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 2:22 pm on Nov 26, 2004 (gmt 0)


Imagine what higher-ups at the Post must have thought when focus-group participants declared they wouldn't accept a Washington Post subscription even if it were free.



 2:31 am on Nov 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

With online delivery, the cost is minimal - you still have to "set" it, but people come to you, there is no delivery charge, the only charges are hosting and bandwidth.

Ah, the excuse why news should be "free". Isn't that the same excuse the music downloaders use :P In addition to the cost of news gathering if all newspapers are online, then there will be substantial marketing costs, especially when, newspapers shift to trying to grab paid subscriptions revenues online.

I am sure Google news/MSN news have considered that they are in an ideal position to act as a paid subscription gateway for news. Is an i-tunes for news on the way?

The model will change. There is just too much money at stake.


 2:59 am on Nov 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hi and welcome to the forums!

I disagree with this statement:
"Only print provides a serendipity where you can deliver messages in an affordable way."

I think it's the opposite - print is the much more expensive way to go, and online is the cheapest.

Thanks for the welcome.

I should have said "most cost effective way delivering a message" perhaps.

News is not just the headline. It's Dear Abby, the calendar, the obits, weddings, lost dogs,...

--Are you looking for that dog? Are you keeping up with Jim Smith, did you know he died?

--And, no, you don't need a cord of firewood, but at $40 a cord, well, heck, let's get a load.

Serendipity. All of these things--news and ads--come together make a newspaper. The web simply is not suited to it. I want people to look for my dog, or buy this load of firewood, I need an affordable channel. And, it's the same channel that Ford and Chevy use, too.

The web is great if you're buying a car. But, if you're selling, and you want to talk to people about a great deal--even if they're not looking right now--only the paper has enough of a audience and space to work for you. (It's also what annoys people about the paper--all of these ads!)

Classified ads for jobs is moving to the web. It's perfect for linking up "I want" and "I got." Too bad for print.

But, otherwise, print is better. Even Google's ads, btw, don't work very well on most news stories. Even entertainment news, people are not really interested in buying the album at the time they are reading the news.

Serendipity. The web ain't got it like newsprint.


 5:24 am on Nov 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

I read the paper because it's a lot less work than clicking on all those articles online...


 3:04 pm on Nov 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

Gee, aren't we being a bit egotistical? Newspaper is no more dead today than it was 10 years ago before the internet was in common public circles. The internet is not what is killing newspapers. Television is and has been for decades now.

People are lazy. They would rather sit in front of CNN and have the news spoon fed to them rather than have to hunt and peck for it, newspaper or internet.

The internet has very little to do with the downfall of newspapers. And newspapers will not die completely even if it did. As mentioned, people still need to wrap xmas ornaments and they still like to sit reading an object other than a computer when relaxing.


 3:14 pm on Nov 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

The animal shelters will always need old newspapers.


 3:29 pm on Nov 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

I agree about TV. People's lazyness is one of the things that newspapers have going for it over the web.

The report on the focus groups' response is clear:

Via focus groups, Posties are learning that nonsubscribers haven't lost touch with their journalism. On the contrary, these folks are ferocious, regular readers. It's just that they don't want to touch the paper or pay for it. And the company offers a perfect platform for the free rider—its Web site. "The good news is they're extremely familiar with the paper. The bad news is that they don't want to buy it. News is like air, and we've taught them that," says a Post source who has watched focus groups.

Certainly Posties can't feign shock at the popularity of their dot-com operation. The site is a news-spewing monster, always brimming with updates on big stories and easily scannable. According to July figures supplied by Nielsen/NetRatings, WashingtonPost.com's 114 million page views that month placed it behind only NYTimes.com among individual newspaper sites. And that's for a paper that isn't even distributed nationally.

The makers of news have GOT TO STOP giving it away. Anyone here read F*****company.com, eh?

It's interesting to me when people come up and say, "I can't find the article on your web site," and I reply "You have to buy the paper." They always completely understand. The consumers of news even thinks it's stupid to give it away. But, hey, free works fine.

The problem, again, is that 1.7 average page views per unique visitor. People want the news, but they usually don't want all of the news. And it's tough to market articles--this is what my project did--beyond the headlines. Amazingly, breathtaking, heartbreakingly tough.

I never figured it out, but a large percentage of the AP articles online got zero readers. No clicks. And that's with over several million unique visitors from 400 newspaper web sites.

Some poor hardworking journalist was only writing for his editors. Filling column inches only. Every time I hear the catch phrase "too much information," I think of that. I was happier without that information on information.

Which means, if we restrict on news to only those who pay for it, we'll only produce the news that people will pay for. And, that's not good.


 5:10 pm on Nov 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

Newspapers need to come up with a new pitch to get people to want a paper version in hand, there are ways to beat all the web and get the readers back but I am not telling them my ideas for free on this board... I never will give away our sauce on Webmasterworld; I think the others should act the same.

Many people here give their tips to the world, not sure why as I know I work darn hard to figure the internet marketing world out. If you want good information you get what you pay for.



 5:13 pm on Nov 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

News sites make lots of money on advertising, and it is only getting better for them in this area.


 5:31 pm on Nov 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

One point I've not seen brought up is the impact newspapers have on the environment. As an example, I once read a statistic that stated it took 7,000 trees to produce the Sunday Edition of the Los Angeles Times. It took 110,000 trees to produce the first Harry Potter book. That's a lot of trees!

I don't know about you, but to strip the earth of that many trees just so consumers can have something on paper to read, is just beyond me. In today's environment, paper based print materials are becoming obsolete. Newspapers and magazines are the first to go. Get rid of em!

For comparison purposes...

Thursday June 26, 2003
To put this in context the Guardian uses, on average, 460 new trees a day. The number is (relatively) low because almost threequarters of our newsprint is recycled. Without recycled paper, printing the Guardian would require around 1,600 new trees a day. Later this year the figure is set to drop from 460 to zero as the only factory in the UK that makes newsprint from new trees is due to stop. Come summer, you'll be reading these pages on 100% recycled paper.


 6:58 pm on Nov 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

How much coal is burned to power a desktop and monitor all day long? 250 watts burning all day long. A lot more than the wood in a newspaper I'll bet.


 8:02 pm on Nov 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>Here's a number for you: 1.7
That's the average number of page views per user per day on the typical news site.<<

>>The problem, again, is that 1.7 average page views per unique visitor<<

Wouldn't that be because, thanks to GoogleNews, etc., net users have the ability to go directly to the ONE specific article they're looking for, as opposed to having to flip through 25 pages of news print hoping to find something on their target subject?


 9:01 pm on Nov 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

The problem with the web is that it doesn't introduce depth or breadth very well. For long, deep pieces of writing like long articles or books, it's almost always more pleasant and easier to read them on paper. You can take them in the bath or in bed, say, in a way that you wouldn't do with your monitor or laptop.

>The problem, again, is that 1.7 average page views per unique visitor<<
Wouldn't that be because, thanks to GoogleNews, etc., net users have the ability to go directly to the ONE specific article they're looking for, as opposed to having to flip through 25 pages of news print hoping to find something on their target subject?

As far as breadth goes, newspapers can introduce a lot of general subjects that you didn't know you needed to know about. You don't get that by seeking a specific subject out online, or by visiting niche sites that cover their own topics very well. I'm one of the people who has largely abandoned print, but I do find that I get a tidier house at the expense of narrowing my horizons a little.


 9:29 pm on Nov 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

GoogleNews has been a help in driving more readers to more articles. The problem is the nature of news overall.

As for advertising--the web doesn't even come close to offering the revenue of print. If it did, AOL and Time-Warner merging would have been a great idea. As it turned out, that was not the case, even with all of their captured audience, they couldn't make news pay.

(re: trees. Trees are a renewable resource. People plant forests because there is a market for pulp and wood, which is to say there are more trees, not less, because of the market.)


 10:22 pm on Nov 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

people that predict the death of print media are fools.

I don't think many people are predicting the death of print media. However, there's no doubt that the newspaper industry (the topic of this thread) isn't the cash cow that it once was--at least in the United States. That's one reason why so many U.S. newspapers (the ones that have survived, that is) have cut staff, reduced freelance budgets, and begun to rely increasingly on wire-service or chain-supplied copy.

online media needs to find ways of heavily monetizing its product, which I dont see happenign in the near future.

Never mind the future: It's happening right now.


 4:12 am on Nov 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

we're also waiting on 'electronic paper' before things really start to change. not the clunky stuff they have now, but that thing that tom cruise had on the train in the movie minority report. a thin piece of plastic (probably tabloid size) that you can roll up and stick under your arm.
newspapers have no need to worry as long as they realize they're 'information providers' moreso than a 'newspaper'... the medium is changing, but the skills of a gatekeeper (editor) will always be needed.


 12:50 pm on Nov 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

Ok..but where are you going to get Dilbert?


 4:23 pm on Nov 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

Ok..but where are you going to get Dilbert?


you can subscribe and have it e-mailed to you for free. If you have a blackberry or a reasonably modern cel phone, you can actually have it emailed to that.


 6:00 pm on Nov 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

you can subscribe and have it e-mailed to you for free

I get it through my RSS reader. To tell the truth, I never have read newspapers, but my RSS reader is now indespensible as a news and entertainment source. Since it is not mainstream, and the jury is still out on whether it will be, I doubt RSS will have much effect now. But, if I had to guess, RSS will have more effect on newspapers than the internet alone. It combines the ease of TV and email with the immeadiacy of the internet.


 12:44 am on Nov 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

I dont buy newspapers for the simple reason that they are a huge waste of paper. 65% of the world's paper is wasted in newspapers.

But there's no way that I can give up magazines and books. Then again those dont get thrown away the day after.


 1:10 am on Nov 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

But there's no way that I can give up magazines and books. Then again those dont get thrown away the day after.

Totally agree. I still love my books and magz, but news is news.

Same headlines every day. "War in (insert African Nation Here)"... "Uprising in (insert portion of Isreal here)"... "Political scandal! (insert politician's name here) in hot water over (scummy coruption deal of the week)". "In Local News, Man Bites Dog" blah blah blah. It isn't news, it's infotainment serving up the same bloodshed, corruption, and feel good warm fuzzy stories with slightly different names.

The papers don't cover politics worth beans, they don't cover Tech news worth beans, they don't give any depth to any of their stories, and assume we all have the attention spans of gnats with the vocabulary of a fifth grader and write their articles accordingly.

Sure, they may stagger on for another few decades, but the majority of the young, influential, and educated, have already ditched them in favor of better means of becoming informed. The papers will become, increasingly, a means of communicating to the bottom half of society, without the education or means of getting their information from online sources.


 1:33 am on Nov 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

This Just IN:

Just Today I was shopping at the local Wal-Mart where the Dallas Morning News was set up at the entrance trying to give away the Sunday edition just so they could talk to locals about buying a subscription. The deal was - buy Sunday and we'll give you the rest of the week for free.

There were so few takers it was sad.

Newspapers had a great run - about 250 years or so in the USA. Then they started consolidating and Gannett bought some and Knight Ridder bought some and Murdoch bought what was left. There are so few independently owned newspapers anymore, and their relevence has declined accordingly.


 2:16 am on Nov 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

There's no doubt newspapers are suffering badly.

My brother-in-law was Business Editor for a Santa Monica freebie which folded after years.

I don't think NP are going away completely, just getting marginalized, much like radio with the advent of TV.

Radio is still with us, it has a niche (people driving to work for one thing) and so will newspapers.
I just expect to see fewer and fewer of them.

I'd be really disappointed if NPB vanished completely. Its just not the same doing a crossword puzzle online.
The SF Chronicle has great lingerie ads, while the net seems to offer mostly porn.

- Larry


 7:24 am on Nov 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

I doubt online news distribution will have as dramatic an effect on newspaper consumption as email had on sending letters / faxes

I used to be a letter-writer. I regularly exchanged long letters with a number of acquaintances. Now, with e-mail, that's all changed. The long letters have been relpaced with more frequent, postcard-length e-mails. And I lost touch with people who had no e-mail. So at least in my own experience, I agree, e-mail has had a very dramatic effect on personal letters as well as personal correspondence.

I am also wondering when radio is going to die out. That was supposed to happen around 1934 when TV appeared.

I think in part it did, but it found new functions. People no longer gather around the radio to tune in to the weekly "Lone Ranger" or trivia game shows. Radio provides different content these days. Radio is still useful as entertainment when we'd rather keep our eyes free (while driving, while sitting on the porch).

a new pitch

When I was 8, my neighbor told me that page 1 of the newspaper tomorrow was going to be edible, as an experiemental way of fighting world hungar. The next day, I told him it didn't taste very good. He asked me which of the two daily papers I ate. "Ah," he said. "That's your problem. I meant the other paper."

where are you going to get Dilbert

I get that by e-mail, as grelmar suggested.


 9:10 am on Nov 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

[quote] Newspapers won't be able to control the news as they once did... [/qoute]

And I sincerely hope this will be developped in a positive way.
However human nature and masses are unpredictable.
The freedom could be dangerous too.


 3:29 pm on Nov 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Interesting article. It is very possible that newspapers die out. 70 percent of a newspaper is financed by advertising, the remaining on subscriptions, still many newspapers wouldn't survive without subscribers.

We would certainly see more ads in newspapers than before if they loose subscribers. Metro is a newspaper which is based on ads only, and is given for free, maybe we will see more of those?

Or will newspapers go online and state that you have to pay to read the newspaper, online subscriptions. Surely you can get your news from free sources, but maybe people are willing to pay for more editorial content, or specialized content?

Who knows :)


 11:20 am on Nov 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

The Future of Media

Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Friendster, social networks, blogs, New York Times, Googlezon, Google Grid, EPIC...


See also:


 2:26 pm on Nov 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>I prefer reading in print version the WSJ

I was one of the really early subscribers to the electronic WSJ, and it was a huge improvement for my lifestyle. As a long-term paper subscriber, I found that on busy days I never got past the front page of the paper version. Or, I'd flip through the interior very quickly, hoping that something would catch my eye. Very inefficient, and bad cost/benefit ratio - I know I missed items that would be of interest had I found them.

When I switched to the electronic version, my cost went down and I was able to set up custom search folders that found articles related to keywords (companies I follow, local cities, etc.). On busy days, I could read a few articles and check my search folders and know that I didn't miss anything in those areas. I often found obscure references buried in articles or columns I'd have been unlikely to spot by scanning the paper version. The cost/benefit ratio got a LOT better.

When the WSJ inexplicably dumped the search folder feature and couldn't say when it might return, I decided not to renew my electronic subscription. I now rely on other sources for financial news.

I do admit, though, that for mobile reading the current electronic solutions still lag paper. I'm a fan of AvantGo's news service for my PDA, but reading is still tedious due to the small screen and content availability is limited. I maintain a paper subscription to Wired and any number of trade mags for reading away from home or office. (Wired is a good example of a publication where the paper copy has some major differences due to heavy graphic design content.)


 9:08 pm on Dec 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

I work on my computer all the time, so if I am going to read something for pleasure it's going to be printed. I don't read newspapers though... bad for your mental health. I read books instead. I have about 1500 books at home, and when I travel I usually have one or two in that pocket where the laptop is supposed to be.


 9:53 pm on Dec 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've started reading a few times a week from my bluetooth/phone connected Palm T3. It's more convenient than a paper, as I always have it in my pocket. When I end up waiting around somewhere for something, I'll read through an article or two rather than stand/sit around doing nothing.


 2:02 pm on Dec 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

< owner deleted > wrong page :-)


 3:01 am on Dec 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

riding to school on the subway provides perfect time to read the newspaper :P

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