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May 24, 2007


martin Edic

No one is teleporting a newspaper into my house? Wha...? I read about ten papers a day on the Internet regardless of where I am- instantly. That sure looks like teleporting to me.

Not sure I get this piece- maybe I'm missing something. The pipe the newspapers used to own was 'the only game in town for daily news'. They're so far from the only game in town now that I do not believe there is a way to return to prominence. Past the tipping pint, nada, toast.


Newspapers deliver local news. Paper is the medium, not the message.

The largest newspaper organization in Australia (Fairfax) has just started publishing in Brisbane for the first time.

Paper? No, just a web site -

Michael Urlocker

Andy: I think you are right on with the idea of media experimenting to discover where the real value is.

My take is that if media executives focus on some of the following ideas, they can create new value:

* Make current content more accessible and more convenient for consumers.
* Blast through the cost structures that restrict access or make niche audiences non-economic.

More details and examples:



The real value for newspapers is trusted local content. Unfortunately that was one of the things cut out when budgets started shrinking.

Brad Linder

I agree that the reason newspapers aren't going to disappear overnight is that most readers still prefer newsprint to the computer screen. But I'm not sure this is going to be permanent.

I'm 30 years old, and I've never really gotten the hang of folding and unfolding a printed newspaper. Even bi-fold tabloids and magazines feel clunky to me. For the past 10 yeas or so I've been getting most of my news online, and I prefer the ability to quickly scan something on a computer screen, download it to my PDA, or save it as an HTML file if I need to archive it.

If I need to write notes on an article, I'm still not happy with my digital options, but I've got this handy thing called a printer plugged into my computer. The occasional 8.5 x 11 printout is a lot cheaper than a newspaper subscription.

As a journalist, I do feel a little guilty that I don't subscribe to the local paper, but as long as they're giving away their product for free, I'm going to take advantage of it. Hopefully they'll find new revenue streams besides advertising and subscriptions as they move online. As you point suggest, licensing their technologies may be one way to go.


From where I sit, newspapers are not in the same league as books or even magazines. Newspapers are full of time sensitive, short articles of information that is important today but useless tomorrow. Perfectly suited for online IMHO.

Magazines I read for news that goes more in depth and books are another beast altogether. As you say, the touch and feel of paper is important there. But to apply the same love for paper to newspapers I disagree with. Books are meant to be read over and over while newspapers go straight to the recycle bin the next day. Books also aren't full of advertising. The list goes on and on.

Newspapers have to decide if they want to be more like websites (more breaking news, less editorial oversight, get faster and shorter) or more like magazines (cover stories in more depth, more editorializing, less fluff).


There are two media business models:

1) make good content and sell it to eyeballs (the traditional model)

2) make good content and give it away, then sell the eyeballs that look at it to advertisers (the new model)

Audience fragmentation means that it's harder to recoup the cost of decent content because under model 1 there are fewer eyeballs interested in paying for each piece of content, and under model 2 advertisers are unwilling to pay enough to reach a small audience.

Big media doesn't really seem to know what to do about this, and I'm not sure the answer is out there...yet.

Jared Goodman

It’s true that the value of time sensitive content will be hurt by the proliferation of advanced delivery systems. I myself am waiting for the day when I can get a personalized newspaper tailored to my interests (Healthcare Tech. & Cornell Hockey), delivered via my in-home newspaper printer. What I find fascinating is the unlimited scale created by advanced delivery systems on non-time sensitive content. More content (TV, Movies, Books, Songs) will be created today, then I’ll be able to enjoy over a lifetime. And this content is a permanent asset that we will all have access to anywhere, anytime. The demand for such products will generally increase with population growth, yet the supply never diminishes, grows daily, and has virtually zero marginal cost. With such economic conditions will content have any value in the future? Granted I’m not your typical TV consumer, but my Seinfeld and Simpsons DVDs have enough content to last me the rest of my life. If I owned a portfolio of content, I’d be looking to sell, fast.

John Davidson

Always enjoy your comments--please write more often

Too many years ago now there was an excellent book on some of these issues, Information Rules. At that time, as I recall, there was no little discussion about what would matter was reaching the point of being a trusted navigator. Over simplified, trusted navigators would survive--all others would perish. It seems to me that we watch this with our local paper, daily. It maintains a readership solely because it is a pipeline---no one trusts its writing. Ultimately, it will disappear, once its ad base is gone.

I worked a great deal on distance education for universities a few years ago. That experience convinced me that a university should hire class room teachers based on their ability to teach at a distance, sign up large numbers of students at low prices, and invest the rewards in ever better programing, which would include investing in research, supporting texts, etc.

It seems to me the same model should be applied to newspapers. If someone would invest in vigorous, intellectually honest reporting---not driven by advertising---over time I believe that would prevail on a subscription basis.


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