I wish someone from the Newspaper Association of America had read my blog posts about how and why papers should  use digital messaging for both distribution and branding.

Instead, the NAA’s big meeting this week was all about traditional vs. new forms of media. The association griped about aggregators and third-party sites–which at least know how to leverage their stories. Sure, Google chief Eric Schmidt pointed out that his company helps drive traffic to news organizations’ sites, offering a way for those companies to charge a premium for online ads. But what NAA members really should have discussed is,  “How to get to the consumer first?”

And I’ll answer: Digital distribution. Papers are never, ever going to get print subscriptions up to what they once were. But they can obtain subscribers who want their news delivered digitally, like through text message/SMS, email, or RSS. (By the way, the mobileStorm 4.0 digital marketing  platform lets clients send all of these types of messages.)

The benefits are many.  Consumers can rest assured that they’ll get the news straight from the source as soon as it’s ready to read. They can even pick and choose which kind of news they want, if they like–“politics,” “local crime,” “arts and entertainment,” etc. And organizations can make money by either charging consumers a subscription fee, or by using an ad-supported model (like other websites using their copy already do).

Will they get it? I’m hoping that after NNA chief John Sturm’s absolutely clueless appearance on the Colbet Report, they realize that they have to start thinking way, way outside the box.