Thursday, December 18, 2008

Read all about it

Glenn Locke raises some interesting points in his column on newspapers. There are a few facts about the business that might be of interest.

Newspapers ain't what they used to be in terms of business. Their mass-market approach has been superseeded by the niche-market world we live in. Readership, which always has skewed old, has taken an increasing hit as young people have gone to the Internet. And, admittedly, newspapers have had a tough time trying to figure out how to make money in the online world. Some have guessed that the concept of an actual newspaper won't make it to the midpoint of this century.

The problems of the industry have made news lately, and not just because of some bad business deals (see the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times). Heck, a Detroit paper is going to stop publishing a paper a few days a week, sticking to online only. Certainly advertisers have paid a premium to be seen by a mass audience, and that market is changing.

But newspapers have been learning things. Personally, I think the key to survive in an online world is to make sure that newspapers offer the best way to keep up with news -- be the experts, if you will. If you want to learn what's going on with the Buffalo Bills, then you should go to The Buffalo News -- one way or another. I do like the trend of more interaction between readers and staff members on line as a part of that.

Here's the way I approach the issue: After World War II, railroads were challenged by the rise of commercial airlines. Railroads thought they were in the railroad business, and let business slip. They should have realized they were in the transportation business, meaning we would be flying New York Central and Union Pacific instead of Southwest and American. Newspapers are in the information business and not the newspaper business. The industry will just have to adapt.

Nothing is forever. Even General Motors.

Especially General Motors.

1 comment:

Glenn Locke, The Tall Thin Guy said...

It seems that your industry is realizing too late what you say about it. They are in the info biz. They could have been leaders on the internet, but became followers, and thus somewhat irrelevant instead.