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freepapers for all! socialize the news!

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Clearing some old links out today. The topic of this one keeps me up at night, and I basically advocate exactly what they advocate. David Swensen and Michael Schmidt in January in the New York Times:

As long as newspapers remain for-profit enterprises, they will find no refuge from their financial problems. The advertising revenues that newspaper Web sites generate are not enough to sustain robust news coverage. Though The New York Times Web site attracted 20 million unique users in October, Web-driven revenues support only an estimated 20 percent of the paper’s current staff.

As newspapers go digital, their business model erodes. A 2008 research report from Sanford C. Bernstein & Company explained, “The notion that the enormous cost of real news-gathering might be supported by the ad load of display advertising down the side of the page, or by the revenue share from having a Google search box in the corner of the page, or even by a 15-second teaser from Geico prior to a news clip, is idiotic on its face.”

By endowing our most valued sources of news we would free them from the strictures of an obsolete business model and offer them a permanent place in society, like that of America’s colleges and universities. Endowments would transform newspapers into unshakable fixtures of American life, with greater stability and enhanced independence that would allow them to serve the public good more effectively.

(Found this article, btw, via this one….)

It keeps me up at night. I’m a newsprint fetishist from way back – from the sports pages of the Newark Star-Ledger (this story almost made me cry) forward through to the fact that the thought all the way at the back of the line that one of the thrilling things about moving to England would be the wide range of papers I’d get to pick from everyday. Remember an embarrassing scene on one of my birthdays during grad school when a friend came by and saw the big ol’ stack of foreign papers my wife had so sweetly gotten me on the occassion. You, um, this is what you want for your birthday? I sheepishly nodded, yep, exactly this. And I’ve said before that one of the better barometers of my general mood and disposition is the number of papers that I buy during a day. (Today was OK, fair to good. Purchased IHT, the Guardian, Wall Street Journal-Europe, The Economist, and read the two evening freepapers. There are bigger, happier days than that… You should see me getting on a long-haul flight – pretty embarrassing.)

But the fact of the matter is that the internet is only good at recirculating what the printed papers generate. They die, and it’s nothing but endless stories about Kate Moss’s now womanly boobs and, I dunno, someone else’s boobs. Put the dying things in foundations, fund them from on high. We all walk around with stupid fantasies that we’re going to be writing local histories or photographing bridges when the shit finally really does drop during this crisis. But the best way, if anyone wanted to do a quick hitting revitalization of culture and the cultural employment market, would be to let a thousand newsprint flowers bloom and let papers local and national spend their time becoming one stop shops for information and art and all the other good things in life rather than sweating themselves to death looking for a department store to place a Saturday morning lingerie ad or someone to put their 2002 VW Jetta Wagon up for sale.

Written by adswithoutproducts

February 17, 2009 at 11:48 pm

Posted in news

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