Are Newspapers dead?


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Also, check out “Media Companies Cull 30,000 in Fight for Their Future.” The subhead is instructive: “Execs Blame Recession as They Wield the Ax, but This Is About Reinvention, too.”

While it’s not relevant to newspapers, NPR to Cut Expenses, Shrink Staff, according to Wall St. Journal.

This some hope for journalism in “Beyond the Great Press Crash of 2008” by Peter Osnos, Century Foundation:

So here, in the briefest of summaries, are avenues for innovation:

1. Reestablish the principle that news has to be paid for by someone: the consumer, the advertiser, or the distributor. (See the Platform for November 3, 2008: “Make Google Pay.”)

2. Private equity investment in new brands or renewed confidence in such stalwarts as the New York Times and the Washington Post, which are hurting badly but would revive if they can make money from others (for example, search engines) through fees for their content.

3. Accept the role of news as a public service to be supported by the community through public funds, membership, and sponsorship of various kinds. This is, of course, the model that has been in place for decades at public radio and PBS.

Thomas C. Rubin, chief counsel for intellectual property strategy at Microsoft, recently gave a thoughtful speech to the U.K. Association of Online Publishers, making many of the points reflected above. As precedents for the news business to consider, he cites the challenges to Napster’s effort to make music free, which fell apart when it was found liable for copyright infringement. Music again became a saleable commodity with the advent iTunes. Next came YouTube, which was helping itself to content—until it was sued for a billion dollars by Viacom. Now Hulu is gaining traction by selling the same sort of material. Why can’t the news business challenge free use of copyrighted material? It can, and almost certainly should.

The financial model for gathering news can definitely be revived. No one disputes how bad things have gotten. So the only way forward is to focus on solutions. Innovation, please.

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