Monday, February 23, 2009

Whither Newspapers?

Thanks to Teleread for pointing me toward an op/ed in today's Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that addresses the ailing newspaper industry.

The WSJ riffs on that platitude of the Information Age, "Information wants to be free," when it says:
. . . "Information also wants to be expensive." The right information in today's complex economy and society can make a huge difference in our professional and personal lives. Not having this information can also make a big difference, especially if someone else does have it. And for valuable information, online is a great new way for it to be valued.

It's past time for news companies to regain the courage to ask readers whether what they produce is worth paying for online.
The Wall Street Journal has over a million paid subscribers (along with 20 million free readers) and the op/ed's author, L. Gordon Crovitz, argues that the challenge for papers today is to determine what content readers will value enough to pay for it online.

I have a brother who is a popular newspaper sports columnist. We've spent lots of hours over the past few years discussing the future of newspapers. For years, I subscribed to BOTH the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Times Herald (which went defunct in December, 1991). In November, 2005, I cancelled my subscription to the Morning News because I got tired of their editorial bias slipping into straight news stories.

Nowadays, I scan newspapers from around the world online. And I stop by Newseum here to check on their top ten front pages around the U.S.

In the same way that I hope New York publishers figure out how to operate successfully in a digital world, I hope newspapers can work out a model that will make them successful in today's electronic environment.

Go here to read the WSJ editorial.

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