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As Print Media Dies, Politicians Continue To Attempt A Save

10 June 2010 2 Comments

The crumbling of the print media has been in the works for years, maybe even decades since the launch of the world wide web.  With a struggling economy, the demise of the print media has intensified.  The terrible business environment has already claimed several victims and forcing others like the WSJ to innovate and find a viable web strategy.

The latest move by our idiotic political leaders is to perhaps tax web sites like the drudge report and other news aggregators in redistribution attempt to funnel funds into the more traditional print outlets that are losing money hand over fist.  The Federal-Trade Commission (FTC) wants to “re-invent” journalism – which means, of course, that they want to “control” journalism.  The political class needs a centralized, traditional media which is the complete opposite of the new age of media full of bloggers, news aggregators, tweets, etc.

If this trend continues, we will absolutely see more media companies go under, even maybe major news organizations.  This is the natural market at work.  Old-fashioned business models routinely get removed from the economy – it’s what a free market economy is good at doing.  Government is good at keeping them around and sinking billions of tax dollars into sustaining them.  Media is no different.

Rather than look to the government to save them, Mark Cuban has some ideas for the newspapers in his latest blog post:

If Facebook can choose to offer no more than basic profile information and the status updates of users that opt-in, why shouldn’t newspapers do the same thing ? Offer its headlines (status updates) to Google, and then let those who want more information click through to the newspaper site. Once the user gets to their site, the newspaper can decide whether they want a login (Facebook Connect ? ahh the irony) and/or want to charge for access, or just give free and open access to the content. It’s their business decision.

Disconnecting from Google hasn’t hurt Facebook, why shouldn’t newspapers do the same thing?

News Corp, parent of the WSJ, has taken this approach and considered walling off their content from Google.

No matter what the politicians attempt to do, they won’t be able to stop this trend from continuing to unfold.  The business of media will continue to change.  The internet will continue to be a major catalyst of this change.  News organizations are already way too late to adapt to this trend, but they might be able to salvage their business somewhat by trying out new things as Mark Cuban suggests.

Either way, tell the politicians to shove their latest bail out idea where the sun don’t shine.  The latest poll says 74% oppose taxing internet websites to bail out the newspapers.  This is all about control.  The political class knows they have an ally in the traditional media.  They will fight for their ally, even if it means screwing up our economy even more and misallocating another few billion dollars of your money.  Yet another example of our broken government…


  • amberto said:

    Wow. Taxing sites to save print seems like the worst idea ever. It's one of those things that is such a bad idea that you think, "There's no way this is ever going to happen…right?" – and then it happens. I like Cuban's idea – people need to embrace change if they want to move forward, not resist it.

    On the other hand, if newspapers become a thing of the past – what will we wrap our dishes in when we move?