The blogging breed

When I hear people talk about the slow death of the newspaper industry, I point out that it’s more akin to an assisted suicide. Of course there are many outside factors dealing blows to the business, but the industry’s knack for making self-destructive, short-sighted business decisions made those blows all the more wounding. The journo snobbery about the Internet is a case in point.

For decades, the twin monsters bedeviling the newspaper business have been production costs (printing plants ain’t cheap) and distribution (maintaining fleets of trucks and drivers to get the papers out to the public). So along comes the Internet, which at a stroke eliminates both problems, and the response of newspaper executives is to treat Web sites as garbage dumps, and then to whine about those nasty bloggers linking to their stories without paying. David Simon’s line about bloggers being the parasites that destroy their hosts is one of the dumbest things ever said by a demonstrably smart person.

So Michael Massing’s piece about how some adventurous  journos are turning the Web to their own purposes is a refreshing tonic. He also provides a list of pioneering sites like Talking Points Memo that have exploited the possibilities of the Intertubes to advance journalism. For anyone who still needs convincing, this article might just do the trick.

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6 thoughts on “The blogging breed

  1. le0pard13 says:

    Good points, Steven. TPM is a wonderful example, here (and a regular stop for me, too). During the recent look back at Cronkite’s career, many asked who in news now is “the most trusted.” Gibson, Williams, Couric? Nah, for me it’s Josh Marshall. Excellent post.

  2. not really says:

    Newspapers were profitable — extremely so — until Wall Street fouind them. Then, they were even more profitable — margins of 35 percent for most chains. Then the internet devoured the ad base — Criags list for classified, department store consolidation killing display inches.

    They haven’t been dying for years. They were making more money than ever in the 1980s and 1990s. They weren’t focused on making their product great, true; too much profit taking. But they were far from dying. Indeed, they were a recommended investment.

    Until the internet. Even now, more people view the workproduct of newspapers than ever before. NYT readership is up 12 percent over three years. They just don’t pay for it through subscription or through advertising. Therein lies the new dynamic.

    You don’t really know what your talking about do you? But your close enough for the internet, where research is minimal and anyone can spout the first thing into their head.

  3. Steven Hart says:

    It’s “you’re,” not “your.” Little things like that matter.

    I agree that Wall Street did a great deal of damage to newspapers. (Go re-read the line about short-sighted business decisions.) The worst damage was done through layoffs and downsizing that eliminated anyone with experience. Hence the reference to “assisted suicide.” Maybe you should try to read things twice before sounding off.

    Newspapers let Craiglist and other services pull the rug out from under them. They got caught napping. They viewed the Internet as a fad. Dumb.

    But David Simon and the other snobs aren’t complaining about that. They’re complaining about bloggers linking to their stories. I have yet to hear any of them explain how a blogger, linking to content already provided free of charge, is robbing anybody of anything. If anything, the blogger is drawing wider readership to the linked stories.

  4. Jeff says:

    Steven, are you aware of New Jersey Newsroom? It’s essentially an online newspaper started by former Star-Ledger staffers. I haven’t been following it closely, but it looks promising.

  5. mikeb302000 says:

    Great discussion. Thanks Steven.

  6. Steven Hart says:

    That Newsroom New Jersey site is a real find. Thanks for the tip.

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