What’s Wrong with Newspapers?


In the June issue of The Atlantic, James Fallows writes an interesting essay, ‘How to Save the News,” which starts at an unexpected place: Google.

Noting that people assume that Google is one of the reasons newspapers are suffering, Fallows makes the point that Google is actually trying to help save newspapers, based on the premise that people are searching for compelling content, and that if they don’t have interesting content — like that from newspapers — they won’t need search engines.

What I think is interesting is a point I’ve made before but one that’s validated by Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO (and a former client, when he was CEO of Novell):

“I observe that as print circulation falls, the growth of the online audience is dramatic. Newspapers don’t have a demand problem; they have a business model problem.”

Google’s perspective, Fallows reports, is that people will of course pay for online content, even if they haven’t done so up until now. The key is to find the right subscription solution for each publication — it may not be the same answer for every paper.


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