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But if people still want their news …

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by sprtswrtr10, Mar 22, 2009.

  1. sprtswrtr10

    sprtswrtr10 Member

    This was inspired by the "is it worth it" thread.

    I tell everybody that I want to keep doing what I'm doing, just for somebody else. Therefore, not a newspaper.
    So I'm interested in people's thoughts, because I really think people will continue to want their news.

    At the same, time, yes, I have this idea that as much we kill each other to beat other to get a story, that might never have pushed a lot of papers. I think, maybe, newspapers were a great racket while they lasted. Tell the people you'll give them the news of the day at a very small cost and they'll subscribe or, long ago, pay a nickel. What a deal. And with that, you've got a license to line up advertisers, classified advertisers and, let's face it, the onset of legal notices might as well have been a flat out subsidy to the newspaper industry. So maybe it was never, really, about doing what we all do great, but about us doing it well enough to keep enough readers and all the advertising going. In the end, maybe, what greatness we might have attained, when all said and done, was for nothing but its own reward and a plaque or two.

    And yet, against that, I still think people want their news.
    And if there's one thing we can say good about our position, editorial workers put out the product and if people still want their news, the product isn't going away. The circulation department, the press workers, the inserters, most of the ad reps, maybe most of the editors, will be going away. Yet the finders and the coverers, will still be necessary.

    So, what's next ...

    Maybe the papers that are shutting down but for online will be a revelation.
    Maybe they'll lose 80 percent of their readers but cut costs 85 percent, even while maintaining 75 percent of the reporting staff they had the last day of their print product AND IT'S SUSTAINABLE. And then that could have its own consequences. Now that it's so cheap to get into the news business, competitors will sprout up. Owners/publishers will want in for the oldest of reasons: they want to be big important people wielding influence.

    Does this mean there's a place for a beat writer for the two Class 6A high schools in town? And then another preps guy to cover the area? Maybe not in the short term, but should it become competitive again, filling those slots will become important again.

    Or, maybe, corporate entities will get tired of newspapers now that the business model's broken and there will be a new wave of local ownership, where mere profitability is enough. No shareholders to pay (OR DEBT TO SERVICE).

    Or maybe nonprofit is the way to go.
    I don't know, but I still believe the market will never dry up completely.

    So, what are OUR thoughts.

    Is there promise?
    Do my thoughts hold water?
    Do others wonder about similar stuff and want their own feedback?
    If so, reply.

    If people still want their news, the possibilities seem endless.
    So what are they?
  2. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    I don't know how this is going to turn out, but one recent thing I've been kind of hanging my optimism on.

    When there was all the talk of the Big Three bailout, one of the discussions was whether the car companies would continue to advertise heavily. Obviously, a chicken/egg deal: You have to advertise to sell cars, but how much can you afford to advertise in these circumstances.

    I read something from an industry exec that gave me hope: He said that they were going to be a lot more selective in advertising, and one place they'd be paying a lot more attention to was the web, because it was easier to target specific audiences and be more flexible.

    While it might be robbing Peter to pay Paul, or worse, for some of the big media companies -- losing in TV advertising but gaining in the less-lucrative web -- I think there's hope out there for newspapers that cut out all the costs associated with the print product but still offer content people want.

    Some here say web advertising will never be profitable enough, and I guess my point is, I don't necessarily think that's true -- particularly when combined with mobile and whatever -- and that means there will be avenues for people in the editorial side of things to write and take photos and do all the other things we've done for a couple hundred years.

    Might be whistling a graveyard, but that's my belief.
  3. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    The big problem remains: You are selling eyes to advertisers, and the number of the people in the "eye" business has grown exponentially because of the internet. Supply goes up, demand stays the same, price goes down.
  4. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member

    ok, for those who say this, explain it to me in simple terms, why can't web advertising be profitable enough?
  5. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Simple: Supply/demand.

    Web advertising is cheap, cheap, cheap. There are roughly 200 million web sites in the world, iirc. When you have that many people supplying eyes to advertisers, the price is going to drop.

    You can't charge anywhere near for web ads what newspapers are used to getting for print ads.
  6. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member

    but "advertiser a" doesn't necessarily want to buy a web ad for his business on the vast number of those 200 million sites, either because of site content, geography, etc. "advertiser a" wants to reach the local eyes (and the right number of eyes) interested in his product.
  7. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    See, I agree with this.

    Our website is targeting markets during March Madness. Most of our users have a log-in that includes all sorts of information, including location. And I might see a completely different ad where I live than you might see where you live.

    Ads are also going to be more obnoxious, which isn't great, but I read something about that, too: That all advertising is intrusive in some form -- think of all the TV ads you hate but still are made aware of the product because of them -- and that's part of the deal.

    I understand your point, RS, but the same advertisers who are doing certain leagues with us aren't on those other 200 million websites -- they're doing their advertising in bundles combined with TV or whatever with us.
  8. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    The newspaper, or magazine for that matter, is essentially an advertising catalog delivered daily or weekly.
    No website in the world is as effective at ad presentation as even the smallest weekly newspaper from the targeting of the demographic of the business to catching the halo* of the print product.
    So until a website can do all those things, then print will always be a superior advertising vehicle.

    *In essense, The Podunk Rag is a great paper and if the Podunkville Dodge dealership is running ads, then the Dodge dealership must be great as well, or the paper would have refused to run the ad.
  9. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    I don't think you've actually gone out and asked readers what they think of the paper :)
  10. HorseWhipped

    HorseWhipped Guest

    Not much of a relevant point, but maybe:

    A website fucked up my bracket pool, in a way that my results are moot from the start. I have a pretty good bracket, it looks like, but now I'm not even in the running.

    So I don't trust that (national) sports site anymore.

    Better when I was in a bracket done on paper.

    What I'm thinking is this: Websites are great, and they're everywhere, but I still can't count on them sometimes.

    Advertisers probably aren't sold all the way yet, but I expect them to climb aboard in the future. Maybe by the time my bracket is guaranteed to be processed correctly.
  11. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Craigslist and car websites are local to the people who look at it. The local chamber of commerce and tourism board web sites are local. The area preps message board is local.

    I'm not theorizing on what might happen, I'm telling you this *is* what has happened. Call up one of your paper's advertisers and ask them if they'll pay the same for a rotating web ad that they did for a quarter-page print ad five years ago.
  12. Cosmo

    Cosmo Well-Known Member

    But, if you eliminate the most egregious cost of the newspaper -- newsprint and delivery -- do the ads need to be as profitable as they were?
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