What's A Big City Without A Newspaper? Still A Big City Last I Checked
from the it-ain't-the-newspaper,-it's-the-news dept
As soon as possible, he wants to begin charging for online content. As he told me this, he banged a bagel on a conference table, which sounded like a rock as it hit. "You hear that?" This bagel stinks, he said. "It's got the same consistency inside and out, but if you went down to our cafeteria, it costs like $1.25. That's what people pay for stuff like this, so you mean to tell me I can't get them to pay that for online access to all the incredible stuff in The Inquirer and Daily News online? People who say that all this content wants to be free aren't paying talented people to create it."As any first year econ student would tell Tierney, the reason people are willing to pay $1.25 for a stale bagel is because they really don't have another easy choice. To get a better bagel would mean having to leave the building and head out somewhere further away that isn't nearly as convenient. But online there are other options. Loads and loads and loads of other options -- all only a click away. If his cafeteria had 1,000 different bagel suppliers all competing to sell their bagels, he'd discover that the bagels would be both a lot cheaper and a lot better tasting. And those who thought they could get away with charging $1.25 for a crappy bagel would soon go out of business. Update: Ha! After writing this, I discovered that King Kaufman wrote basically the same thing.
Oh, and then he also seems to believe that there's something special about newsprint that makes it more suitable for reporting than the web, but he fails to explain what that is, other than "brawn."
"We do the brawny work," Tierney said, sounding like the C.E.O. of some smokestack industry. "The Web efforts, they add something. I congratulate them. Let a thousand flowers bloom. But if somebody thinks in any short term, or even medium term, that the answers are those things, they're kidding themselves. I know I sound like a heretic in that I won't come out and say, 'They're the future." But they're not. The brawny work is what we're doing, and the brawny vehicle to carry it is the printed product."I'm not against newsprint -- if someone could come up with a way to make it really add more value. I've talked about magazines making their print product more valuable, and I'm sure a creative newspaper could do it too. But claiming that newsprint is better because it carries "brawny work" doesn't seem like a particularly compelling explanation. It sounds like someone pining for a past that isn't returning. There's no vision there. There's only someone insisting that things must be a certain way because that's the way it is. The world, unfortunately, doesn't work that way.