Road Signs 06-2009

Amazon has introduced a large-screen Kindle DX suitable for reading newspapers, text books and other large-format print. However, Dave Morgan, writing in MediaPost (May 7) thinks it will not become popular with newspaper publishers because, Amazon, he says, is asking for 70% of the revenue generated from subscriptions delivered to Kindle devices. . . . The Denver Post is creeping along a new road, installing printers in a few dozen homes. They’ve tried it in a Denver hotel. The paper pays for the print and ink and the printer manufacturer sells the device for a deep discount recouped over time while the paper makes money on the targeted advertising the system facilitates.

The Tucson Citizen is the fifth large regional newspaper to close its print edition this year. It will be online only. . . . Daniel Lyon is quoted in The Immediate Network’s Media Digest as writing in Newsweek, “Newspapers are dead. When you ask people running these companies what they are going to do, you get nothing. Writing is now worth zero. The value of what we do is worth zero.” . . . Michael Wolf, writing for Newser, said, “Newspapers stopped working a long time ago and a better means of doing their job is readily available. Who wouldn’t want their news delivered in a form that was searchable, saveable, resendable. Which you can talk back to, which is linked to other relevant news, which allows you to read as lightly or as deeply as you wanted to and combines text, pictures and video?” . . . Arianna Huffington reminds in her Huffington Post “the future of journalism is not dependent upon the future of newspapers.” She says the pay walls protecting content are down and journalism must rely on search engines, online advertising, citizen journalism and foundation support to go forward.

A nice thought but relying on the high morals of citizen journalists or the self-correcting nature of web postings a la Wikipedia is risky. Great journalism costs says Mitch Ratcliffe. He lays it out in a detailed Rational Rant for the ZD Net. He says, “I think the economics of journalism and ethics are deeply related and we tend to view them separately, emphasizing the dying channels for distribution at the expense of understanding the net loss of reporting.” He puts the cost of a great journalist at about $180,000 a year regardless of how delivered and irrespective of IT, telecom and office space. Many an auto journalist would settle for that.

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