Wednesday, July 1, 2009

MSM on the ropes (one hopes)

The Walk-Man asks:

"Should linking to copyrighted material be outlawed, as one American Judge, Richard Posner, has suggested?

"Well, obviously I view this through the lense of being a blogger; a profession which would be made difficult, and in some cases nigh impossible if one were unable to link to sources. So I'm biased.

But really, does one need a bias to see that this is a dumb idea? Sure, it might help the more wheezing and bed-ridden of the newspaper biz to hold on to what little life they still have, but really, it would be at the price of mediocrity for everyone."

The MSM, in its death throes, is getting desperate. Don't you think it's delicious irony that bloggers linking to stories increases readership of those stories?

Ah, but those evil bloggers aren't contributing REVENUE. So what? It's not bloggers' job to talk people into spending money -- it's their job to share information. Isn't that what newspapers et al. claim to be all about?


Anonymous said...

I think you've raised a good point here: revenue. I think the MSM biz, especially the papers, would probably benefit from a re-arranging of its business model - but more than anything, its ability to adapt to the Internet is going to be key to its surviving any revenue shortfall.

After all, not just paid subscriptions for online content, but perhaps paid email alerts on certain topics, the sale of online advertising space, the creation of affiliate blog networks with their own adspace, etc., etc., etc. I know that the market's tough right now, but you'd think that the newspapers and other media could figure this Internet thing out, huh?

I mean, I guess some of them have it figured out - or some of them are coming to realize the value of the Internet. But it's a slow adaptation, and meanwhile, to make it harder for their blogging brethren isn't going to make things any better for them.

Eowyn said...

If you ask me, they should go toward a Pajamas Media format. Lots less overhead, lots more interactive.

You WOULD think they'd "get" the Internet, but ... well ...

Anonymous said...

Yeah - you'd think. After all, it's not too, too hard - especially if you hire a couple of good web designers and a few good bloggers. That alone will get you off to a good start :)

Eowyn said...


Back in 2005, I told anyone who'd listen, at my old paper, that blogging was the wave of the future. I was ridiculed soundly.

Who's laughing now? ;)

Anonymous said...

Hah! The irony, eh?

Charles Henry said...

I'd be curious to learn whether the decline extends to British newspapers. Compared to their North American cousins, the British press (online, anyway) always seems well-written, absorbing, and definitely exciting to read.

I wonder if the Telegraph, the Daily Mail, The Times, etc, are suffering as much as US papers like the NY Times. I think it's not just changing times, it's also absurdly low standards of quality that is doing in the North American media.

If Pajamas Media succeeds, it will mostly be due to the quality of the articles "published" there, than the fact that it's a website. Step 1 must be that you've got to give readers something **worth** reading... then step 2, figure out how to make money from it.

Charles Henry said...

One other thought on relying on online ad revenue... given how contentious the discussions can get on political blogs, I wonder what effect this would have (or is having) on companies weighing where to place their ads.

Imagine that someone writes on a controversial topic, say, abortion or homosexual marriage. Half the readers probably won't agree on the stated opinion; how many of them look up and see a banner ad for, oh, Sears for example, and then decide to boycott Sears for (in their eyes) supporting this position?

Are we entering an era where advertisers may have to declare themselves politically, "coming out" like K-Mart did when they hired Rosie O'Donnell a few years ago knowing her extremist political views about gun control..?

Otherwise there's simply no upside, that I can see, for buying space in a medium that sets one half of its readers against the other half... unless online media opens up to adopt the approach that Pajamas Media takes, and publish articles on both sides of most lightning-rod issues, struggling to offer fair and balanced reporting?