Not Saving Newspapers.


I’ve been meaning to go on a rant for sometime about Henry Blodget’s really dumb idea to “fix” the New York Times. Among his ingenious new ideas: cut the staff, raise subscription rates, and charge an online fee. Gee, cutting staff! No one’s thought of that! Newspapers haven’t been cutting staff for the past couple of decades or anything! Charging online! What a great idea!

Blodget’s been rightly pilloried, but I’m mostly annoyed that he  must believe no one has ever thought of those three very basic things. Everyone seems to think newspapers are run by journalists who are very doltish about running a business. The opposite is true; newspaper companies are run by business-people who don’t know anything about journalism. If they did, they wouldn’t keep making their products worse. When newspapers started moving to the web, they hired journalists who could write on it and programmers who could make it pretty. They didn’t hire the innovators who could harness it’s powers into a money-making machine. And that’s why I’m sick of all these staff cuts at newspapers. Reporters are doing their jobs. The Internet’s as old as I am. The allegedly smart people who make millions at these companies should have figured it out long ago.

3 thoughts on “Not Saving Newspapers.

  1. G.D. January 26, 2009 at 5:02 pm Reply

    The other thing that’s so annoying about this is that newspapers are still making a lot of money. I was sitting next to the columnist Les Payne at a Knicks game two weekends ago*, and he said that before Sam Zell decided to purchase Newsday — and gut it — it had made a $100 million profit. Newspapers may not be pumping out 20% profits anymore, but most are still in the double digits, which most other industries would kill for.

    This is actually one of the Times’ strengths. The fact that it isn’t owned by a conglomerate and not run by a bunch of accountants and analysts makes it uniquely situated to weather this storm.

    (I think i dropped something.)

  2. quadmoniker January 26, 2009 at 5:07 pm Reply

    Yeah, that’s what annoys me. You would think the Times is hemorrhaging money, the way people act.

  3. G.D. January 26, 2009 at 5:22 pm Reply

    The Times is in rough shape, for sure. But it wouldn’t be if it weren’t a public company, and not at the whim of myopic stockholders. I thought the idea of it turning itself into a non-profit or going private was weird before, but I’m increasingly inclined to see it as a good idea.

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