Friday, December 19, 2008

The Slow Death of the Newspaper Industry is Still Slow and Still Death

DO read the Falconer's recent essay on newspaper hockey reportage (specifically, that of the AJC) versus online content. It was written in response to the news that the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press are cutting their "daily circulation" to three days a week.

With Detroit's newspapers in as bad a way as its crumbling car empires, and the owners of the L.A. Times and the Chicago Tribune declaring bankruptcy (which your Chronicle, with some help from Gary Coleman and a naked Mark Messier, wrote about here), it's quite clear that newspapers as we know them don't have a whole lot of time left. The big ones will find some way to adapt, and in many ways already have, but I'm not sure if a paper like the AJC would survive via online ad revenue alone.

Could the AJC survive through online pay-to-read articles? Like the Falconer, I can't imagine many people PAYING to read Jeff Schultz or Mark Bradley...I would pay to read a few hockey writers with blogs, though. For a reasonable fee, of course.

I happen to think that the blogosphere and the dominance of online media is quite good for things like hockey coverage (less good for writing about culture and politics, but that's another story). Most blogs are bound to be junk, but the good ones are very good indeed. And wildly diverse. And interesting. What's not to like?

And pay for, eventually?*

*Actually, I don't think you readers should pay for any online hockey content. If ad folk were smart, they'd advertise all over the place on quality hockey blogs and the scribes could generate a meager income through ad revenue.


The Falconer said...

I do think that a pay-for-content system could work as long as 1) prices were extremely low and 2) it was very easy to use.

Imagine a web version of the Easy-Pass program people use for the toll roads. If there was an industry wide standard of .02 to .05 per page view online papers like NYTimes, and could receive some money for content that is now free.

I think the future of online publishing is "a la carte" and not "subscriptions". Frankly when it comes to the AJC I only want to pay for two things: news on local politics and beat reports on the Atlanta Thrashers. I get most of my national news from other sources. I follow the Detroit Tigers online.

Older people read papers, young people "articles" that are linked to. I just don't see young people "subscribing to the everything that is offered on, but I can see young people paying 2 cents to read stories about UGA, Falcons, Braves, Thrashers coverage. The only website I "subscribe" to is Baseball Prospectus because its content is unique. I would happily pay to read Peter Gammons baseball column on ESPN, but I don't care about all the other stuff they roll into that "insider" subscription package and I think it is priced too high considering I only care about Gammons.

Most young people are used to e-commerce. If they had something like a paypal/easy-share account set up, I would happily click on articles that only cost pennies because even if it the story was poor I'm only out 2/5 cents. If it was widely adopted by most major papers people would make the switch.

Then again, maybe I'm crazy.

Mortimer Peacock said...

Not crazy at fact, I think I'm convinced.