1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Interesting take on saving/reviving newspapers

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by usedtoBinthebiz, Aug 8, 2008.

  1. Sure, some radical ideas, but I agree on not handing out news for free. Of course the industry wouldn't go for this, but I agree with much of it, especially the bit about copywriting everything.


    When you give away news, it's not appreciated. Look in your bathroom stall, the free alternative weekly is probably laying on the floor somewhere. The paid daily paper is not. You value what you pay for, even if it's 50 cents ... well, at least I do.
  2. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Copyright won't stop some people, though. They'll push "fair use" to the max. They'll change a few words in every sentence. I've seen illustrations stolen by a newspaper that can afford to do its own. I think Rall is maybe a bit naive if he thinks laws stop this kind of stuff. When we busted TBL here for stealing copyright photos, he said he was too small to sue.
  3. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    So Ted Rall basically suggests that newspaper try to go back in time to 1991, and use the same heavy-handed tactics that have blown up in the record industry's face. Does he really believe this stuff?

    1. Going offline

    Problem: Doing so removes your brand name from the public conciousness. People will not suddenly buy newspapers as a result of your paper leaving the Internet. However, leaving the Internet does create an easy hole for a potential competitor to fill. If ESPN has someone covering the heck out your local pro football team, what makes you think your reader won't abandon you for that if he or she can't find you online? This advice is the equivalent of Georgie Amberson Minifer laughing at everyone about how the motorcar is nothing, and people will eventually come to their senses. Unfortunately for newspapers, the Internet is a disruptive technology, and part of the reason they're so far behind now is their failure to recognize that early enough. Also, if you want to know how well shielding a free view from the public works, ask the heirs of Bill Wirtz, who decided to put the Blackhawks' home games on TV because NOT having them on there was a factor in reducing attendance, not raising it. You can argue it's not applicable, but live attendance for major sports has gone UP since putting every game on TV.

    2. Copyrighting every article

    Problem: Isn't this already happening, technically speaking? And as long as someone isn't lifting stories wholesale, how can you enforce a copyright? How do you copyright news itself? Does the newspaper have the exclusive right to make sure no one talks about the fatal fire it covered? And from a practical consideration, how much is a newspaper going to spend to enforce the copyright? If some blogger posts four paragraphs from a story, is a newspaper really going to spend the money to get him to stop? The stupid thing regarding complaining about bloggers is that, like sports on free TV, they can be free advertising for your paper and its Web site, driving readers to your site and making them more aware of your brand name.

    3. Not sending to wire services

    I'd love to see how newspapers would fill their sections without wire copy, which they would no longer get after cutting off the AP. So are newspapers going to form their own networks? (Some have, certainly.) And Rall doesn't get that wires mostly don't merely transmit your story as it was written to other newspapers and TV.
  4. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    If you don't contribute to the AP, but still pay for the wire, you'll continue to get AP copy and photos.
    I've thought for some time that papers aren't doing themselves a favor by sending things to the AP.
    Roughly a third of the state wire is AP produced, the rest are pickups.
  5. bob, there are other things you can do with your web site without posting copy. an old paper posted three stories a day and very short breaking news updates, but did plenty with video, chats, polls, etc. their circulation hasn't seen the ridiculous slide that has taken place at other stops.
  6. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    I can understand that -- use it as an extension. But Rall was advocating total disappearance -- unless you paid double the subscription price. You may as well be whistling into the wind at that point.

    Also, Rall says his ideas would only work if everybody does them. Gee, is THAT all it'll take? Good luck.
  7. Like I said, I don't agree with all of it. But the same people here saying everything should be free are the same ones whose jobs are in jeopardy.

    I went to Starbucks the other day, I can't believe they didn't give me my latte for free, WTF? I went to the sporting goods store, where are my free shoes? I went the grocery store, where's my free food?

    But news that's worked for by working people? I can get it free.

    Makes no sense to me.
  8. Reacher

    Reacher Member

    Just a thought, I work for a publishing company that has circulation of several million a month in many different fields. There is no such thing as a paid subscription. You can't pay for any of their publications if you want to. There's no mechanism. They generate unbelievable revenue in classified and display advertising. Many of their publications are highly respected in competitive, high-tech fields.

    The free (advertising-supported) model has worked for broadcast TV for decades. The model can work in print, as well, in some cases.

    Can it work for newspapers? I doubt it. Not without significant classified revenue, and Craigslist killed that in a few short years. Unfortunately, I think the news business is going to have to tear down the old infrastructure and rebuild it for the Web era. The transition is going to be - and already is- traumatic. But it's unavoidable. Times change ...
  9. Free model for TV? I know where I live -- and the last couple places I've lived -- if you don't have cable you can only pick up like two stations. Yes, even the biggies aren't coming through real well in many places without cable. That's long gone.

    News shouldn't be handed out free. Not every Joe on the street can find a story and write about it. It's a skill and people should pay for it whether times change or not. I understand advertising revenue, I don't understand getting news for free.

    But as long as journalists themselves believe it should be free, there will be no fight to improve the product and newspapers will continue to die.

    I'm more than happy to put my coins in the machine and buy a paper or pay my monthly bill and get a subscription, even if times change or not.

    Don't give it away for free.
  10. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    If I'm reading Reacher correctly, he means free in the sense that broadcast is always free, as long as you purchased a set. You can argue that while you might be paying for programming, the cost is essentially the right to have it pumped into your house. Just like information on the Internet is "free," but you have to pay a sliding scale price based on your level of access (less for dial-up, more for superduper cable).

    But newspapers aren't alone in this. The broadcast and cable networks, and radio, or anyone else in general-interest media, is struggling with how the Internet changes their model. For example, why pay to get Comedy Central if somebody is also putting their shows on YouTube?

    Reacher's pubs, if I read him correctly, are closed-circulation and are sold based on the assurance to advertisers that they are reaching a very specific demographic, and only that demographic. It's worth it to advertisers because what they're selling is so specialized that no one else is going to touch it, and they have a motivated buying base that is interested in what they're selling. But plenty in the trade press are dealing with lower ad revenue, though right now that's as much as function of the economy as it is the Internet.
  11. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Typical Singleton/Jelenic thinking: Let's lock the barn doors not only after all the horses escaped, but after the barn has burned to the ground.

    Bob Cook is spot-on: this is 1991 thinking.
  12. captzulu

    captzulu Member

    Here's the problem with the "we shouldn't give the news away for free; you can't get coffee or food for free" line of thinking: Starbucks or your local grocery store makes its money from selling coffee or selling lettuce. Newspapers make most of their money not from selling news, but from selling advertising, so that parallel goes out the window. A newspaper's money-making product, in essence, is not news, but its audience/readership. Your business isn't selling news to an audience, it's selling an audience to advertisers. The news, whether delivered via your paper product or Web site, is just a vehicle for building an audience to sell to advertisers.

    Besides, charging people 50 cents for a paper is basically giving it away for free anyway. Does that even cover the cost of printing, much less labor in producing and delivering the paper?
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page