The struggles of oldline media in a new media world show no sign of abating. This Businessweek article discusses the fall of the San Jose Mercury News, and its parent Knight Ridder, over the last decade. Between Craigslist destroying the economics of the classified advertising market and young people avoiding the printed word the newspaper industry is changing rapidly.
Obviously, with this website I am interested in what the revenue model will be for online content in the coming years. I believe it is still too early to predict and ultimate outcome, but it is not too early to at least lay out what I believe will be important factors in determining what a newspaper company will look like and what the new economic model will affect newspapers big and small.
First, it is unlikely that many papers will be online only as long as their print editions stay profitable. Print editions still generate the bulk of newspaper revenue. and a papers’ ability to maintain a robust newsdesk and stable of reporters. This bodes well for small local papers that are the only paper in a locale and national papers with a large national audience.
Second, as broadband speeds go up (its comcastic!) I think you will begin to see more convergence in local television and online print media. By way of example, here is a pretty funny story from the local cbs station in Denver. This print report is a verbatim transcript of the television report embedded with it. Instead of merely being able to watch the report, you are given the option of reading it. Some reports are better fit for print. This was is more valuable in video, but you are at least given the option. This would appear to favor local television stations over print and perhaps will result in more mergers between local papers and television stations.
Third, as demonstrated by the NY Times recent retreat, the online subscription model will go the way of the dodo. There are few news organizations, if any, that have enough original content that will be able to continue requiring subscriptions for online editions. Business publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times are the last holdouts in the subscription model.