Newspapers have to be good enough for readers to pay for

“Those still putting digital advertising ahead of paid digital subscriptions are in danger of extinction.”

For newspaper publishers, growing paid digital subscriptions will be their highest priority. The smartest ones will realize that no one is going to pay them for what they can get free elsewhere. So they’ll stop downsizing their newsrooms so that they can publish a sufficient amount of original and relevant journalism that has value for the price charged. Maybe some will even add journalists.

Those still putting digital advertising ahead of paid digital subscriptions are in danger of extinction. The smartest ones will continue to manage down the print business so as to optimize the profitability it can contribute until it is no longer profitable. Hastening its decline would be a mistake.

If they aren’t into data analytics to help problem-solving, they’re behind. If they don’t start utilizing AI, they will get behind. It’s all going to voice, so you better have your ear in the water and be experimenting. The really progressive ones will be studying blockchain to see how it will affect publishing.

Those that have the balance sheet will make strategic acquisitions to add to and accelerate revenue and EBITDA growth. They won’t acquire newspapers, though — that’s just more cost-cutting, not building new business models.

Jim Moroney is publisher and CEO of The Dallas Morning News.

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