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Lean Dean's plan: Money for Nothing

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Tucsondriver, May 12, 2009.

  1. Tucsondriver

    Tucsondriver Member

    So now your online audience can pay to not have Dodgers coverage. That's according to Singleton memo announcing plans to charge fees or require registration for online content.

    Singleton: "...we continue to do an injustice to our print subscribers and create perceptions that our content has no value by putting all of our print content online for free. Not only does this erode our print circulation, it devalues the core of our business - the great local journalism we (and only we) produce on a daily basis..."

    Apparently the Singleton Suits have broken from the "NewspaperNext" project (or whatever they called it) they launched less than two years ago. Under "NewspaperNext" LANG employees were encouraged to "cannibalize the core product" as we were supposed to transition to the digital age. I guess it took them this long to figure out that there's no money in producing digital content, now or in the foreseeable future. I'd heard The NewspaperNext project was the basis of a heated argument between Singleton and former LANG publisher John McKeon at a June 2007 retreat that led to McKeon's firing a few weeks later.
  2. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    And I'm sure this means that LANG will extend their deadlines so the late stuff they now ship out to the website can make it into the morning paper.
  3. Never mind that, what about the chicks for free?
  4. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member

    As the comment thread at reporter-G says: this only works if they invest in it. So, yeah, it won't work.

    With a group of Web sites that are often slow as molasses, he wants to have people take the time to register, and perhaps pay for the increasingly meager content? What does LANG bring to readers anymore? Every regular general interest columnist has been cut, with the exception of the two in Long Beach, who often cannot be bothered to utilize their press passes. Sports coverage of a major sport, baseball, is shared with the Orange County Register, a supposed competition. A newspaper purchased out of the rack for a quarter weighs about two ounces.

    And what about news side? Stories by Long Beach-area writers, about Long Beach, are published on the front page of the Daily Breeze, which covers an area SLIGHTLY different from Long Beach, in location, demographic, and cost of living. Most of these newspapers no longer have Entertainment departments. Business news is written by Daily News people in Woodland Hills; again, an area SLIGHTLY different from the others.

    Singleton is afraid that putting content online for free "creates perceptions that our content has no value"? Dean's slash-and-burn tactics, lack of foresight or vision, and need to squeeze every LA-area property he owns for its last dollar has long since made that perception a reality.

    Hell will create a new circle, just for the likes of these robber-barons.
  5. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    I actually don't think its a bad idea - it's sink or swim time. Papers have been clinging to print for the ad revenues, might as well dive in to paid on-line content and get it over with. It will either work, or it won't.
    Of course, the smart folks will wait until another news org does, and learns from their mistakes.
    On a side note read something on Poynter declaring the non-profit model inevitable. Can't disagree, we've already seen the high-profit and low profit models.
  6. rpmmutant

    rpmmutant Member

    This won't work for a number of reasons. The DN's most popular bloggers, Greg Hernandez, Julia Scott, Matt Kredell, Tony Jackson, are no longer there. The paper does not produce enough unique content to make it worth paying for. They do not have the resources nor the people to produce an online product that is neither valuable nor engaging.
    Aside from all that, to start charging for content now will only drive away online users. Who is willing to pay for content that they can get for free somewhere else? The only way this works is if every newspaper in Southern California, perhaps the entire Southwest, decides to charge for content. There are too many people, newspapers, publications, giving away the milk. Who wants to pay for the cow?
  7. budcrew08

    budcrew08 Active Member

    Well, as an industry we have to try SOMETHING different, anything.

    We're in a big friggin' death spiral now if we don't.
  8. Fran Curci

    Fran Curci Member

    This experiment could turn out to be a good thing --- if it fails. Singleton certainly knows how to do the math. If no one pays for content, maybe it will dawn on him that readers want quality.
  9. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    Exactly. What has happened to the LANG papers the past decade has been deplorable. I read somewhere that the LADN has something like nine metro reporters now. NINE. It's insanity. Has been for a long, long time.
  10. Fran Curci

    Fran Curci Member

    I understand what he does --- I worked for a Singleton paper. He's a jerk and a liar. But he does what he does to make a buck. If it doesn't work, he'll have to give up or change. Of course, it might be too late to save the papers he ruined.
  11. Birdscribe

    Birdscribe Active Member

    Everyone understands what he does, Fran. If you beamed a nobleman from 12th century England to the present, HE'D understand what Singleton does: bleed, suck and otherwise wring out every dime from his product to the detriment of that product.

    And barring a 180-degree change in MO, there is no saving the papers he's ruined (see every LANG paper and the Oakland Tribune) or is in the process of ruining (see the SJ Mercury News and Contra Costa Times). These once-viable, once-vibrant papers have been bled white.

    He won't change and the only thing that will make him change is bankruptcy court. And even then, his starvation tactics will actually be a matter of legal policy instead of the greedy dynamics of this era's Cornelius Vanderbilt or Henry Clay Frick.
  12. goalmouth

    goalmouth Active Member

    Don't harsh on CV. He may have been a robber baron, but he did build a profitable rail trade route from the Atlantic to the Great Lakes.
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