Another round of angst, please
With all the wreckage in the newspaper industry lately, the angst is flowing on the Net like Niagara Falls. Still, it's worth taking a moment to read Tom Mangan's lament about what is happening at the San Jose Mercury News. Tom is a copy editor there.
Tom's more into hiking now and runs a good blog on that (that, frankly, probably could put a fair amount of coin in his pocket if he ever leaves the Merc). But his latest post at his main site brings back the days when he ran one of the first news industry observer sites. For instance, this from his latest:
Tom references a site, newspaperdeathwatch. If you want the daily blow-by-blow, stick its RSS feed in your reader. But while you're at it, read a 2006 treatise by its proprietor, Paul Gillen, in which he lays out the industry's collapse but also summarizes fairly neatly how journalism is likely to change. I share his dismay and excitement at the same time.
What happened was newspapers kept expecting somebody to show them the way in the Internet era but failed to notice that Google and Yahoo were inventing Internet advertising. Now the technology belongs to somebody else.
All this has been hashed out in excruciating detail all over the Web, with new predictions of the newspaper industry’s demise showing up daily — tempered with forced optimism that something better is on the horizon. It’s like that “you’re going to a better place” business people feel compelled to tell the doomed on their deathbeds. The dying know it’s a lie, but it’s such bad form to correct somebody when they’re trying to cheer you up.
While you're at it, makes sure you read David Sullivan's take on the whole Bay Area newspaper debacle. It's a wonderfully insightful post that suggests geography, as much as the concentration of the digiterati in that area, has been a driving force. (If you haven't been following Sullivan's chapter-by-chapter examination of the parallels between department stores and newspapers, you should be.)
BTW: Hearst's former CEO and now vice chairman tells newspaper execs to learn to ditch the 30 percent margins and live with 15 to 20 percent. Live with? Hell, there are CEO's all over who would sell their mothers for that kind of margin.