Posts for Tag: Newspapers

The fate of the newspaper industry and the rise of the micro "newspaper"

Faced with aging presses and strapped for cash to replace them, the move will significantly cut costs at a paper that lost $50 million in 2008, and allow it to focus on news gathering, Publisher Frank Vega said.

I was listening to KCBS this morning and heard about this story. It's definitely a sad sign of the times that an old institution like The Chronicle is slowly shrinking. However, empires are not meant to last forever and everything must adapt or wither away. Outsourcing the printing of its newspapers sounds like a good start but the final move will have to be to abandon print altogether. It's a slow, inflexible, and very expensive way to get your content out to your users. Eventually, devices like the iPhone and the Kindle should suffice (in a lot of ways, they already do) and the rise of yet to be invented handheld devices should move us to a completely newspaperless society.

But less you think that all good journalism is going out the door with the fall of the old newspaper empires, there is good news to report. The TalkingPointsMemo blog just got a nice investment from Marc Andreessen. The small and nimble "newspaper" has received rave reviews (and a George Polk Award) for their journalistic excellence. I think you're seeing the future of journalism in small outfits like TPM. Small, nimble teams of journalists focused on a single industry/genre/beat. Without the cost of pressmen, delivery personnel, and ad sales teams, you don't need to generate a ton of ads in order to be profitable - which TPM is.

Has anyone read a newspaper lately?

I was at the local coffee shop the other day and while waiting for my drink, I browsed through a full stack of New York Times. It got me to thinking, when was the last time I actually bought a newspaper? This isn't a commentary on whether newspaper companies are dying (they are) but the curious observation that I actually don't read printed newspapers any more. I used to have a subscription to the San Francisco Chronicle but canceled that around 2003 once I realized that everything I was reading was old news. I had already gotten the sports scores from Sportscenter and, stock quotes and business articles from Yahoo Finance, even local news from It just got to the point where I was tired of paying for stuff I had already read (plus having to take a sack of newspapers to the recycling bin each week).
Nationally recognized publications like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal might still have a printed news audience but eventually, I just can't see how even they can keep up with the increasingly real-time demand of content. To be fair, most newspaper companies have a website but when will the cost and inefficiency of printing newspapers outstrip the newspaper subscription fees generated, if it hasn't already? I'm sure there's a demographic of folks who enjoy sitting down with a nice cup of coffee and the paper (I used to be one of them), but those folks are dwindling in number.