When news people lose sense

Later note: Please see Howard Weaver in the comments, who says I got wrong what he was saying.

Financial Times editor Lionel Barber predicted that “almost all” news organizations will be charging in a year just because they need to. Meanwhile, former McClatchy news exec Howard Weaver thinks that news orgs should get, oh, say, 10 percent of Google et al’s revenue because they, oh, should.

Amazing how news people lose their sense when they talk about news.

Let’s substitute GM for newspapers in this discussion.

Would Barber ever suggest that GM would charge more just because it needs to, with no consideration of the market forces and its competition? Would Weaver ever suggest that GM should get 10 percent of Toyota’s or Zipcar’s revenue just because, oh, it should?

I just spent two good days at Best Buy headquarters in Minneapolis talking about What Would Google So? and it was so refreshing to be in the company of a company facing the future bravely without whining like newspaper people do. One executive quizzed me, puzzled about why newspapers are so resistant to change. We talked about their sense of entitlement.

In what other industry do companies feel entitled to revenue just because they used to have it or they think they deserve it because of who they are?

But newspapers think that companies that served their customers better – Google or craigslist – owe them money because they lost those customers for serving them badly and ripping them off for years. They think that government owes them protection via copyright law (shall we look up how those papers editorialized about protectionist tariffs?).

It makes me look at the FT’s coverage of other industries in a different light. A dim one.

: SEE ALSO: John Temple tells newspaper people to stop blaming Google. Mark Potts tells Barber why he’s wrong.

: LATER: Like Temple, Chris Tolles does a better job than I do answering Weaver.