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In 1992 I had been a techie at the Spokesman-Review, a family owned newspaper in Spokane, Washington. If I had to put my finger on one thing that went wrong it would be that the newspaper already had an existing cash cow that they wanted to protect. We were not hungry enough. The startups had the advantage that they had no installed base. We had what we called "Electronic Editions" which had up to 16 lines running at breakneck speeds of up to 1200 bits per second. You could get tomorrow's classifieds today at 6pm. (Granted, we had to transfer the data from one computer to another via 1/2 inch open-reel magnetic tape.) We had the top news, sports and features stories. But we always knew that if this electronic thing failed we would still have our day jobs. Also, how many people wanted to pay $19.95 per month for "News for Heavyweights." The answer was "not very many." In the end, we learned the same lessons as the big guys, but for a lot less money. There was more money to be made managing the old media empires and not making waves. In 2012 I am unemployed and looking for a job anywhere but at a newspaper. I salute recovering journalists everywhere.
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Aug 24, 2012