Advantage Newspapers

I have never believed that blogs can replace newsapapers, though I do believe blogs (including micro-blogging services like Twitter) are much more faster in delivering news than newspapers.

All over the world newspapers are facing a severe finance crunch as a result of fall in ad revenue during this recession. NYTimes mortgaged its Times Square building and is offloading its investment in Red Sox baseball team. Anything for liquidity it seems. Many newspapers are shutting down in US, and situation is not so bright in India either. But I think this is part and parcel of recession, it also highlights the dangers of ad-dependent model.

Many bloggers who following Marketing trends around the world believe newspapers are obscelete. I disagree with that a 100%.

Seth Godin believes people won’t miss newspapers much when they are gone.

The web has excelled at breaking the world into the tiniest independent parts. We don’t use this to support that online. Things support themselves. The food blog isn’t a loss leader for the gardening blog. They’re separate, usually run by separate people or organizations.

The problem here is he is looking is strictly from a business point of view. He goes to a differen level in another para

What’s left is local news, investigative journalism and intelligent coverage of national news. Perhaps 2% of the cost of a typical paper. I worry about the quality of a democracy when the the state government or the local government can do what it wants without intelligent coverage. I worry about the abuse of power when the only thing a corrupt official needs to worry about is the TV news. I worry about the quality of legislation when there isn’t a passionate, unbiased reporter there to explain it to us.

Let me make it clear. That is definitely not the case. He may know about all the things under the sky but his understanding of journalism is pretty weak.  I work in a newspaper and city teams are generally the biggest. Sections like Nation, Sport and International are generally made in one centre (Mumbai or Delhi in most cases) and sent to other locations. Also point me to one blog which provides comprehensive local news coverage. Joshua Ellis, a journalist with 15 years experience in the field posts counter points and dissects his post (MUST READ).  

Having been a print journalist for a pretty long time now (13 years! Jesus!), I’m gonna go ahead and disagree with Godin here. The heavy stuff — investigative journalism, maintaining a Washington bureau, local news — isway more than 2% of the cost of running a paper. Non-feature sections of a newspaper — arts and entertainment, opinion/editorial, advice columns, et cetera — are not that expensive to maintain. Trust me on this — most columnists and reviewers aren’t making the big bucks, unless their work is regularly and widely syndicated. (This is not a function of the Web’s advent, by the way. This is how things have always been, as far as I can tell.)

But my favourite part of his post is:

What newspapers have that blogs don’t — and can’t, and won’t for the foreseeable future — is full-time staff, who are paid a (presumably) living wage to do the kind of in-depth work that blogs don’t, can’t, and won’t for the foreseeable future. A staff writer can spend the hours in the library or the paper’s morgue and on the street interviewing sources, doing interviews and getting background.

Newspapers also still provide identity and legitimacy functions for journalists, particularly in the world of politics. Don’t believe me? Try to get White House press credentials for your blog. Call up your Senator and ask their press secretary to provide you with background and an official statement for a blog post you’re doing.




According to techcrunch even online revenue’s are going to suffer a hit this year again due to recession.

Display advertising revenue is going to fall of a cliff in January according to a number of content sites I’ve spoken with who rely on advertising for revenue. “Sales through December were mostly strong as advertisers used up their marketing budgets,” said one sales exec. But, he added, “there are few buyers for this next fiscal quarter, and those few that are buying are looking for steep discounts.”

So does this mean ad supported websites are going to shutdown? No, they will survive much like newspapers, but only the best will survive. The rest will die a slow death.

So what we newspapers need to do here is reinvent themselves not shut down because of the temporary slump. Also, people should stop believng that they can exist in a wrld without such a medium. You may say you get to read all news online, but hey most of them come via newspapers, may be not the breaking news. But yes analysis and other in depth stories which is not expected from an online website/blog.

PS: Manu has a great post on innovation in media industry

6 responses to “Advantage Newspapers”

  1. Guru Panguji Avatar

    I think this is a thought provoking post. However, before I comment, let me make this clear. I oscillate between loving the print media and loving the new media. And i certainly agree that newspapers can’t die. However, it’s also of no question that they need to reinvent themselves.

    While newspapers have already trodden into the digital media, what they really need to reinvent is the way ad revenues are generated. They need to provide a service beyond just “reaching” a million people. They have to make the ad process beyond the traditional methods, almost googlify the ad-revenue process of the newspaper.

    I am sure that if they get to do that, the newspaper industry is definitely going to say. At the same time, I have to admit, some newspapers are going to die and why? Because every newspaper is in the end – a business and without liquidity, the newspaper is going to choke!

  2. Amit Avatar

    I don’t think blogs can replace newspapers ever. Blogs are maintained by individuals and the posts are generally based on the research done from the internet. A newspaper is an entirely different ballgame altogether.

  3. dinu Avatar

    I don’t think newspapers will loose importance .. even though the preference may go down … just like what happened to it when TV became popular …

    Even with TV, and Internet, I still feel like reading newspapers everyday .. and I do ..

  4. B K CHOWLA Avatar

    I agree that newspapers are becoming relatively,unimportant.
    A…generally,those interested in news,listen to the last TV bulliten before retiring.Morning papers don’t tell you anything new anyway.
    B…blogs though,can’t be replacement of the newspaper but give you the feel of comparative “credibility”
    Ultimately,it is readers choice

  5. GrirtyDreby Avatar

    Maaaan, you know there is such thing in the web like search engine, if you don’t, go there to understand why this post is bullshit

  6. | Balu | Avatar

    First of all.. sorry for not replying!
    @guru panguji
    Googlify? Doesn’t classifieds do that to some extant?

    Hmm but what about news websites? (ex: Rediff)

    Hope everyone on earth was like you! =(

    @BK Chowla
    I read newspaper for the analysis.. TV reports are not in-depth enough.. not enough angles to the story.. also how many stories do you see in a paper in comparison to a TV?

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