Thursday, June 11, 2009

slow liquidation

Slate's Jack Shafer writes about the possible demise of the Boston Globe and other big city dailies, here.

He references Phillip Meyer, who first recognized the potential demise of the newspaper industry in The Vanishing Newspaper and again addressed the subject last year in AJR. A newspaper's monetary worth is largely measured in good will, he theorizes. And when the newspaper engages in a process of slow liquidation (the late Molly Ivins had it so right), well, that good will erodes along with the advertising revenue. I call it hesitation cuts.

From Shafer's post:

"Slow liquidation" shows up in the winnowing process at many local and regional dailies today: fewer reporters, fewer comics, fewer sections, fewer features, smaller pages, smaller news hole, and higher home delivery and newsstand prices.

Writing again last year in AJR, Meyer plotted an "elite newspaper" strategy for the slow liquidators. His plan is no resurrection prayer for dying dailies, but it makes more sense than running a newspaper down, down, down until it has one subscriber paying $5 million for home delivery, and then he dies.

Meyer thinks newspapers should accept that their mass audience is drifting away. (In the most recent reporting period, Globe circulation was down almost 14 percent over the previous year.) They should accept that non-news readers have stopped reading dailies, accept that newspapers can no longer satisfy everybody all the time with an "all-you-can-eat" buffet, and concentrate on publishing content of higher value. And they should "peel back" to their core functions of news, investigation, analysis, and interpretation "in a print product that appears less than daily, combined with constant updating and reader interaction on the Web."

No comments: