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Time: How to Save Your Newspaper

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Johnny Dangerously, Feb 8, 2009.

  1. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Active Member

    By Walter Isaacson

    Henry Luce, a co-founder of TIME, disdained the notion of giveaway publications that relied solely on ad revenue. He called that formula "morally abhorrent" and also "economically self-defeating." That was because he believed that good journalism required that a publication's primary duty be to its readers, not to its advertisers. In an advertising-only revenue model, the incentive is perverse. It is also self-defeating, because eventually you will weaken your bond with your readers if you do not feel directly dependent on them for your revenue. When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, Dr. Johnson said, it concentrates his mind wonderfully. Journalism's fortnight is upon us, and I suspect that 2009 will be remembered as the year news organizations realized that further rounds of cost-cutting would not stave off the hangman. (See the top 10 magazine covers of 2008.)

    One option for survival being tried by some publications, such as the Christian Science Monitor and the Detroit Free Press, is to eliminate or drastically cut their print editions and focus on their free websites. Others may try to ride out the long winter, hope that their competitors die and pray that they will grab a large enough share of advertising to make a profitable go of it as free sites. That's fine. We need a variety of competing strategies.

    These approaches, however, still make a publication completely beholden to its advertisers. So I am hoping that this year will see the dawn of a bold, old idea that will provide yet another option that some news organizations might choose: getting paid by users for the services they provide and the journalism they produce.


    http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1877191,00.html

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  2. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    good luck with that.
     
  3. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Active Member

    This part caught my eye:

    Another group that benefits from free journalism is Internet service providers. They get to charge customers $20 to $30 a month for access to the Web's trove of free content and services. As a result, it is not in their interest to facilitate easy ways for media creators to charge for their content. Thus we have a world in which phone companies have accustomed kids to paying up to 20 cents when they send a text message but it seems technologically and psychologically impossible to get people to pay 10 cents for a magazine, newspaper or newscast.

    I was also struck by references to charging for columnists (The New York Times, for example) and realizing it wouldn't fly. The inherent devaluing of reporting is telling.

    I'm reminded of something I heard early and often in life: Opinions are like assholes -- everyone has one, and they all stink.

    In a world where that's believed to some extent by folks outside of the business, the value of reporting over punditry might be higher than what the suits think.
     
  4. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    I could see a model like TV, where you might have free Google or Yahoo News, and some of the D-list Internet material and shopping services, but have pay a little bit for the local paper's site, CNN.com, ESPN.com, Entertainment Weekly, and higher valued websites.
     
  5. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    It's easy enough, if not exactly easy, to determine a subscription formula linked to established telecommunication services.
    If EVERY newspaper shut down their Web sites for a week, ISPs might be a bit more receptive to negotiations on this topic.
    Shock therapy is the only therapy that'll work. Readers have to have an object lesson that information is NOT free, and can't be.
     
  6. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    It's no coincidence, I think, that in Dan's analogy, the local over-the-air newscasts are akin to "yahoo" news.
     
  7. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    It really ought to rankle me more than it has that I shell out $40 monthly to my cable company for high-speed Internet, yet none of that money is going to support the sites I frequent, like news and sports. That's not how it works with cable TV, right? The marginal cost to Comcast has to be minimal, to keep my Internet hookup running, yet every month I'm coughing up $40.

    News companies need to target the ISP providers.
     
  8. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Active Member

    Paging Lugnuts ...
     
  9. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    But the Internet is different than cable TV. Not every Joe Schmoe can set up a cable TV station. But every Joe, including yourself, can set up a Web site rather easily. The Internet market is still in its infancy and it will take time to sort out, with different business models coming and going.
     
  10. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    I once thought if newspapers bought up ISPs and owned the doorway to the Internet at least they could have some leverage that way, but the proliferation of Wi-Fi makes that moot.
     
  11. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    Next month:
    Time: How to Save Time.
     
  12. ;D
     
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