Keep on rockin’ in the fee world, newspapers

May 26, 2009

It’s refreshing to read some reasoned thinking about the future of newspapers that does not come from

  • Newspaper executives whose cheerleading about how they will survive — somehow — gets undercut by reporting a 30 percent drop in profits one quarter later, or
  • Internet Cassandras who want newspapers to burn and die because they hate editors who get precious about how the calling of journalism trumps the rules of free markets and (more typically) because they hold dear the tradition of thinking that newspapers only print lies.

The Financial Times is the bearer of these encouraging if cautionary words in an editorial that it ran on Tuesday:

There are legitimate concerns about the disappearance of general papers. The best dig up stories and provide coverage of local, national and foreign news that enlightens readers and citizens. It is easy to undervalue such news when it has been plentiful for decades, but society would feel its absence.

Perhaps some of the reporting done up to now by for-profit papers will in future be funded by foundations or trusts. But the industry should not lose faith in the free market. When people really want or need something, they will pay for it, one way or another. If today’s publishers cannot convince their readers to do so, they will be overtaken by others that can.

The FT is not saying that all newspapers have a future; it’s saying that the ones that don’t waste your time will survive because you will pay for them. To be sure, there is news that we want to know and news that we need to know (whether he want to or not). The question is: how many of our papers provide that? We would enjoy getting your response.

Keep an eye on

  • Speaking of getting people to pay for news, The Associated Press devotes some space to analyzing that. Is it salvation or suicide? (The Associated Press)
  • David Geffen still wants The New York Times, a state of play that continues to fascinate everyone in media. See the references in this massive profile of Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire who is helping keep the Times afloat. (The New Yorker)
  • Mark Cuban’s lawyers will try to convince a judge to dismiss the Securities and Exchange Commission’s insider trading charges against the Dallas Mavericks owner and noted blogger/tech guy. (The Associated Press)

(Photo: Reuters)


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I hope that I am not a Cassandra, but you have missed the point entirely regarding the death of the print newspaper. Here are some salient points that might be worth mentioning
1.Circulation has been declining since the 70’s.
2.There ARE other news sources. The daily paper is not the only media out in the trenches
3.One would think that the 40 YEAR slide of newspapers would have given them time to come up with a more efficient business model.
4.Newspapers are EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE. Full page ads are in the hundreds of thousands. For one ad. One Run.
5.When I first started buying the papers a 15 years ago, they were monopolistic, haughty, and greedy. Everything they could possibly do to make more money for themselves was done. There was no negotiation, no “working with a client.” In fact, the Omaha World Herald is STILL that way. They grew fat, consolidated, bought other media outlets, baseball teams, etc. Now, unfortunately, they are paying for their “sin,” and deservedly so.

Don’t get me wrong…I love newspaper. But when economics shows that your model is unworkable, it is time to say goodbye. Unless you want to bail them out as well?

For one, I am tired of hearing their woes. Shut up and figure it out. That’s what business is about. If you can’t figure it out, hire someone that will.

No one is going to pay for news online…not when there are plenty of free sources. Other mediums own websites, and publish news…why stick with a horse and buggy when you can buy a car?


Posted by JLo0312 | Report as abusive

Seriously dude… don’t care if they go away.. Let’s not stiffle progress to preserve an old business model. If they can figure it out. fine. if not thats fine too.

The new generation does not need newspapers.. it is an old inefficient system to us. We just don’t care and we don’t get sentimental about them either.

Posted by Sebastian | Report as abusive