Thursday, February 5, 2009

Saving the newspaper biz

Time looks at finding a future economic model to save newspapers. Good luck.
The focus is readership is up, just on the free internet sites instead of the newsstands and subscriptions. So the business side is drowning in red ink while readers from around the world are picking and choosing what they'd like to read.
Now, we went through a similar media transition after World War II. Television grew up quickly and radio went from being the star to a niche product. I wasn't around then, but how did the radio stations survive?
One way was probably monopoly ownership, something not allowed by the government now. I worked for the newspaper in Bluefield, WV. The man who owned the paper in the 1920s started the first AM radio station in Bluefield, and when TV came along he owned that too. If you own all the platforms, you can survive a dip in one.
The trouble for newspapers is, how do you control your content in a world of the worldwide web? The New York Times tried Times Select, and people found they could live without the Times' columnists. Or another paper who carried a column posted it, so you could find what you want for free.
Newspapers offer a wide variety of information, a little of something so everyone has their part. But the future likely looms in narrow-casting (like the Wall Street Journal or college sports websites), where you find one thing you do well and focus like a laser on it.

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