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The Fate of Newspapers: Farm It, Milk It, Or Feed It

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the end-of-an-era dept.

The Media 167

Hugh Pickens writes "According to Alan D. Mutter, after a 50% drop in newspaper advertising since 2005, the old ways of running a newspaper can no longer succeed, so most publishers are faced with choosing the best possible strategy going-forward for their mature but declining businesses: farm it, feed it, or milk it. Warren Buffett is farming it, and recently bucked the widespread pessimism about the future of newspapers by buying 63 titles from Media General. He is concentrating on small and medium papers in defensible markets, while steering clear of metro markets, where costs are high and competition is fierce. 'I do not have any secret sauce,' says Buffett. 'There are still 1,400 daily papers in the United States. The nice thing about it is that somebody can think about the best answer and we can copy him. Two or three years from now, you'll see a much better-defined pattern of operations online and in print by papers.' Advance Publications is milking it by cutting staff and reducing print publication to three days a week at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, thus making the Crescent City the largest American metropolis to be deprived of a daily dose of wood fiber in its news diet. Once dismantled, the local reporting infrastructure in communities like New Orleans will almost certainly never be rebuilt. 'By cutting staff to a bare minimum and printing only on the days it is profitable to do so, publishers can milk considerable sums from their franchises until the day these once-indomitable cash cows go dry.' Rupert Murdoch is feeding it as he spins his newspapers out of News Corp. and into a separate company empowered to innovate the traditional publishing businesses into the future. In various interviews after announcing the planned spinoff, Murdoch promised to launch the new company with no debt and ample cash to aggressively pursue digital publishing opportunities across a variety of platforms. 'If the spinoff materializes in anywhere near the way Murdoch is spinning it, however, it could turn out to be a model for iterating the way forward for newspapers.'"

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167 comments

Obama and campaign offer no apology to Romney (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658089)

President Obama and top campaign staffers made it clear this weekend they will not apologize for saying the financial company Bain Capital outsourced jobs under Mitt Romney's leadership, despite Romney saying that's not true.

Re:Obama and campaign offer no apology to Romney (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658103)

What is this I don't even....

Re:Obama and campaign offer no apology to Romney (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658193)

it looks like meaningless political news drivel. I vaguely recall leftist websites saying that Obama said Romney did something and rightist websites saying that Obama should apologize to Romney for saying something.

It might be related to why no one cares about newspapers anymore- according to the right, they're run by journalism majors who believe in "giving voice to the voiceless" instead of reporting the damn news, and are in the tank for all kinds of stuff that most Americans oppose, such as illegal immigration. The leftists, meanwhile, accuse newspapers of being corporations and thus right-wing, and constantly throw around accusations of hatespeech.

People would prefer to get their news directly from the twin orange websites of dailykos or breitbart.

Re:Obama and campaign offer no apology to Romney (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40659681)

rightist websites saying that Obama should apologize to Romney for saying something

Close, but the truth is even stranger. It's actually Romney and his campaign out there complaining and demanding the apology, not just some unimportant and irrelevant "websites".

What's sad is how Romney's campaign is so totally out of its depth, and is portraying their candidate as a whiny little bitch, rather than the super-duper macho template on which their rhetoric has grown dependant. Can't really blame them- how do you out-macho the guy who shot OBL in the eye? And with a spineless little Mormon bitch like Romney, that makes it even harder. If they keep this up, the GOP will miss the good old days when McCain got thrashed at the polls.

Re:Obama and campaign offer no apology to Romney (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658359)

He should apologize: "I'm sorry Mitt Romney outsourced jobs."

Re:Obama and campaign offer no apology to Romney (-1, Offtopic)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#40659243)

Except that would be a lie (both that Romney outsourced jobs and that Obama was sorry it happened).

Re:Obama and campaign offer no apology to Romney (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40659697)

Would you just move to Canada already? Nobody here likes you.

subscriptions - shooting themselves in foot (5, Interesting)

kevinroyalty (756450) | about 2 years ago | (#40658107)

my local paper i only want on sunday. in attempting to subscribe for sunday only, they say "no, you have to take it friday/saturday/sunday". i say "sunday only, or i don't subscribe". they wouldn't budge. guess what i decided :) on the occasion i want a sunday paper, i go to the local gas station which is not far from my place and pick up a paper. i won't be shedding any tears when they fold (ha!)

Re:subscriptions - shooting themselves in foot (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40658203)

Yeah I know what you mean. I told my magazine publisher I only want even-numbered months, because those are the "special" issues with designated themes, and therefore better. But they wouldn't budge. Insisted I MUST buy the odd-numbered months too. Fie on them!

Re:subscriptions - shooting themselves in foot (1)

PCM2 (4486) | about 2 years ago | (#40659939)

A lot of papers offer Sunday-only subscriptions. Sunday is a big moneymaker, what with all the coupons, night life ads, etc.

Re:subscriptions - shooting themselves in foot (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658293)

My pet peeve is how they keep treating loyal subscribers worse than new subscribers. I don't understand why either: They practically incentivize canceling your subscription. It's the same with mobile phones.

Re:subscriptions - shooting themselves in foot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40659317)

They are betting people are too lazy to bother cancelling. And since they continue this behavior, they are probably correct.

Re:subscriptions - shooting themselves in foot (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658627)

i say "sunday only, or i don't subscribe".

That amounts to: "Change the delivery method of all your subscribers to suit me or I won't buy 1 paper a week."

With thinking that idiotic I would suggest you take a pass on newspapers and try a weekly reader.

Re:subscriptions - shooting themselves in foot (5, Interesting)

kevinroyalty (756450) | about 2 years ago | (#40659169)

I think you viewed my comment with too wide a brush. let me try to explain. i used to be a newspaper carrier back in jr/sr high school (5.5 years). my customers asked me for newspaper subscriptions like "i want sunday only" and "i want wed and sun only". this was fairly common. when i'd call the newspaper and tell them the amount of papers to deliver each day, they didn't care how many per day, and complied with no issue. the end result: customer happy, me (carrier) happy. i made good money for the short amount of time i worked each day to do that job. so with that knowledge and that now we are 25+ years in the future, i don't see why i can't have the subscription option i want. as a customer, if you want my business, you need to 1) listen and 2) deliver what the customer wants, or they move on and you don't have them as a customer. you get enough of that and you go out of business. the whole point to this, is that the newspaper wants me to subscribe based on THEIR schedule and for me to pay for 3 newspapers a week, when i WANT only 1. Here Mr Newspaper, take my money. No, we want 3x the money and you get 2 more items you don't want. no thanks. no wonder newspapers are dying. Kevin

we can copy him... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658111)

somebody can think about the best answer and we can copy him.

I though the US had allowed business method patents, so copying, well thats a no-no. Its that sort of pirate we need to name, shame and stampout.

Re:we can copy him... (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about 2 years ago | (#40659905)

I know! How about pressing dyed soybean paste onto wood pulp, it's way better than papyrus or clay tablets. Totally beats smoke signals.

Nice power vacuum... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658119)

As of recently, because private newspapers have been shutting down, going digital only, or otherwise withering on the vine, there is another type that is waiting in the wings to take over mainstream news:

Newspapers from governments and causes. The whole government of Qatar is paid for because of Al Jazeera. I'm sure other governments will be happy to step in to provide "news" that is slanted their way.

I'm amazed people like Rush Limbaugh have not stepped in to have their own newspaper printed in a region.

Sometimes, I hope for a "people's paper". Journalism is like the music industry -- completely and utterly dead, but there are some experienced reporters. Combine that with someone who can do basic paper layout, it might be possible for a local paper to be run on a shoestring and still provide reasonably accurate coverage on news topic. No, they may not have the cool Associated Press articles, but it is far better than nothing.

Re:Nice power vacuum... (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40658869)

>>>I'm amazed people like Rush Limbaugh have not stepped in to have their own newspaper printed in a region.

Well there is one "person like Rush" who created an online newspaper: Glenn Beck. So you can scratch your amazement: It's already been done.

Re:Nice power vacuum... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40659583)

And Fox "news" is exactly what he was describing - it falls under 'causes'.

Re:Nice power vacuum... (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#40659855)

Hyperbole much? The problem with journalism is people want stuff for free and traditional outlets that have found themselves under a free market system (rather than being a loss-leader for entertainment segments). The joke of it all is the consumers still want their newspapers, they just want it from the internet.

And the problem with what people *think* is journalism is too many Limbaugh types have created their own agenda-promoting outlets. Drudge is one, the Huffington Post is another.

Warren Buffet (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | about 2 years ago | (#40658123)

The one thing I have noticed is that Warren Buffet cannot resist getting involved in newspapers. Just because he invested money in them, in this case, I would not consider this a smart investment.

Re:Warren Buffet (2)

SurfsUp (11523) | about 2 years ago | (#40659143)

The one thing I have noticed is that Warren Buffet cannot resist getting involved in newspapers. Just because he invested money in them, in this case, I would not consider this a smart investment.

It's about time for Warren Buffet to get some comeuppance. A cutthroat buyout specialist masquerading as a down home good ol boy. Admires Lloyd Blankfein. Opines that Barklays did nothing wrong by fiddling the LIBOR. Profited hugely from the world's misery in 2008. Hates technology so much that he believes buying shrinking dead tree newspapers is a great idea, because there aren't any buggy whip factories to buy. Go for it Warren!

After all, it worked so well for Conrad Black.

Re:Warren Buffet (1)

wmbetts (1306001) | about 2 years ago | (#40659157)

Chances are he knows what he's doing. If I was investing in news papers I would do the same thing he's doing. Newspapers in small towns have a better chance of turning a profit, because that's generally where people get their small town news. No website is going to report on stuff that matters to them, because those 1k or 30k people towns don't generally matter to them. There's also generally one paper in town which is a plus.

Re:Warren Buffet (3, Insightful)

tftp (111690) | about 2 years ago | (#40660087)

No website is going to report on stuff that matters to them, because those 1k or 30k people towns don't generally matter to them.

You believe that in a crowd of 1K to 30K people there is not one geek who can set up a LAMP with Joomla? And that there are no willing contributors who can master the simple user interface of Joomla? Life in small towns is not all hard labor, it's also long periods of boredom.

A newspaper is a costly proposition. You have to print it somewhere (your 1K village has no printing press!) and deliver quickly, and distribute. There is no feedback.

An electronic newspaper is free to publish. It supports logins for subscription if you insist on it, but logins are primarily for comments. This makes it interactive. That Fred Smith from a ranch 30 miles down the road does not come to town every day, but he is certain to log in every morning and every evening, read it all and add comments to whatever he finds interesting.

I haven't touched a newspaper in a decade. Probably haven't intentionally seen one either. Why would anyone want one? It's not even ecologically sensible, to kill trees just to deliver a few minutes per day of amusement to a family when the same, or better, can be achieved electronically, at a millionth of cost.

Re:Warren Buffet (1)

wmbetts (1306001) | about 2 years ago | (#40660195)

I never said "life in a small town is all hard labor" and never eluded to it. Nice try at trying to make me look like someone who looks down on small town people though.

I did live 30 miles from the nearest town and guess what. I got a newspaper. Was it on my step every morning? No, but it was in my mailbox by the time I got done working. I could have gotten satellite Internet, but I didn't really see the point. I was hardly ever inside anyway. When I did get on the Internet it was via a dialup account and the phone lines were so horrid I'd be lucky to get a 9600 connection. If it was raining or had rained in the last week forget about even trying. A good percentage of the rural population in that area doesn't have Internet at all for the exact same reasons.

Can someone setup a blog / website that lives in a small town? Sure, why not? I've lived in a lot of small towns and have yet to see someone make a blog or website that could compete with the newspaper. What you're talking about is the exception and not the rule. If you really want to try and refute my point supply some successful examples of an individual running a website that is out performing the towns newspaper.

Re:Warren Buffet (1)

tftp (111690) | about 2 years ago | (#40660305)

Nice try at trying to make me look like someone who looks down on small town people though.

I didn't mean to create such impression. I only wanted to say that people in small towns have free time - perhaps even more of it than people in large cities, just because the nearest theater is 100 miles away.

I was visiting people in a small town (population about 520) in CA a few months ago. They had wireless internet (Verizon) pretty much everywhere. They had access to Web and email inside the house and outside. In fact, Verizon is their Internet link through a MiFi dongle. Satellite is also an option but they did not need it.

If you really want to try and refute my point supply some successful examples of an individual running a website that is out performing the towns newspaper.

We are posting on one. It was custom built from the ground up by a couple of geeks. Today a similar project would take just a couple of hours, not a couple of months. A newspaper is simply not capable of offering an interactive service. Comparing them would be disastrous to the newspaper - that's why newspapers are dying.

I guess they are milking it here (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658133)

Where I live (Vancouver, Canada) both dailies are run by the same company. They print the same stories and have the same pro-corporation slant. One of them uses smaller words and dumbs things down a bit, but they are basically exactly the same. As a cost saving measure and as an ultimate sign of cheapness and laziness, these papers reprint, annually, the exact same stories word for word. The editors are told what their opinions are and quietly promotes whatever rubbish the owner tells them to. There are so many "special information supplements", info-marketing inserts, infomercials, and advertisements disguised as news articles that it just has to be illegal.

Tell me why I should care if these papers die. As far as I'm concerned it can't happen soon enough.

Re:I guess they are milking it here (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 2 years ago | (#40659035)

Tell me why I should care if these papers die. As far as I'm concerned it can't happen soon enough.

I'm pretty much of the same opinion. I'm in Ontario, a few hours south of Toronto right now, and all of the papers are owned by two companies. They all have the same stories. They all have the same types of articles with the same types of spin. They all have pretty much the same content, with the same opinions.

Someone tell me why I should read them? The Toronto star has been giving away papers at the local grocery stores for months on end trying to drive up subscription numbers. I don't think it's working. Our "local" paper is usually 3 days behind the actual news, the next nearest city paper is usually a day or two behind. Yeah, if I want actual news on events here, I look for local bloggers, or I ask around. Or I go get chummy with gas bar attendants who know the police(usually the same places that have restaurants where they also stop and eat at). Everything trickles down to those guys, and they do know what's happening.

Re:I guess they are milking it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40659071)

I'm in vancouver and can vouch for this. The editors don't even sign their editorials! Land developers rip off the city tax payers for millions of dollars but according to the newspapers it's all okay. Of course they minimize it - the newspapers have a real estate section that told us so.

New Orleans is a chocolate city (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658143)

its demographics don't read

Jews... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658163)

The poor Jews... selling us 'news' while trying to brainwash us into accepting them as our 'masters', and to accept mass immigration of millions of third world people into OUR countries, all so that the 'precious' Jews can continue in power - or so they think.

No wonder people aren't buying their stupid newspapers - or Left wing propaganda rags, as I prefer to call them. We're fed up of Jews lying and hiding reality from us, all the while telling us how wonderful 'diversity' is...

Re:Jews... (1)

ozduo (2043408) | about 2 years ago | (#40658215)

The poor Jews... selling us 'news' while trying to brainwash us into accepting them as our 'masters', and to accept mass immigration of millions of third world people into OUR countries, all so that the 'precious' Jews can continue in power - or so they think.

No wonder people aren't buying their stupid newspapers - or Left wing propaganda rags, as I prefer to call them. We're fed up of Jews lying and hiding reality from us, all the while telling us how wonderful 'diversity' is...

This offensive post needs to be removed from slashdot

Re:Jews... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658301)

You're right. We should only ever have posts on /. that exactly mirror what you think is okay. In fact, the entire internet should be taken down so we don't offend someone.

Re:Jews... (0)

Farmer Tim (530755) | about 2 years ago | (#40658489)

This offensive post needs to be removed from slashdot

No. I do not agree with what the jackass says, but I will defend to the death his right to prove himself a jackass.

(With apologies to Voltaire)

Re:Jews... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40659717)

Slashdot is PRIVATE. You don't have any speech rights here.

Ignorant Americans don't deserve rights.

Re:Jews... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658327)

Left wing propaganda?

The fact that you think this means the Israeli mind control program has you just as boondoggled as anybody else.

hey have everybody playing to their tune no matter which side of the US political divide you happen to be on. It's the Right Wing Christians who are all for supporting Israel, after all.

Option 4: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658167)

Take it behind the barn and shoot it.

So? (3, Informative)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40658177)

People still read newspapers. E-ink or LCD newspapers. If the newspaper can't find a way to convert from wood to electronic, then it probably deserves to die since it's being inefficient.

That's how the market operates... give the customer what he/she wants or else don't get purchased & go out of business. BTW my two local papers were owned by the same company. They cut costs by merging the two papers since they were basically redundant.

Re:So? (4, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 2 years ago | (#40658265)

so you end up with a single source for your news... that tells you all the truth about exactly what is going on in the world/your area.

and if you believe that, you already know the Republicans are the only party that it makes sense to vote for.

I agree that free market economics are the way to run these things, but there is a market for printed news. Hopefully these places can streamline their operations (by merging various functions like printing and certain non-news parts) and continue to provide a product.

Re:So? (5, Insightful)

benhattman (1258918) | about 2 years ago | (#40658819)

That doesn't make any sense. Digital distribution is cheaper, which means you can have more competitors than you could with print distribution.

What's killing news is that digital means there are essentially no more scoops. When a story comes out, it is on every cable news channel well within the hour, and posted on every digital newspaper within minutes, and news aggregators like HuffPo within seconds. Before, a true scoop meant your had the only paper publishing a story that day. Not only did that garner eyeballs, but it brought prestige too. Now it mostly means increased news consumption overall with a lot of that consumption going to your competitors with no compensation for your own paper's work.

Which is why news agencies have been cutting their staff for years. It's cheaper for everyone to ride the coattails of someone else. It's even cheaper to have interns watching twitter for trending stories. The bottom line is news is both a product but also a public good, and like many public goods capitalism may not be the optimal structure for maximizing it's non-monetary benefit to society.

Re:So? (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40659019)

>>>so you end up with a single source for your news...

Only if I lived in a vacuum. Apparently you think the only way to get news is through a daily paper delivery, but we also have this thing called TV. And radio. And the internet. I hear a WIDE range of views.

Re:So? (1)

Maestro4k (707634) | about 2 years ago | (#40659569)

so you end up with a single source for your news... that tells you all the truth about exactly what is going on in the world/your area.

Odds are that's already the case. In the county I live in we used to have 2 different city papers and a county-wide paper, all independently owned and managed. But that hasn't been the case now for probably two decades. They all got bought up by the same company, and were being printed by the same company and even shared staff. There was no independence between them, the only difference was that the paper for city A would run more stories about stuff that happened only in city A and the paper for city B would do the same for city B. Meanwhile the county-wide paper would run the most important articles that affected city A and B in it (repeating them) along with stuff that happened in other parts of the county. Of course the new managing company ran this into the ground so badly that at some point they started only running a weekly supplement for the two city papers and converted all the city paper subscribers to the county paper. Last year they killed the supplements. Not that it changed anything really, just a few less local news stories for city A & B.

This isn't a unique situation, it's been happening all over the country. If you want actual multiple sources for your news, you have to look to bloggers nowadays. And everyone knows the news here is biased, they hate the paper, but it isn't improving. If anything it's getting worse, including locking their online news behind a paywall that Murdoch would be proud of. (You can get headlines, nothing else, unless you subscribe to the paper. Yes, not even blurbs about the articles, only headlines. The site's completely useless.) Mainly people buy a copy if they're wanting to check the classifieds (but those have declined with the newspaper declining so even that's becoming uncommon). I figure the paper will completely fold within 5 years and it's unlikely to be missed.

For some reason, most of the newspaper industry seems to think dying revenues = need to double down and do more of the same. They're killing themselves off, it's less dying due to technological changes and more suicide.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658363)

People still read newspapers. E-ink or LCD newspapers.

Citation needed. What percent of the news-reading public reds on an e-ink device?

If the newspaper can't find a way to convert from wood to electronic, then it probably deserves to die since it's being inefficient.

How on earth is an electronic device more efficient? It certainly isn't cheaper, when you count the cost of the device. A huge part of newspaper sales is to the elderly. Many of them will not go drop hundreds of dollars on a device they need to learn to use and charge and maintain.

That's how the market operates... give the customer what he/she wants or else don't get purchased & go out of business.

You don't know what the customers want. You need to figure that out before telling everyone else what they are doing wrong.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658549)

Efficiency like in extracting more money from clients.

Re:So? (1)

umghhh (965931) | about 2 years ago | (#40658673)

Not that I mind but by saying 'that is how market operates' you have given up any control you may have gotten out to 'market' w/o even thinking about consequences and there may be some. Market is not an instance of anything - it is just a way we describe how all agents interact, for simplicity we call it market. The closest that you may come to so called free market is probably Somalia and I suppose you would not like to have that or? So you have some 'non free market' interactions by organized public, legal system (laws, courts etc), financial agents (owners like Murdoch) etc. By saying - market will fix it you give this little that you have of control mostly to financial agents. Now the question may arise whether it makes sense to worry as this control that you have given up was worthless anyway because you had very little of it or because the thing to control was worthless. That however is another issue and maybe one that should be discussed instead. Simple saying like some others here they are all corrupt anyway is silly - after all (mandatory car analogy coming your way) you protect your car from theft not because such protection is 100% but because it makes the life of a thief more difficult. choice is yours. I made my own too - I buy newspapers on saturday only (and sometimes on thu - there is one regional newspaper that comes on thu but it is not glossy shit the glossy magazines are so I guess eventually I am on your 'side' but not because I let the 'market' make a decision but rather because I believe there are still means of doing a journalist job properly and in a way that is acceptable (price, depth & time&space availability) for me as a citizen.

Re:So? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40658907)

>>>by saying 'that is how market operates' you have given up any control you may have gotten out to 'market' w/o even thinking about consequences

Better than handing control of the newspapers/radio/television to the government. At least I have some influence over the market ("No I don't want your shit Comcast, No I don't want your damn Microsoft Office, No I don't want your stupid GM car, No I don't want your communist-leaning newspaper."). I don't have jackshit control over the government and its various companies.

They get my dollars even when the govt-owned company sucks ass. Right now I'm paying for Amtrak trains that I'm not even riding. It would be better if Amtrak were private, and then I'd know ZERO of my dollars were going there. I sure as hell don't want a government-run news company. Bollocks on that.

Re:So? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40659087)

No one gives a shit what newspapers say any more. You can tell from the article title what the article is going to say, because it will be politically correct.

The newspapers are run by journalism majors who think their job is to "give voice to the voiceless". They're dying because people are sick of the same heterosexual white cismale guilt liberalism every day.

Newspapers have admitted to censoring race when blacks commit crimes. If there's a problem, they either find a way to blame heterosexual white cismen, or they ignore it.

Anyone who suggests anything else is accused of hatespeech and has their career destroyed.

Re:So? (1)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#40659849)

Years ago, just as the average person began to know what the Internet it, my city went to one newspaper. It is was known at the time, but denied, that surviving paper made a buyout offer to speed the demise of the losing paper. I believe that the issue was capital assets. There were simply not enough people to support two sets of building, printing presses, and distribution sites.

In this transitional period, the question is who is going to pay for the printing presses and buildings that cost the same no matter the distribution? Local papers in major metropolitan areas maybe print a couple hundred thousand copies a day. The WSJ, USA Today, and NY Times sell maybe 4 million papers a day, which is probably on the order of all other major papers combine. These are printed around the country, so probably help support many of the larger papers support the costs of the press.

So when is the distribution of a physical paper going to be small enough that the huge buildings and presses are going to eb sold, and reports are going to be out reporting, editors are going to be in small offices editing, and no one is going to be sitting around saying how wonderful it is that I can have a big office to support my ego? The Huffington Post model has been criticized, but the citizen reporter model with minimal editor control is going to be future. When there is no need to arrange a page, deciding what goes above the fold, what gets hidden in the middle, what get hidden after a jump, what words get cut because of costs, the expense of a newspaper is simply the cost of reporters.

Ultimately this will be good. Too much money is spent on not reporting in newspapers.

billionaire Phil Ansultz bought lots of newspapers (4, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | about 2 years ago | (#40658183)

Most notable the San Francisco Examiner. Several of his papers are distributed as free dailies in major cities.
Anshultz media group also owns about a third of US movie theaters (Regal) and show production company that was putting on Michael Jacksons final tour.
He has not publicly stated what his goals are. His earlier investments were oil and gas, railroads, and fiber cable.

Re:billionaire Phil Ansultz bought lots of newspap (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658571)

If you misspelled your misspellings twice in your own posting you might want to rethink your misspellings.

It's Phillip ANSCHUTZ.

I'm sure his stated goals are implied in his, like Buffett's, highly diversified portfolio: To make a profit.

Milk for the win (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40658255)

publishers can milk considerable sums from their franchises until the day these once-indomitable cash cows go dry

What, never? Locally they're milking it. The physical paper version is a spam delivery service with some stereotypical human interest stories that I'm not interested in and some traditional "journalism" that I'm also uninterested in (horoscopes, local event boosterism/complimentary copy, etc), and some AP news items from a couple days ago to fill unsold ad space. They will not stop delivering spam until mailed paper spam stops, maybe even after. The online version I guess delivers spam (I use a ad blocker, I don't even know) but primarily seems to make its money off pageviews of "comments" which are nothing other than paid political sloganeering where paid political operatives sling tired old slogans at each other as a form of spam.

The cash cow is, give us money, and we'll print your spam and deliver it all over our local geographic quasi-monopoly, I'm not seeing that going away any time soon. Their competitors are US postal mail and direct-mail-spam-services using US postal mail to deliver one pitch per envelope/postcard. Also there are aggregator competitors who mail envelopes stuffed full of coupons and spam and flyers in bulk from multiple companies rather than one promo at a time. Finally there are the special interest papers who will never die, the local free entertainment rag full of which band is playing at which bar and which bar has ladies night on which night, and the occasional political axe to grind slant paper.

Here's the formula. Get ad contracts with Best Buy / Verizon ATT whatever / local car dealers / Target / walmart / local stores if any remain in business. Surround with some fishwrap, containing a cute picture of a puppy or some kid, fill empty space with AP news articles from a couple days ago, print a zillion copies, hand deliver the spam and spam-envelope to approximately one third of local homes.

Going Forward (1)

Flere Imsaho (786612) | about 2 years ago | (#40658259)

"choosing the best possible strategy going-forward for their mature but declining businesses"

I'm glad to see they aren't wasting time looking into time travel so they can go backward.

Quality (4, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#40658263)

The problem with news is that the quality is crap. It's biased, the headlines are misleading, and there's often no research done ahead of time. Nothing of value will be lost there. But good journalism, research, unbiased headlines... they're getting screwed too. And that makes me sad, because the news is essential for the proper functioning of a democratic society. If we don't know what's going on, if we don't have people willing to get in there to get the full story, not just the press releases... we're screwed.

Re:Quality (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40659385)

"Unbiased headlines" belong in the same fantasy bin as "bug-free code" and "honest project reports". Never happened, never will.

"Research" and "good journalism" do exist, and yes they're getting screwed because there's no incentive for them. Facts aren't protected by copyright, so they can't be monetized. There's no set penalty in news for getting it wrong, so there's no real incentive to get it right. "Research" in journalism has always been up against a deadline; but with 24-hour news, the pressure is on every journalist to report now, dammit, not in 4 hours' time when they might have some idea what they're talking about.

Re:Quality (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40660091)

There's no set penalty in news for getting it wrong, so there's no real incentive to get it right.

I think CNN, with their lowest ratings in 20 years currently, would like to disagree with you on getting it wrong. MSNBC being even worse off. As for getting it right a guy named Matt Drudge is only known today because he ran a story that was handed to CBS three different times by different sources and they failed to run it (Clinton and Lewinski for you youngins)

News media is changing because it used to be possible to bury a story by convincing only 4 people to bury it. Today they have been shown for the outright frauds they are and now they are pissed about it. To this day Dan Rather still claims his falsified Bush memo is real despite EVERYONE ELSE in the country knowing it was fake. He has been fired for getting it wrong. There are penalties. It just took longer for them to arrive than expected, but they are now paying big time for their failings.

it's evolution: adapt or die (4, Insightful)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 2 years ago | (#40658289)

if you become comfortable in a certain business model you will die. you have to follow where technology is going and possibly steer it to your advantage. newspapers ignored technology and now that it's hurting them, they trying to catch up. they should have been the leaders in the internet realm as it's purely a communications medium. hell, they should have been driving the internet to new places but instead they are reactionary and slow at that. blogs have shown up far too late and they strait up shot themselves in the foot with paywalls which were put in AFTER so many other site with free content thrived by using advertising systems that didnt suck.

you need to try a lot of different things. diversify your strategy or your one basket may be in trouble.

Re:it's evolution: adapt or die (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 2 years ago | (#40659117)

It always amazed me how utterly crap their comment system were, and why they made no effort to create an online community around themselves, turning that into a volunteer workforce. If Wikipedia can create an entire encyclopaedia around volunteers, surely a newspaper can turn readers into content providers (and I don't just mean "send in your funny snaps!")

Even in the pre-net days, pedants would mail letters in to point out errors in spelling, grammar and facts. There are bloggers and activists today who do more investigation (for free) into widely reported stories than 90% of the "investigative" journalists, and 99% of regular journalists.

It seems like a no-brainer to recruit pedantic readers to become proof-readers and fact-checkers, rewarded by seeing content ahead of time (and the feeling of self-importance.) Or volunteers to create content for the online site from the raw AP feed, the slight re-write that it usually gets. Or the barely rewritten press releases we seem plagued with, you're telling me you pay people to do that? In return, those people get access to the raw AP feed, and press-release stream, (and the sense that they are "Journalists".) The best are "allowed" to do fluff pieces like product reviews and advertorials. Likewise, layout, photo-editing, comment moderation, etc. You might even end up with volunteers doing layouts for the printed edition, in return for free subscriptions and occasional merch. Some might even end up getting paid.

In parallel, have a mechanism for signed-up members to create their own, public facing, "Front page", selecting the content that they like from any of the newspapers in the corporate family. Costs almost nothing to host, creates entirely new "papers" with their own readership. The best pages share ad-revenue from their page-views. Hell, the best might get their own website. (And the best of those might get a print edition!)

And host blogs from members to comment at length on stories of the day. The best of the latter not only share ad-revenue, but might end up getting paid for actual opinion columns in the printed version.

All of this was possible from day one, and certainly became obvious once Wikipedia and blogs exploded, along with user-content driven sites like Slashdot. But the publishers couldn't do it. Hell, it's still possible, but they don't see the enormous resource in their viewers to generate and maintain content. Instead they want paywalls, and whine about google and news-aggregators.

Hell, we're talking about an industry that basically gave away their prime source of income, classified ads (the so-called "rivers of gold"), to eBay. They couldn't figure out how to put their classifieds online until long after some piss-ant little dot.com had already eaten their lunch, how the hell are they going to figure out how to save their rest of their business?

Re:it's evolution: adapt or die (4, Interesting)

StopKoolaidPoliticsT (1010439) | about 2 years ago | (#40659431)

My local (Gannett owned) paper has always had its biases and whatnot... we can argue about content all day long, BUT they used to have a pretty decent phpbb forum to comment on stories (or whatever people wanted to talk about). The forums were relatively unmoderated unless people became abusive, which allowed a wide range of opinions, for better or worse, to be subjected to debate. About once a year, the forums would get reset and we'd start from scratch.

Well, at one point back in 2007 or 2008, Gannett made the decision to force all of their papers onto Pluck. It was infuriatingly slow, it could be hard to find stories, but obviously, it was meant to give the papers more editorial control over all of their content (it's nice when you can make stories suddenly disappear from memory) but also encouraged them to do it with reader comments. Opinions which differed from the paper's staff, reasonable and polite or not, were deleted. The paper would start "ghosting" users, so that their posts appeared when they were logged in, but nobody else could see them. Readers that agreed with the paper's biases could get away with any amount of abuse of other readers. The editorial staff and executive staff of the paper didn't care, they just let things fester.

Then Gannett made the decision that there was just too much abuse going on in the comments and that it was too much work to keep up with, so they switched to facebook commenting (the reality, based on reading a Gannett insider blog [blogspot.com], I get the distinct impression that may be that an exeucitve had pre-IPO stock in facebook, so this could be quite a personal boon as well).

Next thing you know, they were instituting a paywall, requiring a large mandatory subscription increase for paper-only subscribers that have no interest in digital, while simultaneously letting more than two dozen staff members "retire early" and shrinking the paper to a size that you couldn't start a fire with. About the same time, they printed a story on local tax delinquints, only they forgot to disclose that an editor at the paper was himself a delinquint, tried to scrub the posts when a reader posted it and then threatened legal action (ok, "consulting a lawyer about legal action") for libel when the story, along with the link to the state database, spread. A senior editor doesn't know that truth is an absolute defense in a libel/defamation case! And rather than simply admit it, the editor and one of the executives waged an online campaign against the readers before ultimatley hiding the comments.

They just seem determined to shoot themselves in the foot at every opportunity. And Gannett's executives just seem to be milking the company for every little drop they can get out of it along the way.

Investigative reporting (4, Insightful)

T Murphy (1054674) | about 2 years ago | (#40658291)

Two of the big Chicago papers- Chicago Tribune and Daily Herald- each make a point to do investigative reporting, finding information on mismanaged government funds, questionable hiring practices, and other political negligence or misconduct (which we have plenty of). We'll always have some form of news source covering events that are geared towards the media, like the presidential elections, sporting events and press releases, but it takes an established newspaper run by people willing to invest in time-consuming research to generate quality investigative reporting. With politicians who have more clout than an average citizen can handle, it takes a newspaper with a weight of its own to fight back. I realize newspapers are going to have to make significant changes to stay in business, and that many won't make it, but I am worried that in the process we may lose one of our best means of keeping the government in check.

Re:Investigative reporting (2)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40658427)

I note a lot of govt govt govt politician in your post. Wake me when a local newspaper does a shocking expose on their advertisers, like the local real estate criminals, or the used car dealers, or the local food stores.

I don't really need journalists to tell me political party A is full of crooks, because
1) political party B is thrilled to tell me all about how crooked party A is
2) both sides are equally full of crooks
3) I have no input on the matter, its not like I have an option for non-crooked govt, or an option to have a representative govt. Thats just not an option.

Re:Investigative reporting (4, Interesting)

T Murphy (1054674) | about 2 years ago | (#40659083)

It's much harder to do investigative reporting on private companies, as you basically need a whistleblower on the inside in order to get hard facts*. The papers do have "What's your problem" columns where the newspaper steps in to help a consumer being held at the mercy of a company. Of course, if you want an expose on advertisers, that would require funding newspapers entirely on subscriptions in order to remove any appearance of bias.

Also, your Party A/Party B comment shows you don't pay attention. When the newspapers dig up enough dirt on a politician, they become a pariah, and other politicians will want nothing to do with them. Your comment is like saying that because athletes get away with some calls when the ref isn't looking that sports are better off without referees. No, the newspapers aren't going to straighten out politics, but they force politicians to maintain some level of honesty. There have been cases where newspaper investigations have triggered criminal investigations. I agree we're never going to get a clean government, but it's thanks to idiots like you that it is possible to get disasters with names like "Blagojevich" in office. They are not all the same, and they are not all crooks (especially the more local you get).

*Private companies can blow you off a lot easier if you start asking questions, and also will readily sue (retaining lawyers will strain the newspaper's budget). Digging up dirt on the government generally involves public documents and FOIA requests, which makes it easier to build a case and harder for the government to brush it aside.

Re:Investigative reporting (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40659419)

Have you heard of something called Fast and Furious? Not even Congress is allowed to look at documentation on that and found the Secretary of Justice in Contempt of Congress with bipartisan support for it.

You are confusing public information that doesn't make the political party in power being easy to get vs. documentation showing hundreds murdered by a policy being run by the party in power not available even to Congress.

All of the DNC is standing behind Holder still, despite the amount of negative things he has done. Your Party A/Party B is really only Party A. The DNC never throws out one of their own (with the small exception of Obama will throw out anyone if it a boost to himself for any reason). Examples... Charles Rangle (multiple time tax cheat) is running for reelection, Tim Geitner (tax cheat) is running the IRS, and on and on. Trent Lott lost Senate Majority leader seat for wishing Strom Thurman a happy birthday. So it only seems to work one way.

Re:Investigative reporting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658429)

What is this "chicago daily herald"? When I lived there a few years ago, it was the Trib and the Sun-Times. Kind of liked the physical format of the Sun-Times, but their content sucked. Never heard of Chicago Daily Herald.

Re:Investigative reporting (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | about 2 years ago | (#40658917)

It's just "Daily Herald". They're also based in Chicago but they focus on local news, so you get a different edition depending on which suburb/county you are in. They of course cover general nation and Chicago news, but they try not to be redundant with the Trib. I'm in DuPage county, and they've done a number of investigative reports on things around the county, stuff that the Tribune wouldn't be doing.

It's the tragedy of the commons (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658299)

Everyone thinks the news is free since it's all just a click away. There are lots of great aggregators like Google News, Yahoo, Bing, as well as specialty aggregators like Slashdot.

SOME news is free. Flikr and tweets by passers by are free, but a worldwide professional staff of reporters, editors and publishing infrastructure (either print or online) is expensive to maintain and will not survive years of wholesale freeloading.

Longtime newspaper readers have already noticed a substantial drop in the quality of almost every big major newspaper in the country (except for maybe USA Today, which is the exception that proves the rule) over the past ten years or so. They've all had to let go a large part of their staffs.

So just as people are whining that they don't make pop music the way they used to, so we're starting to see that with the reporting of the news. Yes, there will be plenty of news to read, more than you'll have time to read, but the quality has gone down and will go down further.

(d)evolution (1)

harvey the nerd (582806) | about 2 years ago | (#40658305)

Been milking us with faux news and editorials for many decades, politicking, and whoring for advertisements like cigarettes and (p)harmaceuticals. We are going to have to evolve new systems and methods of news capture, aggregation, evaluation and packaging.

Not the paragons of virtue they claim (4, Insightful)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 2 years ago | (#40658321)

A good newspaper that spends time investigating, digging, and has the balls to take on critical issues have been a huge pillar of our civilization. But take my local newspaper in Nova Scotia. Technically it is independent which is great but it is run by one rich family so do you think that it will run exposes on their friends? I can't remember the last time, if ever, they have nailed a slimy car dealership or real-estate agent to the wall as these are some of their biggest remaining advertisers. They did wail away at our current mayor but it was more schoolyard than Watergate. It was a local arts paper that did the gumshoe work that blew him out of office. The Mayor in waiting looks like a putz and I haven't seen them take a single shot at him.

Move one province over and the major newspapers are owned by the richest family there.

But the internet is made up of a bunch of little twerps with nothing to loose and everything to gain(becoming the next Drudge) by blowing up an old boys club or two by exposing truths that our local newspapers are too incestuously invested in.... I Love It!!!

Re:Not the paragons of virtue they claim (1)

JustOK (667959) | about 2 years ago | (#40658495)

Yah, owned by the guy Bill Gates replaced on the richest list.

Meet the new boss: better than the old boss (1)

subreality (157447) | about 2 years ago | (#40658379)

Regardless of how you feel about Warren Buffett, he'll be better for us and better for the newspaper industry than Rupert Murdoch.

Re:Meet the new boss: better than the old boss (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40658937)

Warren Buffett will be better than Rupert Murdoch how? The so-called Buffett rule/law he is pushing very conveniently helps Buffett avoid paying income taxes. He's just as big a jerk as Murdoch.

Re:Meet the new boss: better than the old boss (1)

subreality (157447) | about 2 years ago | (#40659011)

He is at least an astute businessman rather than a hack. The bar is pretty low.

Re:Meet the new boss: better than the old boss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40659763)

You want to enlighten us, or just demonstrate yet again how much of a right-wing partisan you are who dislikes anyone who is a liberal?

80% of newspaper income from legal notifications (4, Informative)

Bhrian (531263) | about 2 years ago | (#40658399)

A local newspaper owner told me last week that 80% of a newspaper's income is from legal notifications. Cities have legal obligations to publish notifications regarding meetings, sales, and such. State law says they much use a local paper that's existed for more than 3 years and has a subscriber base of a certain number. Of course, these same notifications could easily be included in utility bills or other, much less expensive alternatives. Basically taxpayer money is being used to keep newspapers alive.

Re:80% of newspaper income from legal notification (4, Interesting)

gregwbrooks (512319) | about 2 years ago | (#40658461)

He's right -- for community weeklies and even some very small dailies, legal ads are lifeblood.

Much less so for mid-sized-and-larger dailies.

You want to see an incumbent business model act like a pack of pissed-off wolverines? Watch the small-paper lobby go to town when a state legislature suggests that putting legal notices online might -- might! -- be more efficient.

Re:80% of newspaper income from legal notification (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#40660225)

You want to see an incumbent business model act like a pack of pissed-off wolverines? Watch the small-paper lobby go to town when a state legislature suggests that putting legal notices online might -- might! -- be more efficient.

That just happened in Texas. [linkedin.com] The newspapers won, this time.

In Illinois, there's a real battle. The newspapers have their own lobbying site. [illinoispress.org] Several bills are pending in Virginia [wpcva.com] and the newspapers there are frantically lobbying.

Re:80% of newspaper income from legal notification (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658505)

Not just legal notifications but also daily police reports, minutes from city hall meetings, and sports scores. If I want to know about local crime I can surf the local police website. If I want to hear news about city hall, they have a website for that. I'll learn more about a sports team if I go directly to the team's website. Why do I need newspapers? I it to hear "editorial opinions" that are paid for by the advertisers?

Mutter's got it wrong (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40658413)

Alan D. Mutter writes that with a 50% drop in newspaper advertising since 2005, the old ways of running a newspaper can no longer succeed so most publishers are faced with choosing the best possible strategy going-forward for their mature but declining businesses: farm it, feed it, or milk it.

Mutter's smart, but he's got it wrong. Mutter's assuming the product is a constant stable commodity but the real story is how its changing. The strategy first has to focus on what you wanna make and distribute (based partially on what ad contracts you can sell). Then, and only then, can you decide what strategy to push product.

For example, my local fishwrap has all but given up on reporting news. Why bother, in this era? Every 2-3 years they fire 50% of the remaining reporters and editors. What they are moving into is bulk daily spam delivery. A big ole wad of catalogs and flyers and coupons every day with special bulk on Sunday delivery.

One of their competitor newspapers has gone from complimentary copy / humor / comics / and some spam to ultra hard core local entertainment news. Every little bar or tavern that has more than 2 stools seems to have an ad or coupon or report in there. Every garage band who has more than 4 fans (the member's moms) has detailed reports on exactly where and when they're playing. Aiming hard for the 22 year old urban drinker. The other "adult" paper has all the refrigerator advertisements and adult diaper advertisements.

Another competitor newspaper here is shipping product hard on the green thing. Basically complimentary copy for scam health products that just barely avoid FDA legal issues (so Tai Chi won't cure your cancer, but it will reshape your bodys malformed chakra flows and realign your pelvis or whatever). So their product is complimentary copy along the lines of you're green; we're green; we're all green; we all read green spam together.

So, instead of traditional newspaper, you want to push local entertainment news... doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out "farm it" works best, I have no use for drink specials in a bar 120 miles away, but spam about the bar 2 miles away is vaguely interesting to me, or would be if I was a drinker. So, instead of traditional newspaper, you want to be a bulk spam delivery service... again no rocket scientist moment to figure out you milk it, just like "direct mail marketing" except you have no relationship w/ the post office. So, instead of traditional newspaper, you want to basically be a printed infomercial for one (or a couple) products with a distinct non-common man slant... again no rocket scientist moment to figure out you feed it, so you can afford to give your periodical spam-vertisement away at every health food store in the area, maybe one copy in every recycled hemp shopping bag at every vegan organic health food store...

Oh, you want to publish a traditional newspaper? Oh that strategy is simple, you just go out of business. Kind of like family farming, got a million bucks? Just keep on farming until its all gone. Maybe ask for govt handout?

Newspapers a viction of "de-massification"? (2)

MtViewGuy (197597) | about 2 years ago | (#40658595)

I think the reasons why newspapers are dying is simple: the "de-massification of the media" (as described by Alvin Toffler in "The Third Wave"), thanks to the dramatic improvements in communications technology over the last 60 years.

The rise of cable TV in the 1970's and 1980's, paid online services in the 1980's, the public Internet and small-dish satellite TV in the 1990's, satellite radio in the early 2000's and smaller portable devices to get access to the Internet from circa 2006 on have effectively broken the "massified" means of news delivery such as newspapers and evening news broadcasts by major broadcasters. As such, by the time you get the newspaper in the morning, you may often be reading day-old news! Today, with tablet computers such as the Apple iPad, I can turn it on and within 20 minutes find out the latest news using the news apps for BBC, CNN, Fox News, and USA Today, check on Twitter and Facebook feeds, and even check on various news sites around the world. In short, modern technology will make the printed newspaper just about obsolete.

Newspapers are basically dinosaurs as it is. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40658867)

Why newspapers even exist is beyond me. Im guessing the only reason they stay in business is due to older generations that grew up reading the paper and that demographic alone probablly provides most of them with just enough funds to scrape by and they make the actual profit on the few younger people who buy them. But once the older folks die off papers will as well.

Newspapers have news I already knew about thanks to the local news channel on tv and the internet. Not to mention the majority of news in the paper is all negative shit I dont care about.

Even ones from recycled paper still contain non recycled paper which costs thousands of tons of trees (not to mention all the papers that dont get recycled and end up at the dump since most places you have to pay get recycle service) a year and even the recycling process creates waste and lost time, energy, money and manpower to process it. Not to mention the millions of gallons of fuel used to transport them all every year. Newspapers are just plain wasteful and there is no good reason for them to exist at all, even the coupon cutters can download and print exactly what coupons they need instead of buying an entire paper and then throwing 96% of it away.

Stop wasting resources people. If youre reading this you obviously have internet access to check the news which you can get instantly for free vs paying to buy something that youll throw away.

Much like the evening news, I stopped supporting the medium years and years ago and I am better off without it. I save my time, I save my energy and Im not bombarding myself with just mostly negative news which makes me a happier person. And in the case of papers I save money and resources by not buying papers. Only thing I used the paper for was coupons, which now I just save and fit 8 or 10 onto a single sheet of paper to print out to take to the store instead.

The issue is journalism (4, Interesting)

InterGuru (50986) | about 2 years ago | (#40658873)

Whether we read it on paper on on the screen does not matter. What does matter: "How are we going to support journalism?" . Especially local journalism. Who will cover the zoning board. Who will ferret out corruption? The meetings of the Virginia legislature used to be covered by eight reporters, now it is covered by one. ( From memory, I cannot find the story ).

New Orleans may give us a preview, since there is no shortage of corruption. While the cat's away.....

Re:The issue is journalism (1)

mykro76 (1137341) | about 2 years ago | (#40659983)

What does matter: "How are we going to support journalism?" . Especially local journalism. Who will cover the zoning board. Who will ferret out corruption? The meetings of the Virginia legislature used to be covered by eight reporters, now it is covered by one.

The market always provides through emergent behaviours. I am expecting this to be the next big thing from Google. Individuals will take it on themselves to cover the zoning board and deliver reports on Google+ / Blogger. Similar to Youtube, Google will start profit-sharing with producers of quality and unique content, delivering a cut of the advertising revenue straight to their Google Wallet. Thus local journalists receive an income stream.

Give them purpose again. (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 2 years ago | (#40658949)

Make them watchdogs again. My local example, the Los Angeles Times, is pretty much just a sock puppet for the state government. Reporters never ask follow up questions, and just nod their bubbleheads at whatever insane drivel politicians spout.

See "Transmetrolitian" by Warren Ellis for a template.

Quote: "I want to see humans talking about human life personally. I want to see people who give a shit about the world. I want... I want to see posessed journalists! YES! I want to see people like me rising upp with hate, laying about them with fiery eyes and steaming genetalia--possessed by ancient volcano gods from the polynesian islands, waving vast breasts and improbable penises at the secret chiefs of the world--naked glowing god-journalists browntrousering the naughty twenty-four hours a day, a new planet earth"

To paraphrase Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now, give me ten newsrooms full of these possessed journalists, and our problems here will be over very quickly.

Re:Give them purpose again. (4, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#40659057)

My brother has worked for some major metro dailies in the Northeast, including as managing editor. He's recently decided to leave the industry at perhaps the peak of his career because he's convinced it's dying.

We discussed it and came to the same conclusion as you. The fundamental problem isn't the business model, it's an apathetic citizenry. If Americans cared deeply about civic issues and governance, rather than American Idol, they would find a way to fund good journalism. But if they don't, there's no business model that can keep good journalism going.

I only hope it takes something less than a national tragedy to re-invigorate the American people's concern for good governance.

Re:Give them purpose again. (2)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 2 years ago | (#40660147)

So investigate and raise hell and give people something to get riled up about.

Re:Give them purpose again. (2)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#40660163)

So investigate and raise hell and give people something to get riled up about.

The point is that this doesn't seem to have worked. If you look at the horrible things Congress and the President have done over the past 12-16 years,
I don't notice a lack of information reaching the public. What I'm struck by is the general public's apathy and/or resignation.

The CIA tortures people. The executive branch (and now Congress as well) has suspended Habeus Corpus for anyone called a terrorist. The TSA violates the 4th Amendment with their VIPER program (traffic stops and searches on public roads without probable cause). Copyright extensions are written by RIAA and MPAA lobbyists, and become law without debate. Pelosi tells Congress that they'll need to pass the health care bill to find out what's in it, AND THEY ACCEPT THAT. We've lost our gold-plated credit rating, and we haven't passed proper budgets in several years (if I recall correctly).

These allegations are widely known and accepted, and yet for some reasons those in power have not been significantly held accountable.

So, can New Orleans be even more corrupt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40659059)

With investigative journalism on the wane, how much worse can it get?

There's an old joke: one half of Louisiana is under water and the other half is under indictment.

News PAPERS are dead - the news isn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40659091)

I think it's obvious that news papers are dead and dying, from an economic perspective, but not from a reader's perspective. Nothing beats unwrapping a fresh newspaper, and nothing beats knowing that there will be a fresh newspaper right there outside your door, every morning. But the reality is that the economics of all that don't really work anymore. I'm sure that within 5 years (10 for sure) newspapers will be a luxury item, not a highly affordable commodity as it exists today. I'm not sure what that will do for the freedom or quality of the press per se - reporters will exist, but will editors?

Re:News PAPERS are dead - the news isn't (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 2 years ago | (#40659267)

"Nothing beats unwrapping a fresh newspaper, and nothing beats knowing that there will be a fresh newspaper right there outside your door, every morning."

I wouldn't want one if it were free. More paper waste, and I'm quite ancient (53) and grew up with the limited info of local papers.

I want my news online so I can monitor MORE content which interests me and ignore the bullshit.

The newspaper is dead. Let it go. (2)

symbolset (646467) | about 2 years ago | (#40659439)

The business model of newspapers died. It's not coming back. It had a long and glorious run, and it's over.

Where do Online News Aggregators Get Their News? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40659485)

Some people say the place they get their news is from online news aggregators. Well, if you look, most of that news comes from news papers and the newspapers get much of their news from sources such as the AP, Reuters, etc. Kill off the newspapers and online news will also disappear.

Traditional Newspapers are going away (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40659699)

but niche newspapers are booming, I know the owner of makemynewspapers.com and their sales are doubling every quarter and they even have a UK subsidiary now

Not like they're the first industry to go belly up (3, Interesting)

WillyWanker (1502057) | about 2 years ago | (#40659921)

It's like watching the end of the horse and buggy, icebox, or gas lamp industries. Only with more copyright/extortion suits.

How to fix the NOLA.com redesign (1)

dannydawg5 (910769) | about 2 years ago | (#40659949)

My local paper (AL.com) got hit by the same fate as the New Orleans newspaper (NOLA.com): a reduced schedule, and a horrible redesign.

There is now a massive floating banner that covers a full third of my netbook screen. It is intolerable.

Therefore, I wrote Firefox and Chrome add-ons to remove the floating banner. It works on NOLA.com, AL.com, MLive.com, and MassLive.com.

Enjoy:
http://dannagle.com/2012/06/advance-digital-banner-blaster/ [dannagle.com]

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