The future of newspapers


in Economics, Internet matters, Writing

In a recent post, Taylor Owen argues that the death of newspapers (if it is happening) is not anti-democratic, because they will likely be replaced by less hierarchical structures. Personally, I think the value of newspapers derives precisely from the resources they have that most websites lack, such as access to powerful figures and the resources required for independent research. While some blogs do have very capable writers and sophisticated analysis, I do think the mainstream media is a very important current flowing into online discussions.

One way or another, I am sure newspapers will survive. They serve too many valuable purposes to be rendered pointless by the internet, and the best of them will eventually develop revenue streams that allow them to keep functioning despite it.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

alena April 4, 2009 at 9:38 am

I agree that newspapers played a vital role in providing researched information and holding people accountable. Newspapers themselves were also held accountable. The newspaper was once the primary source of news. It also allowed for more depth of coverage. Because it was widely read, businesses sought to advertise there.

With electronic media replacing printed newspapers as the primary source of news for people raised in the age of the computer, the question is whether and which newspaper will make that adjustment.

I also expect “newspapers” will survive. They are simply too important as an institution. However, I think there are likely to be such dramatic changes, that the term “newspaper” will be redefined or replaced by a new term based in the electronic media.

. April 15, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Everyone knows that print newspapers are our generation’s horse-and-buggy; in the most wired cities, they’ve been pummeled by competition from the Web. But it might surprise you to learn that one of the largest and most-celebrated new-media ventures is burning through cash at a rate that makes newspapers look like wise investments. It’s called YouTube: According a recent report by analysts at the financial-services company Credit Suisse, Google will lose $470 million on the video-sharing site this year alone. To put it another way, the Boston Globe, which is on track to lose $85 million in 2009, is five times more profitable—or, rather, less unprofitable—than YouTube. All so you can watch this helium-voiced oddball whenever you want.

YouTube’s troubles are surprisingly similar to those faced by newspapers. Just like your local daily, the company is struggling to sell enough in advertising to cover the enormous costs of storing and distributing its content. Newspapers have to pay to publish and deliver dead trees; YouTube has to pay for a gargantuan Internet connection to send videos to your computer and the millions of others who are demanding the most recent Dramatic Chipmunk mash-up. Google doesn’t break out YouTube’s profits and losses on its earnings statements, and of course it’s possible that Credit Suisse’s estimates are off. But if the analysts are at all close, YouTube, which Google bought in 2006, is in big trouble. As Benjamin Wayne, the CEO of the rival video-streaming company Fliqz, pointed out in a recent article for Silicon Alley Insider, not even Google can long sustain a company that’s losing close to half a billion dollars a year.

Peter April 17, 2009 at 6:47 am

Death a la Carte: It’s Not Google Killing The Media

Mark Gimein argues that the better information organization and more efficient delivery systems reveal the fundamental failure of the conventional media, which is that the price structuring is dependent of delivering bundled services. The solution is to develop a business model that is still profitable where selective purchasing occurs.

I think there are two interesting points on topic. Gimein has a good point about the inefficiency of delivering bundled news. We waste a lot of paper to produce newspapers and magazines that even subscribers usually only want to read small portions of. The second is that if it is the business model, then there will always be demand for quality content, somewhat along the lines of Milan’s concern. I don’t treat the NYTimes (which I only read online) as just another blog. Although Gimein would still argue that even their business model remains questionable, I’m sure the paper will survive due to the content, but the actual physical, printed copies might be another story.

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