HOME
          
LATEST STORY
How The Forward, 118 years old, is remaking itself as the American Jewish community changes
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.
How The Forward, 118 years old, is remaking itself as the American Jewish community changes
The newspaper, first published in Yiddish, is facing all the familiar pressures of print, combined with a shifting base of potential readers.
Newsonomics: Are local newspapers the taxi cabs of the Uber age?
Local newspapers still act as if they’re monopolies — despite all the new players eating away at their audiences’ attention. Is there room to adapt?
The Dallas Morning News is building data (and sources) through its new Rolodex tool
The open-source tool lets reporters contribute contacts to a centralized newsroom collection of sources — but it can also be used to build larger reader-facing data products.
What to read next
2401
tweets
The Economist’s Tom Standage on digital strategy and the limits of a model based on advertising
“The Economist has taken the view that advertising is nice, and we’ll certainly take money where we can get it, but we’re pretty much expecting it to go away.”
889A wave of distributed content is coming — will publishers sink or swim?
Instead of just publishing to their own websites, news organizations are being asked to publish directly to platforms they don’t control. Is the hunt for readers enough to justify losing some independence?
448This is my next step: How The Verge wants to grow beyond tech blogging
“We want to use technology as a way to define pop culture, in the way Rolling Stone used music and Wired used the early Internet.”
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Las Vegas Sun
Conde Nast
Ushahidi
The Globe and Mail
Chicago Tribune
The Seattle Times
ABC News
MediaBugs
The Christian Science Monitor
Texas Tribune
Dallas Morning News
Neighborlogs