Monday, February 23, 2009

Newspaper bankruptcies are fitting result for industry that thumbed its nose at readers wishes

The unthinkable is becoming more of a reality in the newspaper industry with bankruptcy filings for major media companies in the Northeast.

What is happening to newspapers should also be allowed to happen to automakers. If companies are operated badly, they should fold. Newspapers have long rejected the needs and opinions of readers for an elitist approach to kind of the product being delivered.

The Tennessean and Gannett Co. Inc are a prime example of this arrogance. I know. I worked for them.

And so the Internet has allowed readers to go elsewhere for information. Advertisers have followed. Classified advertising has dried up.

More newspapers deserve the fate of the media companies that filed for bankruptcy this past weekend. In the end, the reader will win.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The weekend bankruptcy filings of Philadelphia's two major newspapers and Journal Register Co., publisher of the New Haven Register and 19 other dailies, marks the latest in a wave of companies crushed by corporate debt and is likely a sign of more pain to come.

The operating arm of Philadelphia Media Holdings, publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, sought bankruptcy protection Sunday, following on the heels of a Saturday filing by the Journal Register. Both companies were victims of debt taken on for acquisitions, which became a noose as advertising revenue shrivels across the newspaper industry.

1 comment:

Chuck Kershner said...

I'm a cancer traveler, too, but am far more optimistic about the future of journalism that you appear to be. I detect great bitterness at how Gannett treated you and it seems appropriate to spread your anger across the entire industry. I left corporate journalism after 20 years with Reuters and bought a weekly newspaper to continue doing what I liked more than managing - writing and photography on my terms. I have a copy of the April 23, 1924 issue of The Literary Digest, which has this feature: Making One Newspaper Grow Where Two Grew Before. It begins: "The alarming mortality rate among American newspapers, especially in big cities like New York, has been attracting the sympathy and interest of the country's press." There was no internet to blame and the 20s were economically roaring. The decline of the American newspaper is as much a case of myopic management as society's fascination with gadgets and companies capable and willing to feed instant gratification without having to do all of the hard work of creating fulsome content. Few stop to ponder "where does all this news content come from" and if the New York Times, Washington Post, and many many others did not offer their news for free on the internet, there would be little for aggregators like Google and Yahoo to redistribute or, for that matter, gadgeteers to read on the primary sites. Finding a model in which readers participate financially in what they read is the stumbling block facing all mainstream media. Can you imagine gas stations and grocery stories trying to get customers to pay for their products if they started off business simply giving it away? I wish you well in your journey with leukemia, and hope you will see the world with brighter, clearer vision than comes across in your blog. - Chuck Kershner, executive editor, Clinton (NY) Courier.