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Newspapers RIP?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Reacher, Dec 23, 2008.

  1. Reacher

    Reacher Member

  2. Small Town Guy

    Small Town Guy Well-Known Member

    Reacher, was this you in the comments?

     
  3. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    That's Fredrick.
     
  4. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    I don't think anyone has argued against a product. They've argued against giving it away for free. There is no doubt that the internet sites for newspapers are very successful. But success does not equal money. And unfortunately, newspaper websites don't equal money either. That's why "diehards" are against giving it away for free. It is self-defeating.
     
  5. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I think it will be a long time before there is another "good year for newspapers"
     
  6. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    It was also widely decided, just a couple of months ago, that gas would never be under three dollars again. I paid $1.36 just a few minutes ago.
    The problem with the argument that newspapers should have made the switch to the information business because railroads stuck to a dying biz model and didn't get into the transportation biz is a false one.
    People quit riding the trains, so you no longer had a demand. The demand for news is higher now than it has ever been. Total readership has shot through the roof. The problem now is that the readers don't want to pay for the content.
    Insisting, somehow, that the web should be free is killing the newspaper business. Just like Tivo is killing the TV business.
    Some also keep insisting that the only real function of newspapers now is investigative work. That is false.
    Newspapers perform a vital function in American democracy by serving as a check to those in power. Without newspapers, the American way of life as we currently know it, will end.
    Right now, we live in a golden age. Newspapers have never been better. TV has never been better. That will all be coming to an end and sooner rather than later.
    Media can't afford to give its content away for free, and the consumer doesn't want to pay for the things that support the media.
    Something is going to have to give.
     
  7. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    Beat me to it.

    But please, Mizzou, be sure you aren't hit by the falling sky.
     
  8. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    Well, the prices of newspapers are coming down dramatically. Not sure how that suggests any positive developments for our industry, but it does keep things parallel and all.

    A news operation that sold for $1 billion 10 years ago, then just $500 million 12 months ago might be worth, oh, $150 million now.

    Bet the price of gas increases a helluva lot more, going forward, than the price of a newspaper franchise.
     
  9. dixiehack

    dixiehack Well-Known Member

    They were excellent in The Client.
     
  10. EmbassyRow

    EmbassyRow Active Member

    Heaven must have needed an industry.
     
  11. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    The platforms may be changing, but the fundamental principles of journalism remain.

    You research stuff, you observe events, you ask questions, you pass out information. Doesn't matter whether it's on a printed page, broadcast over TV or radio, some podcast or on the internet. The principles are still the same.

    I remember early in my career the switch was made from a manual composing room to electronic pagination. At first, I hated it, because I was familiar and comfortable with the former means. But after I got some training and experience with it, I actually came to like the new methods better.

    I suspect it is the same for journalism and the web. Now, I'm not a techo-savvy journalist --- hell, Al Gore hadn't invented the internet back when I was in school --- but I'm sure I could learn if given the opportunity. And good reporting and writing is still, well, good reporting and good writing.
     
  12. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    Except that now, you do not pass "Go!" and you do not collect $200. OK, maybe you collect $200 but that's about all you can collect, because the days of making a reasonable middle-class living are dwindling fast for present and future journalists.

    Through previous technological changes, the business model still functioned because people still were willing to pay -- advertisers through the near-monopolistic ad rates, readers through modest but constant subscriptions -- for the product. Not anymore. Never mind the technogical changes, it's the cultural shift -- the public wanting news and info, but for FREE, and a willingness to settle for whatever quality of work can be procured for FREE -- that has toppled this business.

    As for the train analogy offered on this thread, people's "buy" decision to stop riding trains didn't mean demand was gone. It meant demand had shifted to a quicker, easier form of transportation -- air travel. And if someone had offered to move people around the country for free, it would have shifted there.

    Newspapers hurt themselves by a) alienating large segments of readers with overt political agendas, to the point that their coverage wasn't valued as something professional and high-quality, and b) by making it available on the Web for no cost to the consumer. The you-get-what-you-pay-for association was inevitable: This coverage, already lacking certain standards that would bespeak quality, now is worth as much as the free shopper that hits my steps once a week.

    Putting that toothpaste back into the tube might be impossible now. We degraded the product at the same time we started to give it away, so that ravenous audience for news and information doesn't drool specifically for our best and most important work anymore. All the other stuff that people valued newspapers for -- classified ads, coupons, movie times, weather -- are readily available elsewhere.

    If the money was coming in, we could adapt to any technology changes. But the business convulsion means only some of us will be left standing to even try.

    As for that "good reporting and writing still is good reporting and writing," I submit: Somewhere, someone still makes fine buggy whips, outstanding kerosene lamps and men's fedoras to die for. No one sells nearly as many of them anymore, though, or makes the same sort of living doing so.
     
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