With all of the discussions regarding the future of newspapers, and I am a big participant in those discussions, I found perhaps one of the best pieces by Matthew Ingram, yesterday in GigaOm – “The Hard Truth: Newspaper monopolies are gone forever.” This is one of the better pieces on what is getting to be a big discussion. This is almost as big a discussion as the state of the U.S. and world economy. There are lots of opinions, but not a lot of energy on what to do about it. Both seem to be heading on their own course, like a mighty river in a flood. Get out of the way and wait until it subsides. Truth is the newspaper business is subsiding, and now we are seeing the results.
…And the results aren’t pretty! Revenues, advertising revenues really, are in decline. Subscriptions are in decline. Page counts are down, and the news hole – real news, is down. Content is up, but we really don’t buy newspapers for content do we? The truth is, and Matt Ingram catches it well – newspapers succeeded because they were ‘the only game in town – monopolies who could charge whatever the market would stand.
Over the course of the next several days I will try to make sense of what I think all this means to the larger constituencies – readers, advertisers, and the general community. Can newspapers survive? Do we care? Are we worried about the loss, and how can it be replaced. Is it the loss of the daily paper, the habit we all grew up with, or is it the loss of real journalism – news we care about, and news that enlightened us that we fear losing?
I’ve been wrestling with this for a long time…and I need to get it out – for myself, and for my clients, many of whom come from the same generation and don’t like the changes they see coming.
Next post- from the home turf – The end of Freedom Communications and the OC Register, the Libertarian paper in a Libertarian/Republican county.