There’s a lot of talk about how to make newspapers profitable. I have some ideas (after the jump) but no Ultimate Solution. It’s going to take hard work and a lot of smart people to figure it out. I think it’s important for journalists to discuss what newspapers can and should do to ensure all types of important journalism have a place in tomorrow.
This is the beginning of my history of newspapers. Read on to see the entire graphic.
That said, I don’t agree with pay walls. I also don’t agree with people who argue for them in this manner.
Andrew Heller from the Flint Journal in Michigan is the latest I’ve seen calling for pay walls. He does so by writing about how they’re going to save journalism. His column showed up in my Twitter feed and I was hoping it would turn out to be worthwhile, but I was wrong. Heller doesn’t have a time machine but that seems to be the gist of his solution to the problem.
To summarize Heller: I want to go back in time and make newspapers charge for online content. I can’t, so back to the future (now). They, specifically the people at the New York Times, are starting to play with charging models and pay walls. This is good, because a product shouldn’t be free and newspaper stories are undoubtedly products. Also, I’m not an expert on the Web but I have common sense because I know you just don’t give anything away for free.
It’s a sad argument that makes for a depressing picture of the current crop of newspaper journalists. I’ve been down the newspaper path, first as a reader of two dailies in my hometown, then in various positions at my high school and college student newspapers and finally in a stint as an intern at a professional paper. I loved working at the professional paper because of the people and environment, but I knew the business end of things was in trouble.
Does this make me an expert on journalism, newspapers or anything else? Hell no. At least no more (or less) than Heller. I do have one thing going for me, however.
I can’t imagine giving money to a newspaper for any reason.
I’m a news/information junkie and former newsprint lover who thinks newspapers deserve every bit of hardship coming down on them. It’s going to be scary, but read on if you dare. I have some ideas and you can check out the rest of that graphic that’s previewed to the right. (more…)