Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Newsonomics: Seizing the Brexit-Trump moment, the Murdochs bid for Sky
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Dec. 9, 2008, 8:39 a.m.

Rick Edmonds predicts a lot of coal in newspapers’ stockings

I was down in Florida last week to talk about blogging at the Poynter Institute. And any tourist map will tell you that one of St. Pete’s great attractions is the chance to talk shop with Rick Edmonds — author of the Biz Blog, former publisher in the St. Petersburg Times organization, and one of the great observers of the declining fortunes of the American newspaper.

Here’s an 15-minute interview I did with Rick. The questions I asked him: What will the next six months hold for newspaper companies? What sorts of newspapers are at the most risk? Will we really see closings of big-name newspapers in the next few months? What would be the revenue and cost implications of publishing fewer than seven days a week? If Rick Edmonds was in charge of a major metro paper, what would he do? Are any of the startup models being tried actually working — doing good journalism and making a profit?

If you don’t have 15 minutes, my paraphrased versions of Rick’s answers are below the video.

The interview in brief (and apologies for the sometimes-shaky video):

— What will the next six months hold for newspaper companies? (Really, really bad stuff.)

— What sorts of newspapers are at the most risk? (The major metro papers; companies with a lot of debt; companies with high costs through union contracts.)

— Will we really see closings of big-name newspapers in the next few months? (Yep — and probably not just the Rocky Mountain News. It’s less clear whether it’ll be just two-paper cities or whether there’ll be any major cities left without a paper at all. We’re also really likely to see major papers go less-than-daily.)

— What would be the revenue and cost implications of publishing fewer than seven days a week? (You’d lose some, though perhaps not all, the ad revenue from those days. They’ll try to convert some of those advertisers to online campaign or shift them to the remaining days. You’d lose some circ money. But on the production side, you save real money as soon as you trim out two days, and more beyond that. And you buy fewer trees.)

— If Rick Edmonds was in charge of a major metro paper, what would he do? (Cut days. But they’re in a really tough position with few answers. They need to cut a lot, but still find room to invest in new experiments. And it’s hard to do that without pushing away your current subscribers.)

— Are any of the startup models being tried actually working — doing good journalism and making a profit? Beyond Talking Points Memo. (I have hope for MinnPost — although they’re not yet making money. Pegasus News is doing interesting things on the revenue side, although the journalism is “not terribly ambitious.” [Sorry, Mike — Rick’s words, not mine.] But honestly, no one’s figured it out — unless you count NPR. And maybe there’ll be a few Joan Krocs who want to give money to fund worthy journalism.)

POSTED     Dec. 9, 2008, 8:39 a.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Newsonomics: Seizing the Brexit-Trump moment, the Murdochs bid for Sky
Are we entering a new age of digital robber barons?
When 9.4 million followers isn’t enough: NBC News will shut down the Breaking News app on Dec. 31
“Experiments eventually need to sustain themselves and in this case, despite every effort, we just weren’t able to get there,” said Nick Ascheim of NBC News, which owns Breaking News.
The Wall Street Journal is confident its “bendier” paywall will draw the paying readers it needs to survive
Despite a bad fall shadowed by news about ad revenue declines and layoffs, the Journal has ridden what seems to be a post-election wave of interest in paid media. It’s counting on changes in paywall strategy to bring in even more digital subscribers.