Happy new year everyone!
The New Yorker had a nice, concise piece on the financial state of the newspaper industry recently (it’s bad), which concludes:
Does that mean newspapers are doomed? Not necessarily. There are many possible futures one can imagine for them, from becoming foundation-run nonprofits to relying on reader donations to that old standby the deep-pocketed patron. It’s even possible that a few papers will be able to earn enough money online to make the traditional ad-supported strategy work. But it would not be shocking if, sometime soon, there were big American cities that had no local newspaper; more important, we’re almost sure to see a sharp decline in the volume and variety of content that newspapers collectively produce. For a while now, readers have had the best of both worlds: all the benefits of the old, high-profit regime—intensive reporting, experienced editors, and so on—and the low costs of the new one. But that situation can’t last. Soon enough, we’re going to start getting what we pay for, and we may find out just how little that is.
A third alternative could be to bundle a “news service” fee into your monthly Internet service provider bill, as has been proposed for “illegal” music downloading.
In his “Cyber Libertarian” column for Ascii, economist Nobuo Ikeda forecasts that newspapers in Japan will become “platforms”—meaning they will eventually shed the high-cost paper distribution system and even their newsrooms in favor of publishing outsourced content under their venerated imprints.
I am not sure what to make of it all, but it’s fascinating stuff and I would love to hear your thoughts!