Newspapers Must Die!

I wrote this on some other site regarding trying to save the New York Times and obviously impressed myself:

This seems like a classic case of Clayton Christensen’s “disruptive innovation” overwhelming a traditional business model. An old-school enterprise has to maintain its old-school practices in order to keep its reliable cash cow alive. As soon as they try to switch up what they’re doing, they risk starving the cow and having nothing to show for it. Shareholders won’t stand for *that*. The problem comes when people start overwhelmingly preferring soy milk and you’re entirely invested in dairy cattle. At that point the game’s just over and your job is to maintain your dignity and go out as a good loser.

I don’t see the benefit of expending energy to “save newspapers”. People want news, others want to provide it, but why does the NYT (or any other old-model business) need to profit from the exchange? Organizations are what they are and when they try to change their DNA, they usually fail (like when United Airlines decided they were more than just an airline and bought Hertz and Westin and started calling themselves “Allegis”). If an organization doesn’t start out with adaptation and evolution at its core, it risks getting innovated out of existence by better, later substitutes.

From a business perspective, I think the best course of action for the daily newspapers is to downscope in order to stay profitable as long as possible and when the reaper finally comes for them (next year?), be dignified enough to just curl up by the fire and quietly pass on. I’m guessing, instead, of course, they’ll start lobbying congress to keep them on life support and prop up their antiquated models and then we’ll all get to endure story after story on NPR about how society is toilet-bound due to the struggles of major newspapers. Or I suppose I could just turn the radio off.



  • Chris Bigelow

    Yeah, it’s time for them to go. I used to love reading papers, but I finally cancelled mine, because they’re so cumbersome now compared to online. I still like to look at the local papers when I visit another city, though.

  • HC12

    This poses interesting options for the Obamans. Let the newspapers fall or bail them out and own them too. Throw in the Fairness Doctrine and welcome to the even newer world.

  • Game Dame

    Not sure why “Obamans” (were there “Bushians?”) give a rats-ass about newspapers. I, as one, do not. Newspapers remind me of the music industry: a business model that failed to change with technology and will suffer rightfully because of it.

  • telkontar

    McCLaskey bought Knight-Ridder 2 years ago. McC’s stock price is about $1 now. They are dying. Good riddance, for Ridder & the ilk, Obaman and otherwise. (Re: HC12’s hyperbole: The MSM is liberal and knows how to ask for money and give nothing in return; hence, some (not all) Obamans might care.)
    Go Reuters!!!

  • ElkHead

    Game Dame: Because without said newspapers, said “Obamans” would likely be licking their wounds about now.

  • Amy

    Hi. Ummmmm…. I don’t really have anything to say….. I just like seeing my name in the ‘recent comments’ column.

  • bkdunn

    Well if the government owns the press, then they can publish happy stories about how good the economy’s getting and then voila, consumer confidence restored! Sounds perfect. Wonder if any other country’s ever tried something like that…