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Sundays only: the only feasible newspaper survival strategy? 7/23/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Sunday.

Communications theorist Marshall McLuhan once said, “people don’t actually read newspapers—they get into them every morning like a hot bath.” This may have described life 50 years ago when sole breadwinning males sat at breakfast tables behind stacks of newspapers and stacks of pancakes served-up by adoring housewives. But today’s two-income households have frenzied morning routines, and Internet news-viewing more closely resembles jumping in and out of a cold shower than sinking into a warm tub.

While it may seem like we will never go back to that idealized, newspaper-friendly breakfast table scene, many of us actually do go back to it every single week – on Sunday. OK, so maybe the man wears the kitchen apron every once in awhile, but a Sunday paper can be consumed like a hot bath, taking lots of time with no hurry to get out. Perhaps it isn’t a coincidence that Juan Antonio Giner has caught papers worldwide selling “Sunday” as much as their own mastheads, brand names, and logos. And notice all those soft feature stories that are more relaxing than the typical serious, intense, and aggravating weekday news fare. Can dying newspapers find sanctuary on Sundays? It might not be as good as the good old days, but if you are a newspaper shareholder it sure beats taking a bath. (Hat tip: Martin Stabe)


1. Peter Ralph - 7/24/07

Certainly the web has destroyed the whole notion of a 24 hour news cycle. But wouldn’t a Sunday-only newspaper be just a magazine with a lot more ads?

2. Steve Boriss - 7/24/07

Peter, Yes. I didn’t say it was a particularly good business, but it may be a protectable one. And magazines might compete in that space, too, although the local ads/coupons/promotions might work better with the local newspaper running that business. So for now, Sunday is one of the few remaining services that can be done better in print, at least until e-paper comes along.

3. Peter Ralph - 7/24/07

I guess I see a different model with the gathering and dissemination of news being separated.

So a relatively small group of news agencies along the lines of AP and Reuters will make their content available to everyone.

Perhaps charging for it according to the number of views it gets – or even distributing it for free with embedded ads.

4. Steve Boriss - 7/24/07

Peter, I see that model, too, as you can read in my permanent article called “The Future of News.” Actually, I believe that the folks who are news sources today will be the gatherers and writers of news, i.e. the primary source. This may be newsmakers, spokespeople, think tanks, authors, witnesses, litigants, or just about anyone else. The disseminators will be editors who form “Associations,” communities of the like-minded. Not sure how I feel about the future of these wire services — seems like the AP’s funding should diminish with the decline of newspapers. We may have to wait awhile to see that.

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