Time cover story: how to save your newspaper
Jesus, this couldn’t possibly be sadder. The title should be: “How to initiate a desperate measure, in a vain attempt to maintain the status quo in the newspaper industry.”
This guy actually references a quote from Bill Gates in 1976:
Bill Gates noticed in 1976 that hobbyists were freely sharing Altair BASIC, a code he and his colleagues had written, he sent an open letter to members of the Homebrew Computer Club telling them to stop. “One thing you do is prevent good software from being written,” he railed. “Who can afford to do professional work for nothing?”
No, no, no good technology could ever be developed for free! Oh wait, the systems that run almost every newspaper website (Linux, MySQL, php) are Open Source, not that this guy would even know what that is. Also, I haven’t seen a “freelancer” like Linus Torvalds, a son of journalists, begging for change lately and he “gave away” his product.
The thing that cracks me up about this stuff is that these folks always claim to “Love Journalism.” They don’t love journalism, the love the idea of what they think it should be: heroes of public knowledge who where flack jackets and walk next to tanks and put on disguises to infiltrate crime syndicates then write a “take no prisoners” story and BREAK THE SYSTEM WIDE OPEN, BABY! And no-holds-barred editors who are as flamboyant and out-spoken as they are tough as nails!
Likewise, those who believe that all content should be free should reflect on who will open bureaus in Baghdad or be able to fly off as freelancers to report in Rwanda under such a system.
Who will write the news in Baghdad without the help of the New York Times? Oh wait, people in fucking Baghdad. Bloggers are being censored and murdered around the world, a surefire sign that they are doing something right, without *gasp* the aid of major news outlets.
Newspapers treat bloggers as an ill-informed lot of mouth-breathing geeks with the disdain of the country club lot peering suspiciously at the caddyshack.
The system could be used for all forms of media: magazines and blogs, games and apps, TV newscasts and amateur videos, porn pictures and policy monographs, the reports of citizen journalists, recipes of great cooks and songs of garage bands. This would not only offer a lifeline to traditional media outlets but also nourish citizen journalists and bloggers. They have vastly enriched our realms of information and ideas, but most can’t make much money at it. As a result, they tend to do it for the ego kick or as a civic contribution. A micropayment system would allow regular folks, the types who have to worry about feeding their families, to supplement their income by doing citizen journalism that is of value to their community.
I got some news for you champ: this already exists, it’s called Google ad words, and I don’t know if you’ve heard, but it’s been fairly successful. It’s this fun system where bloggers can put pay per click ads pages and only relevant ads show up. Amazon also has something similar. Then the idea, “They can’t make much money at it.” Awesome amount of ignorance. Like no blogger has ever turned “pro.” Ad networks like BlogHer and The Deck don’t exist. Truly this man embodies the arrogant foolishness of the newspaper industry.
I have never seen a newspaper invent a technology that helps them get their content out, nor have they invented a different way to monetize that content. By the time the get to the party the beer is all gone. So here we are, back at the beginning, “I know some kind of subscription fee!” Eureka! Well, here’s some free advice:
- Get efficient, lose 50% of your management. If you can’t do shit. You are shit. Hit the bricks, pal.
- Lose all of your lifestyle columnists (set them up as competing blogs and see whose really worth it)
- Double your prices on the print edition. Print less, sell less. Phase out the print business or it will phase you out.
- Completely revamp your sales force: everyone sells online.
- Put some resources into R & D. You better figure something out.
- Aggressively find and recruit popular bloggers
- Get MORE aggressive about syndicating your content. More page views = more $.
- Get used to making less money. People don’t realize that printing classified ads was literally cheaper than printing money. That revenue is gone. Let it go and staff accordingly. You probably don’t need a VP of classified advertising anymore.
- Grow up. Take your medicine. Learn, read and explore. It’s a brave new world, get a facebook account. And don’t be a pussy about it.