Wednesday, March 12, 2008

newspapers: not necessarily doomed

Response from August 10 to Henry Blodget post about doomed newspapers:

There are two aspects to what we think of as a "newspaper": the physical medium and the content aggregation of mainstream print journalism.

The physical medium of paper is in many ways superior to our current generation of displays. It won't go away until we have daylight readable 20000:1 contrast-ratio flexible displays. That doesn't mean the print-newspaper business isn't doomed. Subscription numbers are in a nose dive, and still have a long way to fall.

Yet the aggregation of mainstream print journalism via a different medium still has a chance for success. The killer app for mainstream media is producing quality content. Bloggers can't support foreign offices, for example. Micheal Yon, Micheal Totten and other "embedded bloggers" are the exceptions that prove the rule. Distributed locality where you don't need a correspondent in, say, Beijing because Chinese Bloggers cover it, only partially solves this. There is something to be said for an expert outsider reporting news & trends.

So newspapers aren't necessarily screwed. If there were a way to directly support good content proportional to its value, good written journalism provided by online newspapers could survive and even thrive. The high hurdles of subscription and premium content and the indirect path of ad revenue aren't good enough. The article is right about the numbers.

I'm working on a startup that would allow a distributed set of people to directly support online content. In this way, newspapers could evolve to become aggregations of professional bloggers and journalists, providing high quality content for a profit.


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