Times keep getting tougher for Traditional Newspapers
As I write this post, the venerable Chicago Tribune and the Lost Angeles Times teeter on bankruptcy. The New York Times Company (NYT) plans to borrow up to $225M against its mid-Manhattan headquarters building to ease a potential cash flow squeeze. The NYT company has over $1B in debt. Both Seattle papers, The Seattle Times and the Post-Intelligencer, are announcing that the “dead tree edition” will be smaller in size, and presumably in content. All of the foregoing papers, and many others, have already made painful cuts to their staffs and likely will continue to make further cuts. Despite these losses, the online versions of all of these newspapers are enjoying more views than ever. There is no shortage of people wanting to read the news, it just so happens that online traditional media have not found a business model that monetizes these online eyeballs.
I for one, read far more newspapers now than I ever did when you had to buy your newspaper in print form. Paradoxical. I leave it to others to put forth the reasons and why-fors of this financial crisis in traditional media. But one thing I would add, traditional media have been very slow to adapt to changing technologies. As early as the mid-90s anyone with any sense knew that the future lay online. Yet it took well over a decade for most newspapers to recognize the need for an online presence. Even then, they still failed to fully comprehend the trends in social media and the net. The irony is that you can read the NY Times technology section to catch up on web trends and wonder if the editor is also reading the same section. I suspect that there is a means vs. substance disconnect in journalists, especially the old school types. Whatever it is, they better catch one quick cause they are dying a slow and painful death.
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