Conspiring to death

David Carr sounds like an oldies station as he replays the same old record about charging for content (hey, Carr, would you please walk down the hall and do some reporting in your own damned building – I’ll give you the phone number for the right person – and find out why your own friggin’ paper made its own good economic decisions to stop charging?!?); and kissing off the aggregators (hey, David, can you imagine what would happen to your P&L if The Times Company told Google to take a flying leap and not to aggregate and link to your paper and the only bright spot in your parent’s P&L,; and getting rid of ad networks (great timing; this is the moment when the paper should kiss off revenue); and get rid of newspaper regulation. At least on that last point, we agree. Except that newspapers are so far gone they could collude and conspire and consolidate and fornicate to their hearts’ desire and it won’t help them. It’s too late.

  • Tom Davidson

    Awww, but Jeff: Leaving his office – even to walk down the hall – would break the echo-chamber effect.

    If we all just CHANT THE SAME THINGS TOGETHER LOUD ENOUGH (caps intended, 1994-style), maybe we can bring back 1994.

    It was a great year, after all. Except, of course, for a song or two.

    Audience, people. Solve the audiences’ (plural possessive intended, too) problems, and you’ll win. Cling to the past, and you can have lovely, curmudgeonly talks with railway porters, telephone operators and Microsoft executives at the Retired Monopolists Home.


  • Tom Kephart

    “Magazine and newspaper editors have canceled their annual conferences (good idea: let’s not talk to one another). But perhaps someone can blow a secret whistle and the publishers and editors could all meet at an undisclosed location.”

    Because they have to physically be in the same room to talk. Too bad no one’s come up with some internet-based way to communicate and conference.

  • I call it the Fahrenheit 451 approach to saving newspapers

  • Pingback: Spalpeen :: The Fahrenheit 451 approach to saving newspapers()

  • Pingback: BuzzMachine: Carr sounds like an ‘oldies station’ | Editors' Blog()

  • Pingback: ZuDfunck()

  • Pingback: The Farm Report ›()

  • rodney overton

    I just wrote an email to Carr, subject line “you just doomed newspapers. thanks”. why?
    Here is the email I sent:
    Oh gosh. You don’t know enough about what the Arkansas paper is doing and how it does it. They basically offer breaking news and just about anything off cycle for free. Everything else is paid.

    But, if a web site is doing its job, 90 percent of the content is “breaking news” — news happens all the time and should be on the site in a timely manner. So, that covers it, basically. What is left? A few features and “think pieces”?

    I ran the most successful local media site in the country. More successful than the Washington Post and — even your paper — with a local audience. The site is a TV site. It had (it’s dipped a bit since I left) a 45.5 market penetration for a website according to Media Audit. That was TWICE as good as the newspaper in Raleigh, N.C., the Raleigh News & Observer.

    Thanks to your article, newspapers will now run to charge for content and TV stations (who will NEVER charge for content) will blow them away. Already, the Greensboro News & Record (also in North Carolina) is neck and neck with TV stations in its market (and it started on the web in 1994.) I was the founding news editor for the website and have seen it FALL APART over the years.

    Here is succinctly why paid model on the web won’t work. And, check out postings on (a TV web blog) about how gleeful TV websites are about the upcoming decision that you just sealed.

    Here is my quick and dirty experience (beyond what I have told you above):

    When I was at Belo I was chagrined that just registration was mandatory for users beyond two clicks — forget paying. THIS KILLED our site in Houston — relegating an awesome site to the #3 or #4 site each month (even though we had the #1 ranked TV station).

    So, I did a TON of research and determined forced registration only attritbuted to 10 percent of overall revenue.I was blown away. we were killing our market reach for a lousy 10 percent of revenue? (and really, it was not fully 10 percent because had we dropped mandatory registration we still could have very likely kept more than half of that ‘registration’ revenue because our overall reach would have gone up and we could have instituted policies to get registrations through contests or simply by having a larger base to start with) and revenue would have easily been boosted by the other 5 percent.

    My argument never won — and Belo still has it now

    so where am I going with this?

    registration — just registration — killed reach and resulted in little to no revenue. if newspapers only make 6-8 percent of their print revenue through subscriptions, what will that end up being on the online side AND more importantly what would it actually end up hurting them in reach and therefore ad revenue because fewer potential customers of the advetisers will ever see the ads (which will have very limited impressions)

    so… this does not even address the issue that while newspapers might move to paid models, the three TV station competitors in their same market likely will not (since thankfully Belo is not everywhere).

    and what does that mean? unlike 7 years ago when TV stations might not have been considered competition, they really are now… and when they are free vs. paid they will be REAL…

    game over even faster for newspapers.

    I had this same discussion point for point number for number with my former boss more than 18 months ago. He could never accept that people would settle for free TV sites vs. paid newspaper sites.

    I also said other sites – beyond TV – would pop up to fill the free void. he completely disagreed.

    the hubris never disappears among newspaper execs — it only worsens.

    The rest of the post:

  • rodney overton

    In short, Carr ignores TV station websites — which are closing in FAST.

    • Precisely.

      And I know that TV stations and networks smell the carrion and see the opportunity.

  • Pingback: Broadcast buzzards « BuzzMachine()

  • JohnD

    Communism has a really hard time growing if the newspapers print real issues. None of this matters because the truth is lacking in every page of every newspaper I come across.
    Commrade Obama cannot further the communist agenda if dissent were heard at the levels that now exist.As I told the sales folks for my local Pravda, no my parrot doesn’t shit enough to need more than your Sunday edition, Thank you don’t call back…………………………no news is still no news. My blood pressure is also better.

  • Pingback: Journalism students’ role in the new news marketplace « BuzzMachine()

  • Pingback: | John Gapper's Business Blog | Rising scepticism about online ad exchanges()

  • Pingback: | John Gapper's Business Blog | Rising scepticism about online ad exchanges()

  • Pingback: A new ecosystem? at JMC 352()

  • Barry


    Something that would never happen on BuzzMachine, of course…

  • Mike Manitoba

    Hey, Jeff, you forgot to end it with “MOOHOOHAWHAWHAWHAWHAW!”

    • That made me laugh. He’s got to be doing that laugh whilst stroking a cat.

  • walter

    why do you have to be such an asshole about all of it, jj? seriously, can’t you make your point(s) without being such a dick?

  • In all the breast beating about papers like the Seattle Post Intelligencer and the San Francisco Chronicle going down, have any of the journalists mourning them actually read them? There is a reason why The New York Times has typically had one of its strongest markets nationally in the Bay Area.

    I also wish Carr had done his historical homework and reached further back. Radio is the medium that really killed the newspaper star and it did so because it was free, ad supported and combined entertainment and more instantaneous information — hmmm, sounds like another medium we know…

  • DAR

    Had a thought in the shower today (I seem to do some of my best thinking there for some reason :-) after reading today’s NY Times story about many cities being reduced to 1 – and perhaps soon zero – news dailies.

    It’s clear that it’s gotten to the point that most newspapers can’t exist as an independent entity anymore. But that doesn’t have to mean that a newspaper shouldn’t exist at all. I had an idea about how one could stay alive (below). Can anyone tell me why this wouldn’t make sense?

    If a newspaper inists that it can only exist as a standalone company, then yes it’s probably dead. But a newspaper would have significant value as part of an integrated multi-media news organization.

    Let’s say CNN, for example, bought the NY Times, as well as Time or Newsweek, and, say, something like the Huffington Post. The resulting organization would have significant value and reach, across all segments and media of the news business, from the most immediate (the Web, via a consolidated site combining the best of all of the proprties’ online content), to TV news, to printed news in both daily and monthly formats.

    Though they’re no longer financially viable, printed news and magazines still have relevance to many people and could still be successful with a lower cost structure. The key is to have all the properties held within such a conglomerate share a single news-gathering organization. In this way, the cost of news-gathering could be spread across all 4 forms of media, leading to significant cost savings, and thereby providing the potential for the print properties to be profitable once again.

    Any idea why this couldn’t work? I suppose the reason it hasn’t happened up till now is because it would have been to expensive to buy each of the individual properties and make such a merger viable. But given the huge drop in market value of print properties – due to their flagging business, as well as the current recession – I would think this is an idea that’s much more viable now.

    Thoughts anyone?


  • Pingback: Printed Matters » United, Journalists May Stand()