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April 15, 2005

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I subscribe to Ny Times print, WSJ online (not print) and would likely subscribe only to the WaPo and not much else if I had to pay.

Imagine a world where CNN and Fox are readily accesible but the NY Times and WaPo are not. Ugh.

If I were a crazy billionaire, I would start a new paper (online and off) by creaming the blogosphere for talent. Put people like the Hurrah-ers and Digby, Atrios, etc. on the payroll. All in one place. The blogosphere has made the news/journalism talent pool much deeper.

You can create a virtual copy of this mythical paper with a blog. The aggregating nature is great. But it would be ideal to get the best bloggers to be able to quit their day jobs and focus on creating even more content. Is anybody with big money out there listening?

WaPo? I don't pay any attention to that paper anymore, unless I was going to do beltway related work. The handful of good reporters they have doesn't make up for the rest of the dross.

If the NY Times doesn't give away any of its content, it would be a huge mistake. I think the WSJ is making a mistake by not giving away at least *some* content.

I suspect that a lot of newspaper purchases are driven by sports....as people turn more to the web for sports, that will kill many more papers. Are there numbers on this?

Maybe the poli-blogs should think about a politics and sports linkage for content.

My prediction is that NYT will go at least partially pay-access in the next year. ANd with that move, it will end the newspaper model.

Consider. WaPo is tanking but unwilling to do anything about it (I have apost here somewhere on it, honest). LA Times isn't doing so well. USA Today does what it does very well.

But the NYT will be risking its entire paper of record status. It already has lost a lot of its credibility (cf. Judy Miller at the top of the list). But it has retained that paper of record status because the people who obsess about the news will still link to the Times for just that--the CW paper of record take.

But if you have to pay for it (and don't live near to NYC, like DemFromCT), then the paper of record won't be worth it anymore. Because they're too coopted, utterly.

Why pay for propaganda?

Once that happens, then I think the WaPo will back off any plans to follow suit. And here we will be, with the paper newspaper a declining thing. And no paper of record.

Kind of like not having a global hegemon any more. Only less bloody.

Ah, I was hoping for comments on this one... thanks crab nebula and emptywheel. We know things will change... to what remains to be seen.

Murdoch on paying charging for internet news;

"At my company, we have a history of challenging media orthodoxies," he bragged, while also saying Fox News Channel reports "objectively and fairly," which drew some light groans. When asked later what his company was doing to expand on the Web, he said, "all our efforts as a company are to expand ourselves to the Internet, everywhere. We are not searching to extend ourselves in print."

But he stressed that charging for Web content is not a good idea. "I don't hold out any hopes for people to be paying for our Internet sites," he said in response to a question. "They have to be popular enough to hold a lot of advertising."

Link

if your contents suck, you can't sell it. Still, I'd watch what Rupert does, not what he says.

Like others blindsided by the dotcom devolution, many newspaper execs thought their on-line efforts were going to pay off big time. They put a fair amount of investment into these operations in the late 1990s. After three years, the LA Times on-line edition (in 2000) still had fewer than 12,000 subscribers, and it was losing huge gobs of cash because of a fairly large staff. Except for its lucrative archived articles business, the on-line operation at the Times has always been a big loser, and there was even some talk not so long ago about abandoning it altogether, even though the very execs discussing this knew they couldn't get away with such a move in today's market.

General circulation papers - even heavy hitters like the NYT, LATimes and WaPo - are going to have a tough time in the foreseeable future at making a go of their on-line operations unless somebody comes up with a biz model that generates revenue with a profitable margin. I'll believe it when I see it.

One technique that might work is something along the lines of what I'd like from my satellite television: a la carte service. If the 25 largest newspapers made a deal with each other to provide an emailed or websited collection of news and features to subscribers, they might be able to lure in folks like Crab Nebula and me. When I'm at full steam, I cruise 25-50 newspaper sites a day. If I could visit one site and get all the news on 10 subjects I'm most interested in from that many papers, it would be worth two or three hundred bucks a year to me.

But getting all those newspapers to agree to such a deal, and figuring out all the details of how to provide, say, just the food section recipes to readers who want nothing but those could be daunting. Pricing of such a la carte menus, not to mention designing websites that support them, is certainly not something I know anything about, but I'm sure it would not be simple.

Still, if newspaper execs like the LA Times's John Puerner keep going on "self-imposed career hiatus[es]," perhaps they'll seriously consider doing what they've only done pro forma for the past decade: think outside the box.

RSS feeds do exactly that! ;-) They're free now, except for the reader (often free).

They require little more technical knowledge than a browser (but there's no Google equivalent yet), and may be the future... you can do just the NY Times national or washington section, or just sports, or a combo of sports and the week in review, or...

RSS feeds still, however, require content ;-)

MB--there's already some nascent aggregating/a la carte methods, such as Google News and MyYahoo. (The MyYahoo profile I set up has loads of specific AP and Reuters categories, as well as categories from the NYT, WaPo, The Guardian, USAT, Newsweek and a couple other options available through Yahoo.) Not quite what you're recommending, but still a way to "streamline" my browsing.

My problem with reading things online, especially newspapers, is that it's simply not as fast as reading the paper version. If I read the paper version, I read more article in less time than when I read it online. I can pretty easily get the NYT and WSJ in my daily travels (but not by my house), but I have to go out of my way to get anything else like the CSM or Financial Times, and there are only a few places where I can get the Sunday WaPo.

One of the things that's killing newspapers, especially sales outside their metro area of the Sunday edition, is the decline in want ads. There used to be places around Detroit where you could get about 50 different Sunday papers. Nowdays you're pretty much limited to the Detroit-area papers, the NYT, maybe the Chicago Tribune and in a few places the WaPo, and not much more.

Oh, yeah. RSS feeds. You told me about that. Even sent me a link to set up. Which I didn't do. And which I have now lost.

What was lost can be found... your original point is still true... business models will need to be redone.

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