The Media Hammer

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Posts Tagged ‘AH Belo

If newspapers really are dead, this is why

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I know it’s fashionable to say that a wide variety of things are dead – newspapers, printed books, Elvis, etc.  For the most part the people saying these things have a vested interest in these things being dead sooner rather than later, (except for the fools who keep claiming Elvis is dead – they’re just in denial) declaring things dead at the slightest sign of trouble . 

However, if this is the kind of thing that newspapers are expecting to help save their business maybe they really are dead.  A “new look” for their printed paper is really what these clowns are focused on?  With the quarter that AH Belo, owner of the Providence Journal, just turned in you’d think that their focus would be on new sources of revenue, new delivery methods and new ways of monetizing their content – not rearranging things in a paper whose circulation numbers look uglier by the day. 

I’m sure that the changes at the Journal will be welcomed by some readers, but is this the kind of thing that will increase circulation or help the paper in any meaningful way?  Sure, I guess it could slow the bleeding in their circulation numbers a little bit – but is that a goal that’s worth the resources that likely went into it?  It seems to me that a better use of resources might be increased focus on how to monetize content online – if only so your executive editor doesn’t have to say things like “My favorite three words these days are: I don’t know,” when asked about how the company will charge for their content online.  If I’m an AH Belo shareholder, quotes like that make me want to run for the hills (or at least my broker to sell). 

I’m not sure how long newspapers are going to remain clueless on issues like whether or how to charge for their content,  but I do know that focusing on making trivial changes to your printed paper won’t produce the answer.

If newspapers are going to survive they need to shift their focus from things intended to effect small changes on print circulation to how they are going to make money in the future – craigslist isn’t going away, classified ads aren’t coming back, and circulation numbers aren’t going to improve (especially for papers like the Providence Journal, and similar papers around the country).  I’d love to see newspapers survive, I love to read – but seeing executives focus on trivial changes like this has me worried.

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Written by kevinbums

November 1, 2009 at 2:26 am