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Moody's Downgrades GateHouse, Bankruptcy Is Possible--Is there any future left for local newspapers?
Pulaski County Daily News ^ | 10/13/2009 | Darrell Todd Maurina

Posted on 10/13/2009 2:25:37 AM PDT by darrellmaurina

Sometimes a news story is so bad and filled with such dark clouds that there's no way to find much of a silver lining. That's the case with GateHouse Media, owner of many small-market newspapers in the United States. The staff of Editor & Publisher, one of the two main trade publications in journalism, write this about GateHouse Media: "The Street stopped believing the GateHouse Media story long ago, forcing it into the Pink Sheets as a penny stock. Now comes Moody’s Investors Service declaring Thursday its “over-leveraged capital structure to be unsustainable.” This is based on the decision by Moody's to tell investors that the company is likely headed for bankruptcy. It's easy to blame liberal bias -- anyone who knows me knows I have usually been the most conservative man in the newsrooms where I've worked. There are reasons why the major national networks and national newspapers are struggling, but FOX News, the Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal, and similar right-of-center news operations are doing fairly well. The root of the problem, however, is not debt or bias, but the role of the Internet in delivering news. Why pay for something that comes a day late at best when you can get the news online for free and immediately after it's written? Print media is rapidly becoming much like blacksmiths making horseshoes when the automobile was in the early stages of becoming a mass-market item.

(Excerpt) Read more at pulaskicountyweb.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Editorial; News/Current Events; US: Missouri
KEYWORDS: gatehouse; media; newspapers

1 posted on 10/13/2009 2:25:38 AM PDT by darrellmaurina
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To: darrellmaurina

Moody’s should downgrade itself for the damage they did to the US economy. They collected commissions to slap bogus ratings on all the trillions in fixed securities they graded AAA, when they were nothing but toxic waste.
Their opinion isn’t worth a bucket of spit on anything.


2 posted on 10/13/2009 2:37:42 AM PDT by Proud_USA_Republican ("The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.")
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To: darrellmaurina

we will soon get our news on ereaders. The local newspapers will only survive if they concentrate on producing local news, sports, obituaries, etc. In order to survive they will have to cut costs rapidly, which they are reluctant to do. They had a monopoly on news, which is gone. Technology always replaces these monopolies and the aftermath is ugly.

National news, classifieds, etc can be produced cheaply/free on the web


3 posted on 10/13/2009 2:38:16 AM PDT by cowtowney
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To: darrellmaurina

The question is asked in your article:

————The root of the problem, however, is not debt or bias, but the role of the Internet in delivering news. Why pay for something that comes a day late at best when you can get the news online for free and immediately after it’s written?-—————

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2191974/posts

The answer: (which comes in the form of another question:

==========For years, publishers and editors have asked the wrong question: Will people pay to access my newspaper content on the Web? The right question is: What kind of journalism can my staff produce that is different and valuable enough that people will pay for it online?========

Bias plays a much bigger role here than this writer wishes to acknowledge.

Local papers are in a totally unique position to where they often times have a monopoly on the news in their area. So even if it’s a day late, they still hold the key.

And because their bias is such, people still don’t want to hear it.


4 posted on 10/13/2009 2:40:18 AM PDT by Halfmanhalfamazing ( Those who have never failed work for those of us who have. - Henry Ford)
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To: darrellmaurina
...I have usually been the most conservative man in the newsrooms where I've worked.

I don't know anything about the author but this statement may tell more than he means to tell.

5 posted on 10/13/2009 2:40:46 AM PDT by FreePaul
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To: darrellmaurina
The local newspaper (Gatehouse) in my hometown is next to useless. The front page is usually some insipid puff piece about some new restaurant in the area and there is hardly any content of note inside of it. The police blotter is the most exciting part about it (usually cat up a tree in my neck of the woods).

A week or two back, the newspaper was pink. Some PC crap about homosexual marriage or breast cancer or something. Pretty lame.

The Wall Street Journal is the only newspaper left that I would actually pay money for.

6 posted on 10/13/2009 2:53:06 AM PDT by SamAdams76 (I am 18 days away from outliving Laura Branigan)
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To: darrellmaurina

Is there any future left for local newspapers?

You are still going to need something to put on the bottom of your birdcage.


7 posted on 10/13/2009 2:58:34 AM PDT by Berlin_Freeper
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To: Berlin_Freeper
You are still going to need something to put on the bottom of your birdcage.

Well, if they put the One's face on the currency that replaces the dollar, you could use those.

8 posted on 10/13/2009 6:18:36 AM PDT by thulldud (It HAS happened here!)
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To: FreePaul

I actually agree with much of what my critics here are writing, and have said similar things in the past with regard to the national media and the large metropolitan media.

And for the benefit of people who are wondering about my own politics, I was knocking on doors for Ronald Reagan all the way back in 1980 and was supervising campaign workers in six precincts a few years later for the Republican Party. I’m a lifelong Republican, and I’m no RINO — I was a Reagan supporter back when the Republican establishment considered him a dangerous man whose nomination would cost the Republicans their best chance to defeat Jimmy Carter.

The questions several people here have raised are part of the problem of posting an opinion piece written for a local audience on a nationally-read board like Free Republic. I decided the subject matter of my article was of broad enough interest that it was worth posting here, but in a different context, I’d agree completely with several of the people posting that bias plays a much bigger role in the collapse of the “mainstream” news media than most reporters want to admit. I’ve been saying for more than twenty years — actually closer to 25 years, dating back to my college journalism classes — that newspapers cannot survive if they continue to be totally out of synch with their readers’ political and social views.

However, even the conservative newspapers are having problems. It’s not just a problem of liberal bias, and especially at the level of rural midwestern American newspapers (since my subject was GateHouse Media, that’s important — except for the recently-acquired New England division, most of GateHouse’s newspapers are small midwestern papers) liberal bias isn’t anywhere near as big of a problem as it is in major cities. The problem is affecting newspapers as a whole, and hurting even conservative newspapers.

We have at least five separate and largely unrelated problems that have come together in a “perfect storm” to wreck the news media. Those include:

1. Massive debt has been taken on in recent years by most of the major newspaper companies because they decided the only way to survive was to acquire as many newspapers as possible to provide an economy of scale. There are some things which can be done much more cheaply by one group of 50 or 100 newspapers than by any of them individually, and newspaper owners in the last couple of decades made a deliberate decision that the cost of debt service was not only worth the expense but was an unavoidable expense.

2. The economic downturn has cut profits at the same time that uncontrollable expenses have shot skyward, and newspapers with large debt service loads are faced with only one option: cutting back on the news content that is their only “hook” to attract readers.

3. The trend toward corporate newspaper ownership and away from local newspaper ownership has made the pre-existing problem of “nomad journalism” even worse than it already was. Reporters today move so frequently in their efforts to be promoted to larger newspapers that they often never learn what is really happening in the towns where they live. The result is a poor-quality product that provides little value to paying readers who, all too often, know the community quite a bit better than the reporter who is supposed to be telling them what happened. A contributing factor is that if a young reporters’ goal is to write for a large liberal metropolitan newspaper, he’s going to start out in small town America where his views don’t match community at all, and will try to leave at his earliest opportunity.

4. Both technological changes and our public education system are progressively “dumbing down” American society and turning Americans from a literate culture to a visual culture. That benefits television and radio at the expense of newspapers, but it also means the declining number of people willing to read serious journalism are turning to the internet which can deliver lots of content at the same speed as television. Many newspapers are killing themselves by responding to this trend by running short articles that provide no better content than somebody could get off their television set for free, but even those newspapers which are still providing solid meat to their paying readers are struggling with trying to find a way to get people to buy a newspaper when they can get the content for free off the newspaper’s internet website.

5. The media as a whole has moved so far to the political and social left that most people in the working press, even conservative reporters like me, get hurt. Fifty years ago, people understood that there were conservative newspapers and liberal newspapers, and people picked their preference. Today, far too many conservatives have forgotten that the First Amendment was not written by the ACLU but rather by the Founding Fathers who believed a free press was essential to preserve constitutional government. Because it has been at least two full generations since most people have had a conservative media ooption in their local city, lots of people who love FOX News at the national level for its coverage of national issues have forgotten what a conservative local newspaper looks like and don’t understand what a great benefit a local conservative reporter could be at their city council and school board meetings, ferreting out efforts by elected officials to raise taxes, seize private property, abuse citizens, or do other things that frequently pass under the radar today because the local reporter either doesn’t care or is too new in town to understand what’s happening, or perhaps doesn’t even show up at meetings anymore because of cutbacks.

Most of these five problems are not directly related to each other, but they’re combining to destroy newspapers all across America.

There are places where liberal newspapers should be doing very well — San Francisco, for example. But they aren’t, and that city could end up being the first major metro American city that no longer has a daily newspaper. Why? Technology is the issue: people don’t see a need to get their news a day late and pay for the privilege when they can get it for free off the internet. And likewise, conservative newspapers in conservative communities are having problems, due in large measure to technological changes in the way people get their news.

I do, however, see one major good thing that’s coming out of this. Since at least the end of World War II and probably since the 1920s, it has been prohibitively expensive to start up a newspaper in all but the most unusual situations. It took the money of Sun Myung Moon and Rupert Murdoch to start the Washington Times and FOX News, and those people aren’t very common. The result of the incredibly high “buy-in” cost to purchase or start a print newspaper, television station or cable news operation has been that most of our cities are one-newspaper towns and the FCC’s rules have pretty much prevented the development of conservative local television stations.

Today, with the tremendously lower costs to run an online newspaper operation, it is at least conceivable that we could see news media startups from a conservative perspective in many of our American cities. I’m trying very hard to do that outside Fort Leonard Wood in central Missouri, against very difficult odds in the current economy. And like all clear-headed start-up businessmen, I know full well that most new businesses fail.

Long-term, regardless of my own personal success or failure, I believe the rise of the internet could provide the best chance in at least half a century for local conservative news media to provide at the local level what FOX is doing nationally.

I hope that clarifies what I believe for a Free Republic audience.


9 posted on 10/13/2009 7:05:48 AM PDT by darrellmaurina
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To: abb; Milhous

Ping.


10 posted on 10/13/2009 12:16:50 PM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (SPENDING without representation is tyranny. To represent us you have to READ THE BILLS.)
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To: darrellmaurina

All the frustrated letter-to-the-editor writers (and I’m one of them along with just about every FReeper here) can now blog. I started one four months ago. We can go the City Council/School Board/County Commission meetings and quite well take the place of local newspapers. And we don’t have to worry about advertisers keeping us from writing the story about the Mayor’s nephew who owns a construction company getting all the good contracts with the city.

See this story in Newsweek about how this is likely to play out.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/216703
Bloggers across the country are obsessively chronicling small-town life.

One other thing to keep in mind - newspapers, radio, television and magazines were never more than information distribution systems. They never “made” news - they just told about it. That function is now being taken over by the internet, just as the telephone supplanted the telegraph.


11 posted on 10/13/2009 12:28:42 PM PDT by abb ("What ISN'T in the news is often more important than what IS." Ed Biersmith, 1942 -)
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To: darrellmaurina; abb; Anima Mundi; ebiskit; TenthAmendmentChampion; Obadiah; Mind-numbed Robot; ...
An interesting article, and especially an interesting reply at #9 with its "clarifi[cation of] what I believe for a Free Republic audience." I'm pointing it out to some folks who might be interested.
You note that there are hardly any conservative papers left, but indicate that there were some fifty years ago. I'm old enough to remember not just Ronald Reagan but Senator Joseph McCarthy, and IMHO there wasn't really any conservative journalism even in the 1950s, when I was in my teens. I stipulate that there were conservative editorial pages - as the Wall Street Journal has a conservative editorial page today - but IMHO "straight news" is anticonservative, inherently.
Today, far too many conservatives have forgotten that the First Amendment was not written by the ACLU but rather by the Founding Fathers who believed a free press was essential to preserve constitutional government.
I agree with you, but not precisely. If you wanted to trouble to follow the link to this article and its hundreds and hundreds of replies, you would see me struggling to get my arms around the issue of "bias in the media." Coming at it from a libertarian perspective, and not looking for a conspiracy by trying to understand why journalism had the bias that it so transparently (once one looks the facts in the eye) did, and does, have.

But, to my surprise, I find myself having produced something very like a "conspiracy theory." I have found a villain. You note that

most of the major newspaper companies . . . decided the only way to survive was . . . to provide an economy of scale. There are some things which can be done much more cheaply by one group of 50 or 100 newspapers than by any of them individually, and newspaper owners in the last couple of decades made a deliberate decision that the cost of debt service was not only worth the expense but was an unavoidable expense
. . . and that is my villain. But it didn't happen yesterday, it started in the middle of the Nineteenth Century. Prior to that time newspapers were pretty open about their politics, and famously fractious in their independence. But those early newspapers generally weren't dailies; most of them were weeklies and there were newspapers which had no fixed deadline and just went to press when the printer was good and ready. That was the milieu of the newspaper business in the founding era when the First Amendment was written and ratified.

Then lightning struck. It is known as "the telegraph." Suddenly the newspapers which had operated on a business model which was more about selling the perspective of the printer were in a position to print information to which the general public could not be privy until the local newspaper committed the story from the AP newswire to print and started selling the newspaper. In a (historical) instant, the business changed from printing the opinion of the printer to printing stories from the newswire, with the "editorial page" thrown in for the printers opinions. There was no hiding the concentration of propaganda power which the AP entailed, and challenges were made on that basis. Those challenges were fended off by noting that the AP member newspapers notoriously didn't agree on much of anything, and claiming that therefore the AP itself was objective.

That sounded logical, sort of, and people bought it because the alternative was to hinder the ability of the public to get news reports in days which historically had taken weeks to arrive from distant places. But in reality the AP was a blender which homogenized newspapers even while the editorial pages retained their independence. De facto, the "fractiously independent" newspapers became mere fronts for the AP. You see that in the absolute refusal of any journalist to question the "objectivity" of any other journalist - precisely the mechanism Dan Rather and CBS counted on to initially sell and, once the cover was blown by FR and later by bloggers, to stonewall the obvious political motivation of, the "Texas Air National Guard Memo" hoax.

"People of the same trade seldom meet together even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public or some contrivance to raise prices." - Adam Smith
Smith goes on to say that on that account it was a bad thing for tradesmen to assemble together, and that although it could not be entirely prevented in a free country, the government should certainly do nothing to promote it. Certainly Smith was right - and certainly that problem is even more difficult when the "tradesmen" in question are dealing not with things but with information and ideas. But that does not change the fact that we-the-people need, not "a free press," but free and independent presses. The singular "the press" we have presumes to wear the name "the press" as a title of nobility which it presumes entitles it to prerogatives not available to the people generally.

Newspaper sale$ decline should be blamed on the journos
By Jack Kelly
:

People who work at journalism full time ought to be able to do a better job of it than people for whom it is a hobby. But that's not going to happen as long as we "professional" journalists ignore stories we don't like and try to hide our mistakes. We think of ourselves as "gatekeepers." But there is not much future in being a gatekeeper when the walls are down.
With the internet in being, the "walls" of communication delay between distant places are obliterated. The AP as a homogenizing influence on American journalism no longer has a justifying rationale. According to this interesting web site put up by a college teacher, the AP was found to be in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act 'way back in 1945; today IMHO it should be sued into oblivion.

Further elucidation of my perspective here.


12 posted on 10/13/2009 3:01:55 PM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (SPENDING without representation is tyranny. To represent us you have to READ THE BILLS.)
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To: darrellmaurina

I work for a Freedom paper, and we are struggling a great deal as well despite being fairly conservative.


13 posted on 10/13/2009 3:04:25 PM PDT by rwfromkansas ("Carve your name on hearts, not marble." - C.H. Spurgeon)
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To: darrellmaurina

Hyperlocal is king. The question is, are co-ops or other similar startups a good idea?

I am not exactly fond of my reporter’s salary, but I am glad to get paid for doing something I love. These new startups typically can’t pay anything remotely close to what a paper can (not that they pay much either of course), so I have a hard time imagining they would take off.

Regardless, I do wish you luck.


14 posted on 10/13/2009 3:23:47 PM PDT by rwfromkansas ("Carve your name on hearts, not marble." - C.H. Spurgeon)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
Simply excellent, again, c_I_c.

Thanks for the ping, an illuminating essay.

15 posted on 10/13/2009 3:33:00 PM PDT by Landru (If you want to perform for 15 mins, 30 mins, 1 hour, 5 days, a YEAR! Call...)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion

Also of late, a remarkable thing has happened and that is the general inability of people to properly parse a correctly written complex sentence and arrive at the writer’s essential meaning:

“’People of the same trade seldom meet together even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public or some contrivance to raise prices.’ - Adam Smith”

Strip the above quote of its descriptive assertions and you get the text message version:

People of the same trade seldom meet but to raise prices.

Bare of contrivance and motive, bias or affliliation the raw fact remains that in numbers there is power.


16 posted on 10/13/2009 6:43:49 PM PDT by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, then writes again.)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion

BTTT


17 posted on 10/13/2009 9:48:31 PM PDT by T Lady (The MSM: Pravda West)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion

BTTT


18 posted on 10/14/2009 3:00:37 AM PDT by E.G.C.
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To: darrellmaurina

Darrell, subscription and sales income from newspapers basically paid for the cost of printing and distribution. The real money was in advertising sales.

Nothing is lost by going online instead of print. No print, no print and distribution costs, a wash. Online advertising can be much more effective than print advertising and more widely distributed.

So, why try to charge for accessing a news website? You are in better shape giving access away than you were when you printed the paper.


19 posted on 10/14/2009 4:23:18 AM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government)
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To: Mind-numbed Robot

Papers so far aren’t having much luck with online advertising. The return is much less.


20 posted on 10/14/2009 6:52:29 AM PDT by rwfromkansas ("Carve your name on hearts, not marble." - C.H. Spurgeon)
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To: rwfromkansas

Best of luck in a free enterprise world. Free entertise may be on the way out. What are you going to do then?


21 posted on 10/14/2009 6:20:58 PM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government)
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To: rwfromkansas

I wish you well in Freedom Communications. I used to be the military, police and religion reporter for the Clovis News Journal outside Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico, which is a Freedom Communications newspaper.

I’m not a classic libertarian and I don’t fully share Freedom Communications’ underlying philosophy — I fall much closer to the “Christian right” perspective, though as the son of a Republican politican, I am painfully aware that politics is the “art of the possible.” Also, I think a lot of people in the “Moral Majority” camp fail to appreciate that the original intent of the Constitution when it comes to religious establishment issues, when written in the late 1700s, was quite different from the intent of the founders of Puritan New England. The Constitution was a deliberate compromise between religiously disparate views held throughout the former colonies, and quite specifically was crafted to allow men like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson to hold office who would have been barred from voting rights and possibly even executed for blasphemy in New England, Scotland, or England in the early or middle 1600s.

However, I did enjoy my time at Freedom Communications. It’s one of the very few places I’ve worked over the years that had any sort of consistent worldview motivating its work, and adherence to a basically libertarian philosophy of individual rights is not a bad thing compared to the unspoken socialism and “it takes a village” mentality that dominates much of the media culture. Given the choice between what goes on at Freedom Communciations and what goes on in most of the rest of the media, I hope Freedom is able to survive its bankruptcy proceedings and retain some form of family ownership and libertarian ideology.


22 posted on 10/17/2009 5:50:49 AM PDT by darrellmaurina
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To: abb

I like your link (which is here: http://www.newsweek.com/id/216703/), and I agree that community commentary and blogs, when they exist, are filling in for traditional print reporting. That’s especially true in suburban areas where the local daily has cut back on coverage of the “meat and potatoes” of city, school, police and fire coverage and is focusing only on the core coverage area of its city, leaving a news vacuum for bloggers because **SOMEBODY** has to cover those things.

Things are a little different in rural America where small local daily newspapers are generally still functioning and provide viable competition.

Here outside Fort Leonard Wood, at the Pulaski County Daily News (http://www.pulaskicountydaily.com/) I am partnering with a pre-existing commentary site, the Pulaski County Web (http://www.pulaskicountyweb.com/) run by a local businessman who started his site a decade ago because the local newspaper wasn’t doing its job; in the last half-decade since I’ve been in this community, he had moved more toward commentary than news because he could rely on my news reporting in the local daily print newspaper, and now that I am in business for myself running an internet news operation, we now have an arrangement where I post my lead paragraphs and a link to my articles on his site, and the comments for my articles are hosted on his site. It works well and builds traffic for both of us.

After reading the Newsweek article, I am beginning to think I have a marketing problem and need to spend more time promoting myself (which personally I hate doing, but I know is necessary). I do think conservative reporting has a future, and that future is on the internet.

Furthermore, since the simple fact is that most small business entrepreneurs tend to be politically conservative because they understand economics, we may see a resurgence of political conservatism in the news media as the majority of laid-off liberal reporters go on welfare or into academia (but I repeat myself) and laid-off conservative reporters decide to find a way to make what they love, writing the news, into a viable business proposition. I left traditional print journalism on my own, but lots of people are leaving because they don’t have a choice, and necessity can often be the mother of invention.

Newsweek thinks this blogger is doing something new with her site, but I’ve been doing it for years. This quote from Newsweek could describe me, except that I’ve been doing this for years and it’s nothing new in small towns with a small daily newspaper to have not only me but one or more of my competitors show up at car crashes, and now I’m doing it on the web:

“Connic shows up at so many auto accidents that for a time Millburn Fire Chief Michael Roberts began going too, just so he could deal with Connic’s questions while his firefighters worked. At Millburn town hall, town administrator Timothy Gordon often spends part of his week alerting the Millburn Township Committee about what news Connic is likely to break next—so they hear it from him, not from her blog. For decades the locals got their news from a sleepy weekly newspaper, but now, with Connic, rival bloggers, and the ‘citizen journalists’ they recruit walking the Millburn beat 24/7, Gordon sometimes has trouble staying abreast of town controversies. ‘They can come across problems before [town officials] know about them,’ Gordon says.”

Now take that “hyperlocal” model, add an underlying conservative ideology to it, and I think we’ve got a viable chance of fixing the media mess for the 21st century by providing a viable conservative media option in the marketplace of news as well as the marketplace of ideas.


23 posted on 10/17/2009 6:29:01 AM PDT by darrellmaurina
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To: Mind-numbed Robot; rwfromkansas; conservatism_IS_compassion

I’m responding to several different people here who wrote similar things.

First, I agree with at least the broad outline of conservatism_IS_compassion’s essay. I’m not sure about the particulars, and I will need to read the thousand-plus comments to fully understand his perspective, so I don’t want to say much more now.

What I will say is this, and I think I’m agreeing with conservatism_IS_compassion’s essay when I say it — I am fundamentally in support of a diversity of ideas, of the free market, and of rewarding employees based on their value to their employers. All of those concepts are almost diametrically opposite to how the culture of a typical newsroom works. “Groupthink” is not helpful to anyone, quashing initiative and punishing hard work are the symptoms of bureaucracy that’s supported by taxes and not the marketplace, and the only reason the modern media has gotten away with things so long is that the “buy-in” factor was so high that it took the money of a Rupert Murdoch or a Sun Myung Moon to start a competing news organization.

Second, I have never been a supporter of internet paywalls, which make people pay to see articles on a per-article or a subscription basis. I don’t use them on the Pulaski County Daily News, and I argued (with mixed success) against them for print newspaper websites at four different newspapers over the last decade and a half. They seem to work for the Wall Street Journal, and that’s fine, but they are such an unusual case that their business model is more comparable to a specialized stock newsletter with a high subscription price paid by high-earning readers. For the average news consumer, I believe the advertiser-supported model of television and radio is the only viable way to make an internet web news operation work.

So how do you go about making that work?

That is emphatically **NOT** an easy task. Twenty years from now if I succeed, I’ll be able to say that if I can start a successful news operation in the middle of a news media collapse and a recession that may become a depression, I can do virtually anything. The structural challenges are tremendous and cannot be minimized.

It’s easy to say that traditional print media are no longer viable. I agree, and that’s why I quit after two decades in the newspaper business and am trying to run an online news operation.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Online news revenue is only a tiny fraction of the revenue drawn in by broadcast and print media, and there are many reasons for that.

Some of those reasons will change as online media become more common, but among the problems are that the people making advertising decisions tend to be older and are less likely to rely on the internet, the audience is not yet anywhere close to broadcast media levels (but is rapidly approaching print media levels — my own daily readership has exceeded my local print newspaper’s paid subscription levels and should soon exceed its total copy run) and there’s an inherent conservatism of rural businesspeople who are hesitant to throw away money on an unproven new technology of any sort.

Plus there’s a credibility factor. Most online news operations today are more-or-less one-man shows, at least as far as paid staff are concerned. Of the two major exceptions, the Christian Science Monitor is a special case and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer laid off about 90 percent of its news staff when it went to an online-only operation, and is working with a shoestring budget.

That can work well in a small town; lots of small newspapers have effectively had only one main news reporter for years and many behind-the-scenes functions like layout, design, and ad composition are either unnecessary online or can, if necessary, be done by a reporter who understands HTML and graphic design principles.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Editors and copy editors and photographers and similar people are there for a reason. Small-town news operations make mistakes because those people either aren’t there or are so overworked that they can’t do their jobs effectively. There is a legitimate credibility problem with small news operations, whether in print or online, and at least for a while until the mainstream media collapses, print media does have a reservoir of credibility that dates back decades as a viable advertising option for large businesses. They may have little credibility when it comes to news biases, but it wasn’t that long ago that they **WERE** able to clearly deliver customers for their advertisers. Online media have not yet proven to a lot of advertisers that they work, and what seems to be happening is that advertisers are cutting their print ads and putting their money into their pockets rather than some other non-print medium.


24 posted on 10/17/2009 6:58:31 AM PDT by darrellmaurina
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To: darrellmaurina

Here’s a story I posted just now about a Police Jury (County Commission) meeting I attended yesterday.

http://lincolnparishnewsonline.wordpress.com/

I do my blog as public service. I intend to not worry with advertising or promotion, except by word-of-mouth. My goal is to write unique commentary/news that will in time become “must read” for anyone interested in local/regional government and politics.

And that type of news is out there. How many unreported brother-in-law deals are done by Mayors and School Boards every day? Deals the local weekly is scared to write because of what their advertisers might say?

Our little town here is full of news that doesn’t get reported because of fear of stepped-on toes.

And so is every other little town and county in the country.

But the slack is about to be taken up.


25 posted on 10/17/2009 7:30:18 AM PDT by abb ("What ISN'T in the news is often more important than what IS." Ed Biersmith, 1942 -)
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To: abb
How many unreported brother-in-law deals are done by Mayors and School Boards every day? Deals the local weekly is scared to write because of what their advertisers might say?

Tons of that going on... Government, in one form or another, is the largest employer in such areas...

26 posted on 10/17/2009 7:33:43 AM PDT by Sir Francis Dashwood (Arjuna, why have you have dropped your bow???)
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To: darrellmaurina

Thanks. I am not libertarian either; I am Christian conservative.

But, it’s great. I hope we can turn things around.


27 posted on 10/17/2009 9:13:57 AM PDT by rwfromkansas ("Carve your name on hearts, not marble." - C.H. Spurgeon)
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To: darrellmaurina
Dear darrellmaurina,

Thanks for some very interesting posts.

I'm a newspaper person. By that, I mean, I've always been a reader of newspapers. I got hooked when I was eight years old during the 1968 election campaign. Had to have my fix of the WashPost every morning before school.

At one point, we subscribed to both the Post and the Washington Times.

But I canceled my subscription to the Washington Lying Thieving Post (that's who I made the check out to every month for my subscription - they always cashed it - I view that as an admission on their part) the better part of two decades ago, and just recently canceled the Times as it drifts leftward under the direction of the Postie who now is the top editor.

I look at my own hometown paper, the Annapolis Capital, and I wonder how what you've written applies or fails to apply.

We recently re-subscribed some years after previously canceling our subscription. My wife says we get more in coupons on groceries than we pay for the subscription. That's the only reason to subscribe to the fish wrap.

Currently, we also subscribe to the Wall Street Journal.

When I canceled the subscription to the Capital, I had an involved e-mail discussion with the publisher. The straw that broke the camel's back, the proximate cause of our cancelation was when they'd added a feature to the paper aimed at teens that used inappropriate language. The publisher pointed out to me that the phrase they used for the regular, weekly column, was part of the standard vocabularly for most young folks. I countered that there were any number of words in the standard vocabularly of most young folks that nonetheless shouldn't be printed as part of the title of a weekly column.

He argued that he was trying to attract new readership from groups that traditionally don't read newspapers. I wished him luck with that, but suggested that racy headlines probably weren't the answer.

He felt that I was pretty much an over-the-top Christian zealot out of touch with the real world. We homeschool, and he focused in on that, telling me that we were even over the top for homeschoolers. But he did put it very nicely, very diplomatically. LOL. In any event, I told him that if he didn't immediately cancel the column and expressly apologize in writing to the newspaper's subscribers for it, I'd cancel. He didn't and I did.

Ironically, the column didn't seem to attract any new readers, and they canceled it within weeks of my canceling my subscription.

What I took away from this experience is that newspaper people are generally very stupid. I have two nephews who have degrees in journalism or communications, and my anecdotal experience with these two mush-brains conforms to the overall theory.

What was so stupid, and the Capital's publisher was so blind to, was that in seeking to try to get new subscribers from non-traditional groups of folks, newspaper folks often turn off the folks who are actually inclined to read newspapers. Imitating the Internet by filling the front page with large, colorful photos and increasingly smaller, more poorly-written articles often lacking basic facts doesn't make me want to read newspapers more. I'm reading the newspaper because I LIKE the written word.

I LIKE when someone writes a good, informative, tight news story that quickly answers Who, What, Where, When and Why (and an occasional How). I LIKE the effort, at least, to report objectively. I LIKE it when the writer of the story evinces some background knowledge of the subject of his story, as opposed to writing the story in such a way as to expose the fact that he never even HEARD of the subject of the story before the story was assigned to him.

I understand the problem that perhaps my demographic (folks who love to read newspapers as we traditionally knew them) is shrinking. But their efforts to add readership and subscribers needs to be additive.


sitetest

28 posted on 10/17/2009 10:12:26 AM PDT by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: darrellmaurina; abb
Enjoyed your reply, thanks for the agreement. In my previous post, I linked to

Why Broadcast Journalism is Unnecessary and Illegitimate, and you sound like you have taken the time to read some of it, which I always appreciate and to any reponse on which I always reply with alacrity.

But although there is some interesting stuff, and particularly links to interesting threads, in it that is not replicated in

The Right to Know,

that thread is newer and is a good summary of my present understanding of the issue of freedom of the press. And it has the not-inconsiderable virtue of being much shorter. The primary point in referencing the earlier thread is that it shows clearly that I did not come to the issue with the idea of finding a single villain, but rather I went into it looking for the economic factors which would explain why journalism is so powerfully correlated with leftism. It just turns out that those economic factors which I have identified are expressed in an organization - the AP - which arose in the mid-Nineteenth Century and is still alive and kicking.

As to your current business endeavor, I wish you well. Have you considered looking for people like abb and making common cause with them, by linking to their reports and becoming an aggregator? I highly recommend 4 Advances that Set News Back to your attention. The link is to an FR thread in which I posted the stuff most germane to my own perspective; they seem to have changed their site so that the FR link takes you only to a login page and not directly to the parts I wanted to refer to. But I suspect you might find it rewarding to log in to the site.


29 posted on 10/17/2009 10:25:46 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (SPENDING without representation is tyranny. To represent us you have to READ THE BILLS.)
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