First, a major journalistic blunder, I’m going to bury the lead.
As a prelude to the main point, here’s a blog I posted in 2010:
Will people pay to get their newspaper online?
“I think it’s a very short term strategy and it will die with its readers.”
Jeff Jarvis, CUNY journalism professor
Jarvis appeared today with former newspaper editor Alan Mutter on NPR’s Radio Times, a one-hour discussion program produced by WHYY in Philadelphia.
It’s a fascinating and yes, quite grim discussion about the current status and its future. Here are, and I’m paraphrasing, some of the comments made by Jarvis and Mutter:
Hoping consumers will pay for online news and expecting it to work is a pretty tough call after the product has been free for years.
Despite the fact that the Internet and web browsers aren’t new, newspapers continue to struggle trying to adapt.
The change is too great, the cost is too great and the pain is too great. The future of news is more entrepreneurial as opposed to institutional. Newspapers are too high-bound by an old cost structure of doing things the old way.
The newspaper industry got too fat and too happy for too long in a monopoly-type scenario.
They don’t know how to innovate.
Newspaper revenues have just collapsed, losing almost half of their total revenue since 2005. That’s a major crisis that takes their eye off the ball of doing anything innovative. They are not capable of thinking differently because they’re in a state of abject panic.
Reality is harsh. One editor of a highly respected paper told one of the guests she thought it would be best if the institutions just died so they could be replaced and get on with doing journalism again.
—This Just In…March 2, 2010
Unfortunately the podcast of that fascinating program is no longer available.
Now it’s 2018 and the question may have gone from “Will people pay to get their newspaper online?” to “Will consumers have no choice?”
The CEO of the NY Times says his paper’s print life expectancy is about 10 years.