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5 Ways Newspapers Botched the Web

timothy posted about 6 years ago | from the but-they're-getting-better dept.

The Internet 136

nicholas.m.carlson writes "Remember Knight-Ridder and AT&T's Viewtron from 1983? With a $900 terminal and $12 a month, you could access news from the Miami Herald and the New York Times, online shopping, banking and food delivery, via a 300-baud modem. After sinking $16 million a year into the project, Knight-Ridder shut it down in 1986. That's just the earliest of the 5 newspaper failures on the Web that Valleywag details in this post, writing: 'each tale ends the same way: A promising start, shuttered amid fear, uncertainty, and doubt.'"

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Ha ha! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24722319)

Your medium is dying!

Re:Ha ha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24722695)

Who's the idiot who modded the FIRST POST "redundant"?

Re:Ha ha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24722721)

If you only restate what the article already said, you have not added anything to the conversation.

Re:Ha ha! (1)

leamanc (961376) | about 6 years ago | (#24723543)

Indeed...check out the moderation FAQ. There's a few reasons a post can be marked redundant, and definitely more than just repeating what someone else said. Rehashing Slashdot memes like "Ha ha" is a good way to get a redundant mod, no matter where in the conversation it is.

Re:Ha ha! (1, Funny)

Dan541 (1032000) | about 6 years ago | (#24722703)

Your medium is dying!

Good riddance, you either keep up or be left behind.

At takes about 2 days for some news to hit the papers, I often find myself reading old news.

Re:Ha ha! (5, Interesting)

mmarlett (520340) | about 6 years ago | (#24723649)

Actually, you'll note that some of these botches of the web actually predate the web. It is easy to mock in hindsight.

In the fall of 1994, I was the first editor of the third daily newspaper to go online daily (the Kansas State Collegian, which followed the Kentucky Kernel (which beat us by a few days as their school year started earlier) and the Raleigh News and Observer (nando.net -- now a McClatchy holding -- which was online with news everyday at some point that summer). In the spring of 1995 I had a newspaper management class and the publisher of the Kansas City Star spoke about how it had invested millions in this new thing that was going to let people read their newspapers at home on their PCs. When he was done, I invited him back to the student newsroom and showed him the Internet. ("It's kinda like AOL," I told him.) What we were doing -- for the cost of two part-time student salaries and one retired yet dedicated Mac SE 30 -- was almost exactly what he described. He was both amazed and pissed. The Star project was canceled months later.

We were originally going to do a Gopher site to archive our newspaper, but some jackass at the ever competitive University of Kansas had done a mock up of the University Daily Kansan as a web page (spring of 1994). Spurred into action, we changed our plans and did that web thing instead. Why? Because it let us display images with the stories. But if Kelly Campbell, our technical brains, hadn't been curiously checking out our options, we'd have done a Gopher site and it would have been complete obscurity. One curious tech was the difference between bleeding edge correct and looking goofy. (Kelly, btw, is a senior programer for Google now.)

When that KU jackass got his degree, he went to work for Knight-Ridder and led its Internet efforts. Then it created the "RealCities" horseshit that the article describes. I witnessed firsthand the RealCities disaster, as I was working at the Wichita Eagle (a Knight-Ridder paper), and called it when I saw it -- but nobody who mattered listened.

Pretty much everything after 1995 is open for mockery. But those early efforts are just bleeding edge research projects that could have gone any direction. The whole idea of open standards just didn't exist for anything but automotive cigarette lighters. We were all just guessing, and some were willing to put their money where their mouths were.

Newspaper is obsolete. (4, Interesting)

Inominate (412637) | about 6 years ago | (#24723697)

Well not quite. For one, newspapers have a lot of room for things which aren't time sensitive. When it comes to news itself things are a bit different. The days of newspapers being able to stick AP articles into the paper are long over. To maintain relevance, newspapers have to (*gasp*) start researching, thinking about, and producing their own content. Today breaking news is available minutes after it was written, newspapers cannot afford to simply reprint what we've already read the day before. They have to put the effort in to consolidate and analyze all of the available information, as well as gather their own to produce something better.

Newspapers need to accept that all of this NEEDS to be duplicated on the web. The web should be thought of as nothing more than a free digital version of the newspaper. Advertising should be expected to support it.

Newspapers that can't pull it off, should shut down while they can.

Re:Newspaper is obsolete. (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | about 6 years ago | (#24724265)

I agree,

I think it was the NewYork Times that wont let people view articles unless they buy an account. (citation needed)

If I can't get it online I just find another site that does provide it.

Re:Newspaper is obsolete. (1)

Buran (150348) | about 6 years ago | (#24724871)

I think it was the NewYork Times that wont let people view articles unless they buy an account.

The "price" of an NYT account is $0. And well worth it considering the NYT doesn't do (much) what so many papers do and just shove a pretty site around a boring wire-service (usually AP) news article that is found in hundreds of other places.

Re:Ha ha! (4, Funny)

strelitsa (724743) | about 6 years ago | (#24722797)

Well, its a rare medium that is well done.

Re:Ha ha! (1)

trum4n (982031) | about 6 years ago | (#24723379)

Medium is being nice, I'd call it a low.

Re:Ha ha! (0, Redundant)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | about 6 years ago | (#24723513)

> Your medium is dying!

Has NetCraft confirmed it?

Re:Ha ha! (1)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | about 6 years ago | (#24724045)

Hardly, unless you like to get your news pulled out of a bloggers ass. Information Providers are alive and well. Transitions are rough, but 3 years of stagnating revenue vs. 300 years of increasing doesn't indicate anything is dying.

Newspapers and SEO (5, Interesting)

notseamus (1295248) | about 6 years ago | (#24722321)

Another way newspapers are failing on the web is the use of terms in headlines that generate high ranking on search engines.

Stories like the iPhone Nano that the Mail ran a few weeks ago, and that was linked to from here are perfect examples of it.

Journalism is second place to the SEO it seems.

Charlie Brooker wrote about it a couple of weeks ago, but the best example he gave was from the Telegraph where journalists wrote: "Young women - such as Britney Spears - are buying more shoes than ever"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jul/21/charliebrooker.pressandpublishing [guardian.co.uk]

Re:Newspapers and SEO (4, Interesting)

Sen.NullProcPntr (855073) | about 6 years ago | (#24722451)

Charlie Brooker wrote about it a couple of weeks ago, but the best example he gave was from the Telegraph where journalists wrote: "Young women - such as Britney Spears - are buying more shoes than ever"

That one is a bit much but isn't this just the next logical step from the classic headlines on the print edition? An "Extra" that would have large block text of DEATH, SEX, SCANDAL, TRAGEDY, or whatever that could be seen on the newsstand when you were still a block away. It is a way to get attention.

Today it's page hits yesterday it was copies sold.

Re:Newspapers and SEO (3, Interesting)

owlnation (858981) | about 6 years ago | (#24722479)

Journalism is second place to the SEO it seems.

That's true, but it's really not a reflection on newspapers, but really a reflection on the fact that search is not -- in any way -- good enough. In fact, if anything search is getting worse. There's Google and some also-rans. SEO-spamming Google is what everyone needs to do on the web. That just should not be. It wasn't even that bad before Google, newspapers didn't used to do that. Everyone HAS TO now.

Google needs competition, for the good of us all, including themselves.

Re:Newspapers and SEO (1)

Ford Prefect (8777) | about 6 years ago | (#24722649)

Charlie Brooker wrote about it a couple of weeks ago, but the best example he gave was from the Telegraph where journalists wrote: "Young women - such as Britney Spears - are buying more shoes than ever"

In an attempt to steal some tiny fraction of the hallowed Mr. Booker's inevitably tiny traffic, I 'borrowed' his least-searched-for keywords for my own blog-thing.

And managed to get myself blocked from my own blog on an airport lounge's complimentary interweb PC - complete with a big giant 'THIS PERVERT IS LOOKING AT FILTH!!!1' message on the screen. Oops.

So, with the aim of dissipating yet more long-tail traffic from Mr. Brooker's articles, and hopefully blocking a few people from reading Slashdot in the process, here we go:

JOHN SELWYN GUMMER . . . PATRICK KIELTY NUDE . . . UNDERWHELMING KNITTING PATTERNS . . . FULLY CLOTHED BABES.

There. That's done it!

Anonymous sources (5, Insightful)

narcberry (1328009) | about 6 years ago | (#24722323)

Well they've sure taken a strong lesson with the anonymity of the web. It seems every headline I read is based on an anonymous submission, a source who detailed events under the protection of anonymity, et cetera.

Not sure how we still call them news agencies.

1 Way Slashdot is Turning Into Digg (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24722347)

They post stories like this!!

Re:1 Way Slashdot is Turning Into Digg (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24722481)

Slashdot isn't Digg, even if the Idle experiment is trying to make a Digg-like Slashdot. While the quality of Slashdot submissions are sometimes crappy, on average they are pretty decent and topical. And even when they are screwed up, the userbase is smart enough to figure it out and add the relevant corrections.

Smart userbase + decent stories (on average) = Slashdot.
Barking retards + junk stories = Digg.

Re:1 Way Slashdot is Turning Into Digg (3, Funny)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | about 6 years ago | (#24722919)

You only used "Smart userbase" to suck up to the moderators. Admit it.

Re:1 Way Slashdot is Turning Into Digg (5, Insightful)

Thexare Blademoon (1010891) | about 6 years ago | (#24723251)

I'd think if he was trying to suck up to the moderators, he wouldn't have posted anonymously.

Maybe I'm a cynic... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24723065)

... but I see Slashdot and Digg like this:

Pseudo-intelligent, one-sided userbase + decent stories, but with the summary written in a pseudo-intelligent, one-sided manner + dupes + flamebait + "I don't believe in imaginary property" + pro-Linux fluff + the occasional "balanced" story = Slashdot.

Pseudo-intelligent, one-sided userbase, one-sided userbase + lolcat pictures + junk stories/outright untruths written in a pseudo-intelligent, one-sided manner + Obama praise + McCain bashing + "lol RIAA sux" + pro-Linux fluff + human interest stories = Digg.

Seems like the same to me. Fortunately Slashdot is still the lesser of two evils.

For now.

Viewtron (5, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 6 years ago | (#24722385)

From TFA:

In 1983, Knight Ridder and AT&T joined to launch videotext service Viewtron. Anybody with a dedicated terminal, phone line, and $12 a month could access news from the Miami Herald and the New York Times, online shopping, banking and food delivery, via a 300-baud modem.

This happened in the mid 1980s so it had nothing to do with the web. It sounds like a brave early attempt to anticipate the web. Good on them. Sorry it failed but they were clearly before their time. I wouldn't call it a botch.

Re:Viewtron (5, Insightful)

yelvington (8169) | about 6 years ago | (#24722755)

It's true that Viewtron was long before the Web, but it very much affected the way newspaper companies looked at new technology.

Knight-Ridder invested more than $50 million in Viewtron over six years and got nothing back. The money just went away. Gone forever. They could have bought a couple of mid-size daily newspapers at that price and had a solid rate of return.

Memories of Viewtron fed a lot of fear in the 1993-1997 era. That's actually when U.S. newspapers blew their opportunities to be leaders in what became the modern Web. Nobody was willing to place a really big bet. Nobody wanted to flush $50 million down the toilet. So newspapers got all tangled up in complicated, unworkable cooperative deals like New Century Network.

And when the dotbubble burst in 2001, people could say "see, I told you so!"

Life moves on. Suddenly everything changes, and big companies are caught napping.

So there you have it. Newspapers were among the pioneers in the online space, pushing content onto CompuServe and The Source, publishing on Prodigy, building entire national networks like Viewtron. Roll ahead a couple of decades and they're being reviled as a worst-case example of an industry caught sleeping at the switch.

Re:Viewtron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24722801)

If only AT&T had partnered with Knight Rider instead, things would have turned out much differently.

Re:Viewtron (3, Insightful)

AnotherDaveB (912424) | about 6 years ago | (#24723279)

The point was that the newspapers gave up on it too soon.

"A promising start, shuttered amid fear, uncertainty, and doubt."

So the 'failure', was short-termism from the management.

Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (5, Insightful)

Simonetta (207550) | about 6 years ago | (#24722437)

Newspapers are paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs. This is what is causing their demise. It will soon cost too much to actually schlep all this stupid paper from the printing plant to the houses.

    Newspapers traditionally do the following things:
    - Inform their readers what is happening in the world.
    - Inform what is happening in their city, town, or neighborhood.
    - Provide a forum for information private sales and rentals, e.g. the classified ads.
    - Provide a network for a common political viewpoints.
    - Provide a central source for commercial ads of local retailers.
    - Provide an accepted 'source of record' for local events and legal notices; weddings, bankruptcies, public legal notices, etc...

    The web does all these things better:
    - CNN, BBC, Digg, and Slashdot tell us what is happening in the world.
    - CraigsList and eBay provide local ads and private sales information.
    - Blog and political websites provide a forum for persons with shared political views.

    Newspapers are still good at local city and neighborhood news and ads for local retailers. And the web has nothing for being a 'source of record' for legal notices, and all that stuff. Newspapers have permanence: once something is printed in the local paper it stays printed and accessable. It can't be changed by some cracker like web site info. Newspapers have credibility for that reason.

    But their dependence on paper and gasoline to move all this paper makes them irrelevant nowdays. Soon it cost too much to distribute all this paper and newspapers will be gone, like typewriters are now. Ever used a typewriter? They were a real pain in the neck.

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24722489)

But I can't line the bird cage with internets. Thank goodness for old media!

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (3, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | about 6 years ago | (#24722501)

Newspapers are still good at local city and neighborhood news and ads for local retailers.

You must be kidding, I read about things via Google news the day before they're printed in the local paper.
I actually had a few of my non-web friends thinking I'm psychic for awhile.

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24722665)

Newspapers are still good at local city and neighborhood news and ads for local retailers.

I read about things via Google news the day before they're printed in the local paper.

emp. added

Congratulations on living in a major metropolitan area.

If you live in a place with a population < 500,000, most of the local news stories won't make it to Google news - and if they do, it's because the local newspaper did a write-up on it. No one from CNN/ABC/FOX cares about a crime wave in Paduca, or the effect of the local grain elevator closing in Peoria. And the only time you get election coverage for small-town council elections in Google news is if one of the candidates is in a sex scandal.

Sure, LA, SF, DC, and NY will get "local" coverage in Google News, but the only people covering local news here in "flyover country" is the local newspaper - I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Are all newspapers equally doomed? (2, Insightful)

PapayaSF (721268) | about 6 years ago | (#24723987)

Your comment makes me wonder if all newspapers are equally doomed. Does the web threaten the major big-city dailies more than smaller local papers? At the other end, I suspect the nationally-distributed papers like USA Today and the Wall Street Journal are also better positioned than big-city dailies.

I imagine that all news-on-dead-trees will go away sooner or later, but I think some are going away sooner.

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (5, Interesting)

rk (6314) | about 6 years ago | (#24722719)

As someone who worked for one of the bigger newspaper chains in "new media" for two years, I have to agree with this. In theory local information is something that local papers should be able to dominate in online. The reality is the papers spend basically squat on local presence and are centralizing all their web presence. Google, and MSN and Yahoo for that matter, have way too many people all smarter than the people running the online newspaper business. Those companies will eat the newspapers for lunch and they won't know what hit them.

The paper I worked for had just spent 30 million dollars on a new press facility, while online media was me (engineer), my boss, a designer, and an online editor, and we were lucky to have that much. Our servers were handled centrally and we paid nearly a quarter of a million dollars per year for the privilege. For what we got out of that money, we could've bought a couple servers, dropped in a DS3, and hired another person and done way more than what we did. We spent a lot of our time wrestling with their byzantine CMS, when we could've done the whole thing with Drupal or some other decent open source CMS and some customization.

I hear the executives talk the talk about how their industry must transform, but my brief experience indicated that they don't have clue one on how to do it. I wouldn't touch a newspaper stock with a ten foot pole.

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (1)

pipingguy (566974) | about 6 years ago | (#24723151)

I hear the executives talk the talk about how their industry must transform, but my brief experience indicated that they don't have clue one on how to do it.

Perhaps this is because many executives today are MBA graduates that get the job based on pedigree rather than for having relevant experience and innovative thinking. The "it's always all about the bottom line" people have only one focus, and that's usually squeezing every last red cent out of everything, damn the consequences.

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (4, Informative)

cleophis.t.bufflehea (1350197) | about 6 years ago | (#24723311)

Based on my experience in the industry, it's not that they employ MBA's whose only goal is the bottom line, but rather that they employ execs who really have no business running the types of operations that they do.

Dyed-in-the-wool newspaper publishers get promoted to corporate VP positions, local marketing guys get promoted to run software divisions.

The people at the controls don't fully understand the businesses they're tasked with running, and it shows in the trail of bad decisions, written off investments and failed ventures.

I wish like the parent poster I hadn't touched newspaper stock. If I hadn't, I wouldn't be saddled with MNI shares that are worth 5% today of what they were a couple years ago, even with the employee discount.

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (1)

pipingguy (566974) | about 6 years ago | (#24723395)

Marketing guys run software divisions? Holy crap, I guess I'm lucky in that only engineers and experienced tech people make it to the top in my field. Even then, there are some boneheads, but not many, and they are out-numbered.

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24722529)

You have some valid points, but there is a distinction which is often overlooked between those who generate hard content by reporting the news, and those who serve as portals or brokers for news content that has already been generated by others.

It's not hard to see how Google, Slashdot, and others can make a good business out of aggregating and selecting the best work of others, some adding value by providing forums such as this one. But who's going to do the original reporting? Some say that the Flikr model works best. Good luck with that for coverage of stuff other than disasters and staged events... how many private citizens will be cultivating sources inside the administration, Congress, and state and local governments so they can report what and how policies are being made, and provide meaningful analysis? Sure there are millions of bloggers out there, but who has time to determine which of them are trustworthy, instead of being misinformed or having an axe to grind?

So I think it's in the interest of all of us to consider ways in which established primary news organizations can continue to thrive.

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (3, Informative)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | about 6 years ago | (#24723047)

Wikinews (http://en.wikinews.org [wikinews.org] ) (from the Wikimedia foundation). Many members have press cards.

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (4, Interesting)

toddbu (748790) | about 6 years ago | (#24722577)

My local paper shut down because it couldn't get enough readers. One of their biggest problems is that they virtually ignored the web, and only put a few stories online. I encourage them to put on relevant content so that advertisers would want to buy in, effectively getting rid of the physical copy and making it virtual. It's too bad they went away, but I didn't want the paper badly enough to want to pay a whole bunch of money to get it.

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (4, Insightful)

wyldeone (785673) | about 6 years ago | (#24722675)

You're ignoring one of the most important jobs of newspapers: investigative reporting. While blogs and news aggregators like Digg and Slashdot do provide a useful service, they don't generate much news. Digg and slashdot primarily link to traditional news sources and would be bereft of content were such organizations to disappear. For an example of the importance of this role, just look at the past few years. If it were not for the investigations carried out by major newspapers (in particular the NY Times and the Washington Post) we would not know about the NSA wiretaps, the Guantanamo abuses, or the role of the Bush Administration in falsifying pre-war intellegence, just to name a few.

In order for a democracy to truly function, a strong, independent press is necessary (look at Russia for a "democracy" where this element is missing). It's hard to see blogs and TV news stations taking over that role from newspapers any time soon.

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (4, Insightful)

anomalous cohort (704239) | about 6 years ago | (#24723135)

You're right. The value proposition that newspapers bring is the investigative reporting. That is why the online presence of a newspaper shouldn't be powered by wordpress [wordpress.org] .

Any newspaper that wants to get their online presence right just needs to study the NY Times. It's really all about the economics of distribution [transitionchoices.com] . Column inches in a paper is expensive. Disk space on a web server is cheap. Use the web site as a searchable archive [transitionchoices.com] for all content but run ads on the site to encourage users to subscribe to the print edition. Also give away banner ads as an incentive to companies to advertise in the print edition.

The same holds true for broadcast media [blogspot.com] and some companies such as NPR and CBS are finally boarding that clue train.

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs, Clue Train (1)

dougmc (70836) | about 6 years ago | (#24723523)

The problem with talking about people `getting on the Clue Train' is that while the clues are usually obvious in retrospect, they're not always obvious at the time.

No matter what the clue is, somebody knows it, and probably shares it with the paper somehow. The problem is that the newspaper has to filter through 1000 different clues, and pick the ones that will turn out to be `true' and discard the `wrong' ones. And this isn't so easy -- successful executives made the right choices, and failed executives chose poorly. And the problem isn't specific to newspapers.

Unfortunately, there's not just one Clue Train. There's 1000 of them, and you have to pick the right ones. And it's not always easy.

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (1)

pipingguy (566974) | about 6 years ago | (#24723163)

Not to mention the John Edwards affair.

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (3, Insightful)

dogeatery (1305399) | about 6 years ago | (#24723335)

Actually, I see the internet and blogosphere leading to a major change in investigative reporting through collaboration and speedier communication. Imagine if you make a Craigslist ad that says "have you ever been an employee at Company X? Email me or leave a comment at my blog if you know anything about its anti-union tactics" Bang! You bring the sources to you and get tons of quotes already in writing. Then you sift through and find the sources who are willing to be named. This is one way to cast a wider net. Peer collaboration is another important advancement. Say you are in Washington investigating a Senator's shady connections with some businessmen in his district. You can work with local reporters from his district and access their connections, as well as get that reporter to do on-site legwork, dividing up the different aspects of the job for a fraction of the cost (you no longer have to fly across the country or ask your company to pay for it, eg.). Maybe I haven't thought this out enough, but I'm willing to have it dissected by the /. crowd. (On another note, how do I get my posts to have spaced paragraphs in their final version?)

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (2, Interesting)

thePig (964303) | about 6 years ago | (#24723493)

Another important aspect is the editorials.
Even though quite possible in web, I havent seen any editorials in web which matches the quality of the ones printed in the national newspapers.

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (5, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | about 6 years ago | (#24722687)

I work for a newspaper company.

We have an internet presence, and even though it costs less than our very expensive physical product, we still make far more money off the physical product. Advertisers are still willing to pay more to have a physical insert in the physical paper, and they don't seem very interested in recreating that via PDF or Flash, or whatever online.

We actually drive our paper in all directions, as far as 7 hours away, DAILY. Do you know how much we pay in transportation? Yet, this is still our most profitable model.

I've suggested printing the paper locally in each location, and sending electronic copies to those cities rather than trucking them, but my company is actually more committed to putting out the best product, even at the expense of profit. We have really nice presses in our main facility. If we printed our paper in small towns, rather than deliver it via truck, the quality wouldn't be as good.

No doubt, our company will shift more and more online in the future, but print isn't dead yet if you put out a quality product, cater to your audience, and sell advertising like mad.

Paper and Ink dinosaurs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24723683)

"No doubt, our company will shift more and more online in the future, but print isn't dead yet if you put out a quality product, cater to your audience, and sell advertising like mad."

Were does E-ink fit into all this?

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (2, Interesting)

wdhowellsr (530924) | about 6 years ago | (#24722775)

Here in Central Florida we have the big paper, Orlando Sentinel and its' five local county web sites. Not surprisingly since they are owned by The Tribune Company, the web sites are treated as billboards and some of the local sites are almost 90 percent advertisements. The local Lake Sentinel site's posted news will often go unchanged for four days and once went an entire week before updating. The bottom line is that newspapers as we know it will be dead and buried within twenty years maybe sooner. I think the biggest reason is that people already get ninety percent of their news online. Also the newspapers are being laughed out of business with their claim to objective or fair and balanced approach to news. It's scary but I believe that most people under fifty specifically choose an online newsource and definitely a blog source based on an obvious political slant. RIP Paper and Gasoline Dinosaurs.

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 6 years ago | (#24722829)

Newspapers are paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs.

Google still needs them to write the news. Bloggers won't do it for free.

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (1)

davolfman (1245316) | about 6 years ago | (#24723027)

If as some people have said, the investigation is the value of newspapers, then really the modern newspaper should consist mostly of reporters, a billing department, a legal team, and a website. That way they can charge license fees to syndicate their content, advertising for consumers who view it directly, and a legal team to sue those who steal the articles. Thanks to the wayback machine, the internet never forgets evidence.

Unfortunately for Northern California... (1)

ShadowSystems (527521) | about 6 years ago | (#24724377)

Years ago we had two local papers, The Union, and The Sacramento Bee.
Because they were in competition, you ALWAYS got a professionally assembled paper, on time every morning, & it was full of relevant news.
If you didn't deliver a "professional looking product" NLT 6am every morning (7am on Sunday's), then they'd fire your butt & find someone who could.
(I used to deliver both of them, and neither of them took ANY crap from their carriers.)

Now, years later, the Bee bought the Union.
There is no competition.
No matter how much we complain, we rarely get our paper before 7am, it is NEVER organized (the Front Page wrapped in the Classifieds, sections out of order, and *I* have to re-assemble it), and the "news paper" is nearly 80% *advertisements*.
As in a two-page, full-colour spread every few pages (oh look, Macy's... now Dish Network... AT&T), and NO page other than the FRONT page is completely free of advertisements.
You can't read a continuous story because it's broken up into two, three, or even four separate areas, with advertisements sprinkled like bird dung between all the bits.

On any given day, there may be eight sections, but of those, three are pure ads (Classified, Rental Properties, etc) and well-over-half of what's left is comprised of ads.
On a Sunday it's even worse - there are literally POUNDS of paper being dumped on my door step, and of that, there are maybe five sections of "news", and the rest of it is nothing but fliers, inserts, and entire sections of ads.

We don't get a "News Paper" any more, we get an _advertising_supplement_ with some news stories thrown in for flavour.

To add insult to injury, as others have mentioned before, the news is stale.
Everything, and I mean *EVERYTHING* I can read in the paper, I can get from online sources at LEAST 24 hours prior to seeing it in print, and sometimes I'll NEVER see it in print because the paper blows goats as far as actual REPORTING THE NEWS is concerned.

Stories about Britney Spears? Front Page, Above The Fold, full-colour, three pages worth.
Stories how Bush & Company is raping the Country & shredding our Rights?
That's buried in Section C, somewhere near the crease, in tiny type, no pictures, a single column blurb under 100 words, & buried in so it looks like it's part of an advertisement...

Newspapers are worthless.
When they're allowed to become a Monopoly, the Public isn't given a choice of what to read.
Yes all it takes is a few minutes online to get REAL news, but that's what the newspapers WERE supposed to be for, remember?
=/

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24723269)

- Provide a forum for information private sales and rentals, e.g. the classified ads.

You're the only one I saw who mentioned classified ads, which means people are missing an important aspect. Classified ads are one of the main profit sources left to newspapers and they are still botching it. My newspaper's classified ads get worse every time they redesign the website, which is about twice a year! Today, I discovered the most recent system entirely replaced with a worse one. To see the ad details now requires a click per ad with a two minute page load per ad. Or you can hover and see the details, but you can't cut and paste addresses. Worse, people who pay extra listed first, with multiple tiers. The problem is, I'm looking for estate/garage sales. The default is sort by date, yet it sorts first by tier, so most of today's sales weren't on the first page. Yes, sales from two weeks ago were listed first, just because the people paid more.

Classified ads are the last profitable monopoly newspapers have left and they are still botching it. No wonder the unregulated chaos that is Craig's List is killing them hard.

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24723479)

Blogs and forums also have the advantage (usually at least) of not suffering from bad editing. So if there's an error, it's the person submitting it - not the editor changing or omitting pertinent information and misrepresenting what a person says. It's really annoying when a letter to the editor which makes it into print gets a hack-job done to it which makes you look silly. (Sometimes one wonders if some editors aren't too far from being like forum trolls or other mischief makers having the admin keys. Imagine the "That's not what I posted!" situations that ensue.)

Also with online news sources I don't have the "continued on page 7" only to go to page 7 and see that the rest of the article is missing. However they had no problems getting in that full page ad. Thanks News Sun! I appreciate paying for such work!

And even newspapers can't be relied on like they used to for getting the scoop from special sources. The journalists there actually go from the same blogs, wikipedia articles, and forums that anyone else can. Why pay for a particular spin, when you can find plenty of decent bloggers that do the same level of reporting for free?

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 6 years ago | (#24724105)

Ever used a typewriter? They were a real pain in the neck.

No, sorry, I've only used the hand-operated kind.

Re:Paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs (1)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | about 6 years ago | (#24724173)

Newspapers are paper and gasoline-based dinosaurs This is what is causing their demise..... But their dependence on paper and gasoline to move all this paper makes them irrelevant nowdays.

Thats very ignorant really. News papers are agency's who hire staff to research and write stories to market. The preferred medium of distribution was, and is, paper. That is changing. Your understanding of the "NEWS" industry, not to be confused with the "paper" industry, is just plainly wrong. Because one aspect of an industry changes people like you hit the streets shouting the end is near. Yes a lot of companies who specialized in type writers are gone, some who focused on a broader approach(IBM) are alive and well.

Tell me, What does the magic "web" do that a local paper who puts their site online isn't now doing? Oh E-bay and Craigslist are nice, but they have serious quality control issues, Spam and shady dealings are rampant, and they are impossible to use for finding jobs, or local trades people to do work and about 100 other services.

In national and world Web has local news beat, but almost every paper, including the big guys, took a lot of these stories from the wire anyways.

And where would you go for your local stories? CNN, BBC? I doubt it. Blogs? Don't make me laugh, I haven't seen a local blog that can even partially compare in nitch area like local arts to the paper. Even if you live in a big city things impacting your community would barely make Google news, and good luck navigating 12 different blogs for wildly different stories, plus blogs are biased as fuck.

Do you have any idea where the big agencies like BBC, CNN and Google news get their stories, do you think it's their agents scouring the world? They take them from the wire like everyone else. Who makes the stories on the wire? Local "Dinosaurs."

I would like to know who you expect to write your news after the "dinosaurs" are gone. I would love for it to be bloggers. but quite frankly they don't seem to be up to the task. News agencies aren't going anywhere but they may have to axe their printing plants.

Go Team Netly! (1, Interesting)

jlowery (47102) | about 6 years ago | (#24722455)

Gone but fondly remembered are Netly News, Nando Times, SatireWire, and (last and least) the Worst of the Web. Fucked Company seems pretty fucked of late, as well.

Re:Go Team Netly! (1)

rk (6314) | about 6 years ago | (#24722735)

Nando became McClatchy Interactive, a bloated and confused shadow of its former self. They've got a lot of talented tech and content folks still, but they're rendered ineffective due to multiple thick coats of management and bureaucracy applied to it.

Irony (4, Insightful)

jerryHeinz (1000168) | about 6 years ago | (#24722485)

Isn't it ironic that newspaper generated content is on the front page of yahoo (often) powers google news and is the source of a lot of content on the web but they make no money off it. The problem with newspapers failing is how do we become informed? The above piece was pretty much illustrates the headline nature of news on the net and cable news has turned into a complete joke with almost no informative news coverage. If newspapers fail and are replaced with headlines and fluff it only brings us closer to idiocracy.

Re:Irony (3, Insightful)

Tikkun (992269) | about 6 years ago | (#24723023)

Most people don't want to be informed, they want something that entertains them or scares them.

Re:Irony (2, Informative)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | about 6 years ago | (#24724253)

It is my belief that in the near future, as local news gets boughten by bigger companies and scraped to market the corps. product under the established brand. And those who didn't are just riped off by Google, and print becomes unprofitable. That the enfisis will be on News Providers, and not News Papers, even though I imagine they will be virtually the same thing. Much like how Record Companies really need to become Music Companies. Both make sense because they allow for pooled resources and collective bargaining and greater differentiation and all that noise.

In my area our local paper got bought by a big corp. and they slashed the local reporters and just brought in content from other "assets" they owned. Readership dropped like a rock. The same trend has been followed in hundreds of markets and the results are the same. More of the failings in newspapers could be blamed on the significant drop in quality in the last decade then the web. I know this because several print weeklies that focus only on local news have been popping up, in a time when these are supposed to be dying because the value of news is what drives the market, not the medium. There has been a showing of individual Bloggers, but they can't do the reporting, they need the pooled resources of a news room.

Knight-Ridder (2, Funny)

Radi-0-head (261712) | about 6 years ago | (#24722511)

Maybe folks just couldn't get used to Kitt's computerized voice...

They've botched their entire business (5, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | about 6 years ago | (#24722583)

Instead of doing a lot of indepth local reporting, many of them are just local syndicated content outlets. If they would do a lot of hard-hitting local journalism, especially on matters like local government corruption and abuse of power, there would be more interest in their product.

Re:They've botched their entire business (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | about 6 years ago | (#24722699)

Very, very true. Content is king. If you deliver the stories that people want, especially if they are exclusive stories, then people will come to you.

Re:They've botched their entire business (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | about 6 years ago | (#24722737)

News papers are just copy-paste Nazis.

Next time you read one of their articles google some random sentences and you'll find the same article posted on several other papers.

Re:They've botched their entire business (1)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | about 6 years ago | (#24724267)

Absolutely, My local paper is one of those shells, and a few Local PRINT weeklies have been popping up doing just that and making a tidy profit off it too. The decline of circulation mostly tells me that the empty corporate shell model of print papers isn't working, more then it tells me the print medium is a dinosaur being slain by teh Webz.

A success of sorts: StarText - Ft. Worth, TX (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24722599)

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram [star-telegram.com] ran a dialup news-delivery service called StarText [wikipedia.org] from 1982 to 1997. The Internet and newspaper's web site eventually supplanted it. Until a couple of years ago startext.com still pointed to the newspaper's web site.

Here [archive.org] is a snapshot from 1996.

Re:A success of sorts: StarText - Ft. Worth, TX (3, Insightful)

cleophis.t.bufflehea (1350197) | about 6 years ago | (#24723265)

Audiotext was a project that most newspaper chains embarked upon in the early nineties, and like most of their other "new media" initiatives, it was a case of spending tens of millions of dollars to chase tens of people.

The newspaper industry has two major problems.

The first is that they are sheep - nobody wants to take risks. They all see something shiny, then attempt to emulate it, spending millions in the process. I sat in many a meeting in my former life as a web manager at a group of small daily papers owned by one of the largest chains having others on the management chain, my boss the publisher and corporate execs telling us "we should look at what newspaper X is doing, we shouldn't reinvent the wheel."

Along with another poster in this thread, I tried for nine years to do unique and innovative things, but I was met with resistance throughout the corporate and local bureaucracy. I've left the industry and haven't looked back.

The second big problem is Wall Street. The dirty secret of the newspaper industry is that it's still EXTREMELY profitable. I'm talking 20-30%. The problem is, this is historically low, from the halcyon days when the margins were 50%+. Most business would kill for a margin in the 20's, and I suspect only healthcare and financial services still can match newspapers in that respect. Yet, because the returns are lower than in the past, stock prices fall, and the industry is considered a financial failure.

most screwed up (1)

fermion (181285) | about 6 years ago | (#24722605)

Most people screwed up when the masses began to get computers and go online. Established firms got distracted and tried things that were too aggressive. New firms took the so-called long tail too literally and overextended themselves. Newspapers are not going bankrupt. They just have to refocus. Phone companies are not going bankrupt, they are just consolidated to meet the new demand. Most of the early dot com firms are gone, and that is mostly due to bad business based on sugar plum business plans.

I was still using a terminal based computing until the 90's. Perhaps my terminal was a microcomputer running kermit, but it was terminal dialed into a mainframe. It may seem strange to those who were not present that someone would develop a dedicated terminal based application instead of writing an app for a GPC. An IBM XT for $8,000? And then spend another $500 for the terminal program? Hardware was not cheap in 1985. The $4000 for a Macintosh and $3000 for a Compaq were considered quite reasonable.

What I find truly annoying of a technology site is that people make fun of those innovators that tried to do something interesting, even if it the wrong thing. It sometimes seems that we are so obsessed with people copy existing ideas in an effort to make them cheaper, which is certainly important, that we forget that all our cool stuff would not available with the risk taking inventors and early adopters that we all laugh at.

Re:most screwed up (5, Interesting)

yelvington (8169) | about 6 years ago | (#24723011)

Newspapers are not going bankrupt. They just have to refocus.

It's not that simple. A few big newspapers are losing lots of money, millions of dollars a month. But most smaller newspapers continue to make money with operating margins that look good by most traditional business standards.

Newspaper operating margins traditionally have run between 10 and 45 percent of gross revenues (yes, really). A margin of 10 percent is just fine, unless you borrowed money under an assumption of 25. Then you're in big trouble. That is the core of the problem facing newspaper companies today.

If you bought stock in a publicly held newspaper company and assumed you'd retire on the earnings, you can forget about it. The McClatchy Company, which bought Knight-Ridder, was worth over $74 a share about three years ago. Today it's worth less than $4. Shareholders are abandoning newspaper stocks. Why? Loans and bonds come before shareholders. A company with a lot of debt and a suddenly sinking line of business is one that shareholders quickly abandon, especially if the news is full of chatter about how the Internet is destroying its business model.

If things get bad enough, a company could go into bankruptcy -- leaving shareholders with nothing -- even while it's still making a profit on regular operations. Debt service can kill you.

The Internet really is changing the world, but that's not the biggest reason U.S. newspaper companies are hurting right now. It's the economy. Local advertisers, which are the big sources of revenue, are cutting back. Employment ads, real estate ads, used-car ads are suddenly way down.

So what's unfolding right now is largely an ownership crisis. In the long term, smearing ink on paper is a bad idea, the Internet is a better way to distribute news and information, and old business models have been disintegrated. All that stuff is true. But the crisis right now is one of ownership and finance, not continued operation.

And I will not be surprised to see one or more bankruptcies in the next year.

most screwed up: cheap,everywhere. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24724181)

"So what's unfolding right now is largely an ownership crisis. In the long term, smearing ink on paper is a bad idea, the Internet is a better way to distribute news and information, and old business models have been disintegrated."'

Correction. Sources that the majority can afford are a good idea. The Internet will never be as cheap as the cost of a single paper, let alone a full subscription. The internet even with standard cellular plan isn't as cheap, nor as widespread. "how many bars?" is something you will never hear in a discussion about the newspaper. And if E-ink ever gets it's issues ironed out. The paper will still have a lot of life left.

LA Times (3, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | about 6 years ago | (#24722615)

The LA Times, which has historically been one of the best papers in the US, has recently been through a lot of management shakeups, layoffs, and a change of ownership, and its relationship to the web has been a big point of controversy. WP says, 'In December 2006, a team of Times reporters delivered management with a critique of the paper's online news efforts known as the Spring Street Project. The report, which condemned the Times as a "web-stupid" organization," was followed by a shakeup in management of the paper's Web site, latimes.com, and a rebuke of print staff who have "treated change as a threat."' Some of the reporters feel that journalistic standards are lower on the paper's web site than they are in the printed paper. Their circulation is way down.

Re:LA Times (0)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 6 years ago | (#24722923)

A very short time ago Liberty Media purchase the LA times and fired most of the staff because they felt the web was going to destroy newspapers. They did this even though at the time the Times was making 200million a year in PROFIT. The LATimes is now a shell of what it used to be, given the great decline in quality and near complete lack of original content from the staff firings I wouldn't be surprised if the new management causes the prediction of the new owners to become reality.

Re:LA Times (4, Informative)

yelvington (8169) | about 6 years ago | (#24723273)

Absolutely wrong. It's unfortunate that people who make things up get modded up on Slashdot.

Liberty Media is a TV company. It has nothing to do with the Tribune Company, [tribune.com] which owns the Los Angeles Times. The Tribune Company was taken private in a buyout led by Sam Zell, a real estate entrepreneur.

The Times has not "fired most of the staff." It has cut about 20 percent of its news staff. That's less than its circulation decline from 983,727 in 2004 to 773,884 in the most recent reports. It still has plenty of good people on its payroll.

The new publisher is Eddy Hartenstein, [forbes.com] who is not from the newspaper business. He's the former CEO of DirecTV.

Re:LA Times (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24723833)

Good riddance to the L.A. Times. It has long been an extremely biased rag that frequently indulges in yellow journalism. Their remaining writers continually spew out columns that are full of lies and bullshit you wouldn't believe. They aren't even useful for picking up dog crap. Anyone still liking the LA Times is so far to the ideological Left as to be considered batshit, bugfuck insane.

Your daily newspaper by radio facsimile - in 1939 (4, Informative)

westlake (615356) | about 6 years ago | (#24722643)

Newspapers were very much afraid that their markets would be eroded by the immediacy and emotional impact of the nesreel, radio and television. Edward R. Murrow broadcasting from London. William L. Shirer from Berlin.
.

In March of 1939 The St. Louis Post Dispatch began experimental public broadcasts of a nine page facsimile newspaper to the home using technology developed by RCA.

"So far as the transmitting equipment is concerned, it is the standard scanner manufactured by RCA, the output of which is fed into a 100-watt transmitter operating on 31,600 kc. We selected the ultra-high frequency band because it offered the opportunity of broadcasting facsimile during the day time--in fact any time we desire.

We have not experienced nearly as much trouble with interference on the ultra-high frequency band as was expected. The characteristics of the recorders are such that far more interference can be tolerated than is the case in the reception of sound broadcasting an these frequencies."

Within the next month RCA expects to be able to supply receivers at a cost of about $260. Several will be placed in public places for demonstration. The range of Station W9XZY is from 20 to 30 miles.

"On the first page of this "radio newspaper," now being received in every home in the St. Louis service area of W9XZY equipped with a facsimile receiver, are the leading news articles of the day. Then following sports news, several pages of pictures, Fitzpatrick's editorial cartoon, a summary of radio programs and radio gossip, and a page of financial news and stock market quotations."

The antenna of the receiver set in the home picks up these waves. The receiver, a closed cabinet with no dials to be operated or adjustments to be made by the owner, contains continuously-feeding rolls of paper and carbon paper which pass over a revolving metal cylinder from which a small stylus projects.

Pressure, varying with the intensity of the radio waves, is exerted on a metal bar, parallel to the axis of the cylinder, beneath which the paper and carbon is fed. Thus the black and white of the original copy scanned by the "electric eye" is duplicated on the paper passing over the cylinder of the receiving set which is synchronized with that of the sending mechanism.

It is unnecessary for the reader to be on hand when a broadcast begin since a clock, set for the scheduled time, will automatically start the receiving set and stop it at conclusion of broadcasting. It requires 15 minutes to transmit one page.

First Daily Newspaper by RADIO FACSIMILE [antiqueradios.com]
[as published in Radio-Craft, March 1939]

Re:Your daily newspaper by radio facsimile - in 19 (2, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | about 6 years ago | (#24722701)

We bring this up at work quite a bit. Radio was going to completely kill print. TV would completely kill print. Some newspapers are hurting right now, but the well run papers are doing just fine.

Re:Your daily newspaper by radio facsimile - in 19 (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | about 6 years ago | (#24723005)

Although many of them are doing well on the basis of something *other* than their news business. The Washington Post for instance makes very little money on their news business, but they make the big bucks on their Kaplan Test Prep business. (Their most recent annual profits report had the overall profit down 39% even though Kaplan more than pulled its weight with 14% increase in sales). The New York Times, arguably the most well known and respected paper in the country, had profits drops over 80% in the past year (they also own about.com, no idea how their income stream breaks down). While both of them are still in the black, it's not hard to see where a lot of less well known papers would have serious problems.

Re:Your daily newspaper by radio facsimile - in 19 (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | about 6 years ago | (#24723237)

I work for the Omaha World-Herald which owns a direct marketing company, as well as almost every paper in Nebraska and Iowa. We have online advertising as well, but our money almost all comes from physical insert advertising in our paper.

Re:Your daily newspaper by radio facsimile - in 19 (1)

Percy_Blakeney (542178) | about 6 years ago | (#24724227)

Make no mistake -- the Internet WILL kill newsprint. Relying on a simplistic interpretation of history isn't going to save it.

Radio didn't kill print because it didn't satisfy the same needs that print did. TV didn't kill print because it didn't satisfy the same needs that print did. Now ask yourself: does the web satisfy the same needs that print does? It's clear to me (and basically everyone else that's under 50-years-old) that it does. Not only does it replace print, but it improves on it.

Re:Your daily newspaper by radio facsimile - in 19 (3, Interesting)

yelvington (8169) | about 6 years ago | (#24723079)

That's a great link!

I have an image of a Radio Craft cover from that era that I frequently use when I'm speaking at journalism conferences.

It shows a guy who looks like Bob (from the Church of the Subgenius) collecting a fax paper from a radio device.

The point, of course, is that radio unfolded on a completely different path. Cars are not horseless carriages. Websites shouldn't be "online newspapers." And that sort of thing.

In the late 1990s, I attended a future scenario-planning workshop with a bunch of newspaper folks. We all broke up into groups to brainstorm products. One of the other groups -- not MY group! -- came up with a great idea: We'll deliver fax newspapers, over the Internet. It was 1939, all over again.

William Gibson said the future is already here; it's just unevenly distributed. That's true. But it's also true that when it's here, most of us can't see it, because we're so desperately trying to fit it into a framework from our own past.

Re:Your daily newspaper by radio facsimile - in 19 (2, Informative)

westlake (615356) | about 6 years ago | (#24724109)

In the late 1990s, I attended a future scenario-planning workshop with a bunch of newspaper folks. We all broke up into groups to brainstorm products. One of the other groups -- not MY group! -- came up with a great idea: We'll deliver fax newspapers, over the Internet. It was 1939, all over again.
.

It was 1989 all over again as well:

In two small Illinois towns, a one-page fax newspaper called Fax Today has challenged the local daily with some success, prompting predictions that similar fax papers could spread like a virus across the country and pose a threat to newspapers.
What makes Fax Today different is that it is free to subscribers and supported by advertising. It was started in 1989 in Effingham, Ill., by Jack M. Schultz, an entrepreneur with no newspaper experience. He expanded the service to Bloomington in 1990. The enterprise is profitable, Mr. Schultz said, and he sees significant potential for growth.
The last two years have seen a flurry of experiments in delivering news by fax. For instance, The Chicago Tribune, The Knoxville News-Sentinel in Tennessee and The Minneapolis Star Tribune abandoned fax papers that charged a subscription fee for a one-page afternoon update of business news.
The Los Angeles Times provides a free summary of news via fax to government officials and diplomats in Moscow as a promotional vehicle.
The New York Times has three fax news products aimed at areas where the newspaper is not readily available: a six-page fax newspaper for hotels in Japan, which emphasizes Japanese news; a six-page international edition for Australia and other foreign countries, and an eight-page edition for cruise ships.
Small Fax Newspaper Shakes Up Its Press Rivals [nytimes.com] [August 12, 1991]

The RCA Radio Fax receiver is fascinating and provocative.

In 1939 for small print runs you cut a stencil for a mimeograph machine - the tech from hell - or you bought a letterpress out of the back pages of Popular Science.

The dry paper home fax machine that can deliver legible 7 pt. text and halftoned photographs is pure science fiction.

You might not want be able to justify a $260 radio fax machine for your home - but it's not hard to see what it brings to the Chris-Craft cabin cruiser or the branch office.

30 miles at 30 MHz. 100 watts. Perhaps ten times that range at lower frequencies and higher power. The thing ran off a clock. There were no external controls whatever.

That alone had to be an eye-opener for the shortwave hobbyist.

Do you remember (2, Insightful)

fotoguzzi (230256) | about 6 years ago | (#24722807)

> Knight-Ridder and AT&T's Viewtron from 1983?
No.

Google (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24722835)

I'm still amazed at how difficult conventional media say it is to make money off the web when Google makes billions off of dinky text ads.

Traditional media sells ads one at a time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24723367)

It's tedious, and you need to show a lot of cleavage.

Re:Google (1)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | about 6 years ago | (#24724289)

How many of those dinky text adds run on the web version of those conventional media's stories? It's pretty easy to make money when you got a finger in everyones pie, and very hard when everyone has a finger in yours.

Newpapers have their place (1)

Mista2 (1093071) | about 6 years ago | (#24722849)

I know I could notlight my fire with my laptop. And until now, the newpaper has been the most cost effective way to consume news on the train or bus on my way home from work. That was until I got a caching browser on my phone, then I stopped buying the paper 8) Luckily the local rags still deliver, so I still have fire-lighters at the end of the week.

Re:Newpapers have their place (3, Funny)

yelvington (8169) | about 6 years ago | (#24723289)

I know I could not light my fire with my laptop.

Apparently you don't have a Sony battery. [engadget.com]

Ah, Yes, Viewtron... (3, Informative)

ewhac (5844) | about 6 years ago | (#24722981)

I remember Viewtron when it came out. This was pre-Internet, and everything was working off the "BBS" model. But even then, Viewtron was a complete joke.

First off, it spoke NAPLPS [wikipedia.org] -- basically, Flash before there was Flash. There was no text-only interface. So you got to stare at the screen as it drew almost pretty pictures at you, at 300 bits per second.

Now there was nothing intrinsically wrong with NAPLPS -- it was fairly sophisticated and portable for its day. Dave Hughes was a big champion of it. But since newspapers were vehicles for advertising, and advertising "requires" graphics, you spent a non-trivial amount of time waiting for the ad to render, then the UI, then the information you actually requested. It made the text-only services of the day like CompuServe and The Source seem speedy by comparison.

It still floors me that they plowed over 10 million 1980 dollars in to this thing. On-line sophisticates universally declared it as wretched, and there was no way it would ever have been appealing enough for someone to go out and drop large sums of money on new equipment to get access to it. (By the way, I'm pretty sure the Viewtron client I saw was running on a Commodore-64. Viewtron wouldn't have justified the purchase of the modem, much less the C64.)

Schwab

Anonymous Coward (1)

idjohnston (1350181) | about 6 years ago | (#24722995)

So what will all those out-of-work print-journalists do now? I know that the typical newspaper company would love nothing more than cornering larger percentages in their respective markets? But, exactly how long can they really keep competitive with that business model anymore? On the other hand, there will always be a large demand for quality journalism. User generated content is great, but other than the occasional pet-trick on youtube, you don't get too much viral demand for amature articles. What we would truly need is something for regional journalists to post their articles onto a site like built region-specific, free and user-generated like craigslist. Giving a reader in Wichita the chance to read articles as they relate to "Kansas-> Wichita-> Sports" for instance, but also incorporates reader ratings like Digg. Put these together with a platform for ad providers to find content generators and pay them based upon rating and we have a new model for real journalists to publish what they want to publish, but based upon the success of their articles also receive compensation commensurate with their Digg-like rating...

These are off the mark, IMO (5, Insightful)

Huntr (951770) | about 6 years ago | (#24723147)

The #1 way newspapers screwed up was by trying to charge for stuff you can get for free. They tried to cram their existing model of paying for news on a medium where you can get a lot of good news for free and without a lot of hassle. Charging for their version of the same story, making non-home subscribers register or pay, the hoops we were made to jump through, all led to most newspapers taking a giant dump on the internet. Most of those schemes have been scaled back or done away with for many of the dailies I read online. I don't know if its too little, too late, but lots of newspapers are hurting and failing to correctly embrace the web had something to do with it.

Re:These are off the mark, IMO (1)

dogeatery (1305399) | about 6 years ago | (#24723371)

This is very accurate. I'm a journalism student and many of my professors and professional contacts STILL don't understand the concept of free content. Indeed, they are hostile to the idea, even when I explain to them that information will be free whether they like it or not, simply because someone who pays for the subscription can and will share it with others. (Of course, I never hear any of them complain about free pornography)

Botches? You want botches? (1)

Caboosian (1096069) | about 6 years ago | (#24723611)

I'll give you botches. [nytimes.com]

The failed New York Times venture NY Pulse (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24723787)

Valleywag neglected to mention the failed New York Times venture New York Videotex, which was rechristened New York Pulse before it folded around 1987. At the time it was believed that to support a few dozen simultaneous online users, special I/O boards containing upwards of 200 megabytes would be needed. The DEC microvax wasn't up to it. Of course, there was no web, no html, no linux. The technical management believed that videotex would require implementing an object oriented language called Omega, which had an applicative component language called Alpha; both languages were conceived by computer scientist Bruce J. MacLennan. The attitude of the Times towards New York Pulse was that it was insurance in case videotex, or something like it, were to take off. There was little chance of this: the hardware was too expensive for all but the most affluent users, and the software was primitive by today's standards. The Times was hostile to videotex, which was considered a threat to the newspaper business, and they were relieved when New York Pulse and Prodigy, a substantially larger Citibank backed competitor, both failed. Of course, when the World Wide Web took off, the Times found itself back in the hypertext business, without the help of the veterans of their failed experiment, many of whom never completely recovered.

dyslexia and youth (1)

magus_melchior (262681) | about 6 years ago | (#24723827)

... both made "Knight-Ridder" look like "Knight Rider", and I thought they were beaming electronic messages to modified black Trans Ams. The thing that makes reality even stranger is that the show was airing in the same time period.

Okay, put down the pitchfork. I'm getting off your lawn.

Cue Cat anyone?? (2, Informative)

hemp (36945) | about 6 years ago | (#24724013)

How could they not mention Belo Corp (owner of the Dallas Morning News)$40 million dollar investment in the Cue Cat? The ultimate link between newspapers and web pages via bar codes in an adorable PS2 device.

http://www.dallasobserver.com/2001-06-28/news/goodbye-kitty/ [dallasobserver.com]

Submitted by ValleyWagger (1)

Mean Variance (913229) | about 6 years ago | (#24724079)

Why do I get the feeling Mr. Carlson is posting this stuff all over the place to promote ValleyWag?

2 Ways the web botched the newspaper (2, Funny)

scourfish (573542) | about 6 years ago | (#24724081)

1.) It is harder for me to use my laptop when I am on the toilet.

2.) I do it anyway.

Knight-Ridder (1)

juan2074 (312848) | about 6 years ago | (#24724511)

Great! I learned that Knight-Ridder sucks.

But I still would rather read a real newspaper than read Valleywag ever again. (That was the first and last time.)

DAMN DAMN DAMN (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24724541)

FUCK! Why isn't my post persistent if I accidentally hit a link and navigate off of /. ?! I just lost a LONG post I was working on... I'M LOOKING AT YOU TACO!!

If I hit the back button, the form data should be saved.
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