Can’t see the forrest for the papers

Can’t see the forrest for the papers

: Jon Fine, ex Ad Age and now covering media at Biz Week, hears the bells tolling for newspapers:

Newspapers are cockroaches. No matter what is introduced into the media ecosystem, the oldest of the Big Media survives. Despite decades of doomsayers, newspapers prospered through radio, through TV and cable, through video games, through the Internet….

Not so fast. Suddenly, even sober Wall Street analysts think something new is afoot.

What looms now “is different from all other threats,” says Lauren Rich Fine (no relation), a Merrill Lynch & Co. (MER ) analyst who has covered the industry since the 1980s. Consumers are shifting decisively to online information, says Fine, especially the young, and are no longer yoked to the local newspaper. “Ads are following the eyeballs to where they make transactional decisions.” Fine recently forecast that newspapers’ profit margins are set to enter a long period of decline.

The new and troubling reality for newspapers is that even if they excel as purveyors of information to appreciative audiences, they still face tough business terrain. “They can try to be the destination where you go online and [can] be really successful with citizen journalism and blogs,” says Fine. But such innovations are “not going to pay a lot of bills.”

Yes, the economics of news have changed, fundamentally. Now the business of news has to change.

: See earlier post on business models for new here and follow the links at the bottom for more.