October 27, 2009

The Media Death Spiral

Megan McArdle believes the newspaper business in America is dying. I think the truth is that the Newspaper business in America is giving away too many free copies over the Internet.  Oh, I'm sure the days of the great National Newspapers -- like the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, are over -- you can't make too much money printing news everyone already knows and opinions nobody wants to read, after all.  But the newspaper business isn't over, they just have to print news people don't already know and sell it instead of giving it away.  I think I've said before that the Bluffton News-Banner seems to be a nice model for how papers can survive. The Banner covers local news, schools and sports in-depth, utilizes modern technology like Twitter and Facebook and Blogs to not only find news, but gather customers and interest, and (most importantly) they don't give away their product for free on the Internet.  The Banner has a nice mix of free stories of public interest and teasers where you have to subscribe to read the whole story.  It may be that newsprint will die one day in favor of online newspapers... but as long as well-written local news exists  (and isn't free), local people will buy it.

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