More on the Slow, Impending and Eventual Doom of Newspapers

As lascivious, corporate greed and the fall of the American economy both continue unabated, the bowties in their towers built upon strata formed by ink, hot type and pulp look down upon their megacorpconglomeranational empires and, merely, wait.  They abide.  For they know, no matter what happens to the newspaper industry today, tomorrow, or by 2017, the year when the last major American newspapers are predicted to have died, that there is absolutely nothing they can do.  At all.
They also know their executive bonuses and perks are safe, no matter what happens.
They’ll never admit this.  Ever.  Right now, even though newspapers are closing and layoffs are massive, print newspapers bring in more revenue than their online counterparts.  And it’s predicted — accurately, I believe — that their online counterparts will NEVER bring in an equal amount of revenue.
The bowties will never admit any of this because it will devalue their stock even more than their stock is devalued now.
It is, after all, not about news, not about journalism, not about loyal employees, and not about what the community needs.
It’s all about money.
The question remains: How can they stay in business?
The bowties already know the answer to this one.  Hell, it’s as simple as an answer can get:
They can’t.
Warren Buffett summed it up for them.

“Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.”

I’ve written about Jeff Jarvis before, and I think he’s usually on point about his predictions and trendspotting for the newspaper business.  He’s written a piece you should read, that gets to the heart of the issue: deliberately shutting the newspapers, firing thousands, and moving on . . . but to what?

“To take advantage of bankruptcy, a company has to have courage and bold visions of the future. Do newspaper companies? So far, we haven’t seen evidence of it.”

His facts jibe with Papercuts, a site that’s keeping track of the layoffs at newspapers across the country.
The countdown has begun.  2017 is right around the corner.
The bowties better get used to wearing sweat-stained t-shirts and dealing crystal meth out of their doublewides.

Newspapers…Still Not Getting It

About nine months ago, I wrote here about how I knew newspapers were dead.  Okay, at least dying.  Driving themselves to the verge of extinction . . . because they just don’t get it.

What don’t they get?

The present.  How the combination of the evolving whims of consumers and the evolution of technology has sped past them — and the fact that they cannot catch up.


In that link above, I mention Jeff Jarvis.  In an email, Jeff convinced me that a book about the newspaper crisis would not sell — because he was begged by his publisher not to even submit a proposal.

They didn’t want to have to turn him down.

He knows his shit about newspapers and about IT.  And I don’t mean “It,” the word, or It, the Stephen King novel.  He knows his shIT.  And I suggest you look at his blog posts,

What is content, then?


Serendipity is unexpected relevance

They’re about the failure of newspapers and the dinosaurs in charge to comprehend the changes affecting them.  They’re about the arrogance — still — that they’re needed.

Journalism is needed.

Newspapers are not.

Welcome to the 21st Century.

How I know that newspapers are dead

After I started blogging in December about the onrushing death of the newspaper industry — as exemplified by the shrinkage, corporate-wise, of the Times-Dispatch and its parent, Media General — I continued to think about the topic a great deal. So much so, in fact, that I had the idea to write a proposal for a nonfiction book, which, after a week of writing, I sent to my agent.

She got back to me not long after that and told me, bluntly, that the book would never sell to a mainstream house.

Why not?

People aren’t buying newspapers today, she told me . . . so who would buy a book about newspapers?

While that fact is increasingly significant, I still thought it was a good idea. 48 million people read a newspaper every day, and that doesn’t count the millions of readers of a few thousand community weekly papers — and a large number of American who don’t read any papers at all, but are interested in business, the economy, futurism, and publishing.

I can try to get another agent who might believe in the book – hell, I got Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and NYT bestselling author Edna Buchanan to agree to write the foreword for me – but then I started thinking about a less traditional publishing route, where I could capitalize on publishing on the Web and stir up some viral word of mouth.

Yesterday I contacted Jeff Jarvis, the guy who wrote What Would Google Do? and who has a blog all about journalism, technology and the death/rebirth of news, and I asked for his advice — is there a venue on the Web where a book like this could be published, maybe week by week, and raise not only public interest, but some money? Is there a venue where a potential publisher could see it?

His response, like my agent’s, was brutally honest.

No. There isn’t a market for a book about a dying industry.

He had already tried to market a book of his own, and his publisher didn’t even want to hear about it.


If Jeff couldn’t sell his book, then what chance would I, a mere 14-year veteran of ad sales and marketing, ever have?

If you’re even remotely interested, the introduction is here. I based it on a blog post about the RTD ten months ago, but I’ve expanded it and opened it up, setting the stage for the rest of the now-dead book which was to be about the potential reinvention of the industry.

Here’s the title:



A Tough Love Guide to Kick Newspapers Off Their Brontosaurian Asses and Into the 21st Century . . . or Die

Oh well. Thank you anyway, Jeff — I appreciate your honesty.

So it’s time to put this project behind me and ramp it up with the novel. My agent wants rewrites, and I agree.

More than I ever wanted to admit, it’s time to cut. It’s time to sing.

It’s time to leave the past — and the dead — behind.