free html hit counter Future of News Round Up - John Battelle's Search Blog

Future of News Round Up

By - May 07, 2009

Yesterday the Senate held hearings about the sorry state of the news biz, and Marissa Mayer from Google, Arianna Huffington from the Huffpo, and various others held forth.

This in context of a building chorus of press voices saying that 1/ Google is stealing what is rightfully ours and 2/consumers must pay for content on the web (Murdoch, Belo). And in the context of a scramble to figure out whether or not the new big screen Kindle is a good thing, or a bad thing for newspapers (Murdoch is not a fan, the NYT is.)

I can’t imagine a more interesting time to be in the news business. Note I didn’t say “fun.” But interesting, yes, very interesting.

More links: Forbes chief Spanfeller says Google is stealing $60million from Forbes.com, Danny of SEL responds, and link to coverage of AP’s saber rattling (last month) along the same lines.

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9 thoughts on “Future of News Round Up

  1. It is very interesting indeed. I commute by Caltrain and have been for a long time. It is very interesting to see how the number of newspapers lying around on the train dropped significantly after the iPhone. There are still a few non iPhone folks who pick up the news paper, but in general, the newspaper consumption has reduced significantly.

    I am wondering if the eventually access to paid sites would be built into service providers – internet or mobile plans. It might become like the Direct TV or Comcast, where you can pick the sites you would want to visit. It may be more ala carte. We would have to wait and see. :)

  2. Sami Mikhail says:

    A Million years ago (or the last time I talked to someone in the newspaper world) they told me that the Newspapers ran on Advertising revenue, not Subscription revenue.

    Is this true?

    If it is true, then this whole pay for online content play is very specious, no?

    I do realize that without a subscribership, you can’t sell Ad Space. That the print media is losing to the on-line media for a number of reasons, but it seems to me that artificially forcing a “Pay for Online Content” mechanism to even the playing field is a seriously misguided step.

    But I guess it’s easier to do that than to do redefine the whole print media system to make it as attractive as the online world…..

  3. The newspapers, magazines, and TV stations have one asset no one else has on the Internet–journalist and quality writers. This puts them at such an advantage over all other sources of content on the net. However, they have chosen to not take the time to understand the Internet, the blogosphere, search engines, and the new world revenue models.

    This past year my firm had serious conversations with a newspaper and a startup magazine in Dallas. We are social media marketers and actually run our own sports blog MidWestSportsFans.Com. Our overall monthly visitor numbers are 20% of our city’s biggest newspaper online. Our revenue model covers our cost. Still, the startup magazine chose to go the route of having minimum wage employees put free copies of their publication in spectator’s seats before sporting events. The newspaper simply passed on talking to us.

    In a blogging class I taught this past week at Collin College, we used the sports blog of the newspaper for numerous “worst practices” examples. The truly don’t understand how the blogosphere works.

    Should the senate get involved in trying to police organizations who have continued to fail to keep up? The Internet has been accessible to the masses for almost 20 years now.

    In the mean time, “the newspaper” we spoke to has become the center topic of our local crime watch as their marketing practice of putting free newspapers on people’s lawns while they are out of town has become a crime threat.

    Google has changed the world for the better. It is putting people in touch with what they want and need. Let the world evolve.

  4. Alex says:

    I have extremely mixed feelings on this (since I was and am a journalist). On the one hand, I think the old model is poorly suited to iterative story-telling that is becoming the norm and, to a degree, I agree with Danny. On the other hand, I understand the objections of the publishers that Google and others are essentially siphoning off the value of the content creation by being a big gatekeeper. However, I am fairly certain that, should mainstream publishers go away, the quality of discourse in the blogopshere would be adversely impacted. Sure, blogs break a lot of news but there are a lot fewer professional blogs and people with day jobs don’t have time to think about this stuff — let alone, do the shoe leather work necessary to dig deep into stories. So we’ll see. Interesting, yes, Fun, no. Hopeful, absolutely!

  5. It is very interesting indeed

  6. Tom says:

    Below taken from my blog post…
    Miscellaneous on Status Updates, Distributed Intelligence and New Economies

    “It’s another example of how technology is changing economics and power relationships in fundamental ways. Like the issues with newspapers, intellectual content, etc.

    From Vernor Vinge* who’s a hot topic these days:

    “The work that is truly productive is the domain of a steadily smaller and more elite fraction of humanity. In the coming of the Singularity, we are seeing the predictions of true technological unemployment finally come true.”

    *The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era

    Yet in many cases the value is actually produced from a distributed network which extends beyond the boundaries of the entity which focusses that value into marketable form.

    The Internet is a landscape not a business. But as a landscape its qualities are unlike normal geographies since proximity is fundamentally redefined (farther in space and longer in time become closer and shorter respectively). This results in both greater productivity but also reduced opportunities to extract surplus value from the points along that chain from product to consumer since that chain no longer exists.

    Further the Internet disperses content… or more accurately disperses it and then re-concentrates it in a myriad different configurations ever more individually determined.”

    I believe this requires one or more new economic structures to accommodate a fundamental shift in the landscape while maintaining both the advantages of markets and, at the same time, counter-balancing increased tendencies toward unsustainable concentration of the wealth thus created and its potential to corrupt group decision mechnisms.

    It’s really just a little tweak which can be naturally accomplished within the free market.

  7. Craig says:

    Another aspect of the issue is the necessity of the news and journalism.

    Honestly, what is it all for? Reading the news has very little impact on my life. I read it because I want to know, not because I need to know. So much of the news is entertainment. I would like to be an informed ctizen/voter and know the issues but is that really what most of the news is about? No.

    We just don’t need so much of it.

    Why do I my local paper here in Raleigh NC to find out about international news. Do I really need a daily news report about what’s going on in Raleigh. No.

    I can get international news from the BBC or NPR etc. etc. and they are just easy to access.

    So, I say paid or free, ad supported or not, high quality journalism or bloviated opinon… we just don’t need so many outlets anymore. That is a fundamental shift.

  8. Curtis says:

    “I can’t imagine a more interesting time to be in the news business.”

    Online news business, that is! :)