The Newspaper is Dead

Long live the newspaper!

Nope .. not like me at all. This is me:

  • While I appreciate the USA Today that finds its way to my hotel room door, I usually pass it by.
  • There are times at the gym that my Zune battery is dying or in the waiting room and my mail is caught up.
  • Those pretty pictures sometimes catch my eye and I skim through the articles.

The bulk of the time (even by an overly-optimistic 80/20 rule), the newspaper is irrelevant to me.

So, where is the value of the daily rag? Is it:

  • with older-than-50-somethings (for the record, I’m 50) as their primary source of news?
  • with folks who simply refuse to “connect”?
  • with folks who just like to get their hands dirty?

Besides hotels, who is buying enough newspapers to keep the industry alive?

In short, no one. Like all businesses facing the power of the Web, newspapers have to adapt, or become extinct.

One way to keep a profitable bottom line is to reduce staff .. but you need to reduce the right staff. With automation, you probably don’t need as many printers, but you need enough folks to run the machinery. This leaves assistants, sales people, managers, editorial staff and reporters .. the latter two being the most critical to maintain content quality.

I’m afraid to ask which groups the newspapers have cut .. there is a site called Newspaper Death Watch with all the latest stats (update to the 2008 version of this post).

As to evolution, the blogosphere is full of “me too” types. Now, I raise my hand: guilty as charged for a 1/3 of my content. Many bloggers just read news and other blogs and then post their opinions about them. In my defense, I post the link either as a supporting story, or I’ll make a glib comment and expect the reader to make the connections that are relevant to them.

However, the “me too” folks need something with which to start, and that something is a news story, captured by a reporter, edited by an editor and published in one form or another. Our news consumption would suffer greatly if we cannot retain / replace the news generated by the newspaper industry.

So .. the problem is not editorial or in content generation, it appears to be in deployment. Can the newspapers afford to race to an all-online model before they run out of dough?

SearchEngineLand posts a detailed commentary of the newspapers’ plight in “Can Newspapers Be Saved?” (2008 reference).

What do you think?

Original Post: August 18, 2008

About Michael Coates
I am a pragmatic evangelist. The products, services and solutions I write about fulfill real-world expectations and use cases. I stay up-to-date on real products I use and review, and share my thoughts here. I apply the same lens when designing an architecture, product or when writing papers. I am always looking for ways that technology can create or enhance a business opportunity .. not just technology for technology's sake. My CV says: Seasoned technology executive, leveraging years of experience with enterprise and integration architectural patterns, executed with healthy doses of business acumen and pragmatism. That's me. My web site says: Technology innovations provide a myriad of opportunities for businesses. That said, having the "latest and greatest" for its own sake isn't always a recipe for success. Business successes gained through exploiting innovation relies on analysis of how the new features will enhance your business followed by effective implementation. Goals vary far and wide: streamlining operations, improving customer experience, extending brand, and many more. In all cases, you must identify and collect the metrics you can apply to measure your success. Analysis must be holistic and balanced: business and operational needs must be considered when capitalizing on a new technology asset or opportunity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: