Epic newspaper fail in 5, 4, 3, 2 …


Pax Arcana

We’ve chronicled the wholesale disintegration of the newspaper industry numerous times on this site. Most recently, we wondered why all the “ideas” for saving newspapers were being proffered by editorial employees rather than those who — you know — know shit about business and shit.

Thankfully, our prayers have been answered.

Romenesko today posted a memo by Dean Singleton and Jody Lodovic, top executives at MediaNews Group — one of the largest newspaper companies in the country. I won’t bore you with too many details, but it’s important that you understand the complex economic formula at the core of the new MediaNews Group online strategy:


Or, as Singleton puts it:

We will begin to move away from putting all of our newspaper content online for free. Instead, we will explore a variety of premium offerings that apply real value to our print content. We are not trying to invent new premium products, but instead tell our existing print readers that what they are buying has real value, and to our online audience (who don’t buy the print edition), that if you want access to all online content, you are going to have to register, and/or pay. If a non-subscriber wants the newspaper content in its entirety online, they will be directed to some sort of registration or pay vehicle (and if they are a print subscriber, they will have full access at no charge). To be clear, the brand value proposition to the consumer is that the newspaper is a product, whether in print or online, which must be paid for.

While Mike Masnick of Techdirt insists that price and value are not the same thing, I think Singleton is exactly right. We should be charged for everything that is valuable to help offset the fiduciary obligations of the creator of that value (especially if the creator’s fiduciary obligations include $500 million worth of printing presses and “airy newsrooms” he bought less than four years ago).

For example, I cannot make coffee without coffee filters. Therefore, they are valuable. That’s why I pay $5,000 for a pack of 20 of them from a very exclusive buyer’s club of which I am a member.

MediaNews execs: We’ll no longer give away all our print content to web users [Romenesko]



Filed under journalism

8 responses to “Epic newspaper fail in 5, 4, 3, 2 …

  1. I’m all about reading stuff for free, but I do kind of think it sucks that we expect to get so much information and never pay for it.

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  3. It might be a cultural character flaw, but it’s not something that can be changed by demanding money from people.

    Just because you pay people to do a job doesn’t mean you deserve to be compensated yourself. The public will determine the market for goods. If you can sell the public on non-free news, great. Awesome. But as a business plan, you’ve got to do better than just saying that your stuff “has value” and then blaming Google or Craigslist when the public says “Um not really.”

    Newspapers have coasted for years on the idea that they made money because people needed the information. What they needed were the coupons, car ads, and classified listings. That’s where the money came from the whole time.

    Naturally there are exceptions. The NYT, for example, provides so much information that is valuable to me that I would actually consider paying for it. But the Denver Post (a MediaNews Group paper)? Not so much. I subscribed to that fucking thing when I lived out there and got absolutely nothing out of it that I couldn’t get from the Internet these days.

  4. Totally agree. I still think it kind of sucks.

  5. We should also realize that by charging for online content, newspaper companies are asking online readers effectively to subsidize the printing, materials, and delivery costs they are not incurring. This is the problem with the whole thing — the newspaper companies are not interested in saving the news. They’re interested in saving the company.

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