This New York Times article takes a look at the situation of newspapers, at least the situation of newspapers in one organization – Advance Publications, the organization that owns the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the Harrisburg Patriot-News. The article claims that “Advance made its decisions up against some very dark trends in the business, but they were made with the dead-eyed arrogance of a monopolist in a much-changed world.”
“Newspaper Monopoly That Lost Its Grip” by David Carr
“A year after announcing a plan to reorganize The Times-Picayune of New Orleans into a more digitally focused enterprise that produced a newspaper just three days a week — enraging local residents — its owners have added a new innovation: they will go back to producing a printed product every day.
“’We are excited about this opportunity to extend our daily reach in print,’ an advertising executive at the newspaper said in the announcement.
“You don’t say.
“This daily newspaper thing may be catching on. Last week, The Philadelphia Inquirer announced that it would begin selling a Saturday edition on newsstands after a nearly two-year hiatus.
“The much ballyhooed unmaking of daily newspapering seems to be unmaking itself, and there’s a reason for that. Most newspapers have hung onto the ancient practice of embedding prose on a page and throwing it in people’s yards because that’s where the money and the customers are for the time being.
“The industry tried chasing clicks for a while to win back fleeing advertisers, decided it was a fool’s errand and is now turning to customers for revenue. But in order to charge people for news, you have to prosecute journalism.
“The belief that historic monopolies will hold together just on the basis of inertia has proved to be wrong. Newspapers that have cut their operations beyond usefulness or quit delivering a daily print presence have suffered. The audience has to be earned every day.
“Newspaper publishing will never return to the 30 percent plus margins it once had, but some people believe there is a business model. Warren E. Buffett thinks that a 10 percent return is reasonable, now that sale prices have sunk.
“Clearly, commanding a market to change on a dime because it suits your business plan does not mean readers will obey. Just ask Advance Publications, owned by the Newhouse family, which is back to where it started in New Orleans with The Times-Picayune.”