Newspapers are Hurting, Because We Won't Pay

newsHere's a good article from the New Yorker on why newspapers are hurting. Here's a paragraph that makes a nice follow-up to my recent Everything's Amazing, Nobody's Happy entry.

The peculiar fact about the current crisis is that even as big papers have become less profitable they’ve arguably become more popular. The blogosphere, much of which piggybacks on traditional journalism’s content, has magnified the reach of newspapers, and although papers now face far more scrutiny, this is a kind of backhanded compliment to their continued relevance. Usually, when an industry runs into the kind of trouble that Levitt was talking about, it’s because people are abandoning its products. But people don’t use the Times less than they did a decade ago. They use it more. The difference is that today they don’t have to pay for it. The real problem for newspapers, in other words, isn’t the Internet; it’s us. We want access to everything, we want it now, and we want it for free. That’s a consumer’s dream, but eventually it’s going to collide with reality: if newspapers’ profits vanish, so will their product.

Over five years ago I wrote about newspapers referring to it as "a dying medium".

We want instant access to a vast number of news sources and we want this news to be fresh and available on demand. Only one medium offers this capability and you're using it right now. What will we line our bird cages with in 2010?

I think the New Yorker is right: it's not the Internet that's killing the newspaper industry, it's us. We want access to everything, we want it now, and we want it for free.

But we don't want to get what we pay for.

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Do you think that the varied opinions offered on the internet have contributed to the newspapers demise? How many independents own newspapers? Monopolies only work if we really need the product, unfortunately for newspapers, their product does not fall into that category. I never buy a Vancouver Sun or Province, but I read my local paper consistently.

December 17, 2008 @ 10:26 AM

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