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Do they even want their papers to survive?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Shifty Squid, Nov 17, 2008.

  1. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    Long-term, that is. I just look at what these publishers are doing and think it looks like they're just trying to wring as much money as they can for as long as they can out of their papers and their employees. It's like they simply want to drain the life out of their newspapers until they either close them completely or reduce the staff/costs so much that they're not really newspapers anymore.

    Any business expert will tell you that layoffs as nothing more than a cost-cutting measure don't work, largely because it devalues your product, costs you customers and, hence, typically costs you money in the end. The bottom line: cost-cutting layoffs beget cost-cutting layoffs, which is clearly the cycle we're in now.

    It seems to me there are a few possibilities as to what's going on: 1. They're just trying to drain all the blood out of their newspapers before tossing them aside; 2. They're trying to buy themselves time with their stockholders until they can figure out what the hell the answer is; 3. They're really as stupid as many people think.

    I think the layoffs started as mostly 2 but, in many cases, have moved on to 1. And I'm sure there's a healthy bit of 3 thrown in for good measure in at least some chains.

    It's not newspapers, but here's an example of the contrast between the mindset of a business that lays employees off to save money and one that refuses to do so: http://edgehopper.com/what-toyota-knows-that-gm-doesnt/
  2. TheMethod

    TheMethod Member

    They're trying to get us to online only. It is much, much cheaper to run a Web site than it is to print a daily newspaper, and the daily newspaper isn't going to be a good product for the 21st century, anyway.

    The answer to your question is no. They will not lift a finger to help the print survive. The reason they have not just killed it outright is that it still makes a hell of a lot of money. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. The thing is a cash cow. But, much like Donald Sterling, they've figured out that the product doesn't have to be particularly good to make money.
  3. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    Right. And that basically falls into option No. 2, which is that they're trying to buy time until they can figure out the answer. Specifically, they're trying to buy time until Internet-only can become a profitable option. Unfortunately, I think everybody will have either left or been fired before that day comes. At least we can all admire it from afar, though.
  4. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    They need the Wednesday and Sunday sections to come out because of the ad revenue. If it weren't for that, we'd see almost no print editions of any paper other than the NYT, USA Today, the WP, the NYP and a very small handful of others.
  5. I Digress

    I Digress Guest

    The problem with this scenario, if this really is just shift to online papers, they've already destroyed the product by gutting the staff. Jeesh, look down the road. No paper edition, no ink, no paper, no deliveries of those things or the paper. No presses to run and maintain. Instant profit. But not if there's no staff to fill your gossamer online edition.
  6. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    Instant profit? With what revenue?
    Your website, on average, could employ 8-12% of your newsroom.
  7. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    Exactly. That's why the question of whether they even want to save the paper comes to mind. It seems that they're refusing to make any sort of investment in the product, whether through staff, infrastructure, news hole, etc. They just keep draining it of whatever profit opportunity is left. So I wonder if the "answer" is even important at this point for a lot of them since they seem to be crippling their product to the extent that they either lack any sort of business savvy, or they have no interest in keeping these newspapers alive any longer than they can cruise to profits with them.
  8. I Digress

    I Digress Guest

    I don't think the huge corporations in the news industry care. I think the eventual end game is that papers become locally owned again, by the kinds of families that championed journalism historically. I'm not naive enough to think papers will exist as they do now, because there does need to be some reckoning with technology and the damn interwebs. But, there has to be news. Can you imagine the absolute abuse that even the tiniest town council will begin heaping on its constituents if there is no sunshine in how the government is operating? Newspapers, more than any other media outlet, provide that. Then just carry it up to counties, big cities, states and federal. There has to be a way to deliver this kind of news in the 21st century.
  9. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member

    Absolutely true.

    There is a part of me that thinks things will get far worse before they get better. It's not like public opinion is high regarding newspapers. Quite the opposite. Right or wrong, a lot of people see newspapers as part of a liberal media elite out of touch with common people, rife with much-publicized sins in their lifetime (plagiarism, invented stories, rolling over during the buildup to war), and they have yet to see the kind of damage that occurs in a country without a vigorous watchdog press.

    This part of me fears much more serious abuse from government, the kind that touches people in more direct ways, will be required before enough people see again the benefits of an independent, thriving press. I hope I'm wrong.
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