Just about every newspaper proprietor admits that the traditional business model for newspapers is dead.
In the early days of the internet, newspapers thought that putting content online would augment the existing ‘ink-on-paper’ model. Today, apart from a few niche exceptions, if a newspaper doesn’t make its content available online for free, it may as well not bother.
The vast majority of newspaper publishers are on the brink of collapse. Just this week Reader’s Digest, founded in 1922, announced that it was filing for bankruptcy in the US. News Corporation, the world’s largest media conglomerate that posted a $3.4bn loss in June, is to start charging for its online content in a bid to reverse its fortunes. However, charging for something that you used to give away for free – and readers are not used to paying for – is very difficult.
Newspapers are floundering not just because the world’s moved on leaving them with an unsustainable business model. They are in trouble because they cannot separate newspapers from journalism.
Newspapers are all about the content, not about the delivery vehicle.