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Nice take, Jason. I’m always skeptical about the kind of dichotomous thinking that you challenge so well here. Let me describe this dilemma — or perhaps opportunity. I’m now 61 years old, and my mom is in great health and headed for 91. So let’s say my life expectancy is, like my dad’s, 86. That gives me 25 years to read the paper if the paper continues to feed my interests.
I know many Boomers who feel the same way. I meet them all the time, civilians interested in the news: “Please don’t let THEM take away my paper. I love my paper. I need it first thing every morning….” Now while such a sentiment is certainly shrinking, and will rarely be expressed by many younger folks, the Boomers represent a huge and influential population. They, we, are the pig in the python.
And, until a new business model comes along, we represent a faithful constituency willing to buy the paper and provide eyeballs for advertisers. So if newspapers are destined to be niche publications, I believe they can remain a big niche — at least till we Boomers climb the Golden Staircase. Cheers — and sorry bout them Mets.
Hi Roy, thanks for stopping by.
Sure, a quarter-century’s worth of niche is nothing to take lightly. But there has to be something coming along after that, or you’re not replacing subscribers. In which case the niche gets smaller and smaller, until it’s so small that it’s unsustainable. Which is where I think Farhi’s advice leads us.
So what’s the something? That’s the billion-dollar question.
The awful thing nobody wants to admit about Web newspapers is that it’s possible there is no Web business model for a newspaper industry that resembles what we have today — an industry that is pretty remarkable for all its shortcomings and current woes and aggravating conservatism. If that’s true, then Farhi’s advice may yield a controlled crash that’s the best we can do. But I think we’re a long way from saying that’s true — and given the stakes, we ought to try most everything before we come to that conclusion.
Anyway, appreciate your reading and commenting. As for the Mets, well, April 2010 gets closer every day.
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Web veteran Jason Fry explores the challenges faced by newspapers in the digital world.