After working in the newspaper biz for almost two decades and loving them long before that, I marvel at the current state of affairs for the industry. I read today that CNN is now going to start charging for some of their content. Most of it will be free it sounds like, but some of it you will have to pony up a few bucks a month to read.
I get it. Newspapers need to make money. But what I don’t get is why they don’t seem to take advantage of all the technology that is available today.
Let’s look at the newspaper’s step-brother, Facebook. Facebook doesn’t produce anything really. They have a website and server rooms the size of small countries I’m sure. I realize that Facebook is a great place for old people and Russians to come together to talk about all kinds of things like how much Jesus loves the flag and Trump and deep philosophical issues like these recent Facebook posts:
“Another bad day … Sigh” from Facebook user PositiveKaren
“Karma is a bitch” from Facebook user SeymourButts
“To all my haterz” from Facebook user EmersonBiggins
Lots of deep stuff that we all need to see. So you can probably imagine how important Facebook is to the future of our country. The short answer is: Not much. But there they are. Raking in cash each month. If you need to keep up with a person that went to the same school you did, ten years after you graduated, and you don’t even remember their name or their older cousin who went to the same school and thinks he was in Vo-Ag classes with you, then Facebook has what you need. But ultimately, Facebook is a place for advertisers. They do a damn good job too. Their algorithms are perfect at pairing up ads for diabetic socks with people who are in need of diabetic socks.
But it seems like their used to be another medium that placed diabetic socks in the hands (or on the feet) of people in search of diabetic socks. Now what was the name of that medium (strokes long beard and rubs diabetic socks) … What was that name?
Oh yeah, it was the newspaper.
Why did the newspaper business get away from that model? They always had subscribers that paid for a paper and advertisers that paid for ad space. They brought those two groups together. Basically, they collected information on their communities and readers and sold that information to advertisers. Exactly what Facebook and Google and Amazon do now. The difference is Facebook, Google and Amazon are making boatloads of cash while newspapers are struggling. With the exception of Amazon, the other main social media companies aren’t really provided any product or even a service in the old sense. It’s just a website to connect.
That’s what newspapers do. Connecting readers with the news of the day in their community and world. Why can’t the newspaper industry get on board and provide that same service and sell a product: The f*^*%ing news?
People need the news. Citizens needs to know what’s going on in their communities. What’s new. What’s old. Who is corrupting what? Newspapers do it best.
Can’t newspaper organizations just make people sign up with all their information. Then put them together with news stories and other people who are reading those stories. Maybe it’s their cousins or friends or influencers or that person that graduated from the same high school ten years after you graduated. Then they could take all that information and sell it to someone. Let’s think who could they sell it to (strokes long beard again and takes another belt of whiskey and a Twinkie) … oh yeah, now I know: ADVERTISERS.
It seems weird I know. Maybe it won’t work. But if Facebook can make more money that the country of (Note to Editor: put in a country that makes less money that Facebook), then surely newspapers who have survived since the invention of the printing press, can find a way to make it work.
I’m just over here thinking and scratching my beard and looking for socks.