Short takes, because I’m editing stories these days, as well as writing 9 of the little buggers myself.
First, there’s the news that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is up for sale, and that if it doesn’t sell in the next two months, it’ll either be liquidated & turned into a web-only brand, or taken out back & shot.
“One thing is clear: at the end of the sale process, we do not see ourselves publishing in print,” said Steven Swartz, president of the Hearst Corp.’s newspaper division.
Well, that’s pretty stark. No chance that the Dead Tree edition will be able to sputter along for a while yet? Damn. The ad market must really be eating it up in the Pacific Northwest … well, at least for paper editions. All the dweebs, nerds & propellerheads in the area (you know who you are) have long since sworn blood allegiance to information arriving over the intertubes.
Others have pointed out that, just as wolves pick off the old, sick & lame in the herd, so too do economic forces strike first at the most vulnerable. In this case, that vulnerability was that they were 1) the 2nd-place paper in a 2-daily town, and 2) a paper in a market where ad revenues were either getting tight, or moving to other platforms.
The part of the sick & lame reindeer in this metaphor will be played by the Detroit Free Press & Detroit News, and the Rocky Mountain News.
The San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Sun-Times are having trouble keeping up with the rest of the herd, and the wolves are licking their chops.
The Atlantic article asserting that the New York Times could croak this spring has been pretty ferociously fisked. As has been pointed out (ad nauseum) elsewhere, the revenues that come in from the digital editions still don’t add up to even 1/5 of what the paper edition brings. Of course, people are starting to notice what the dour Norwegians did a coupla few years back – the profit is lower, but so are the costs. I wrote about this, and the slides showing the relationships between costs & revenue are online.
Here’s what Poynter (in the link above) had to say:
But one of the most intriguing issues in considering partial or complete conversion to online is that the cuts would not be distributed equally through the enterprise. Distribution, paper and pressroom costs would be reduced dramatically or eliminated. That could leave a much higher share of the remaining budget for the smaller company to devote to newsgathering.I don’t begrudge Hirschorn his meditation on a future in which print’s role is minimal or disappears. I don’t happen to think, as he does, that Huffington Post, with its mix of unpaid opinion blogs, news lifted from elsewhere and hype, is the model.How about getting your political news from Politico, your sports news from ESPN.com, your showbiz news from EW.com, your international news from an assortment of options, and your local news from somewhere to be determined? In short, the news would come from professionally reported and edited sites with standards — just not the single unifying standard of The New York Times or other quality publications.
It all may come to pass within a decade or sooner. Not, however, at The New York Times in May.
And finally, over at BuzzMachine, Jarvis is lobbing blogversation grenades, asking, “Can the LA Times turn off its presses?”
Kirk LaPointe at themediamanager.com says pretty convincingly, “Not yet.” Although he does cite the expenses from lawsuits twice in his 7-point refutation of Jarvis. Apparently, legal expenses are much on this editor’s mind these days.