digital age, an industry conference was told today.

Opening the Beyond the Printed Word conference in Vienna, Robert Cauthorn, CEO of CityTools, said that newspapers had lost the ability to tell communities the stories they are interested in.

Newspapers are guilty of talking only to decision makers, he said, and people were now shifting to form their own online communities around stories that interested them.

"All the wonderful reasons for being a journalist are rushing back and, ironically, it's because of the audience," he said.

"We need to forget news, we have got to get away from the idea of news and get back to stories.

"Our readers think of stories; news is an alien concept, stories are interesting. News is a terrible fate for a story to fall into."

He said the fact that Google Video is getting more than 44,000 uploads everyday was evidence of how people had formed communities around stories rather than news brands.

He also cited Digg as an example of a site that had prospered by sharing its authoritative voice with the readership, saying that it now generated more page views than the New York Times.

"People are exhausted of being asked to sit back and listen while the leaders talk; they want to get involved."

He told the conference that to remain relevant, newspapers needed to let readers write original material on their sites, not just to comment on existing stories, to engage them in a dialogue.

He also urged newspapers to put their archived content onto wiki software and allow readers to do the 'heavy lifting' of tagging stories along thematic and geographical lines so that they were easily accessible.

He added: "If you have a newspaper that has those elements, you will win and others will lose."

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