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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 12, 2009 4:52 PM. The previous post in this blog was Help the economy. The next post in this blog is Waiting on the bookies. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Harbinger of doom

The front page of this morning's New York Times contained something frightening:

If there was any doubt that daily newspapers will not be with us much longer, this confirms it.

Comments (14)

They had an ad on the front page last week too, I think.

To me, the answer needs to come from getting increased online donations. If there was a way for google reader to suggest donations to websites based upon how much I read them/blogged about them/sent the articles to my friends, I bet the whole army of us out there that care about journalism could make enough donations here or there to stop the skid. Furthermore, there could be all sorts of ways to promote meritocracy and support the websites/organizations/specific journalists out there that are producing exemplary coverage.

...but that add brings in about $125k for them. And believe it or not, the NY Times still makes money.

Their circulation is way off. And their capitulating to front-page ads shows that they're in trouble.

I've learned to expect that s*** from the Portland Tribune, but the freakin' New York Times?!?!

Good article in The Atlantic says the NYT print edition might even fold this spring:

http://is.gd/eISt

I've never been sure why the Times's experiment with online access for pay was limited to its op-ed stuff. There was absolutely no reason for me to pay for access to David Brooks's latest musings, and so I didn't sign up, and neither did much of anyone else. But I would certainly pay for annual access to the whole shebang, if that's what I had to do. (And I would accede to pretty much any demand by the online WaPo, in order to keep my access to its stories and online features.)

The NYT blew it when they threw objectivity out the window and went into shrill mode in their war against W.

Then, they turned all National Enquirer with the McCain lobbyist affair innuendos.

Actually, they were worse then the Enquirer. The NYT couldn't back up the McCain stuff, but they sat on the (true) Edwards stuff that the Enquirer uncovered.

Curiously, the WSJ is doing OK ... and stealing the NYT's advertisers.

The NYT blew it when they threw objectivity out the window and went into shrill mode in their war against W.

There are many factors contributing to the decline of The New York Times, but this is unlikely to be one of them.

Curiously, the WSJ is doing OK ... and stealing the NYT's advertisers.

Maybe online they're doing o.k. Print's gotta be hurting.

I recall paying $9.95 a month for access to the Times on-line. I thought it was for more than just the Op-Ed page. When it became free, so much the better, but I would have continued to pay the ten bucks for on-line access.

I have been getting the Sunday Times delivered, though may cancel it since it doesn't get to my porch until after 11 a.m. and I'm not one of those creative class types who does Sunday Brunch at 2 p.m.

GW, I corrected this for you. You can thank me later.

"The NYT blew it when they accepted, at face value, the false intelligence about "WMD" thrust upon them by the bellicose Bush administration.

Peace out,

ISBP

Actually the NYT played a vital role in proving Dick Cheney was lying about Iraq. His office would leak fake stories to Judith Miller of the Times, the paper wouldn't check them out correctly and would print them, thus helping to market the Iraq War. Dick Cheney would go on the talk shows and react to the stories as if he had just seen them in the Times. We know now for a fact that he and his office had planted them there and that proves Cheney knew he was lying us into the war. Case closed.

ISBP & Bill M.: How could I forget about the whole Judith Miller fiasco? I am a bonehead.

The WSJ runs front-page ads all the time. Given the 400-year history of the newspaper, the sanctity of the ad-free front page is a relatively recent development. And if the NYT can actually make $29 million annually with the things (as predicted), more power to them.

As for online, the free web content model isn't really negotiable. If they charged for web content, you might subscribe, but most people would just read reposted articles on blogs. They have to have done the math to know that they make more from the millions of impressions they get by giving away the paper online than the would through subscriptions.

Even so, online revenue is peanuts compared to print, and that doesn't seem likely to change any time soon.

Thinking about the demise of the newspapers again, I was reminded of something that I think was a sign that they would have be short-lived as soon as people had an alternative: their rudeness to contributors.

Having had letters to the editor and op-eds published in a great number of papers (including letters only in NYT and WaPo, op-eds in more than a dozen others), the one thing I observe that makes the Podunk Herald much like the Times and other major papers is that they all treat unpaid contributors -- people who, for free, provide them with the best content that they have on any given given day (else why would they run it?) on some of the most expensive, most read pages in the paper -- like crap.

The business model of all major and minor papers is to treat people who submit letters and op-eds like crap: Of course, don't pay anything. But, also, don't acknowledge submissions or, if you do, do so only with a form that says, essentially, "don't call us, we'll call you." Demand strict adherence to arbitrary word limits. Don't alert the authors to let them know when you plan to run their work. Demand that the writer tell you how to contact them 24/7, but never use this to contact them. Don't ever consult the author about headline choices -- just because they wrote the article you've decided is the best thing you have for that spot doesn't mean they would have any good ideas for a headline. Same for graphics. In other words, in the newsroom of the 20th C., people who provide you with letters and op-eds should be viewed as mushrooms and treated accordingly: kept in the dark and crapped on.

When there was no alternative forum for getting a message to a lot of people, newspapers could treat people this way and get away with it. Now, with the net providing essentially everyone with a way to throw their two cents in without having to take this kind of guff, no wonder newspapers are falling apart.


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