More and more newspapers are finally starting to see the writing on
the wall about their future survival in our brave new digital world.
Some have even begun their struggle to re-define and re-invent
themselves, for better and for worse.
Rupert Murdoch seems hell bent on re-tracing the same unproductive, not to say destructive, path that the major music labels. Newsday, a Long Island daily, tried the Murdoch route by putting up a paywall. The result: After Three Months, Only 35 Subscriptions for Newsday's Web Site.
Others are thinking through the potential of applying the iTunes model
to the news business: sample before you buy, coupled with an insightful
pricing strategy (cents or dollars per article, bundling options): the route of choice for a number of high profile magazines (The Economist, Harvard Business Review). How well they do in the long run remains to be seen.
real challenge, though, is the decimated state of the newspapers'
talent pool of content producers. With staff writers being replaced
with syndicated content produced by the few lucky enough to keep their
jobs, I'm not sure what content these papers will have to sell that's
valuable enough to pay for. To re-invent themselves in the digital age,
some of these papers will have to re-invest in themselves; and
stockholders will have to take a longer-term view of returns or be
prepared to lose it all now.