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!

The state of newspapers today

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by old_tony, Nov 9, 2007.

  1. old_tony

    old_tony Well-Known Member

    I've never been one before to believe that newspapers would completely disappear, and I think I still believe that. But not nearly as strongly as I used to.

    The Internet is killing newspapers. We know that. But I'm not sure we understand it.

    Since the beginning of the Internet, newspapers have lost a ton in circulation. Pretty much every newspaper now has a website where they give away their product for free. When I ask the high-ups at my company why we give away our product for free on the Internet their response is generally, "If we don't, they'll get it from somewhere else."

    And my answer to that is this: "Let 'em."

    No newspaper has found a way to replace revenue from broadsheet advertising with Internet site ads. It's just not happening.

    I'm pretty sure I don't have the answer yet. No one has really found a business model for newspapers on the Internet.

    But I do know one business model that for sure doesn't work: Giving away your product for free.
  2. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    This whole thing is warmed over stuff that's been discussed here ad nauseum. Many of us feel the same way, man.

    Except for this. I think we're killing ourselves off. Not the Internet.
  3. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    A lot of free papers are doing just as well as subscription based papers financially based on their ads reaching a large audience. The Portland Tribune is a twice-weekly in Oregon that is still around and I don't think Anschutz is charging for his Examiners in various US cities.
    On the web, news sites need to develop technology that will not inhibit viewers to their site, but put advertising infront of the story beyond a first graph.
  4. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    I don't think the Internet is killing newspapers. Publishers are killing newspapers.

    Singleton, Morris, JRC, the list goes on and on. Do more with less. There are a lot of papers which don't sell advertising, they accept it.

    The decline in circulation has been going on for years and before the internet.

    There are free weekly papers which do work.

    I disagree with old tony (big surprise) when he says that the newspaper shouldn't put things up on the Internet. The daily newspaper has to be able to compete on the Internet. If they don't, there is eventually going to be somebody who will have an information source which will compete and maybe surpass the newspaper. I think that is very possible right now in a city which is technologically savvy, has disposable income, and has a daily newspaper with a circulation under 20,000.

    I read Singleton's long memo about a brave new world where in five years, those newspapers are going to get half of their revenue from on-line. He's dreaming. If someone wanted to start a newspaper, you would have to arrange for printing and distribution, which is very difficult to do - if it wasn't, The National would still be with us. With an on-line site, those are two things you don't have to worry about. The barriers to entry are not as high.
  5. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Alt weeklies are struggling. Free dailies have such tiny staffs that they don't need much revenue -- now there's a business model we don't want copied.
  6. old_tony

    old_tony Well-Known Member

    Gold, I'm not saying we shouldn't put things up on the internet. I'm saying we shouldn't put things up on the internet for free.

    The saying "they'll get it somewhere else" just isn't true if you have writers worth reading. They won't get "our guys covering our beats" elsewhere. Ideally, they'll get other guys -- and not nearly as talented -- covering that stuff and if they want the best coverage, they have to come to us. And that's worth paying for.

    Instead, we give it away for free as though there is no value to it. We have devalued our own product.

    Yes, have an internet presence. But either charge for it or have it password-protected for those who already are paid-subscribers to the paper.

    Like I said, we don't know for sure what the final successful model is. But we know what it isn't.

    And knowing what it isn't is a better start to finding what it is than what we have so far.
  7. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    I agree in principle, Frank. But if there are two paid dailies that shut down and morph into 10 free dailies in a market, wouldn't things balance out, relatively speaking?
  8. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Free dailies usually don't pay as well as nearby paid dailies.
  9. funky_mountain

    funky_mountain Active Member

    old_tony wrote:
    that ship left the barn years ago. it's worked for one large site (wall street journal), and the nytimes.com got rid of its pay portion of the site not long ago. but here's a real-life example, my example. i like visiting four, five newspapers sites in the state i grew up, including two where i worked. those sites start charging, there's no way i'm paying, not for any of them, including two which are considered major metros with solid writers. so those sites lose my eyeballs. and probably a few more eyeballs, too. not only is that site going to lose eyeballs, it's going to lose online advertisers. now, let's say the paper i subscribe to right now starts charging but gives me access to password protected stories. how is that paper making any more more money? i already subscribe. there's no gain for that paper.

    now, there are a few large newspapers making money on web advertising, but not producing the same amount of revenue as the print counterpart. for those larger sites or larger companies, the balance is changing, albeit slowly. this from romenesko:
    say what you want about lee, that's fine, but it's not the only newspaper company reporting increased online ad revenue and decreased print ad revenue. gannett recently reported 16% increase in online ad revenue and decrease in print ad revenue. the ny times co. posted an increase in print revenue but double the incease in digital revenue.

    but as someone pointed out earlier -- we've had this discussion a bunch; it's worth having from time to time; and yet, i'm with old_tony in that i don't have an answer and i'm not sure who does.
  10. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    i proposed a plan to market a company's (several papers) sports content online with new, and what i believed to be, unique ways to collect web revenue. my publisher loved it. his district boss (for a lack of a better title) loved it, then my 18-page report went to corporate and died on the desk of the company's online director.

    never heard a word from corporate. my pub and myself were going to have a conference call with the suits ... never happened. no thanks, no fuck off and dies. nothin'.

    i no longer work for that company.
  11. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    old tony: If you wait for people to pay you for content on the internet, you are going to be ice skating in hell. The only paper I know who have been successful with that is the Wall Street Journal. A couple of things about that:

    1. This is information for investors who really will look for any edge when money is at stake.
    2. The WSJ doesn't really do much on the weekends, so a website is more vital.
    3. There has been talk Murdoch might make what is now a paid site a free site. This would make sense given the fact that he purchased the WSJ and wants to start Fox Business Network.

    Let me ask you this, old tony. What do you pay for on the Internet?
  12. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Saying people won't pay is hypothetical. The New York Times wasn't charging for news, it was charging for columnists. In my opinion, they had it backwards. They were giving away the necessity and charging for the yadda-yadda-yadda.

    Newspapers have a near-monopoly on local news -- TV and radio simply do not have large enough news departments to compete with a local newspaper. Giving it away is stupid.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page