Okay, we all know that the print industry is completely and totally screwed. Circulation is plummeting around the world … leaving ink jockeys little hope of keeping their jobs for the rest of their lives (which is really their only goal anyway). They may have hope, however, thanks to an unusual French bailout plan. Leave it to French job protectionism to set a model for the rest of the world. The folks at the NY Times – which rain this story – must be salivating right now.
As everyone should know by now, the Migrant Blogger hates print. It still tends to pay the bills better than online journalism, and the prestige factor is probably a big part of that. After all, to be in a publication that has limited space, you have to be pretty damned good. This thinking is what holds reporters back.
Well, it seems as though I have a kindred spirit at the NY Times. Technology editor Damon Darlin is looking to beef up his online team, ValleyWag reports. NYT staffer David Carr predicts that the “horizon line for when a newspaper on the street is serving as a kind of brochure of a rich online product does not seem far off” (also in the ValleyWag article).
It’s about fucking time.
You can tell a better story online than in print, and you can do it in real-time, as the story unfolds. Being first to market matters, as the reporter will not be constrained by a production process. This is where real journalism will happen … hopefully not too long in the future.
I, for one, am sick of waiting for printers to finish printing.
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.
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?