Sunday, March 30, 2008

The death and life of newspapers

Eric Alterman writes an article, "Out of Print", in the March 31 New Yorker about "the death and life of the American newspaper."

An excerpt:
Until recently, newspapers were accustomed to operating as high-margin monopolies. To own the dominant, or only, newspaper in a mid-sized American city was, for many decades, a kind of license to print money.

Most managers in the industry have reacted to the collapse of their business model with a spiral of budget cuts, bureau closings, buyouts, layoffs, and reductions in page size and column inches ... Molly Ivins complained ... the newspaper companies' solution to their problem was to make "our product smaller and less helpful and less interesting" ... [and] that may help explain ... the dwindling number of Americans who buy and read a daily paper.
While the localized monopolies newspapers enjoyed are not coming back, I do think there is a lot newspapers could do to make their product more comprehensive, more helpful, and more interesting. In particular, I think newspapers should focus on local news and advertising and make their websites adaptive to the needs and interests of their readers.

For more on that, please see my earlier posts, "Newspapers and local content", "People who read this article also read", "Personalizing the newspaper", and "What to advertise when there is no commercial intent?"

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