Fundamental flaw with the business model?

Sabra and I were eating breakfast at Bill Miller’s this morning, perusing today’s San Antonio Express-News, and this was one of the above-the-fold stories. Pretty newsworthy, eh? Sure it was, but the thing about it is, I had already read that story a good 15 hours before on the Express-News’ website. I honestly have to wonder what the people who do this are thinking as they post those stories. If one can read those stories before they hit the print edition of the paper, then what the hell’s the point of having a printed paper? I like having a printed paper at least as much as anyone, but which one’s better? Obviously, it’d be the Web. I’m sure there are those who will say, “Well, some people can’t afford a computer or high-speed Internet.” And that may be true, but if they can’t afford those, they probably can’t afford a newspaper subscription either, much less buying a copy at a buck a day (and $2 on Sundays) from the newsstand. I heard one publisher say he was thinking about putting on the paper’s web site, “See tomorrow’s news today! Check (paper’s web site) at 10 p.m. each night!” And I thought, “I’m sure the advertisers in the printed edition are gonna thank you for your making it unnecessary for the townsfolk to buy said printed edition.” There are those who say newspapers are in the shape they’re in because of reporters’ and editors’ bias and such, and while that may be true to an extent, I’d say a hell of a lot more of it is due to media corporations’ failure to anticipate changes in the business model and act accordingly. I don’t know what can be done about it, but it sure does suck for those in the business.


One Response to “Fundamental flaw with the business model?”

  1. southtexaspistolero Says:

    totwtytr (
    Print newspapers around here are at least 16 hours behind the news and depending on the topic, up to 24 hours behind the time. One paper is actually printed about 100 miles west of where it’s headquarters is. To have it on my doorstep by 6:00 AM, it must be printed and on the trucks before midnight the night before. Which means that the results of a baseball game (Red Sox) that ended after 10:00PM will not be in the paper for almost 30 hours. National and international news is almost as bad.

    Dead tree media is dying and I’m not sure that a web based version is going to help. My parents generation buys it, and I buy it, but no one my kids age does.
    February 26, 2010, 4:04:30 PM CST – Like – Reply – Edit – Moderate

    Sabra (
    We’ve had in-depth versions of this discussion a whole bunch of times–we’re probably among the youngest devotees of print journalism around anymore–and the issues remain the same.

    Like totwtytr said, one of the chief problems is the early deadline. That is unquestionably a benefit to, say, the guy who puts the paper together, but it doesn’t benefit the reader, and it doesn’t benefit the newspaper itself. Morning and afternoon editions of the paper were gone before my time, but I know the Express-News used to be a twice-daily.

    Newspapers aren’t playing to their strengths. For all that the paper here claims to have 100 journalists and an unparalleled grasp on local news, the fact is that it doesn’t. The cutbacks in content have come mostly at the expense of local content, and it seems to me that the long, in-depth articles (a newspaper’s other strength) are coming with less & less frequency.

    There are changes that could help newspapers survive, but the corporations which own them seem startlingly uninterested in investigating and implementing any of them.
    February 26, 2010, 5:20:07 PM CST – Like – Reply – Edit – Moderate

    totwtytr (
    Both local dailys use a lot of wire service content. It’s cheaper to pay Reuters or AP to use a story than it is to pay reporters. One use to have a Washington bureau, but that’s a distant memory. Local stories are where they fall down the most because by the time it gets printed, it’s yesterday’s news thanks to TV.

    I don’t see much life left for newspapers, even if they are on line. Too many people are getting their news raw, on line. Which is the other, and perhaps bigger problem with the Lame Stream Media. They used to serve as gate keepers, deciding for their readers or viewers what was news and what wasn’t. No more, there are too many primary sources out there.
    February 27, 2010, 9:31:40 AM CST

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