Newsosaur’s roar

Because of travel, I’m late in linking to Alan Mutter’s twoparter responding to my speculation about the post-press LA Times. Mutter is by far the best, smartest, and most-informed analyst of the financial state of papers and so I disagree with him at my mortal peril. Indeed, I’m delighted that he’s bringing out real numbers and considerations and hope we get down to such brass tacks in the New Business Models for News project upcoming. My response to Alan: I think that online up-sells in classified will disappear with classifieds and so that benefit of having print is quickly becoming moot. Some papers simply cannot afford the cost of print now and so they’d better figure out life post-print or there won’t be any. New competitors can come in without the cost of print and newspaper legacy and act far more nimbly in the market. And I argue that even if shutting off the press is off in the future, it is – in some form – inevitable and so papers damned, frigging well better plan on it (most I know want to perish the thought) and so this exercise and discussion is vital.

  • I totally agree with you, Jeff, that classified ads – and thus, web upsells – are melting away before our eyes.

    Because classified upsells deliver approximately two-thirds of the online revenues at most papers, publishers planning to stop their presses in perpetuity need to identify robust and diversified revenue streams to replace the two-thirds of their revenue that is drying up.

    In other words: Regardless of how compelling you think the economic argument is to abandon print publishing, most newspapers simply are not ready to do so, because they are so heavily dependent on print-centric revenue streams.

    I also wholeheartedly agree with you that newspapers had better “frigging well” plan on what’s going to happen when the print business shrivels to the point that it is not compensatory to keep producing the physical product.

    Some papers are close to this point. And others, like the SF Chronicle which notably loses something like $1 million a week, are beyond it.

    Safe travels.

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  • Person of Choler

    To me, the print newspaper business model seems to be: package advertisements of stuff I don’t want with useless fluff about things I don’t care about (e.g. lifestyle pages) and biased, shallow claptrap masquerading as “news”.

    Therefore, I haven’t subscribed to a newspaper since I happily dropped my subscription to the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1989.

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