Monday, June 2, 2008

A wan effort

Printed newspapers are a dead industry, and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

That's the informed opinion of William Dean Singleton, who knows a thing or two about newspapers on their deathbed.

Singleton, speaking at the World Association of Newspapers 2008, blamed the woes of his industry on reporters and other staffers.

"They fondly remember the past as if it will suddenly reappear." But he is adamant that there is no going back. "It's time to get over it and move to a print model that matches the times."

Of course that doesn't acknowledge the fact that MediaNews brass have been so desperate to preserve obsolete, pre-Internet profit models that they've been cutting expenses with a butcher's zeal - cuts that have seriously impaired MediaNews' future earnings, because those cuts have gone beyond prudent, past excessive, and now fall squarely within the realm of the suicidal.

But maybe that doesn't matter. MediaNews isn't banking on print anyhow. Their vision for the future is digital. But one should consider the following:

As well as boosting newspaper websites, the company has created a series of online marketplaces that have little to do with newspapers., are hubs for newspaper content but operate as much more, servicing local areas.

Lest you forget, is that Web site that everyone is talking about. And not in a good way.

In light of that kind of leadership, it should come as no surprise that some industry experts believe media moguls like Singleton are killing the industry on purpose so they can buy up more newspapers on the cheap.

"Newspapers and journalists themselves are slipping," says Feeley, "and most have adapted ineptly to the succession of electronic media. The public companies have become hysterically responsive to the 'expectations' of Wall Street.... [News] is a mature industry, and a profitable one, and it isn't going to have growth like Microsoft or Crocs or Google before the bubble burst. I think it is managing for the short term, not the longer one.

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