As a lover of print media, I have engaged with interest to the recent press tour by Walter Isaacson regarding his ‘modest proposal’ to save newspapers. And I return to the same question each time I see him, or anyone else for that matter, speak on the topic. Today your guests came the closest to asking the question, yet not one seemed to provide an answer. The question is the quality of content in relation to profitability. Of course that is the crux of the crisis for newspapers, yet the missing factor is that local newspapers have been largely squeezed by costs that larger newspapers are just now recognizing as problematic for themselves. How is it possible to pay for quality content where the readership may be inundated by so much content that differentiating is difficult to measure. How and when are readers willing to empty (their now tight pocketbooks) for the latest news or the mere pleasure of reading? Looking at the newspaper model without looking at how other forms of the printing publishers are utilizing the internet and bloggers to make money.
I cannot think of a recent book release that did not have it’s origins somewhere in the blogosphere. Either the book was the topic of bloggers or begun as a blogging writing project that some publisher saw a profit in publishing as a collection. The idea that books will are enhanced by ‘kindle-like’ devices is certainly supported by a view at what successful bloggers are doing. What I find most interesting is that the largesse of the blogosphere may also be it’s downfall as far as quality and profitability are concerned.
Maybe a facet of success for the major newspaper publishing outlets would be to follow the lead of those successful publishing efforts, by seeking out quality content. Quality content is not magic, it takes investment in writers and thinkers.