Stopping the Presses

The Internet has changed the economics of the publishing industry in a way commercial television never did. The price of news and information has irrevocably been pushed way down the supply/demand curve. The Web has also destroyed the functional monopoly of the local daily newspaper with the very high barriers to technical entry. Anyone can be a publisher, and, it seems, these days, most anyone is.

Forbes, 2/22/2005
Also, see Forbes article All The Loyalty That’s Fit To Print, 2/23/2005
“Stopping the Presses” is the pessimistic view (the nightmare of cost-cutting to profitability). But in truth the transition to a new economic model will be bloody .. there’s no way around it. The difficult question raised in the article is: “How serious news organizations will survive when print is in decline but online is not yet generating the revenue to fund expensive newsgathering operations.”
I believe — as someone in the newspaper industry — we will, however, remake ourselves. And while change we must, the industry’s doomsayers might want to remember this quote from Mark Twain: You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

More on newspapers buying Web companies

More on the ABout.com and MarketWatch buys:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Newspaper publishers, often seen as stodgy and slow-growing, will pay whatever it takes to grab a bigger piece of the fast-growing online advertising market — if two recent deals are any indication.

Reuters, 2/18/2005

Bubble II bubbles

WSJ buying MarketWatch, NYT buying About.com. the Washington Post Co. buying Slate. and a virtual horse race of big Internet players buying up startups with promising technologies all point to the telltale signs of Internet Bubble II.
These may all be good deals, but expect to see a lot of money burned on mergers and acquisitions that would never work and business plans straight from the Meth Lab.
The driver is the growing penetration of “always on” ubiquitous Internet access from broadband in the home, WiFi networks and cell phones.
And newspaper companies are scrambling to redouble their efforts to be part of the next “New, New Thing” (to steal the title of Michael Lewis‘ 2000 book).
Frank Arhens’ Feb. 20, piece in the Washington Post “Hard News, Daily Papers Face Unprecedented Competition . . ..” nails the issues for newspapers.

“I could argue pretty forcefully that the free model and the non-newsprint model is what we’re looking at in the future,” said San Francisco Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein. “Things are moving far quicker than we thought a few years ago” to new outlets besides ink-on-paper.

Can we make the transition? If we play it smart, we can (… I hope).