Sunday, December 21, 2008

Follow up on the "death of newspapers."

A great article today in the New Yorker by James Surowiecki discusses the "death of newspapers," which I addressed a few days ago. While we both agree that margins for newspapers are coming down (into the red for many for sure), he's a bit more pessimistic than I am about the final outcome: "Soon enough, we’re going to start getting what we pay for, and we may find out just how little that is."

That may be, although I think that we'll still get quality news, just via other media.

Here's the part, though, that I loved - I think he makes my point exactly (I am one of the "many" in the last sentence):

Papers now seem to be the equivalent of the railroads at the start of the twentieth century—a once-great business eclipsed by a new technology. In a famous 1960 article called “Marketing Myopia,” Theodore Levitt held up the railroads as a quintessential example of companies’ inability to adapt to changing circumstances. Levitt argued that a focus on products rather than on customers led the companies to misunderstand their core business. Had the bosses realized that they were in the transportation business, rather than the railroad business, they could have moved into trucking and air transport, rather than letting other companies dominate. By extension, many argue that if newspapers had understood they were in the information business, rather than the print business, they would have adapted more quickly and more successfully to the Net.

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