Sunday, December 14, 2008

What's up with newspapers?

As a newspaper junkie, it was regrettable earlier in the year when I finally stopped having them delivered to my house. The Denver Post kept switching more of their features to on-line only, so I decided they must want me to read it that way. And the other paper I used to pay for, The Wall Street Journal, was bought by the evil Rupert Murdoch, and pays the epitome of evil Karl Rove to write a column, so I wasn't going to pay for that when I can read it on-line for free through school. If the papers are losing me, they are truly in trouble.

In the past few days, the Rocky Mountain News has been put up for sale (more likely to be folded), the Tribune Company filed for bankruptcy, there are rumors the Detroit papers may stop printing on some days, and the New York Times sought a mortgage for it's new building.

But, here is what I don't understand: The Times has a print circulation of around 1 million a day, but it's web site gets 60 million hits a day, about 20 million of them unique visitors. So, how is it with 20 million eyeballs a day visiting the site, the Times can't make a profit from publishing on-line? I'm guessing other papers have similar ratios.

My guess is that newspaper advertisers were being over charged for years. Most internet ads only pay when someone clicks on one (that's certainly the case on this blog), meaning they are interested. Newspapers used to be able to charge for a lot of eyeballs that weren't connected to a human who had any interest in the product. Now, only ads that get action produce revenue. Better deal for advertisers, but it exposes the folly of the old style of billing.

I hope I'm wrong, because I have a lot of good friends working at papers, but I think we'd all better get comfortable taking the lap top into the bathroom in the morning.

No comments: