The incredible shrinking newspaper

Dateline: Mon 09 Jun 2008

A reader passed on this New York Times analysis about the Tribune Company (LA Times and Chicago Trib) hacking 500 pages out of its weekly news hole each week and going to a 50/50 split between news and advertising.

Ouch. As those of us who worship each week at the Church of the Newspaper, this is some serious heresy. But not unexpected and not surprising, alas.

Of course, the creator of all things Gannett, Al "S.O.B." Neuharth, is right on board. Sez the Times:

"But Allen H. Neuharth, former chairman and chief executive of the Gannett Company, thinks offering a thinner newspaper, produced by fewer people, can make a lot of sense.

"'Most readers of newspapers really only consume a small fraction of what the newspaper produces,' he said. 'Can you give them the stuff they want, even though there's less of it over all? I think you can.'

This of course is the mentality that is driving people away from newspaper subscription and onto the Internet.

The story also quotes a newspaper analyst, who is defending the honor:

"John Morton, an independent newspaper analyst, thinks that tipping point has already arrived at many papers.

"'To the extent you diminish your product, I think you diminish your success, in print or online,' he said. 'In the long run, it's going to be harmful to newspapers' brand names, which is the strongest thing they've got.'"

Thanks to the reader who sent this our way. Here is the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/09/business/media/09zell.html?_r=2&hp=&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

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