Most newspaper executives now are banking on a successful transfer of their business online...Unfortunately, they came late to the realization of how important this is and did not invest enough capital in the early years of the Internet...[They] concentrated on shoring up the profitability of their traditional newsprint-oriented business, chiefly through laying off employees, downsizing their newspapers and cutting back on circulation...It was a classic defensive strategy that undermined the very things--standing, reputation, influence--that are crucial to success on the Internet.
...The newspaper industry remains highly profitable by comparison with most other businesses...But no industry can cut its way to future success. At some point, the business must improve.
Whether newspapers will be able to meld a combination of print and online into a sustainable and thriving business model is a large question.
My take this summer on the News & Record and its corporate owner:
[I]t underinvested in new media and product quality as the market began to change...I haven't seen the kind of game-changing investments that show long-term emphasis and a deep understanding of the ways the business will continue to be transformed. Where's the meaningful local answer to Google and Craigslist? Where's the local online ad market, and the new-media counterattack on TV and radio?
...It would make no huge difference in Landmark's overall numbers to cut profit margins for a while to merely solid rates of return, and to reinvest a few million bucks per year in product and product development, but it would make a huge difference to the News & Record, and Greensboro, and the future of local journalism.
Too bad that ain't happening.