I just read the latest Time Magazine stories about how to save our nation’s newspapers. The pieces are by well respected journalists, Walter Isaacson and Josh Quittner. Isaacson says we need to charge for online news and Quittner supports the move to hand-held gadgets to read your newspaper.
Quittner rightly says that most people are not going to pay for news on their own PCs, not when most newspapers were dumb enough to give it away either in the beginning, or later as they attempted to drive readers and advertisers to their web pages.
Now that that model is running aground as well, the newspaper industry finds itself sinking in this dreadful economy. The days of strip mining a community in advertising dollars seems to be over for newspapers. Their heyday has come and gone, so it seems.
For me, the large chains have only to look into the mirror to find the reason for the 28,000 jobs lost in journalism in 2008.
Reasons: lack of foresight; greed; inexcusable behavior toward talented, loyal journalists; heavy-handed employment practices; violation of labor standards; bottom line approach to jobs and people; profits before people; boardroom excesses in which CEOs think they deserve millions in bonuses for cutting jobs in the newsrooms; incompetence in top management.
I could go on, but let me just say that gadgets that popup a newspaper won’t cut it. If publishers and news chains are dumb enough to get rid of the printed product, they are finished.
I believe some combination of the two will have to be jiggered for the salvation of newspapers and news magazines. Something on the order of a combination of printed stories and stories on news gadgets that you can’t get in the printed version. You can charge for both, but if the print model is done, so is the print industry for both newspapers and newsmagazines.
My view comes from 45 years as a working journalist and as a veteran newspaper reporter who loves the industry still after devoting more than half of his life to the industry.