Friday, May 8, 2009

Yet more on the future of newspapers

Interesting discussion on the future of newspapers. Be sure to read the comments. Can't say I agree with either the panelists or the blogger, but the discussion is interesting anyway. The question I'm going to start asking in all of these posts is: OK, journalism will survive. But will it be good journalism?

The Times should just cut 600-700 jobs -- he says

As yet another example of the cluelessness of American business, Henry Blodget says the New York Times website can become profitable if only they cut 600-700 jobs. That sounds right up there with GM's decision to merge its highly-profitable and much-loved Saturn division into the rest of the company or Time-Warner's decision to let AOL take it over or, oh, just about any bank you want to notice.  Sure these plans work in short-term since you're just cutting costs.  But none of these guys seem to think about making the product work.

Want to hear about the death of newspapers . . . again?

Columnist Michael Wolff repeats his argument that it's coming, and that it's a good thing. Beware of overstatement.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

News Corp. working on plan to charge for online content

Rupert Murdock's company reportedly has a plan for charging for online content. It's still secret, according to reports, but Murdock has said repeatedly that he wants such a plan.

"How do you get ahead in an industry that can't see it's own future?"

Fascinating piece by Leslie M.M. Blume on about the future of those in journalism. It's a harsh assessment of the current situation (it's headlined: "The media’s lost generation/How do you get ahead in an industry that can’t see its own future?"), but does a fair -- if a bit pessimistic, in my opinion -- job of summing up the situation we're in now. I've always been a bit of an optimist, and believe that there are no industries today that can see their own future. The key is for media companies -- and media entrepreneurs -- to find what that future is. Every study I've seen shows that people want information. As someone who uses Google several times a day, I find it increasingly frustrating. I believe that some sort of gatekeeper role will evolve, and that journalists will be a big part of it.

Will new, larger Kindle save newspapers? Nope, says PC World

PC World magazine columnist Melissa J. Perensen predicts that the new Kindle won't save newspapers. His reasoning: It's pretty expensive for material that can be had for free. The question of how long newspapers are going to offer all their material for free continues. I predict it won't be all that long as newspaper management realize that online isn't providing enough profit to keep them running. The same hold true for online-only sites. Sure is pretty good, as is the Shepherd-Express' remodeled site at, but both have only a handful of reporters, paid exceedingly poorly by the way, and it takes reporting to really fill needs. I've always felt you get what you pay for.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Musing on the Boston Globe and Times management

The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson uses the impending threat by executive at Boston Globe owner New York Times Co. to talk about newspaper economics, including touching on management blunders at the Times that are oh so familiar looking across the newspaper industry; big debt, spending too aggressively to acquire properties, etc. I just finished reading an email from a former Marquette student journalist from Chicago who watched his life-long dream job at the Tribune go down the tubes with that newspaper's incredible mismanagement. It's a sad world, but somehow I agree with Robinson's final hope: "I don't believe this is the death knell for newspapers, even the old-fashioned, ink-on-paper kind. I do believe that someday, somehow, the industry will find enough revenue in electronic distribution to pay for the kind of journalism our democracy needs." My biggest concern is that the industry get executives with brains instead of greed. I'm not sure those people -- the ones who made the industry great (and exceedingly profitable) in the past -- can get hired, much less promoted given today's corporate field.

Ad spending continues to decline

As expected, advertising spending dropped even more in the fourth quarter than earlier in the year last year (9.2% v. 4.1% for the year). That's the major reason why all media -- not just old media -- is in trouble. It's not just shifting spending to the Internet, but the slashing of advertising budgets that's put so many media outlets in trouble. Of course, the wholesale mismanagement isn't helping either.