Latest Plan To Save Newspapers: Let Everyone Else Break News First

from the you-can't-be-serious dept

In what at first sounds like it must be a "modest proposal" sort of satire, but actually appears to be serious, W.B. McNamara writes in to point out a suggestion in the San Francisco Chronicle written by journalist/lawyer Peter Scheer, that all newspapers and wire services agree to embargo all content from the "free" internet for a period of 24-hours. He suggests they agree to do this while somehow avoiding anti-trust violations -- which is pretty much impossible. He claims this will highlight the value of paper newspapers:
"A temporary embargo, by depriving the Internet of free, trustworthy news in real-time, would, I believe, quickly establish the true value of that information. Imagine the major Web portals -- Yahoo, Google, AOL and MSN -- with nothing to offer in the category of news except out of date articles from "mainstream" media and blogosphere musings on yesterday's news. Digital fish wrap. And the portals know from unhappy experience (most recently in the case of Yahoo) just how difficult it is to create original and timely news content themselves."
I would guess that Mr. Scheer doesn't play chess very often, because he doesn't seem to have considered what happens in response to this opening move. Assuming that somehow, miraculously, all newspapers and wire services agree to do this without violating antitrust law (which is basically impossible), it opens up a huge opportunity and a hole for someone to step in and serve that need. He ignores that there are plenty of other sources of news outside of newspapers, from TV to radio to online only sources already. Newspapers don't have a monopoly on the news, and taking them out of the game doesn't help them -- it just promotes everyone else. He thinks that the portals can't create original content and timely news (which he's wrong about, first of all), but they would have a much easier time if the entire competition voluntarily stayed home each day. All this would do is clear the playing field for others to fill the need and make newspapers even less relevant in a matter of days (if that long). At what point do people realize that the strategy on the internet isn't about putting up artificial barriers and making things more expensive and more difficult for users, but in adding value and making life easier and better?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ajax 4Hire, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 4:24pm

    newspapers? thats internet news printed, isn't it?

    Yeah, son, they use to print up the news from the internet (they called it the "wire" then) on thin paper and then delivery it to people's houses in the morning.

    Thats what they called newspapers (aka fish wrapper).

    Do people still read newspapers?

    Every few days someone 'litters' a plastic baggie of paper on my lawn. I can use the paper to start fires in the fire place, line the bird cage, lay on the floor when I paint.

    I don't ask for the paper, it just shows up and I am definitely not paying for it. Almost like they are begging me to read it.

    Well off to web-sites to read the news, ta-ta.

     

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  2.  
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    Ajax 4Hire, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 4:25pm

    oh yeah, I'm first.

    oh yeah, I'm first, just had to say it.

     

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  3.  
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    Neal, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 4:37pm

    Ajaz4Hire, you're late for first once again. I'm sorry to say we're going to have to let you go. To keep things somewhat on topic, I'd suggest you pick up a copy of the newspaper and check out the local help wanted ads.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward (profile), Nov 15th, 2006 @ 4:43pm

    Great idea!

    On those rare occasions that I see a dead-tree newspaper (pretty much only on airline flights) I always find it amusing that what I read on paper is the same stuff I read on the interwebs three days ago.

    This genius has come up with a way to shave an entire day off of that lag time. Brilliant!

     

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  5.  
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    Paul, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 4:50pm

    craigs list

    "I'd suggest you pick up a copy of the newspaper and check out the local help wanted ads."

    Nah that is outdated now too, go hop on craigs list

     

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  6.  
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    Susheel Daswani, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 4:56pm

    Antitrust law?

    Anyone care to explain how this would be a antitrust violation? How could this be an antitrust violation if, as Mike says, "[n]ewspapers don't have a monopoly on the news, and taking them out of the game doesn't help them -- it just promotes everyone else"? I understand it would be a antitrust violation if the news services engaged in price fixing, but I don't see what is wrong with all the currently existing news services agreeing to charge for access for the first 24 hours.

     

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  7.  
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    Rick, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 5:16pm

    I wonder when they will realize that nobody uses their online services as much as they would like because they design them so poorly?

    I tend to use msnbc.com or cnn.com but shy away from the local kcstar.com as the latter forces me to register and login frequently if I do register. The other sites let me read the news without registering or jumping through and hoops, plus I can find relevant articles easily without having to fiddle through a 'print edition' menu system that does not scale well to the web literate.

    Give me the local news online and make it easy to find and read. If you make me register, make it a bonus for being a PRINT SUBSCRIBER and then give me EXTRA content online that only subscribers can get that is not available anywhere else. You could also gain a few brownie points with a simple 90 day cookie to keep me logged in too!

    It doesn't take a brain surgeon to make money online, just give your users what they want and don't expect the users to take what you want to give them.

     

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  8.  
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    Xenohacker@hotmail.com, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 6:19pm

    I Just Want Same Day News...

    Title says it all... except I don't care where it comes from as long as it is accurate.

     

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  9.  
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    Rico J. Halo, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 6:36pm

    Someone please tell me...

    That nobody would really make such a suggestion? Ok, cars are faster than horses so everytime you want to travel somewhere you have to sit in your car not going anywhere for 24 hours so youll arrive the same time as if you took a horse...thats fair for the horses right? Sheesh. Must be a democrat :-)

    www.thatpoliticalblog.com

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 7:11pm

    Wouldn't the more profitable internet companies just hire the less profitable newspaper's journalists?

    As a business man, that's what I would do if I was a internet company in this situation.

    Seems too obvious?

     

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  11.  
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    Bob, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 7:56pm

    Craig's List?

    Are you kidding me? Craig's List is an absolute joke. Ok, maybe not if you live in the miniscule fraction of the country that's served by Craig's List then it's not, but for most of the US the local newspaper classifieds are the place to look for local job (and other) listings and will remain so for a long time to come.

     

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  12.  
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    Lauren, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 9:16pm

    Newspapers are still very useful!!

    If you don't have a tv and your internet connection is broken and you need some comics while you're on hold with your ISP.
    Plus I find that shredding newsprint keeps the cat busy so he doesn't chew cables and scratch the couch.

     

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  13.  
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    Isaac, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 9:41pm

    Re: Craig's List? by Bob

    You must live in the middle of nowhere. Sorry!

     

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  14.  
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    Mike (profile), Nov 15th, 2006 @ 10:37pm

    Re: Antitrust law?

    I understand it would be a antitrust violation if the news services engaged in price fixing, but I don't see what is wrong with all the currently existing news services agreeing to charge for access for the first 24 hours.

    Charging for the first 24 hours *is* price fixing.

     

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  15.  
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    Tashi, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 10:44pm

    Having worked for a newspaper for the last 17 years and see them go from old steel tubes and cutting ads with exacto knives to cutting edge publishing technology they are shooting themselves in the foot by spending money on the tech, without updating certain processes. Despite all the advances in technology, there are still certain processes in design and publishing they use that are decades old. This was one of the biggest problems: nobody wanted to change. They were forced to to keep their jobs. So many end users learn the bare minimum to do their job. They get taught one way cause that's easiest but there are a dozen other more productive proccesses they could use. I've seen the expense side steadily creep up in unexpected ways because they can't see the forest for the trees. Many think having new tech somehow automatically makes you more productive. The opposite is happening and it's reflecting in the ROI.

     

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  16.  
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    Cognivore, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 10:47pm

    Visiting newpaper sites

    I don't read paper newspapers, and I would rarely if ever visit a newspaper's web site unless it was linked to from a new portal. Portals drive traffic to their sites. I get the blurb from the portal, I click the link, and I read the article on their site, with their ads, and with their other articles which I might also read, and sometimes do.

    How in the heck can they think this is bad for them. It's not like I read the whole story on Google News, Slashdot, or TechDirt.

     

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  17.  
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    Louis, Nov 16th, 2006 @ 8:35am

    We've seen this before.

    This is just another case of another conglomerate unwilling to adapt its business model while the rest of the world is trying to move forward.

     

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  18.  
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    Ben, Nov 17th, 2006 @ 5:38am

    easily avoided

    I understand it would be a antitrust violation if the news services engaged in price fixing, but I don't see what is wrong with all the currently existing news services agreeing to charge for access for the first 24 hours. Leaving a lovely big market for the first news service to get a competitive advantage by charging less (even zero) than the others.

     

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  19.  
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    james-42, Nov 17th, 2006 @ 7:22am

    "...newspaper classifieds are the place to look for local job..."

    Looking for work in a newspaper is the absolute worst way to find a job. A company has to be pretty desperate to advertise there for anything but entry level jobs.

     

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  20.  
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    ytjohn, Nov 17th, 2006 @ 7:52am

    Re: Re: Craig's List? by Bob

    Craig's list is a joke. Click almost any state in the list, and you'll come up with less than 10 cities for that state. Arizona only has 3 cities listed. Now let's look at Pennsylvannia. They list Harrisburg, PA which has a population of 50,000. Pittsburgh, PA is bigger with a population of 334,000. Do driving directions between those two cities, and you'll see State College, PA (pop: 38,000), which is on craigslist. You'll also see Altoona, PA (pop: 50,000) that is not. Altoona has a bigger population than State College and is far away from any of those other three cities. I live an hour south of Altoona in Everett, PA which *is* the middle of nowhere, population 2,000. Altoona would be a decent place to look for jobs, but not on craigslist. The same problem exists for Chambersburg, PA (pop: 50,000).

    Furthermore, I checked out the suggest a site feature. I'm not sure what sort of technical hurdles craigslist has to go through to add a city to their list, but people have requested Altoona:

    http://forums.craigslist.org/?SQ=altoona%2C+pa&act=RSR&searchAID=&forumID=1

    Yahoo at least already covers Altoona, PA.

    I live an hour from Altoona, PA myself, so it was easy to pick this example out of the hat, using google to verify facts. However, Altoona is not alone in this regard. Look on those forums I linked and go up a level. The number of requests in the last 24 hours for cities was asounding. Actually, I noticed at least one altoona, pa in the last 24 hours.

    craigslist only covers a small number of area, and is not responsive enough to its target audience. craigslist does a good job for the areas it covers, because people are asking, begging, and demanding that they add their location. I understand that there would be no point adding some places -- like Camp Hill, PA which is right next to Harrisburg, PA. But for the bulk of the population of the USoA, local newspaper classifieds are still the way to go. PA's unemployment maintains a site called PACareerLink which has free statewide job postings, so that is a good alternative, if you're looking for jobs. Other categories however send you back to the paper.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 2:56pm

    Wow, that is pretty sad

     

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