Another newspaper prognostication

Michael Hirschorn has a good column in The Atlantic on one of my favorite subjects — Whither newspapers? — singing harmony with much of what I say here.

Meanwhile, top reporters and columnists at major newspapers are realizing (or will realize soon) that their fates are not necessarily tied to those of their employers. As portals and search engines and blogs increasingly allow readers to consume media without context or much branding, writers like Thomas Friedman will increasingly wonder what is the benefit of working for a newspaper–especially when the newspaper is burying his article behind a subscriber wall. It will require only a slight shift in the economic model for the Friedmans of the world to realize that they don’t need the newspapers they work for; that they can go off and blog on their own, or form United Artists-like cooperatives to financially support their independent efforts. . . .

Not only do you allow your reporters to blog; you make them the hubs of their own social networks, the maestros of their own wikis, the masters of their own many-to-many realms. . . .

But he comes around to an optimistic ending for print.

  • There may be some young, held back scribes that would thrive as bloggers or web journalists, but the tenured “prominent” ones will never make it. Most of them can’t even right-click.

    Bill Simmons of ESPN is the best example of a young’un who we never would have heard of before the internet. He was buried at the Boston Herald behind inferior writers that are still there, and have been for 20 years.

  • If every writer that works for a newspaper or magazine could easily figure out how to monetize and get traffic to their own blog or website – within days their income would be similar or maybe more and the publications would not be needed anymore. IMHO

    Causing the publication owners to rethink their profit center / business plan in a matter of seconds or minutes.

    Visions of people running out of a publishers building with their butts on fire!

  • “Go even further: incentivize the critics and reporters by allowing them to profit based on the popularity of their sites; make it worth their while to stick around….”

    That would be my only quibble with the whole piece; I’ve been there and had that debate… and as far as me and my ‘brand’ were concerned, if I’d hung around I’d have had to leave at least half my ‘value’ within the building.

    Nah. Fly solo – and if they still want it that bad, two years down the line they can talk to my syndication chief…

  • Mumblix Grumph

    Newspapers are a victim of their strident biases.

    If a new industry opened up in America (Under a Republican president) that made 100 million people prosperous, sexy and healthy enough to live to age 126, the New York Times would run this story:

    A recent poll says that a small number of Americans are happy (only 98.2%), but what about those unfairly left behind? We will now devote the whole front page to Dullard McSlothful.

    Mr. McSlothful lost his job as a night watchman at Amalgamated Buggy Whip And Saddle. Mr. McSlothful was out of work for THREE ENTIRE DAYS!

    “They only offered me menial jobs like Chair Warmer, or Union Representative. How am I supposed to live on $86,000 a year? My medical copay is fifty cents a week! Where am I supposed to get that kind of money?”

    The American dream is dead for the Dullard McSlothfuls of this world. and Republican lawmakers laugh as they grind the proletariat under the spiked heel of Capitalism.

    But there is hope, HOPE! Senator Hillary Boxerstein has introduced new legislation to modestly increase taxes 87% on those super-ultra-mega wealthy Americans, (those with vast incomes over $10,000).

    This legislation is being fought by a cabal of racist Republican male Chauvinists and filthy Jews in the pocket of Israel.

    Yeah, thanks. I can’t imagine why your readership is falling down faster than Paris Hilton at an open bar.