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  • Saving the Newspaper Industry

    By: David Evans on August 30th, 2007

    “Like many industries facing extinction through disruptive innovations, the newspaper industry has studied its predicament from within, trying desperately to save a business model that simply cannot be saved, ” according to Terry Heaton’s insightful article. (Yahoo’s TV News in a Postmodern Era). He goes on to critique a more out-of-the box strategy–Yahoo’s consortium of newspapers. He argues that the newspapers are being shortsighted in getting into bed with Yahoo, which is ultimately a competitor and which got the far better half of the deal. Maybe. But the local newspapers don’t have the luxury of waiting around for the silver bullet that will save them from going the way of the typewriter. Losing readers and advertisers in droves, and making far less on their largely lame web properties than they make in print, they have the pressure of quarterly P&Ls. The Yahoo newspaper consortium seems like a sensible step towards managing the inevitable decline of this segment of the industry. When death is on the horizon being shortsighted isn’t such a bad strategy. Whether Heaton is right or wrong depends on whether the locals have a decent chance of coming up with a new business model. What do you think?

    14 Responses to “Saving the Newspaper Industry”

    1. 1 JohnMc

      Eeeeh! Wrong! One thing and one thing alone counts on the net — PRESENCE. If the top banner is Yahoo then they get the lions share. Serving only as a feeder to Yahoo places the paper at nothing more than a stringer (to use an old news paper term). We all know what happens to stringers don’t you ?

      Eventually — They’re OUT of there!

    2. 2 Tinian

      Three words can fix everything:

      Content, content, content.

      Conservative and Catholic bashing, coupled with extremely overt Bush Derangement Syndrome, do not make a recipe for success in the average American venue.

    3. 3 rix

      The newspapers have ben declining for years. The newspapers refused to turn fully to the internet to protect their lucratice classified ads, want ads, and auto ads. Now we have Ebay, Monster, and various auto sites. Farsighted thinking,to be sure.

      The newspapers also destroyed their credibility by pandering to the left half of the population. Half the population turned to talk radio, the internet, and fox news. Of course, the same newspapers that missed the internet and wrecked their industries want editorialize to us.

      Then they commoditized their product by rerunning wire news stories, which are available for free.

      And newspapers wonder why they are losing both market share and mind share?

    4. 4 ptsargent

      Content is everything but so is an intelligent strategy. Large metropolitan newspapers need to emphasize local issues, local politics local cultural events and get out of the business of trying to be little NYTimes, a dying paper if there ever was one. I live in an a city of 140,000 people 45 minutes from downtown L.A. Almost no coverage of my local scene in the LATimes. Lots of biased coverage of the Iraq war and the Bush Administration, but I’m sure the libs who run that cesspool dont have a clue who the mayor of Thousand Oaks is. If I want biased news about the War in Iraq or the national political scene, Ill get it from the NYTimes, or WaPo, or CNN. or CBS, or NBC, or the newsweeklies because all these organizations in the New York-Washington corridor get their news and biases from the same liberal cocktail dinner party circuit that’s been going on for 50 years or more. They all regurgitate the same tired world view to the point their views are interchangeable, fungible. Give me local covgerage and I’ll reciprocate by reading your paper.

    5. 5 JorgXMcKie

      “The newspapers also destroyed their credibility by pandering to the left-most 10% of of the population.”

      There. Fixed.

    6. 6 Jim,MtnViewCA,USA

      Dang, everyone says that snarky left-wing coverage of issues is a problem.
      That was my experience, too. I dropped the SJ Mercury News at a time when they were spending their energy backing Tom Hayden initiatives. Hey, I grew up in Tom’s home town and I knew he was an idiot. If the newsies didn’t know, they were in no position to be preaching to me.
      It’s like these guys are still living in the 70s or something. The world has moved on in a big way.

    7. 7 sbw

      I don’t think you understand what journalism is supposed to be, which makes it easier to call it a dinosaur… but not necessarily correct.

      Journalism has problems, but they are different than you suggest. See: The fix for journalism and, a little meatier, Journalistic Indifference for an introduction.


    8. 8 Bill

      There was a time in my life (20+ years ago) that I read the daily newspaper every single day. However I stopped reading them after they became totally leftist propaganda sheets. The same has happened to the major television networks and now cable television. So I now rent Netflix movies and keep the msm out of my life.

    9. 9 Curtis

      I don’t presume to know how newspapers can ever again rise to their former glory, nor do I know how to advise them in avoiding becoming so increasingly irrelevent.

      But I will say this. Political posturing should be canned and dumped, whether for one side or the other. The “opinion” and “editorial” pieces, so dear to so many editors, are usually useless, more often simplistic and damned near ALWAYS suspect regarding integrity. I say if a paper puts an editorial out there it had better be ready for a lot of intensive investigation on all fronts it may imagine, and some it’s too lazy to.

      What’s actually happening being newsworthy is what a lot of this amounts to, summing it up. Mickey Kaus, for example, gets somewhat perplexed about this stuff, seeming to be in some general alignment with my point. What the hell is wrong with just reporting the news?

      I don’t give a whoop for anyone else’s interpretation of it, but I do like to know what’s going on.

    10. 10 Curtis

      As an afterthought…

      I truly believe that the integrity of journalism will be improved by the scrutiny the many people who dare to do so. Forget about sacred cows.

      If you aren’t good, you’ll be proven to be less than your self-opinion would suggest.

    11. 11 Matt

      Benjamin Franklin owned a newspaper in Philadelphia as did scores of others in his time. But Franklin’s newspaper was the most popular and wide read paper of the day. Why? His paper did not pander to any side. Franklin realized publishing a one-sided view would drive off readership, so he was very careful not to posture either left or right. Doesn’t sound like the business model of the York Times, does it? Franklin’s simple integrity would certainly apply today for newspapers, the evening newscasts and talk radio.

      Too bad journalism of today chooses to influence rather than simply report.

      The left misinterprets Fox News as bias, when they by far, approach Franklin’s thinking most closely. Remember years ago when CNN was really big and powerful? Look at the lost viewership they have experienced as a result of their bias. Many people just got tired of the continuous lefty message.

      Dont’ look for any significant changes in journalism with the graduates the universities are pumping out today.

    12. 12 Matteo

      It really is a question of content. I get almost all of my news and analysis form the internet and blogs. It’s not that important to me that I read everything within moments of its being posted, and I would vastly prefer to have paper in my hands rather than sitting in front of a computer. If someone could provide a newspaper which highlights the very best writing and arguments made on the internet the day before, I would certainly read it. But I most certainly will not read the know-nothing sludge which fills newspapers today.

    13. 13 Ken

      I think you’ve all got it very correct. Left wing bias, blindly running AP stories that anyone knows are ridiculous propaganda even before hearing the information from any other source add up to a worthless paper.

      The key is having local content. We take a paper to get the high school sports coverage and other local happenings. Getting the same old left wing propaganda that everyone else is spewing just doesn’t get it.

      A paradox: maybe big regional papers could have a chance with employment ads. There are so many web sites for employment that you can’t hope to reach everyone with one or two sites. If the paper became known for a quality site, it would have a natural advantage as it is THE regional paper, so it is where people would go for employment issues. In the old days, you’d always buy an LA Times for employment ads in Southern California.

    14. 14 tom

      i think political bias has nothing to do with why the newspapers are not doing well. the daily paper in my city for instance leans right-wing. it really has to do with trying to protect their current revenue streams making them less likely to be aggressive and adapt to the changing marketplace.

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