Posts tagged ‘Walmart and New York Times’

Can Newspapers Find New Revenue Streams?

The news media industry has struggled for years to respond to the Internet and to the rise of social media.  When I’ve discussed this issue I’ve focused primarily on the cuts in staff made by the technology trades that has resulted in a deteriorating level of coverage quality.

While this fact makes a content marketing strategy all the more compelling for my clients, it’s not a positive development for the industry or the public. I hope that the media industry can identify a new business model that works for an online age.

Mathew Ingram of GigaOm published a very interesting story about an idea for the New York Times. The expose the paper published on Walmart and bribery in Mexico had a powerful effect on the company’s stock, driving it down about $16 billion. Ingram’s post was a reaction to Felix Salmon of Reuters asking a provocative question — what if the New York Times charged for early access to company stories that are likely to cause market changes?

Ingram’s post further explores this questions and features a pros and cons debate with some notables in media and academia. I like the creativity here, because I think we are rapidly approaching the end of major urban newspapers if something isn’t done. I also like Ingram’s piece because it squarely addresses the conflict at the heart of the modern newspaper:

The core of the problem is that the New York Times is a strange sort of hybrid animal, just as most other major-market newspapers are: it is a profit-oriented corporation, controlled by the Sulzberger family and other investors such as Mexican billionaire Carlos Helu, and therefore its purpose is to make money.

But at the same time, it has also become a kind of public institution as well, with a commitment to informing the citizenry about important events, upholding the public’s right to know, etc. That’s part of the reason why incidents such as the Miller case are criticized so heavily.

There’s an old adage from the golden age of newspapers, “comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comfortable.” Newspapers could afford to do that when they held a local monopoly on the distribution of news. That monopoly was broken a long time ago, and the industry needs to find new business models that work.

There are a lot of legitimate questions about Salmon’s idea, and it probably will not come to pass. But it’s the kind of change newspapers need to be considering.

April 29, 2012 at 1:05 pm Leave a comment



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