Tag Archives: News

Dealing with a Slow News Weekend

dsc03039It’s been a few months since I’ve hit the road, and I’m starting to feel the effects. For my work on Gadling, I’ve been relying on other news stories for reblog fodder, and my ol’ standby sites just aren’t delivering. It’s been pretty slow – which wouldn’t be a problem if I’d had some travel under my belt. Fortunately, I have a trip to Montreal coming on Thursday, so new material is only a few days away.

This small situation, limited to me, could indicate a future problem in the blogging world, though. As most blogs still rely heavily on reblogging to fill their pages, the decline of the traditional media space will put more pressure on people like me to originate content. Coming up with new stuff requires a significant commitment of time and resources, which would turn the existing blog business model on its head. Bloggers at sites across the market know this and are reacting to it, but a solution will take time.

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Newspapers Can’t Be Sold?

I read a crazy article in on nytimes.com this morning– part of the joy of not having a normal sleep pattern these days. Apparently, newspaper chains are having trouble selling off their properties. Big surprise, I know, given the imminent death of print, plummeting share prices and revenue bases that have been decimated. But, what I find interesting is the cluelessness that has led up to this.

I worked for the community news division of Dow Jones several years ago for about 10 minutes. Even in the brief time I was there, I learned how important acquisitions were to the company. Our fearless leader at the time, John Wilcox, indicated that part of the competitive landscape going forward would be the ability to win in the acquisition space. Newspaper chains would be competing to buy newspapers as much as they’d be competing for readers. He went on to discuss the different means available for acquiring newspapers.

What a difference three years makes …

Since then, Dow Jones sold several of its community newspapers in order to take advantage of a capital loss carryover. News Corp acquired the company and discussed selling off the Ottaway (i.e. community newspaper) properties, before taking them off the block due to lack of interest. Now, nobody is buying newspapers, including the once acqusition-hungry Gatehouse Media. In 2006, the question wasn’t “if?” but “how much?” Today, there is no question, just a statement: “not at any price.”

It’s not the death of print that’s surprising. Everybody saw that coming back in the go-go days of 1997. The sheer idiocy is in the fact that, as late as 2006, newspaper executives thought they’d be competing to buy print properties. Denial flowed strong, and they are now left with the consequences.

More News on Old Media Suffering

The Silicon Alley Insider reports today that Lee Enterprises is in deep shit– not exactly surprising. The newspaper chain, apparently, is down on both the print and web fronts, proving that the old media guard simply can’t figure out the media that is no longer new. But, the NY Times seems to be figuring it out slowly, with internet revenues up 12.8 percent for the second quarter and internet ads up 18.3 percent.

The real headline stat: 3,500. That’s how many newspaper jobs were lost since late May. McClatchy leads the march to the bottom, with 1,400 positions cut, according to the Silicon Alley Insider. Also, newspapers have collectively lost close to $4 billion in shareholder value … in July!

The media market is in an interesting place right now. On the one hand, newspapers are continuing their slow death. They seem to be kept afloat, in part, by the fact that the world is still figuring out how to make a financial success of delivering the news over the web. The technology is in place, but the business model is still being refined. While smaller news outlets may be able to pull it off, the large media firms need to find a way to replace declining print revenue and grow the web in a way that not only breaks even but continues to deliver net growth.

We’re still not there yet.

Once the business issues sort themselves out– with the help of a few savvy entrepreneurs and natural market forces– the newspaper decline will accelerate. The only question is: what’s coming next?