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Newspapers’ terrible week illustrates need for “the suits” to lead their organizations to web-based models 7/3/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in Online news.
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Last week, Mark Potts chronicled the stunning recent staff losses in the newspaper industry, and today the NY Times added to the bad news, reporting that the LA Times is shrinking its newsroom by 150.

Yet as Timothy Egan points out, the audience and reach of newspapers have never been greater – it’s just that they are reading the Internet editions, which are free and more up-to-date. And, local advertisers should still be most interested in the most popular local sites, a position that many papers already hold. So, the only thing, but no small thing, keeping papers from returning to their historically high margins are costly resources not coverable by print revenues and not necessary for Internet revenues.

In the end, newspapers actually do have an opportunity to restore their traditionally high profit margins, but it comes down to three questions. First, will they shed their no longer helpful resources quickly enough? Second, will they be able to tell the difference between those resources that are helpful from those that are not? Since both of these questions are better answered by cold, calculating business people than by journalists, the third question is this. Will newspapers allow “the suits” to call the shots? That may be the difference between papers that survive and those that don’t.

Comments»

1. Nigel Barlow - 7/4/08

And identifying those redundant assets is always going to be a major problem not just for newspapers but for any other business which has a number of cost and revenue centres Steve.

What in your opinion are the assets that the newspaper divisions do not need?

2. Steve Boriss - 7/7/08

Nigel,

In the long-term, there will be a lot less need for the distribution infrastructure — printing presses, delivery systems, etc. In the nearer-term, there will be less need for staff involved in repeating content that appears elsewhere, like national and international news, and those who insist on writing material and in styles that appeal more to journalists than readers. On the other hand, there will be more need for those who can aggregate, write in appealing styles, and develop a relationship with readers.


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