From the advertiser’s point of view, the nation’s newspapers have become little more than a blue-bag delivery service, with a horoscope and enough local sports inside to get people to open the bag.
Inserts are one of the last sources of advertising to resist digitization. They are also the next to go.
To follow on my latest post about the dismal direction of the N&R, it bears saying -- again -- that these folks are dealing with real problems. Like, existential problems. The inclination to protect the insert revenue is understandable, but the new paywall strategy is a false move.
I don't claim to know the right way to save the local news-org business, but I'm pretty sure it involves a serious commitment to high-quality local reporting and digital delivery -- two things the Market St. managers and their absentee bosses abjure.
But, yeah, this is horrifying:
I disagree with Shirky on one key point. When he says, "The closing of a local newspaper matters more than the closing of a local shoe store for only one reason — newspapers employ journalists," he understates the value of a newsaper as town square and public advocate. Maybe that's what he means to say, and maybe he thinks journalists will fulfill those functions elsewhere, but if so, where?
As we used to say, read the whole thing.