Jack Fuller at ONA
: Jack Fuller of Tribune company is giving his keynote. He admits that the company has spent $600 million onlline — net. Yow. Entertainment Weely went through $200 million before it broke even but it’s now a $300 million-a-year business. Compare and contrast.
However, they did make 2.75 billion on AOL stock. “Net-net, we’re real happy how it all turned out.”
: He admits that, at first, “I looked at the new medium and saw the old one. I saw a newspaper — online.” But, of course, that has changed.
: “It’s easier to destroy value than to create it with this new medium,” he says.
The frictionless transfer of information “creates perfect markets,” he says. “… and as any soybean farmer will tell you, you don’t want to be in a perfect market.”
Yes, that is a moral to this story: News is a commodity.
So we need to ask (me talking, not Jack) whether news is really our business. See this alternative from commenter Hugh MacLeod (which I’ll repeat yet again on my panel tomorrow):
Perhaps online newspapers should stop seeing themselves as “things”, rather a point on the map where wonderful people cluster together to do wonderful things. A Joi-Ito-like [Joi being a central weblogger] brain trust, held cohesive by good editor. Some of the cluster will be paid (the journalists), others won’t (the audience). But everybody is welcome to contribute, and is kinda working together with the same goal: to create the most vibrant intellectual collective that they can.