Web hipsters have long had a field day scoffing at Old Media Companies’ supposed ignorance. It’s a little silly at time. “OMG, they didn’t recognize a picture of the guy who started Craigslist!” No, they didn’t, but that doesn’t meant they’ve failed to notice that Craigslist is eating away their revenue from classifieds.
So it’s often overblown. All businesses have some good ideas and bad ideas — Google does a lot of things right, and yet it launched Google+.
But then you read something like this:
Newspaper websites, can they be eliminated? – SportsJournalists.com discussion thread
That’s enough to make you wonder what the heck we’re doing here.
Oh sure, you could possibly make a freebie weekly work with an editorial staff of two and a whole bunch of underwriting from local realtors. I somehow doubt that’s the long-term strategy of many major metros.
A colleague of mine once said: “This is the Information Age. Information is on computers. Any questions?”
That was in 1995. Now, the audience is on computers. All day and most of the night, to butcher The Kinks’ song.
So you can reach that audience — and have your content visible in search engines, Twitter, Facebook, etc. — or you can hope that someone is going grab your printed paper off a newsstand on the off-chance that they’ll stumble into your brilliant story on page 5.
Seriously — we’re still asking these questions?
The question we need to be asking is how we’re going to make the websites and other apps bring in more money. Slowly but surely, advertisers should realize that their targeted ads and display sizes on the Web and the iPad are better than a small random ad on page 2 of a newspaper. (Sunday inserts and full-page ads, on the other hand, should still be good buys — good news for those of us who don’t want print to disappear completely.)
And the NYTimes model has potential. It keeps the site’s content out there to be discovered by non-subscribers, AND it encourages people to subscribe. (Yes, I know a lot of you are freeloaders. The article addresses that. And pay up, cheapskates.)
If that doesn’t work for your paper, try something else. Leave the backwards time travel to Superman and the Enterprise.