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Heh. I should have known that was obvious enough to achieve well-known-joke status. But the joke is exactly right; you wouldn't get past the point where you say, "So then we slice the trees real thin..." As an entrepreneur, I wonder to what extent people in the news business really understand the core of what they do. When I'm looking at startups, I try to understand what real-world needs people are trying to satisfy, and what common human behaviors they're trying to integrate with. Without those needs and behaviors, you don't have a business. From the way you describe it, it sounds like plenty of people think they're still in the newspaper business, rather than, say, the business of keeping people up to date on their community and the world, which is what the newspaper business was born out of. For a while the two were the same thing, so I can see how people could get confused. But I don't understand how people professionally obligated to keep track of the world could still think that the newspaper business is any more sustainable than the horse-and-buggy business circa 1925. Is it just, as Sinclair said, that "If a man's paycheck depends on his not understanding something, you can rely upon his not understanding it." Or is there something more subtle going on?
Toggle Commented Feb 14, 2011 on When the News Gets Old at Recovering Journalist
I think another way to look at it is: what kind of market need would an online-only company be trying to fill if they launched a daily paper version today? I can think of a number of not-entirely-crazy scenarios, but none of them look much like the sort of thing that ends up in the newspaper box on my corner. And if there's not a lot of reason to make a new one, that's a sign we may not need the old ones. Not as currently constituted, anyhow.
Toggle Commented Feb 11, 2011 on When the News Gets Old at Recovering Journalist
Should they really try to stop people from leaving? It seems like down that road lies the madness that AOL became notorious for, where you had to argue endlessly just to cancel. That may slow the bleeding, but it can only mask problems, not solve them. I'd rather see them just ask. It'd be great if their top people each took a few of those calls every week. And then followed up a couple of months later to see how people were getting on.