“Newspapers like the Dallas Morning News, the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Minneapolis Star Tribune are hurting not because they’re local, but because they’re not local enough. And as they try to figure out how to be local, they’re discovering they lack the proper tools. They have the wrong staff, the wrong processes, even the wrong presses.”
Do you hear the cries of all the old school newspaper publishers mourning the lost of their precious paid content model? Well, I live close enough to Little Rock to hear Walter Hussman’s wail and know that he will be the very last to admit it’s dead.
Here’s two evidences of paid content’s passing just announced yesterday:
And the rumors are abound that Rupert Murdoch will kill the Wall Street Journal’s online subscription model.
The Washington Post has sent a memo around focusing on their Ten Web Principles. The basic thrust of their principles is that the newsroom exists as much for their web product as the print newspaper. Apparently, there has been some friction in the newsroom over changes made for their website.
Time Magazine issued a similar memo a few weeks ago saying the expect their staff to contribute to Time.com the same way they contribute to the magazine. The memo said, “evaluations of every Time writer, correspondent, and reporter will be based on the quality and quantity of the contributions each of you makes to both the magazine and to TIME.com.”
The NCAA ejected a Louisville Courier-Journal reporter from a NCAA Division 1 Baseball tournament today citing a violation of it’s media credentialing agreement as the reporter live blogged the game. I have to admit the reporter did break the NCAA’s media credentialing agreement– I’ve signed the same agreement and it does bar any reporting of game results before the event. Similar events have occurred with Major League Baseball, the NFL and the NBA restricting media coverage during the game.
The real question is whether the NCAA or these organizations owns the facts of the game and can prohibit the results from being published. The argument that I’ve read from the organizations side is that it spends a lot of money on the event and restricts the results to allows them to license the results and create value out of the results. The media argues that once a home run has been hit, it’s a fact and can’t be restricted. I’ve also read the argument that the majority of these events take place in facilities paid for with public dollars and public access should be given.
The publisher of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette recently wrote an opinion piece promoting the lack of dramatic circulation losses at the Democrat-Gazette as a result of requiring a paid subscription to view the news stories online. This opinion piece also appeared in the Wall Street Journal. The obvious problem with his argument is that he is comparing a backwards state like Arkansas with lowest broadband Internet adoption rates in the country and the lowest per capita home Internet connection rates in the country to the rest of the nation.
All newspaper subscriptions have ever done is pay for delivery– and in some markets not even that. Now that the newspaper reader is paying the Internet charge, the delivery cost for an online newspaper have almost eliminated themselves.
UPDATE: Techdirt points out another flaw in Hussman’s logic: the Democrat-Gazette is still losing circulation, just not losing it as fast as other similar newspapers. Losing circulation means lost revenue.
UPDATE 2: Howard Owens joins in with a well-thought out post on his blog encouraging the transition to “audience platforms” where the primary focus is on understanding the needs and interests of a specific audience segment and using that understanding to help audience members increase their “return on attention.”