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With newspapers talking about starting a Craigslist competitor (HA HA HA HA HA!) and bringing back paywalls (good luck with that), it's important to note what those Big Media companies are really after. Hint, it's not "journalism".

But here's the terrible argument I mentioned: In contending that the paid-content movement was not so much about revenue per se, Isaacson used this alternate rationalization: Paid content models are necessary “to protect creativity.”

That's a pretty stunning statement, even in the favorable context of trying to save an industry in which people are compensated by middlemen for their published work. And so when I got my turn at the mic, I rose and asked him: What profit margins will these paid-content models have to generate in order to protect creativity?

Isaacson never responded to that question, unless you call staring at me with a horrified expression a response. Instead, Merrill Brown, a senior strategist at paywall-startup Journalism Online LLC, rose in his defense. It's not about a profit margin, he said...and... well... then he said some other things (you can watch it here, although I don't know that listening would lead to a more accurate paraphrase). He did eventually concede that stockholders might have certain profit expectations.

Yes. Expectations like 20 and 30 percent profits.

So can we finally, finally call this thing what it is? Quality journalism is expensive, andto the extent that it provides a public good, we will find ways to fund it. But top-heavy, poorly run, arrogant-to-the-bitter-end media companies? This is their crisis, not our crisis, and it certainly isn't about journalism.

In other words: If Isaacson wants to join us in protecting and expanding creativity and quality, welcome aboard, Walter! Because we can do THAT for an awful lot less than what it's going to cost to bail out our brain-dead media companies on behalf of shareholders and executives.

That was written by an industry veteran, by the way. If I seem callous at times about the fate of the newspaper industry, it's for this reason -- with the advent of the corporate newspaper chains, the notion of "journalism" has taken a back seat to the pursuit of 30 percent profit margins. Newsrooms have been decimated. Investigative journalism has been slashed. "Serious" writing has been replaced with Brittany-style fluff. The product has become more vapid, less substantive. Local reporting has been replaced with cheaper (but soulless and generic) wire copy. Many newspapers would survive as stand-alone entities, but are being dragged down by over-leveraged corporate owners who've spent the last few years bleeding their media properties dry.

What the newspaper industry is trying to save right now isn't "journalism", it's "shareholder value".

Maybe paid content is good for journalism because it's going to hasten the fall of this terrible system. It's going to create a vacuum in which innovators will be able to make a difference. Maybe the best thing these old media companies can do today is fail quickly.

Newspaper circulation peaked in 1993 (combining daily and Sunday circulation) -- before the blogs, before Google, before the web. Daily circulation peaked all the way back in 1985. The industry's problems are certainly self-inflicted, no matter who they try to blame.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:18 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Michael McManus, Armstrong Williams, we already (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    crose

    have paid content in the media.

    Have you forgotten about Jesus? Don't you think it's time that you did?

    by uc booker on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 02:35:45 PM PDT

    •  Oh yeah, Maggie Gallagher, Jeff Gannon, Matt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cardinal, crose

      Sanchez, the list goes on and on...

      Have you forgotten about Jesus? Don't you think it's time that you did?

      by uc booker on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 02:40:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  All I can say is (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bnasley

        I will buy my little local rag until some bitter end it has not reached yet (although its time may be drawing nigh), but if these media bozos actually believe that I will pay them money to read the shit they have been flinging online for the last decade for free, they have another really big lesson to learn. They will fall, it won't be pretty, and the flames will keep their stupid shareholders and administrators warm for as long as they sputter. What a laugh.

        Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

        by crose on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:36:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  dinosaurs....slow, stupid. and another comet (0+ / 0-)

          is on the way.....only this ones made up of technology and progress......and a hard rains a gonna fall.....

          "You don't like people with moriles, because you feel inferior and since you are gay you need all of us to except you now."-DK Hatemail

          by Molotov on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 03:21:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Protecting "creativity" - (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bnasley

            you mean like making shit up?  Or printing shit that some politico tells you without every checking its accuracy?  You mean that kind of creativity?

            No Thanks, I've had enough already.

            "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 03:48:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  That's just the thing, these media bozos have (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kurt
          built their entire business plan (at least since the Reagan years) around the assumption that we WILL keep on  buying the stupid shit they've been selling, and that we'll do it forever. They're used to a bunch of sheep who don't care if traitors and liars are given front page or first story attention, while those that know better are never heard from at all. They're used to a public that somehow let themselves turn over all their civil rights and duties to a bunch of thugs under the pretense that they were 'protecting them'. (Anyone who went out and bought plastic and duct tape should have had their asses kicked. We're at LEVEL SKY-BLUE PINNNNKKKKKKKK! Kiss your asses goodbye!!)

          They LIED and COVERED for the most egregious and serious crimes ever committed by government 'officials' in the history of this country. It started with the Cheney Energy Meetings and bush*s delusional plans to kicks Saddam's ass because he wanted to out-penis the old man, and the shit just took off from there. Little Boots was losing his appeal amongst the public, and his numbers were starting to tank if I recall correctly. Then, things started looking up. A gang of nuts made up of mostly Saudis h

          One of the most offensive and outright un-American of the disgusting and deceitful actions of all the media (EXCEPT THE BLOGS) was the lies about the build-up to the war, the cover-up of the real truth, the demonization of the anti-war movement, and the EMBEDDING of liars like Judy Judy Judy Miller in with the military as they attacked and occupied a country that hadn't done a damn thing to the US. There were people out there trying to get the truth out, but they were INTENTIONALLY SILENCED by the media (all the media).

          So to divert attention from the real things that Americans should have been hearing abuot, the media decided that they would filter what info they felt that we needed, would judge what information was fit for the great unwashed. When caught at their shennanigans, they would issue phony I'm Sorrys when confronted with proof of their duplicity and collusion:Collusion

          Col*lu"sion, n. [L. collusio: cf. F. collusion. See Collude.]

          1. A secret agreement and cooperation for a fraudulent or deceitful purpose; a playing into each other's hands; deceit; fraud; cunning.

          The foxe, maister of collusion. --Spenser.

          That they [miracles] be done publicly, in the face of the world, that there may be no room to suspect artifice and collusion. --Atterbury.

          By the ignorance of the merchants or dishonesty of the weavers, or the collusion of both, the ware was bad and the price excessive. --Swift.

          http://dictionary.reference.com/...=

          ANYWAY, the media bosses decided that all we needed were constant updates on the breaking 'important' stories of the day, like who killed Natalie what's-her-name (sorry, I forgot), or why did Jennifer Wilbanks take a powder (I'm embarrased that I remembered her name)?

          No rebuttal when bush* said 'Saddam wouldn't let the inspectors do their jobs'. Hell, they all had pictures and tapes of Hans Blix and the boys giving updates and reports of all their inspections. Saddam had tried to bad ass them once, but he backed down and the inspections were on-going. bush** told them to get out, that he had some rather nasty plans that he planned to put into action. And then the rah-rah stories about MOABs and how fucking bad ass we were started. (Yeah, we kicked ass initially. We got the surprise of the millenium when they fought back.) And that's when the media turned Iraqis fighting for their country 'terraists'.

          The 'media' was an intregal part of the conspiracy to lie this country into a war of choice and to cover for the ineptitude and lack of planning in the conduct of the one they already had going. And from that point on we lost control of, and the heart and soul of, what was best about our country.

          That's why I don't care what happens to 'em. The media treated me, and all the people like me like me, like we were frigging delusional, terraist loving, unpatriotic idiots.

          I know that that we will continue to pay for the lies and deception of the neocons, the bush** administration, and the 'media' for generations.

  •  I want to make money instead of win the superbowl (18+ / 0-)

    my team will be made up of has beens and underperformers instead of serious athletes.

    That way I make money.  Screw the fans.

    Republicans===the party of the 1% rich people in America. Or in other words..The Party of NO!

    by jalapeno on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:20:47 PM PDT

  •  Capitalism, like Darwinism (6+ / 0-)

    abhors an unfilled niche. I suspect that if every newspaper in the country died tonight, some replacement for every commercially viable function they perform would be in place within 12 months.

    Searching for intelligent life on the Internet. Please post a URL.

    by blue aardvark on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:21:04 PM PDT

    •  without the 7 figure payroll on top. nt (6+ / 0-)

      Republicans===the party of the 1% rich people in America. Or in other words..The Party of NO!

      by jalapeno on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:22:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  They have only themselves to blame (14+ / 0-)

      People tuned out newspapers and "news" programs because they no longer turned out any real journalism.  

      "News" became soundbites with dueling comments and responses and responses to responses rather than providing real information and content.  Investigative journalism, for the most part, went the way of the dinosaur.

      We tuned out, looked elsewhere and found we really didn't need what the papers and teevee machine cranked out because we found information elsewhere.  Then "news" got worse, content sucked, and the proliferation of he said - she said crapola drove away the rest of us who remember (and want) real news.

      The only reason they are paying attention now is that they're losing profits.  Instead of concentrating on getting their audience back, their response is to find profits elsewhere.

      Journalism on the cheap is the cause of their demise.

      Those who yell do so because their arguments are so weak they can only be supported by massive amounts of hot air. Sue, West Allis, Wisconsin

      by Puddytat on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:52:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But People haven't tuned out Newspapers (6+ / 0-)

        Every month, in the US alone, NYTimes.com draws over 20M unique users.

        Millions more read the print version.

        Do you honestly believe that 20 years ago as many people were exposed to New York Times content?

        Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. http://www1.hamiltonproject.org/es/hamilton/hamilton_hp.htm

        by PatriciaVa on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:04:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thak's a scary thought (8+ / 0-)

          Twenty years ago the NYT was marginally better than it is today.  Forty years ago it was light years better. I'm not sure that you are marking an improvement in public discourse.

        •  Compare (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          agnostic, kurt

          their "today" stuff with what they printed in the 60s and 70s.  

          Actually, NYT, Washington Post, LA Times are still worth looking at, but they aren't the newspapers in real trouble right now.

          For the most part, people in the know aren't reading newspapers.  We're looking on the internet for real news.

          Those who yell do so because their arguments are so weak they can only be supported by massive amounts of hot air. Sue, West Allis, Wisconsin

          by Puddytat on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:57:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  NOT the Tribune, tho (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Puddytat

            That bubble gum wreck has gone from a respected newspaper that broke real stories, to something that my dog even avoids.

            I dropped it, wrote them that when news returns to the Trib, I will return to it.
            If nothing else, it is tabloid with sudoku. Hell, the Suntimes has THREE crosswords, including the NYT and Sudoku.

            What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

            by agnostic on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 05:10:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  it's all branding (5+ / 0-)

          NYT earned a name for themselves once, they built a reputation. They still deserve some of it, but seeing them beat the war drum for Iraq pretty definitively proved their commitment to actual journalism.

          "The power to dominate rests on the differential possession of knowledge" -Foucault

          by Jett on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 03:52:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  So true (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Caneel, kurt, Puddytat, Ranger1

        I remember a decade and a half ago when the Akron Becon Journal was the standout paper in Northeastern Ohio, with top-notch writes and winenr of many awards. Many of us preferred it to the bigger Cleveland paper, the Plainly Republican (Plain Dealer). They were making a nice profit, but then the parent company demanded 20%, 25%, 30%. And they kept cutting sections, cutting staff, slashing and burning their budget until the paper eventually became little more than a community shopping rag filled with reprints. The paper was never unprofitable when they were decimating it; it's just that they were demanding more shareholder profit – and more and more and more. Now they don't really have an actual paper worth reading. The Plainly Republican is rapidly going down the same path, although their trnasparent political bias doomed them years ago in this overwhelmingly Democratic region. I cancelled my subscription in 2004 when the publisher overruled the editoral board's landslide vote to endorse Kerry.

        Rob Portman: He sent your job to China.

        by anastasia p on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:10:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am reading these comments with my mouth agape (4+ / 0-)

          Yes, newspapers, printed ones on dead trees, seem to be this generation's buggy whips or restaurant ashtrays.

          Yes, most publicly owned papers/chains failed to invest back into their newsrooms and into the future.

          Yes, many publishers and editors are at the other political pole than most of their readers.

          And, yes, papers have made plenty of mistakes in their reporting, news judgment and priorities.

          But the almost glee I sense in their failure is sickening.

          Take a step back for a second and think about the information -- LOCAL INFORMATION -- that gets to you, whether online, on the TV, radio or in print. Think about what portion of it originated from the work of a newspaper reporter.

          Chances are MOST of the information about your local  schools, roads, taxes, officials, crime, and a whole bunch of other stuff, is coming from a newspaper.

          Important, local stories of corruption and abuse of power? Mostly from newspapers. Stories on local artists? Features on amazing local people? The story about the one-armed wrestler making it to the state semis? All that stuff is coming from newspapers.

          As much as I love citizen journalism, we simply cannot provide all that information with blogs and diaries on Kos. And if we could, there is certainly no clearinghouse, one that's as easy to find and navigate as the paper.

          If newspapers die, much of the news and information -- and, yes, a portion of democracy -- will disappear.

          I urge you guys to read some of the incredible stories that are told every day in print. Check out gangrey.com and other sites that feature the best of the best.

          And take a moment to scan the rec'd diaries and count how many link back to articles from dreaded, dying newspapers.

          Newspapers are like a great girlfriend with a few annoying habits. Those habits will make us want to dump her.

          Then, when she's gone. We're going to spend the rest of our days in regret.

          •  I think you don't understand what we're saying (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kurt

            I love newspapers that print stuff worth reading.  I want them back.  I want real news where our government, spokespeople, etc. are questioned, intensely, and then fact checked.  I miss investigative reporting which I find so rarely now.

            We are actually sorrowful about the demise of real reporting and the traditional news media.  Most of it now is online with Greg Palast, Democracy Now, and other internet sites.

            I go back to my original comment - that all those sobbing newspapers have only themselves to blame for what is happening to them.  They still have a chance if they would only go back to real reporting.

            Those who yell do so because their arguments are so weak they can only be supported by massive amounts of hot air. Sue, West Allis, Wisconsin

            by Puddytat on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 09:28:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Not to mention that (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        exotrip, Midwest Meg, Caneel, kurt, Puddytat

        they got most of the big Bush era stories dead-ass wrong. They were cheerleaders for war, lies and propaganda, while the few real journalists out there, and bloggers, got it right.

        The Corporate Press thinks that we didn't notice that?

        Tinfoil! ...it's the new black!

        by mosesfreeman on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:37:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That too (6+ / 0-)

          And our own paper got the local and state scandals wrong as well. When the big COingate state scandal broke in 2006, they denied it as long as they could, even writing an editorial defending perpetrator Tom Noe (who was convicted and went to prison). Of course, he bankrolled most of our state's top Republican politicians and the paper didn't want to go there.

          Rob Portman: He sent your job to China.

          by anastasia p on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:41:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That was the last nail (6+ / 0-)

          in the coffin of most of the traditional media.  Again, over reliance on sound bites and reaction.  No questioning, fact checking or real reporting.  Just print (or put on air) pretty pictures and nice quotes.  

          I think most of the media now has the motto:

          Sound bites sell, real reporting smells

          The exact opposite of what we really want.

          Those who yell do so because their arguments are so weak they can only be supported by massive amounts of hot air. Sue, West Allis, Wisconsin

          by Puddytat on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 03:03:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  When they bring back NEWS and throw out GOSSIP (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt

      then I will start reading hardcopy 'newspapers' again.

      It's why I dropped my local paper more than a decade ago.

      I get all the gossip I need from my mom.

      I only need a 'newspaper' for news.

      Wish I could find one.....

  •  Fire the pundits. (23+ / 0-)

    Go back to regular fact gathering journalsim, and quit pretending that paying blowhards to spew on topics they know nothing about actually provides a public service.

    Yes, I know it is somewhat more expensive to mount a real news operation (thereby generating less profit), but paying a lot of money to idiots really isn't inspiring the love.

    The "choice" offered by capital is illusory. If you cannot afford the choice, you don't have the freedom to choose.

    by high bitrate on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:22:47 PM PDT

  •  I agree that these behemoths (8+ / 0-)

    are becoming a farce, but we should also ask ourselves what we can do to remedy the media situation.

    Sure, there is great schadenfreude at the newspapers' troubles, but blogs, no matter how widely read, cannot truly replace them. Where are the newsrooms and the journalists? The contacts and the veterans?

    I'd say that a very good start would be to encourage the growth of smaller newspapers again. Perhaps with a tax break if they do not join up with the large corporations? Or even journalistic co-ops, where possible?

    Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

    by Dauphin on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:23:04 PM PDT

    •  75 Web Readers = 1 Print Reader (Ad Dollars) (7+ / 0-)

      A reprint of a previous comment I've posted.  

      You can't have a discussion about the newspaper industry without citing CPMs (cost per thousand impressions of an ad)

      Today, more people read the New York Times than ever before.  Every month, just in the USA, NYTimes.com draws over 20M unique readers.

         This is the reason why The Globe isn't viable.

         The San Jose Mercury News was the canary in the coal mine.  About six years ago, that paper began to experience a significant decrease in classified advertising, the most profitable of all advertising.  The San Jose Mercury News went from an operating margin of over 25%, to operating at a loss today.

         Nothing you can do about it.  More people today read the San Jose Mercury News and The Boston Globe than ever before.  The problem, as you'll read below, is that Web advertising is significantly less profitable than print advertising.

         http://www.dailykos.com/...

               Real Reason Newspapers are Dying: CPMs

               Speak to the CFOs of the NYT or the WSJ.

               They'll tell you that they get as much as US$ 40 per CPM on their print edition.  And they get as little as US$ 0.55 cents per CPM on their Web editions.

               For every print reader they lose, they need 75 Web readers to offset the loss.

               How many of you read Politico?  Politico gets over 90% of their revenue comes from their print edition, even though it is only distributed in DC.

               That's why newspapers are dying.  Internet advertising is structurally cheaper than print.  

               Warren Buffet once loved newspapers because they were virtual monopolies.  Indeed, any business with sustained operating margins (EBIT) of over 25% can be loosely defined as a monopoly.

               Today, the NYTimes (flagship paper) has an operating margin of about 5%.  The WSJ, before it was bought by NewsCorp, had an operating margin of anywhere from 4% to 7%.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. http://www1.hamiltonproject.org/es/hamilton/hamilton_hp.htm

      by PatriciaVa on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:34:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  well if the msm wants to be... (5+ / 0-)

      ...on the cutting edge again, as opposed to the cutting room floor, they could begin by pushing true investigative journalism again, instead of "push polling". iow, let the news push the talking points, not the talking points push the news.

      "Great men do not commit murder. Great nations do not start wars". William Jennings Bryan

      by ImpeachKingBushII on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:41:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Here's a start list (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        esquimaux, kurt, ImpeachKingBushII

        Against silence, which is slavery. -- Czeslaw Milosz

        by Caneel on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:56:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  that looks like a cacophany of... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Caneel

          ...among the best Rec'd Dairies on Daily Kos to me. Or at least among the Top Comments. I know of a few (former and present) members here who've touched upon these topics a time or two(or thrice). And they say the blogosphere doesn't provide "breaking news"! Thanks for that link!

          Seems kind of strange to me, however, that in the land that invented the free press, copyright-protected works, and trademarks, that even today, in the world of netroots and search engines, censorship still manages to rear its ugly head from time to time.

          The truth cannot hurt anyone, save only those to whom stand to lose all of their worldly goods, their political heads, or their ill-gotten gains and power over us simply by the exposure of their wicked deeds committed in all of our names under the color of law, in and by the light of truthful, unrestricted, and unbiased examination.

          Not to mention the possibility of losing one's own freedom by un-checked tyranny and unenforced laws and rights nullified by those who presumed to think to our detriment and their ultimate demise, they were above the law, indespensible--untouchable.

          Censorship is the cloak of despots and liars, thieves and murderers, and is of the vile perverse recipe of tyranny that makes for the most heinous forms of police states and dictatorships. Both turn citizens with rights into subjects held in chains of obedience to a de facto king. Resurrecting the dead bones of monarchy and recasting the bonds and shackles of slavery is not worth one second of dubious temporary security if by doing so, one has lost their essential liberties and civil rights to live in peace as civilized men.

          No, I would rather live 5 minutes free, than to live 1,000 lifetimes as a subject to any one man, having that kind of power over my life.

          "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

          Patrick Henry of VA  March 23, 1775

          "Great men do not commit murder. Great nations do not start wars". William Jennings Bryan

          by ImpeachKingBushII on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 05:57:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  ahem with the exception of #24 on that list. (0+ / 0-)

            "Great men do not commit murder. Great nations do not start wars". William Jennings Bryan

            by ImpeachKingBushII on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 06:06:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Not. (0+ / 0-)

            copyright-protected works

            England. Why do you think Dickens hated the U.S. ?

            He never received a penny for books published here.

            •  that's sad he was a gifted writer too... (0+ / 0-)

              ...don't know that much about copyright law in general. Just seems like he got a raw deal and I'm sure this isn't the first time it's happened to someone. But on the upside, all the hours of pure pleasure he gave generations, I should think, more than make-up for any monetary compensation he was robbed of in his lifetime. A truly great man who is right up there among the top literary minds of his class!

              "Great men do not commit murder. Great nations do not start wars". William Jennings Bryan

              by ImpeachKingBushII on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 07:18:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  You are right its not quite Daily Kos (0+ / 0-)

      Dauphin hits the nail on the head that blogs cannot replace newspapers.

      Newspapers are just one more bucket of the mud the military industrial complex has been piling on the individual.  To limit the power of the individual, even though democracy exists, by continually offering either vanilla or vanilla; to lure the individual to their products and their work, until they have a whole economy of slaves struggling to buy broken garbage they don't need; to drug the individual with sensory stroking from movies and songs that pump their sensual feelings into a tizzy; until the individual cannot lift his head up one inch, and the fat cats are overpaid and overpowered and keep on gorging.

      The answer is that some combination of news/blog/facebook/Google might be able to come along and save us--probably by siting itself off-shore--if we can summon the gumption to grab the brass ring.  If the military industrial people do not get there first and tie down all the options...

  •  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 ]

  •  As a background to the history of journalism (6+ / 0-)

    ...and other professions that "take a hit" in the modern age, I can highly recommend Here comes everybody : the power of organizing without organizations by Clay Shirky.

    In several chapters, he talks about how, in the face of the need for literacy and professionalism in the early days of news-gathering and reporting, and the high capital costs of printing and distribution, the journalistic profession was born and canonized.

    In the face of now almost zero costs of publishing, that dynamic, and the control being lost by the "priesthood of journalism", the newspapers are fighting a pitched battle--one they will ultimately lose.

    This is not to denigrate the profession of journalism--it says more about the newspaper publishing business and their inability to grapple successfully, and honestly, with the changed realities of the modern world.

    "Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't win." Lazarus Long

    by rfall on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:25:44 PM PDT

    •  Priesthood My Butt (0+ / 0-)

      In the face of now almost zero costs of publishing, that dynamic, and the control being lost by the "priesthood of journalism", the newspapers are fighting a pitched battle--one they will ultimately lose.

      And a blogger who says the wrong thing loses his/her house.

      Guess we better start a Blogger Libel Insurance Cooperative.

  •  The New York Times wants $13.99 a month (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skywaker9, justiceputnam, brein

    for an ebook subscription via Amazon.  WSJ wants $14.99.  Because you know, pushing shit through tubes is expensive.

    •  And people want to pay $15... (3+ / 0-)

      ...for that shit.  Yeah, okay Journal and Times...

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

      by vcthree on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:28:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Although that probably requires a (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Susan from 29

      Conversion cost and maybe elimination of ads.  The only thing you have to pay for if you're not e-book users is if you want Crosswords, which are free for subscribers....

      "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unknown

      by skywaker9 on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:34:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It would have to cover the elimination of ads, (0+ / 0-)

        but don't those publications already exist in a digital format?  So how much more could it cost to make it ebook ready?  Or are ebook readers paying part of the freight for the paper's internet presence?

        It just strikes me as a drive to collect more excess profits for the ones at the top.

        And after all of this time, that still annoys me.

    •  ...and Amazon keeps 70% of gross (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skywaker9, citizenx, Susan from 29

      Not something newspapers are very happy about.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. http://www1.hamiltonproject.org/es/hamilton/hamilton_hp.htm

      by PatriciaVa on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:36:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wonder if they keep that much, and if the ratio (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        brein

        is as high for the blogs, or if Kos sees any of the $.99 monthly fee that Amazon charges for this blog.

        It seems that there should be a reasonable price somewhere between the two that would pay for investigative, journalistic research, provide a decent profit and still be affordable.

        •  DallasNews on Kindle... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling, brein, Susan from 29

          http://www.engadget.com/...

          The Kindle DX launch might have sparked a wave of hype about the next generation of newspapers, but not everyone's so quick to agree: Dallas Morning News CEO James Moroney told a Senate subcommittee yesterday that the Kindle isn't a "platform that's going to save newspapers in the near term." According to Moroney, Amazon demands 70 percent of subscription revenue from newspapers, and further requires content owners to grant Amazon the right to republish content to other devices -- like, say, the iPhone. That's a pretty inequitable split

          Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. http://www1.hamiltonproject.org/es/hamilton/hamilton_hp.htm

          by PatriciaVa on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:00:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thank you so much. I have heard differing (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PatriciaVa

            numbers on how much Amazon was getting, and it is great to get it from one who should know.

            It makes it easier to not subscribe to the newspaper products and continue to get content online.

            (But I wish I had known this before I said yes to my husband's birthday gift of the new Kindle - I would have gone with the Sony.)

    •  Well, of course, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brooke In Seattle, kurt

      it's not JUST about the cost of producing the physical paper. It's also about the cost of producing the content. You have to pay your reporters SOMETHING. Although considering that papers are paying people like Bill Kristol, Karl Rove, Jonah Goldberg and Kevin O'Brien to write "columns," I think they could make better use of resources.

      Rob Portman: He sent your job to China.

      by anastasia p on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:28:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Having the NYT home-delivered every day here in (0+ / 0-)

        San Antonio now costs over $60/month.  

        "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 05:03:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm the best writer in America... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skywaker9, Caneel, vcthree

    ... and nobody is paying me!

    Dammit!!

    A Poet is at the same time a force for Solidarity and for Solitude --Pablo Neruda

    by justiceputnam on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:26:38 PM PDT

    •  Concur!!!!!!!!! n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      justiceputnam

      Against silence, which is slavery. -- Czeslaw Milosz

      by Caneel on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 03:01:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hee hee, I was being a bit rhetorical... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Caneel

        ... I have been paid, but a pittance; and no one is paying me now.

        Best in the US?

        Well; it's different... maybe that's why I'm not being paid...

        ... damn dead tree media!

        A Poet is at the same time a force for Solidarity and for Solitude --Pablo Neruda

        by justiceputnam on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 03:13:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, I was just playing along ... (0+ / 0-)

          there's more in your stories than ever found in a 2009 newspaper.

          I know a contest with a $4,000 prize. Will that do?

          http://narrativemagazine.com/...

          Against silence, which is slavery. -- Czeslaw Milosz

          by Caneel on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 03:40:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks, Cameel... (0+ / 0-)

            ... you have always been encouraging.

            I've applied for a few writing grants recently and am always looking for opportunities for revenue through my writing.

            I've gotten a little too old and arthritic to hit the road again and play music to pay the rent; so my first and only love of writing is all I have left to be a brain merchant, rather than a work beast, as Jack London counselled.

            I can still be a work beast for a few more years to pay the rent; after that... I can teach again; though that's not really being a brain merchant and is more akin to a work beast.

            But nothing like logging or construction or cooking or bartending or waiting tables or bookkeeping or management or sales or commercial fishing or assembly line supervisorial positions or any number of brain numbing jobs I've had in my past.

            Thanks!

            A Poet is at the same time a force for Solidarity and for Solitude --Pablo Neruda

            by justiceputnam on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 04:08:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Potential writer seeks contact with real thing (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              justiceputnam

              I have a granddaughter looking for a fruitful summer before starting Univ. of Md. She was valedictorian  -- highest GPA ever at her school in the International Baccalaureate Program. She wants to be a writer. Would it be OK if she e-mails you? If, that is, I can get Miss "Shy is my middle name" to do so.

              Against silence, which is slavery. -- Czeslaw Milosz

              by Caneel on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 04:58:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  yes... (0+ / 0-)

                ... please do... though my advice to any writer, the advice that was given to me when I expressed an interest to write, is to simply live a life of experience and record that experience; and try to not to hurt anyone that you love, in the process.

                A Poet is at the same time a force for Solidarity and for Solitude --Pablo Neruda

                by justiceputnam on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 05:14:39 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  cancelled my local rag subscription in '06... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mosesfreeman

    ...and called them to tell them why. They had become nothing short of echo chambers for the local Bush repub lock-stepped, rubber-stampers. No such animal as "fair & balanced" investigative journalism anymore, it seems on paper at least. I agree with you kos. I've found the best way to get through my repub Rep Randy Forbes is to call them directly, instead of using the old method of LTE's. I know they're listening: He spends the next two days on either the House floor or through his weakly weekly constituent news letter, trying to refute my Dem talking points!

    "Great men do not commit murder. Great nations do not start wars". William Jennings Bryan

    by ImpeachKingBushII on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:30:14 PM PDT

  •  We need a new reporter delivery device (4+ / 0-)

    We have to have reporters but newspapers are no longer the primary way that information is transmitted.

    The news gathering industry has to have a positive revenue stream but for the life of me I don't know how they are going to get there.

  •  The Dallas Morning News keeps (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skywaker9, citizenx

    delivering me papers everyday for free. I'm about to have to call them but I'm too lazy. I just toss them into the back of my truck where there is a huge pile of them. It's funny, but lately I equate sitting down and reading the whole paper as a lazy, time-consuming endeavor.

    Kos was right about the inappropriateness of the WH correspondent's dinner~

    by plok on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:32:12 PM PDT

  •  Yeah because paywalls worked so well before (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    polecat, Brooke In Seattle

    Idiots....

    "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unknown

    by skywaker9 on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:32:13 PM PDT

  •  Newspapers cannot adapt. They (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skywaker9
    refuse to change.  Why should anyone try to save them.
    •  Some have (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dougymi, Cofcos

      Those that evolve will survive, those that not will die.  Its economic Darwinism at its finest...

      "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unknown

      by skywaker9 on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:33:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  news gathering is already evolving (0+ / 0-)

        more of it is being done by local TV stations. They see the niche that local papers are leaving. Sure, they aren't the NYT, but they aren't striving to be. They're filling the niche of the local newspaper that got bought by Gannett and rotted.  They also don't have to pay the overhead of AP and syndicated columnists.

        A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.' Douglas Adams

        by dougymi on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:51:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's OK (4+ / 0-)

          So long as the only news you care about are violent crime, traffic tie-ups (after the fact) and weather reports. TV news, because it's a visual medium, concentrates on stories that provide pictures.

          By the way, a reporter and crew from a typical small TV station may have as many as three assignments a day. That includes travel time, time at the scene for interviews/filming and editing time before the story is broadcast. It's tough for them to get anything in depth and impossible to report on complicated, nonvisual stories. They just don't have the time.

          •  We'll see where it goes (0+ / 0-)

            As I said, it's evolving. They're using their websites more and more for in-depth reporting, some of it not involving video or pictures (anymore than newspapers use pictures or videos, anyway). There's a niche there that big media companies aren't filling. Someone will fill it. Perhaps local tv news, perhaps someone else. It will be filled.

            A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.' Douglas Adams

            by dougymi on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:22:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Not really. Not here anyway (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brooke In Seattle, dougymi, kurt

          They rely heavily on "easy" stories; the latest charity walk, the Irish festival, the musician speaking at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They tend to rip and read local political stories from the newspaper and give them very short shrift. They don't cover the local arts scene unless there's controversy (PETA pickets the opera because they use live animals in Aida) or the music scene unless it's a national act at the arena. And they're still way too heavy on weird and unlikely anomalies that could KILL YOUR WHOLE FAMILY! One of our stations did a piece not to long ago on soccer goal posts toppling over, a problem that — they informed us breathlessly — kills ONE child a year! My favourite part was where they were sticking a microphone in the face of a soccer mom in the bleachers to ask her if she was panicking yet, and she blandly said she hadn't heard about this (and didn't seem to care.)

          Rob Portman: He sent your job to China.

          by anastasia p on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:34:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You're right for now (0+ / 0-)

            but as I indicated, the situation is evolving. Here in Lansing, the local rag is pretty bad. The tv stations have moved more into what the lansing state journal used to do, but since being gannettized, doesn't anymore, even to writing more original political (state and local government) reporting to some of their websites.

            I don't dispute anything you've written, or what poorwriter (I hate typing that. She/he is a better writer than I) wrote. I merely suggest that the niche will be filled and possibly by local tv news.

            A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.' Douglas Adams

            by dougymi on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:56:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  broadcast TV isn't exactly doing great either (0+ / 0-)

          I'm sure its Google's fault as well. :)

          About the only media making money at the moment is cable tv.

    •  Ur missing the Big Picture (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Garrett, polecat, MinnesotaMom, poorwriter

      Read my post above.

      Newspapers once enjoyed EBIT margins of 25% to 30%.

      Warren Buffet loved them because they were virtual monopolies.  They charged what they wanted for advertising, as much as US$ 30 per CPM.

      On the Web, newspapers charge as little as US$ 0.50 per CPM.

      Today, more people read the NYTimes than ever before.  It is FAR more influential today than it was 20 years ago.

      Yet, management can't overcome the structural change in the economics of the newspaper industry.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. http://www1.hamiltonproject.org/es/hamilton/hamilton_hp.htm

      by PatriciaVa on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:44:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One word: Gannett (5+ / 0-)

    Gannett is at the heart of all that's wrong with the newspaper industry.

    ---
    Fight the stupid! Boycott BREAKING diaries!

    by VelvetElvis on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:34:03 PM PDT

  •  Was it really that much better 20+ years ago? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skywaker9, RanxeroxVox

    ...outside of a small handful of "national" papers like the NYT, Washington Post, LA Times, etc?  Most smaller-city newspapers have always been rather limited, and often superficial in their coverage of national and even state political issues.  The advent of chains (e.g. McClatchy) owning e.g. the Raleigh News and Observer has for sure run lots of medium-size city/state newspapers downhill even further, but this supposed "golden age" before media consolidation was hardly a state of journalistic excellence, except in isolated spots here and there.

    All you need do is go back and read a sampling of typical newspapers from 30 years ago.  Do you feel this was all that much more enlightening than today?  Newspapers then had versions of distracting shallow stuff to put too much focus on back then too.

  •  If I may ask... (3+ / 0-)

    whatever happened to the 'coin kitty' concept?

    I wouldn't mind putting up a real tip jar.

  •  But, the profit motive is the only thing (4+ / 0-)

    that works.  Why, just ask the health care industry.

    If rich investors get the same 4 or 5% the rest of us have to settle for, then why would they invest their money in things?  They may just as well put it in the bank.

    See how this works?  It's pure economics of the wealthy class.  They shouldn't be taxed, because they will have less money to invest.  They DESERVE that 30% because then they'll have more money to invest.

    And, if they don't get their way, then they will just keep there money out of the market and never, ever invest in anything again.

    LMAO!  It's not just the media business.

    •  Not quite. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt

      Profit margins are, approximately

        profit margin = revenue / expenses - 1

        ROI is something else indeed.

      So, let's say that a struggling small-town paper is purchased for $400,000.  Its daily circulation is 4,000 and the average subscriber pays 40 cents per day;  that's a revenue stream of $1600 per day.  It is matched by advertising at $1600 per day, for $3200/day income.  365 issues come out, so the revenue stream is $1,168,000.  The profit margin is 4%, or $46,000/year.  That is an 11.5% ROI.  

      Up the purchase price to $4,000,000 and the ROI falls to 1.15%.  

      Even though the profit margin is the same, the ROI gained by the purchaser is excellent in the first case but only a bit better than what the ROI the purchaser's mattress offers.  

      2009: Year of the Donkey. Let's not screw it up.

      by Yamaneko2 on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:13:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Don't forget the lament of most bloggers... (4+ / 0-)

    View My Blog

    words and music by
    Justice Putnam

    (roughly to the tune, "Kumbaya")

    View my blog
    Oh please
    View my blog

    View my blog
    Oh please
    View my blog

    View my blog
    Oh please
    View my blog

    Oh please
    View my blog.

    I have written things
    For all to see

    But no one looks
    At what
    I’m writing

    The only views
    That are
    Registered

    Are my own

    View my blog!

    View my blog
    Oh please
    View my blog

    View my blog
    Oh please
    View my blog

    View my blog
    Oh please
    View my blog
    Oh please

    View my blog!

    © 2007 Justice Putnam
    Fleur du Sel Musique
    and Mechanisches Strophe-Verlagswesen

    A Poet is at the same time a force for Solidarity and for Solitude --Pablo Neruda

    by justiceputnam on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:37:54 PM PDT

  •  I love the storyline that Rush Limbaugh (0+ / 0-)

    and Fox News have killed off newspapers and journalism.

    Republicans===the party of the 1% rich people in America. Or in other words..The Party of NO!

    by jalapeno on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:38:56 PM PDT

  •  1985 so it peaked a year after Tetris (0+ / 0-)

    was invented. Based on how many folks are playing tetris on the trains vs reading a paper that fits.

    Dear GOP&Conservatives If all you have to offer are Cliches and Hyperbole then STFU. Thanks XOXOXO

    by JML9999 on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:41:35 PM PDT

  •  Was troll rated last night by a Moonie UPI (0+ / 0-)

    sycophants.  BIZZARE.

    There are still people out there (and even around here) that seem to think that the newspaper (as a medium) is alive and well.  

    If wishes were fishes...

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    -Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:44:01 PM PDT

  •  The big city, daily, home delivered, newspaper (0+ / 0-)

    is dying. It's a business model that is no longer economic. I worked in the newspaper business when it was very sweet. And yes high profits can support great journalism. The print media always provided the majority of the great journalism, but it was expensive. With the rise of the internet and the demise of print journalism it will be interesting to see if some other model can support good news reporting and investigative journalism. My view is that the day of earning a good living being a print reporter are fast ending. People will do online reporting on a pro bono basis, not to support themselves and their families. There will always be book authors and some other writers who will be able to earn a living writing, but I am sorry to say writers will become like actors, with only a few well paid stars.  

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:47:37 PM PDT

  •  It is true (0+ / 0-)

    As long as newspapers disproportionately focus on frivolous news items in seek of profit gains, there is absolutely no reason they should be publicly funded.  That being said, I think a few papers have been able to grow while delivering quality, purposeful stories.

  •  The challenge of the lost newspapers means (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poorwriter

    many folks will get most of their news from places like Fox News.  They will not necessarily being going to the net; and we know that Fox has the greatest penetration out there in the TV market.  
    This will not be good for the progressive cause.

    "You know, my wife is so dumb, she is always asking me questions I can't answer."--James Inhofe

    by Phil S 33 on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:49:36 PM PDT

  •  Might as well bitch that the telegraph isnt used (0+ / 0-)

    Do we want to keep the pony express in business, when it is obviously cheaper and more efficient to distribute information via the web?

    •  Well, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ClevelandEgghead, kurt

      who is going to gather and distribute the info? Little Green Footballs? Daily Kos?

      The pony express was a short-lived effort that was replaced by the more-efficient, and less-expensive, telegraph. That model lasted a long time. Even in WWII, families were notified of casualties by telegram because so few families had telephones.

      That changed, too. As will the newspaper printed model. What has yet to be determined is: will readers still support a model where full-time news gatherers are paid to amass credible, well-sourced stories.

      "Citizen journalism" sounds great in theory, but it's not practical. I don't like to work for free, and I doubt that you do, either.

      What newspaper editors have failed to realize is that, with the internet, news is no longer a "product" that is delivered. It has become a dialogue between news gatherers and readers.

    •  Yes, of course (0+ / 0-)

      to protect the jobs of a few riders who gave their opinions with the mail. Now most people don't give a damn about those opinions... but the riders and owners want to pretend that they do.

      I'd love to see George Will flipping burgers somewhere... hell, I'd pay to see it.

      Tinfoil! ...it's the new black!

      by mosesfreeman on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:28:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  self-inflicted problem (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RainyDay, kurt, rfall
    Daily circulation peaked all the way back in 1985. The industry's problems are certainly self-inflicted, no matter who they try to blame.

    The point of that quote seems to be that there were no blogs in 1985 and therefore newspapers' decline at that period had nothing to do with external technology.  I have no sympathy with the wankers running the newspaper industry, but we mustn't forget about a pre-internet gadget called "television", which itself had a considerable effect on how people accessed news, in the 1980's and even earlier than that.  

  •  I used to be the biggest newspaper booster (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caneel, dougymi, kurt, Cofcos, brein

    I HAD to have a newspaper every day.  I was buying our local newspaper from the box outside my work when nobody else bothered.  Then I noticed the paper was getting thinner and thinner, the price higher and higher, and there was less and less to read.  The only good stuff (besides coupons) were syndicated columns from bigger newspapers published a week late -- I'd already read them anyway.

    Around the same time I started reading blogs.  Blogs and online content that was current, relevant, asking questions about George Bush and Iraq that the TV didn't acknowledge and that newspapers ignored.  I don't have sympathy for newspapers.  As far as I'm concerned they committed suicide during the run-up to Iraq.

    Hope finds a voice... OBAMA

    by marjo on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:54:09 PM PDT

  •  A Couple Days Ago (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, Caneel, kurt, KenM30, brein

    A big-name economist posted something here on Daily Kos. And I disagreed, and I argued with him, and he engaged me directly and argued back. It was kinda, sorta like reading a newspaper, except I didn't feel patronized or denigrated. There was no editor-with-an-agenda chosing which responses were "worthy" of the journalist's time, and the writer responded to my objections in person, and he made good arguments and he cited real facts.

    It was so fucking cool!

    That's why newspapers are failing, and Daily KOS is succeeding.

    "It's the interaction, stupid."

    T.

    "There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order." -- Ed Howdershelt

    by troutwaxer on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 01:58:24 PM PDT

  •  Although I love me my comics (0+ / 0-)

    think of all the trees this will save!

    When good people of conscience give up the fight for justice, all is lost. Therefore you must not give up.

    by EmilyD on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:00:02 PM PDT

    •  But... (0+ / 0-)

      I wonder if perhaps the demise of big paper media will inspire a revival of home grown local print news. One can hope.

      When good people of conscience give up the fight for justice, all is lost. Therefore you must not give up.

      by EmilyD on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:01:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Quality Journalism Cannot Pay for the Mainstream (5+ / 0-)

    Which is why we only had it in broadcast under New Deal regulation. And that public option journalism had to have been a quality raiser in the print media by virtue of competition, just as we're expecting of public option health.

    But the larger picture is that a great number of quality and profitable activities cannot pay for the mainstream when we have globalization and sociopathic finance setting the bar at 30% returns on investment. I'd be irresponsible to my family to earn a living at ethical business if I can run a big company into the ground in 5 years for 30% returns for investors and a $10 million salary for myself.

    We need to restore steeply progressive income taxation, and sane trade policy that is neither airtight shut nor free, and some other market regulations to re-connect the uber class to the longterm welfare of society throughout its lives and not for game-exiting jackpots after 2-3 years' casino management.

    I think the grossly irrational expectations of returns is probably at least as important in what's killing newspapers as it is in what's making thousands of perfectly profitable activity unaffordable any more.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:10:14 PM PDT

  •  Is the problem quality of content or of readers? (0+ / 0-)

    Isn't an aliterate population a big problem for an industry whose product is the printed word?

    Isn't a population of lazy, disconnected, selfish pleasure seekers a big problem for an industry that wants to investigate, explain, and/or support ideas through critical thinking?

    I'm the plowman in the valley - with my face full of mud

    by labradog on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:18:08 PM PDT

    •  Short Oversimplified Answer: Yes (0+ / 0-)

      Reading through several thousand high school essay and civics tests recently, I was again alarmed by the apparent drift downward of the quality of our educational system.

      Somehow, we are not overall doing a very good job as a society of making sure that there is a general literacy standard for either communicating or for basic citizenship.  

      Fewer people are reading papers, and editors apparently worry about taxing ever shorter attention spans.  More and more lengthy insight stories are being thrown away in favor of shorter bulletins that may just be quirkly human interest items.

      Another measure:  A major shopping mall near here replaced its one remaining bookstore with a sports apparel boutique.  

      Truly, the trend is not towards greater literacy. That is a problem as well.

  •  Fox News is replacing journalism...real problem. (6+ / 0-)

    The idea that "good journalism" is going to survive somehow has no basis in fact so there is a real problem as we lose good journalists and editors.

    So I would not be jumping up and down in paroxysms of joy at closure of Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune et al until you can say exactly how good journalism is going to survive.

  •  "in order to protect creativity" (0+ / 0-)

    So, apparently, places like DKos offer no creativity--none.

    Wow, I must really like non-creative people and communities, then.

    "Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't win." Lazarus Long

    by rfall on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:21:09 PM PDT

  •  Hammer meets nailhead (4+ / 0-)

    As someone who was devoted to newspapers and newspapering for most of my life, having started out in 1961 at a major family-owned independent newspaper, the disillusionment started to seep in when I re-entered the workforce in the late 80s -- employed by a Gannett-owned newspaper and stashed in a (gasp) cubicle.

    By the time I retired in 2003, I was hooked on Daily Kos and I then had the time to read ... and compare and contrast. The year 2003 did it for me, when even the heavyweights failed so grotesquely.

    This corporate "journalism" has got to end ... and will end because citizens now have the tools heretofore reserved for the few.

    AJ Liebling called in 1945:

    Surviving Without Newspapers

    Good work, Kos ... from the start.

    Against silence, which is slavery. -- Czeslaw Milosz

    by Caneel on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:28:20 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for saying it, kos. (7+ / 0-)

    These corporations have spent a generation destroying journalism in the name of profits - and now they want to blame bloggers for destroying the news business. As if they couldn't have blown Craigslist out of the water when he first came on the scene -  by doing a better job of providing a service. Who had all the advantages? Some guy nobody ever heard of with a website, or $billion dollar branded news organizations who'd controlled (and monopolized) their markets for scores of years? But Craig kicked their asses because he put providing a service first and making a profit second. Wow, what a concept! And now they announce...with thousands of dollars of market research behind them, no doubt...that they're gonna compete with Craigslist! Talk about closing the barn door after the horses are out! Now that Craigslist has taken 90% of the classified business - they get the bright idea...to compete! Yay!

    Imagine if, say, the Chicago Tribune had embraced the internet and said to themselves, how can we use this new technology to serve our readers, and make it an extension of our brand? They'd have increased their empire exponentially, and solidified themselves in Chicagoans' minds as the source of information in the Chicago area. Instead, they ran scared, like every other established city paper. And they kept cutting and cutting til there's less news in the Chicago Tribune than there is in the Penny Saver.

    Congratulations, you all you Business School grad newspaper execs! You sure know how to run a business...into the ground.

    Interestingness.org "Politics is the entertainment arm of Industry." - Zappa

    by CheeseMoose on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:32:01 PM PDT

  •  Well said, kos! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caneel

    Excellent commentary as usual.  4 virtual recs.

  •  Brittany? (n/t) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mosesfreeman

    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. - Benjamin Franklin, Feb 17, 1755.

    by Wayward Son on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:42:30 PM PDT

  •  Today newspapers serve (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt

    the chronically under-informed. The typical local rag posts stories a day or three after they hit the blogs, filters out much of the best information, and frequently skews or misinterprets what it reports.

    These papers count on an uninformed readership who won't hold them to account.

    Sure most stories start with a paid journalist... often from abroad, but while it takes minutes for the blogs to pick these stories up, it takes days (or never) for the print media to do so.

    The way the run-up to the Iraq War was handled is a perfect example of everything that's wrong with the American newspaper industry.

    Tinfoil! ...it's the new black!

    by mosesfreeman on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:45:00 PM PDT

    •  Seriously?Blogs cover nothing the local reporters (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ranger1

      do, at least in my town. I don't see any explosive blog posts about the planning commission meeting or how the city is planning to fund the public workers retirement fund.  You'll note the majority of actual information that has come out regard Dr. Tiller's murder has been from local reporters.  I'm sure there's more instances like that, but to chose a recent instance.

      •  Now you're already limiting (0+ / 0-)

        the legitimacy of old-style journalism to local news... even I didn't go that far.

        The point is, their niche is getting pretty small, unless they decide to change.

        The most influential local paper and local reporting in my old neighborhood was the Weekly Planet, formerly Creative Loafing, out of Tampa, and now Atlanta.

        The "alternative" press did real investigative journalism on stories that the local rags wouldn't touch... so even on a local level, most papers are a FAIL.

        Tinfoil! ...it's the new black!

        by mosesfreeman on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 03:20:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Most print journalism is local news, (0+ / 0-)

          outside of the NYT, WaPo, and WSJ.  Always has been.

          Also, the "alternative" press's quality is highly variable.  You have Village Voice media papers, which come out once a week and generally have one major story.  Aside from that, my local "alternative" paper consists of one guy who appears to have a computer without spell check.  No original reporting, but he has lots and lots of opinions!

  •  Agree 100 percent. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RanxeroxVox, kurt, PurpleMyst

    The corporate weasels are only in the industry because it was making historically high profit margins that were unsustainable.

    Once they leave, it will go back to being a bunch of closely held businesses making 10 percent each year and plowing the rest back into the product.

    Journalism will be much better once these corporate leeches leave.

  •  I watched the movie Continental Divide recently (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling

    It starred John Belushi as a Chicago reporter who went to the Rockies for a story because the city had become too dangerous for him to stay.  This, in turn, was caused by his intrepid and dogged pursuit of truth regarding a corrupt city government.

    Now, it plays as a comedy.. and is still quite relevant.. but the most striking anachronism is the idea that a newspaper could take on authority figures, bring them down, and the city could benefit.  Just from having a newspaper.  

    Belushi's character, and more importantly his editor, were not worried about 'access' or 'making the wrong enemies' or 'shareholders' or 'the people upstairs'.  They wanted to print stories that needed to be seen, regardless of the cost to them or their families.

    And, quite strangely, I felt that this part of the movie was the most dated.  We simply don't have those types of reporters in the business anymore.. or at least, won't when Seymour Hersch retires.  They are remnants of a bygone era when newspapers were important.

    I am happy to be done with the pitiful shell of their former selves that papers have become.

    I am sad to lose what newspapers used to be.

    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. - Benjamin Franklin, Feb 17, 1755.

    by Wayward Son on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 02:54:39 PM PDT

  •  One dot oh? Two dot oh? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure I'd trust anyone who calls web two point oh, two dot oh. Am I out of the loop. Dot com, sure, that's a web address. 2.0 is a version number, and as far as I know, it's pronounced two point oh. Did someone change the rules or is this joker just clueless?

    "You can't get something for nothing...It's time to stop being stupid." Bob Herbert

    by Orinoco on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 03:11:18 PM PDT

  •  Is it me ... (0+ / 0-)

    ... or is there an inordinate amount of hate for newspapers around here lately?

  •  the technical term for this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt

    It sounds like self-destruction. Maybe the craigslist competitor could generate enough revenue somehow, it seems doubtful though (why not just use craigslist?). Especially with the incompetent execs running media companies these days, they all seem to be blinded by greed. Paywalls are the perfect example of this, it's obvious to anyone who "gets it" that they will only further drive "consumers" away. Once they finally accept that we're not just consumers anymore they'll finally have taken the first step to understanding if it is even possible to get out of their downward spiral. As long as they keep staring at short-term profit margins they'll never do anything but perpetuate the well earned self-destruction of Big Media.

    "The power to dominate rests on the differential possession of knowledge" -Foucault

    by Jett on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 03:35:37 PM PDT

  •  Like I keep saying... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, MinnesotaMom

    ..if the traditional media would stop slanting their journalistic coverage in order to placate a right wing audience that was never purchasing their newspapers to begin with, they would see a sudden increase in profits.

    America is hungry for a return to objective, fact-based, adversarial media coverage.

    While Jon Stewart & Steven Colbert do an outstanding job of offering the country objective, fact-based, adversarial media coverage, two comedians on Comedy Central can only do so much.

    Dear no hearings on torture because of political theater: Sonia Sotomayor called & wants her "you've got to be fucking kidding me" back.

    by wyvern on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 03:50:01 PM PDT

  •  Some things big media can do to survive (0+ / 0-)

    My concern is less that they do survive, as that we're always going to have a need for the sort of reporting that only well-funded organizations can do at a high level of quality, if at all, like regularly report from abroad, especially in war zones and other dangerous and remote areas, or report on the sorts of organizations, like the federal government or big corporations, who are unlikely to provide access to smaller media outlets or citizen journalists, and do so in ways that the average couch potato news absorber would be willing to pay attention to.

    --Abandon the existing vertical structure of news organizations in which each one does everything itself, from having its own bureaus and desks and printing presses and technological infrastructure, and specialize in just a few of these, and rely on joint ventures to make up the difference. I.e. they'll be media outlets that specialize in war reporting, ones that specialize in financial reporting, yet others that specialize in providing IT services to these outlets, etc. This would allow outlets to save money, cut down on redundant inefficiencies, and focus on what they're best at. There would have to be multiple outlets within each niche, of course, to create the sort of competitive climate that hopefully inspires excellence.

    --Abandon paper. Period. It't history. Dead tree-based newspapers are going away for good, and anyone who says otherwise is full of it. Sure, there might still be a few limited printings for those too old and grumpy to migrate to electronic media, and can afford the hefty costs. But 99% of our text and image-based news will be accessed electronically, on the web, be it on a desktop, laptop, tablet, cell phone, specialized eReader, etc. It's going to happen. Deal with it.

    --Heavily invest in and promote Kindle-like eReaders as a primary news dissemination media, by making them cheaper, with high-resolution backlit color screens, broadband internet access (be it via WiFi, cellular, WiMax, etc.), and powerful enough to play high-quality streaming video full-screen, which would also turn them into digital TVs and thus far more attractive for people to buy, own and use. Think of it, sitting on a plane, bus or train you have your choice of reading the latest news or a book, watching TV or a movie, or surfing the web, on one thin, small and easy to carry device.

    Structural reorganization + focus on quality and not merely profit + new technology = how the media will save and reinvent itself. And if it doesn't, someone else will.

    Count on it.

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president!" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 03:51:16 PM PDT

  •  One Central Thing People Ignore A Lot (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt

    One of the things that is going on that strangles journalism in general and newspapers in particular, has to do with the increasing pervasiveness of PR consciousness.

    Organizations, particularly corporations hire journalists - to promote a company line and prevent honest discussion where it might contain critical issues.  This has been going on for a long time.  University communications departments churn out as many people who aspire to become PR professionals with a good corporate pay check as they do those who want to become ink stained wretches doing the spadework necessary to informing the public.

    This PR condition has even become so pervasive that most people, if you ask them for an on-the-record comment, will show evidence of knowing about such things as the "no comment" option, or perhaps even the difference between quotation and background.  If you go knocking on doors in your neighborhood, looking for on-the-record quotes, you may get doors closed on you.  

    Generally, newspapers have become structured around rules of engagement that were created by a whole lot of lawyers looking out for PR interests, with a whole lot of court cases setting the boundaries.  

    The problem, going forward, will be to see if it is possible to reframe the debates about the tension between the public interest and PR interests in such legal terms (as the conventions of the blogosphere become more influential in society) that more Freedom of the Press allows the Fourth Estate more lattitude to play its best possible role in enlightening the public.

    Economic models are really going to follow from the structure of the paradigm.    

  •  well, craigslist ain't perfect (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, John3, kurt

    Journalism issues aside, I wouldn't dismiss the notion of a big-media Craigslist competitor out of hand. They do already have the content (classifieds, though of course these have been dwindling rapidly.) It's a logical business for them to get into and the barriers to entry are not great.

    Many people laughed when Hulu was launched (backed by the entertainment media titans). No one is laughing anymore, and Hulu has not only gathered a huge audience but is a far superior online video experience to YouTube (which was considered the unassailable champion in the space). So the Big Guys can get it right when they want to.

    Craigslist isn't perfect -- far from it. It's functional, yes, but barely so. It's search features and user interface leave much to be desired. And their recent tussles over adult content don't help. So if anything, they're ripe to be dethroned by another player with sufficient content (yes, that would be newspapers) and a better user experience.

    •  Big media might be able to mimic Craigslist (0+ / 0-)

      I think you're right...it's possible that the big media newspaper companies can pull off a national classified Craigslist competitor.  Newspapers like the NY Times have dabbled with all sorts of business models for the online version of the paper, and they know that to reach critical mass they'll need to make most stuff free. They'll need to do the same thing with classifieds, and come up with a model where people can get free ads with optional paid enhancements like bolding, photos, etc.

      "We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers." Carl Sagan

      by John3 on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 06:36:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I work for a Canadian publisher (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt

    and the parallels I see between our supposedly "dying" industry and that of print journalism are pretty strong.

    Both aren't so much in decline as they are in a state of transformation. The percentage of people in Canada who read for pleasure are the same now as they were in the sixties, which means - taking population growth into account - more Canadians are reading now than ever before. In the same vein, I'm pretty sure that more people are accessing news media now than at any other point in history.

    But people heavily invested/embedded in the old models, the ones that are going down the drain, like to make grand sweeping statements about how people are less informed, less cultured, less intellectual, less socially responsible than they were back in the day, simply because they're no longer buying the crap we gleefully shovel into their faces.

    And there's also the fact that - And I hate to say it - but many who've worked in traditional print media, especially but not exclusively the old guard, tend to have a really screwy take on the relationship between themselves and their consumers. Unlike other industries where the focus is upon providing people with what they want and how they want it, we've spent most of our existence dictating to people what they need and how they should need it.

    Suddenly, our audience no longer wants to play on our terms ... how dare they? People don't respect Journalism (tm) any more! No one appreciates Literature (tm) like they used to.

    And so on.

    May your anger be righteous.

    by bottlerocketheart on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 04:44:50 PM PDT

  •  ya' know, saying things like "creating a Craigs- (0+ / 0-)

    -list competitor" pains me very, very deeply.  I can't tell you how much my sides hurt.  I may have herniated something irreparably. Laughter may be the best medicine, but right now its' killing me.  Please, please, please just don't go down the "Craigslist competitor" road in the future.  I can barely control my fingers enough to type through the paroxysms I'm currently in the throes of.

  •  Amen to that: (0+ / 0-)

    Many newspapers would survive as stand-alone entities, but are being dragged down by over-leveraged corporate owners who've spent the last few years bleeding their media properties dry.

    Busily being lean and mean with three or four levels of ubermanagement.

  •  The Bush paradigm: Racing to the Bottom (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt

    It's very sad that most newspapers seem to be racing TV news to the bottom. I stopped watching and subscribing, just got tired of the dumbing down and the pattern of lies. Tired of a press corps that covers for incompetent and corrupt politicians. Thankfully there are alternative, better news sources these days.

    When companies are hooked on their profit centers, they can't change. They get locked into the TimeWarner mindset, the 24/7 infotainment model. From my average joe perspective, it sure looks like It's all about profit margins with them. The news is an afterthought.

  •  Physical distribution (0+ / 0-)

    It's sad and tragic that they aren't figuring out how to create new businesses.  As many people pointed out, the biggest thing they need to do is up their game and slash costs.

    I'm admittedly grasping at straws with the following alternative suggestion.  One thing that makes newspapers unique is physical distribution that bypasses the USPS or more expensive services.  It's not general-purpose delivery, but rather, a physical form of broadcasting unlike pretty much any other delivery mechanism.

    There's an old saying in computer science: "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes"  Basically, for every increase in bandwidth technology over wires and over the air, there's a proportional increase in the storage ability of physical media.

    Newspapers haven't taken advantage of this, but they could.  They could, for example, send out DVDs with ad-supported content in the Sunday paper (or the daily paper, for that matter), perhaps raising subscription prices or charging extra for papers+DVD.  It could be the "book on tape" version of the newspaper for people to listen to in their cars on the way to work.  The content wouldn't have to be "news"; it could be entertainment or whatever sells subscriptions.

    Regardless of whether or not this is workable, my main point is that the newspapers seem to be in denial about what makes them unique.  The ability to produce content: not it.  It's distribution.  The sooner they embrace this fact, the sooner they can start thinking about delivering something of higher value than the printed text on cheap paper with their distribution system.

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