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To everything there is a season, in newspapers as under heaven. But only one of 3 major players is in sync. 3/12/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in Murdoch, Sulzberger, Zell.
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Whether you find worldly wisdom in the book of Ecclesiastes or a 60’s song by The Byrds, you know that to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die. A time to plant, a time to reap. But, the 3 major players in the newspaper industry can’t seem to agree on which season we are in.

Rupert Murdoch, new owner of the Wall Street Journal, believes this is a time to plant — in business terms a time for marketing and investment. He is moving quickly to give readers more of the political, economic, cultural, and sports news they have previously had to look elsewhere to get. He is expanding his Washington bureau.

Sam Zell, new owner of the Tribune, believes this is a time to reap — in business terms a time for finance and accounting. He is putting heavy demands on his media properties to increase their profits, to help pay off his debt and to stabilize cash flow. He is shrinking his Washington bureau.

The Sulzberger family, long-time owners of the New York Times, believe this is a time to keep — in business terms, a time for operations and quality control. They are grasping to hold onto the original formula they used during their time to build-up: objectivity, investigative journalism, and an authoritative tone. They would like to be able to maintain staffing at their Washington bureau.

But with audiences now shrinking, Murdoch is the only one who is right — it is indeed a time for marketing and investment. And with Old Media journalism increasingly rejected by audiences, the NY Times could not be more wrong. For those practicing this type of journalism, at best it is a time to cast away stones. At worst, and more realistically, it is a time to die.

Comments»

1. Megan Taylor - 3/12/08

I dunno, I think perhaps there is also a time for multitasking. Newspapers need to play catch-up, and that means figuring out a whole lotta stuff – fast.

2. Laurence Hallas - 3/13/08

Megan, I prefer Darwin

3. Reuben - 3/13/08

Yafay Meod Steve. (Sublime)


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