Saturday, April 11, 2009

Not Necessarily A Contrast

Disagreeing slightly with Eric at the mothership, I'm not sure the quoted excerpts reflect vastly different opinions. I don't hate newspapers. I doubt Markos does. I'd be sad if something similar to printed newspapers didn't continue to exist. I'd be more sad if the best of what those news organization provide ceased to be in any form because the business model went away.

I think what happens in these discussions - and I've been guilty of it myself - is the conflation of a few different issues. One conversation is about how newspapers could change, perhaps shrugging off certain somewhat odd constraints, to be a more appealing product. That's the subscriber side. Another conversation is about the various reasons, other than declining readership, for declining advertising revenue. Still a third conversation is about all the awesome things newspaper organizations coulda shoulda and maybe still could do to improve their internet business model.

And Markos is referencing a fourth conversation,the quietest one, about how some of the companies who own newspapers are in trouble not because the business models are in trouble, but because they just made stupid fucking business decisions. That is, they bought the companies at absurd prices, or just built a shiny new skyscraper, or invested in Egyptian cotton futures, or whatever. These are things which are completely divorced from the daily operations of the newspaper, but which could still bring the companies down.