It’s the mindset that dooms them

Blogs that cover the cultural and economic effects of the Internet on newspaper publishing are all linking a couple of articles in The Economist about the latter’s dire straits:

For most newspaper companies in the developed world, 2005 was miserable. They still earn almost all of their profits from print, which is in decline. As people look to the internet for news and young people turn away from papers, paid-for circulations are falling year after year. Papers are also losing their share of advertising spending. Classified advertising is quickly moving online. Jim Chisholm, of iMedia, a joint-venture consultancy with IFRA, a newspaper trade association, predicts that a quarter of print classified ads will be lost to digital media in the next ten years. Overall, says iMedia, newspapers claimed 36% of total global advertising in 1995 and 30% in 2005. It reckons they will lose another five percentage points by 2015.

So what are newspapers to do?

Gal Beckerman, at CJR Daily, ends a summary of the piece with this little zinger:

If the only way to make newspapers profitable is to turn “fine journalism” into junk, than maybe we should start thinking about whether or not news is too precious a commodity to be subjected to the same economic rules by which one sells widgets or hamburgers.

That would be “free market” rules, right? Bring on state-subsidized newspapers!

Meanwhile Jeff Jarvis excerpts from this companion piece in a post titled “Who Saved the Treees?” — and notes that it ends hopefully. This is about change, after all. And change is only a threat if you aren’t willing to change with it.

I was thinking last night about how Google has made a fortune organizing content for people without regard to its quality while newspapers husband their content jealously — in essence, they place a higher value on the content than on peoples’ access to it. “This is so good, you have to pay to see it.” “If you want to read this, you have to register and maintain an account with us.”

It’s a completely different mindset. No wonder the newspaper industry is in flames.

[tags] media, newspaper industry [/tags]

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