Why Are Newspapers Screwed? Because They Don't Deliver News

Why are newspapers screwed? Easy answer: Because ad dollars are shifting from newsprint to the Web.

But papers are also screwed because they’re in a self-perpetuating¬† mediocrity cycle: Revenues decline, so they cut resources, which makes their product lousier, which makes their revenue decline. Repeat.

Unpleasant example: The San Jose Mercury News, a paper that’s been hit just as hard — if not harder — by ad declines as any paper in the U.S., and has seen its staff shrink accordingly. Which is why we assume we just read this story in the paper:¬† A trend story about how much Valley digerati (like the the Google guys) like kitesurfing.

So what’s wrong with that? Nothing — just that it’s not… news — either to Valley residents, or anyone with an Internet connection. For example:

  • Valleywag wrote about in January 2007
  • Bloomberg wrote about it in April 2007
  • Fortune wrote about it in August 2007
  • And the LA Times wrote about it last week.¬†

Insult to injury: The Merc’s kite-surfing article? It’s just a reprint of the LAT’s version.

Maybe there really used to be a business model that supported old news about your hometown, delivered by people who don’t live there. But it sure won’t work in the Google News era.

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