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View Diary: Big Media's gambit to protect their profit margins (191 comments)

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  •  I notice they never feel that it's appropriate (14+ / 0-)

    to discuss the idea that perhaps people aren't reading newspapers because the content is poor... It's like when Disney announced it wasn't going to make any more 2-D animated films because they weren't profitable and then they wondered why their non-Pixar 3-D films were also not profitable. A lack of depth has certainly been a problem in Disney films, but it's not one you can solve with 3-D computer graphics.

    •  That's pennywise and pound foolish. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skywaker9, Arken, Dauphin

      Aren't 3-D films more expensive to make?  If Disney would, say, make a 2-D film that was good (hell, they had a good run in the early 90's), maybe they'd be able to make a profit.

      But let's not accuse Disney of being smart.

      Anything lost can be found again, except for time wasted.

      by vcthree on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:27:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, they're cheaper to make (in theory anyway). (6+ / 0-)

        You don't have to draw the character from every conceivable angle if you have a 3-D model to do it for you, so it should take fewer animators and less time if it is done with the right producer.

        But that wasn't their reasoning. They really seemed to think that the reason people weren't going to see Brother Bear and that cow movie with Roseanne was that people didn't like 2-D cartoons anymore. Never mind that classic Disney cartoons sell out the minute they get re-released...

      •  Their upcoming one this year (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Arken, vcthree, Ranger1

        has a lot of people excited, myself included. I'm hoping it does well; I'd love to see a return to 2D animation among all the 3D entries in the marketplace.

        •  What upcoming film is that? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JC from IA

          I haven't been keeping up with animation news in a while.

          •  They did just the opposite, of course. (6+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jett, Arken, kurt, Iowa Engineer, brein, Ranger1

            When the shit hit the fan last fall, one of the first positions they cut was a cartoonist who had been with them for decades.

            His daily front page cartoons were often the best political/social commentary to be found in the entire issue.

            They sent security to escort him from the building, and didn't even let him clean out his tiny cubical.

            A much smaller upstart locally published paper snapped him up immediately, after all the local TV newsies had a heyday covering his poor treatment.

            So, they got rid of the one unique thing they had left to offer.  Copy comes almost exclusively from the AP, about a day, of course, after it has been out on the net.  Even Obits have become a profit center, to the extent that people are opting out of paying to have them published.

            Owning a printing press just ain't what it used to be.

            •  Sorry, I coulda sworn this was going to appear (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Arken, kurt

              beneath Arken's reply to me just below.

            •  Know exactly what you mean (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JC from IA

              It used to be in Iowa back in the 70's you could spend an entire afternoon going through the Des Moines Sunday Register.  It was a ritual every Sunday morning - stop at the local gas station after church to pick up the paper and some candy bars.

              There was excellent local Iowa talent - hell, the RAGBRAI event (Register Annual Great Bike Race Across Iowa) was started by two opinion columnists and now, over 30 years later, pulls in big bucks for the towns along the route plus participants from around the globe.  THAT was impact.

              Now I can breeze through the thing online with an interface that is no different than the other Gannett newspapers with crappy content and pictures of the latest cute blondes clubbing in what passes for nightlife in central Iowa.

              Sad.

              At least they still favor the University of Iowa Hawkeyes over my Iowa State University Cyclones.  Some things haven't changed.

              Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought. - Henri-Louis Bergson

              by Iowa Engineer on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 03:34:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Donald Kaul was one of them. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kurt, Iowa Engineer

                I never missed his "Over the Coffee" column from high school forward.  RAGBRAI got it's start, IIRC, when Kaul and the other columnist (whose name I can't bring to mind at the moment) had taken up riding their bikes to work during the oil embargo of the 70s.  LMAO, it was an office bet that got out of hand!

                With the Sunday version, the question these days is not how long it takes to read, but how little time it takes to throw most if it in the recycle.

                Hell, now they don't even have Yepsen to bitch incessantly about them awful overpaid ungrateful state workers, who should be so thankful that they work for the state that they should be willing to do it for free.  He made a career of that.  I note that the editorial page still honors his memory, though, by bitching about that awful legislature and governor who spent too damn much money!  Why, they shoulda KNOWN there was going to be a worldwide economic meltdown last fall, and stopped spending our money!

                No word on why the rest of the world missed it,too.

                Iowa students did their own parody of the "Des Moines Rooster and Trivia Company" many years ago: "The Newspaper That Depends Upon Iowa".

                They were prescient.

    •  LOL! My local rag called me one time (9+ / 0-)

      to ask why, after many years, I had canceled my subscription.  This was after Gannett had bought them and turned them into USA Today Lite.

      My answer, though in two parts, was fairly straightforward:

      1. Your Circulation Department no longer reliably gets me my paper.
      1. Your editorial content sucks.

      Without being able to do either of those two things well, a newspaper becomes nothing more than an ad sheet, one that wants its customers to pay for the privilege of reading the ads that their advertisers have already paid to publish.

      •  Exactly! If they want me to subscribe, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JC from IA

        give me something I can get from them that I can't get elsewhere.

      •  They called me last month (4+ / 0-)

        I had to tell them that in addition to their political bias (while showboating about being "objective") they just don't cover my interests. They have decided the professional sports fan is the end-all and be-all. Fine. Let them subscribe then. I am involved in the arts and music and they've gutted coverage of those areas – even though they get many times more advertising from them!!!! And the stupidest thing of all is that the sports nut typically isn't your big newspaper reader: they want the score NOW and they want to listen to guys bloviate on one of the 20,000 sports-talk stations this market seems to have.

        Rob Portman: He sent your job to China.

        by anastasia p on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:21:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Costs not content (7+ / 0-)

      This is not about content, this is about revenues and costs. I was in the newspaper business and still have lots of friends in the media. Newspapers made money on subscribers. Subscribers were the people your advertisers wanted to reach. The ways to reach that prime demographic were limited so newspapers could charge high ad rates. That was also true for classified ads, which were pure gold. Craig's list took that gold. People subscribed not because of the Pulitzer Prizes or great investigative journalism, but because of the sports section or their favorite columnist. These are now on line for free.  More people still cancel big city papers for being too liberal, rather than the lack of good reporting leading up to the Iraq War. This is about the basics of business, how much revenue versus costs. It's not about content. The big city, home delivered, newspaper is dying and nothing can save it not even exceptional content.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:58:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How can you say it's not about content (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling, kurt

        and then argue that subscribers are leaving which is causing the problem? The subscribers are leaving because nothing compels them enough to keep subscribing. I'd call that a content problem.

        •  Our paper did a stupid thing (6+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jett, elfling, Arken, kurt, brein, Ranger1

          Last summer, they radically downsized the paper, cutting 35 pages a week, cutting sections, gutting arts coverage, combining food and style, going from two editorial pages to one and on and on. Within WEEKS, they raised the price — just as people were starting to go "Hey, it takes me half as long to read the paper now." Those two things juxtaposed caused dozens of people I know to cancel. They must have an idiot for a business manager. They needed to separate those two things by a good long time.

          Rob Portman: He sent your job to China.

          by anastasia p on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:26:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Death spiral (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jett, kurt

            The newspapers are in a death spiral trying to cut costs and add revenue where ever they can. It's hopeless. My paper did the same. I am such a junkie I still subscribe to the SF Chronicle when it costs many times the home delivered Wall Street Journal.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:38:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  No they get want they want for free online (0+ / 0-)

          People subscribe to the local big city paper for the types of things that the newspapers put on their websites for free. That's why they are losing subscribers.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:36:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's what the newspapers are claiming... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            esquimaux

            but do you really think they would claim that their content is the issue?

            •  The economic model doesn't work (0+ / 0-)

              The newspaper business had its decades in the sun, and it was a fun and very profitable business, but it's over. The economic model doesn't work any more and the big city, home delivered, newspaper business will be gone completely in the next few years.

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:47:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, I've heard that before too... (0+ / 0-)

                Yet I don't see small, independently-owned newspapers having the same trouble the big conglomerates are having.

                •  different economic model (0+ / 0-)

                  Small local papers have a different economic model than the big city, daily, home delivered newspapers. The small independents never had big editorial staffs, state, DC, and foreign offices. Most importantly they provide local coverage which is not as available on the Internet and a more targeted local advertising audience that is not as well served on the Internet. However, even local papers are having some financial stress, but they have a longer glide path than their big city brothers.

                  "let's talk about that"

                  by VClib on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 03:48:51 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Our local papers (0+ / 0-)

                  are owned by a mighty conglomerate of local papers.

                  Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                  by elfling on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 12:52:09 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  If big, home-delivered newspapers go out (0+ / 0-)

                of business, a whole lots more people will lose their jobs than just the people who work at the paper - the printers, the delivery people, the ink and paper companies and many others.

                It's a damn shame - progress (if this is progress) bites.

                "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

                by SueDe on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 04:54:30 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I agree Sue, I love newspapers (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  kurt

                  I worked in the newspaper business when it was fun, profitable and expanding. I love newspapers and the feel of newsprint in my fingers. Unfortunately the Internet has killed the big city newspaper business. If any one thing it was Craig's List. It's just an unfortunate part of the Internet, but it is a business where a new technology changed the core economics. It has certainly happened in other industries. I do feel badly for all the people who are losing their jobs, but particularly for the writers. There are few other place for them to go and earn the same kind of salaries. There is a supply imbalance of journalists who would like to receive a paycheck for their work.

                  "let's talk about that"

                  by VClib on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 05:08:31 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  That's their story (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kurt

            but I think for many people it's more complicated than that. For better or worse, most newspaper's online presence is an extremely poor representation of their product. For example, even today in its sadly butchered form I can spend an hour with the LA Times... but I can't seem to find anything interesting to read on the website.

            The reality is it took a total content failure to get me to give up my morning newsprint habit. That, and that the newspapers I read would not deliver to my new address.

            I still subscribe to journalism - but it comes to me in magazine form. Even though one of the magazines publishes its articles free online, I find their site far less interesting than the magazine. I only use the site when I want to forward articles that I found in the print version.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 12:51:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  But, without the content, I don't read it at all. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brooke In Seattle, Arken, kurt

        How much are the ads worth then?

        •  It's a death spiral (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kurt, brein

          Loose display ads, loose classified ads, reduce content, loose subscribers, raise subscription prices. It's a death spiral caused by the Internet. I love newspapers and the feel of newsprint in my fingers, but they are going the way of the buggy whip.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:44:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  In this market (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Arken

        more people cancel the Plainly Republican for being too conservative, I'd be willing to bet. In fact, I still believe that was the REAL reason they endorsed Obama. They probably lost a few hundred mouthbreathers over that. They probably would have lost tens of thousands if they had endorsed McCain.

        Rob Portman: He sent your job to China.

        by anastasia p on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:24:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Markets can vary (0+ / 0-)

          Newspaper subscribers today tend to be much older and more affluent, on average, than they were a decade or two ago. That makes them more conservative than the general population. While I am sure there are markets where the newspapers are losing subscribers for being too conservative, it's not the national average.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:41:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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