As I've said many, many times, any publisher who posts local or exclusive news on a web site and lets people read it free is just plain stupid. The puny ad revenues of web site banner ads and the small number of stream video ads don't justify giving journalism content away. The key to saving newspapers (and magazines) is for the wire services to ban the use of their material on the Internet and for newspapers to take almost all of their local and original copy off their web pages. Information has value, and no smart business person gives valuable stuff away. Its as though lawyers would post downloadabke will kits and how-to instructions on registering a house sale or do-it-yourself divorce tips. For some reason, they don't.
Contrary to what academics and some TV types say -- and I heard another one yesterday -- the future of quality journalism is not on the Internet. There is no business model that supports the shift of mass media to the web. Instead, companies like Canwest, CTVGlobemedia and the Toronto Star have cannibalized their journalistic resources to pay for a web-based convergence that does not make them any money.
The problem is the ad departments are calling the shots. Having never valued journalism, they see no problem in giving it away in hopes of generating some web site ad money.
Interestingly, at least in Canada, the more a company has adopted a covergence model -- print, broadcast, Internet -- the worse its stock has performed.
Convergence has resulted in job losses, circulation declines, and, worst of all, a serious reduction in the quality of individual stories.
This piece, from Time magazine, makes the case well.
I would have bought the magazine just to read the article, but Time was dumb enough to give it to me for nothing.
Meanwhile, the company that has done the most to "converge" its media businesses continues to become unglued. Canwest is unloading several TV stations to raise some cash to keep the bankers at bay.
That decision drove the stock up one shiny penny. It's now just a bit less than half the price it was at Christmas, about 1/15th of where it was a year ago, and 1/50 its price before it was sucker... um, bought Conrad Black's newspaper chain.
HT for the Time piece: Small Dead Animals.