• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Customer is still right

Michael Kinsley uses a lot of words to say, "Nobody knows what's going to happen," but he uses them well:

As many have pointed out, more people are spending more time reading news and analysis than ever before. They're just doing it online. For centuries people valued the content of newspapers enough to pay what it cost to produce them (either directly or by patronizing advertisers). We're in a transition, destination uncertain. Arianna Huffington may wake up some morning to find The Washington Post gone forever and the nakedness of her ripoff exposed to the world. Or she may be producing all her own news long before then. Who knows? But there is no reason to suppose that when the dust has settled, people will have lost their appetite for serious news when the only fundamental change is that producing and delivering that news has become cheaper.

Maybe the newspaper of the future will be more or less like the one of the past, only not on paper. More likely it will be something more casual in tone, more opinionated, more reader-participatory. Or it will be a list of favorite Web sites rather than any single entity. Who knows? Who knows what mix of advertising and reader fees will support it? And who knows which, if any, of today's newspaper companies will survive the transition?

But will there be a Baghdad bureau? Will there be resources to expose a future Watergate? Will you be able to get your news straight and not in an ideological fog of blogs? Yes, why not -- if there are customers for these things. There used to be enough customers in each of half a dozen American cities to support networks of bureaus around the world. Now the customers can come from around the world as well.

If General Motors goes under, there will still be cars. And if the New York Times disappears, there will still be news.

His basic point -- that somebody will figure out how to deliver what there are customers for -- is the one to remember. People in the news business know this, and many of them are working on ideas about how to do that delivery. They just haven't figured out how to make money on it yet.


Bob G.
Mon, 04/06/2009 - 6:37pm

So,if I am to follow the logic in all this, then newspapers are essentially NON-PROFIT organizations (much like a lot of us TAXPAYERS), and able to submit such status to the IRS for consideration and the tax breaks that go along with that, correct?

Sounds like a plan...