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Response to Comrade_McKenzie (Reply #3)

Wed Sep 26, 2012, 04:29 PM

7. No one has yet to figure out how to make a PROFIT with on line news.


Yes, you have blogs, you have individuals doing great news stories, but no one is doing what print did, cover most stories with someone on hand. The dollar you pay for a newspaper use to pay for those reporters. The Ads paid for themselves and that is about it.

The problem with on line blogs almost none of them are doing any in depth coverage, they no longer have the revenue stream to do so. Radio was a big hit, TV was an even bigger hit (Forcing most newspapers to merge to become one newspaper per city newspapers) but that consolidation could not compensate for the lost in revenue when it come to the internet.

Lets remember the big revenues of the Newspapers where three fold, first was the fee you paid, it paid for the distribution of the paper and the reporters. Second was the "Want Ads" including public notices, these paid for the reporters for the want ads and public notices were high revenue areas AND a steady income for they had to be printed and distributed and nothing else did it like the print paper. These ads paid for the building, the presses and even the paper the paper was printed on. These were "Fixed Costs" the paper had to incur no matter how many papers they printed, thus the need for local governments (and other agencies) to make an real effort to get public notices to the public forced them to buy ads in the Paper. In the days of many papers per city, this cost was spread among those most loyal to whoever was in charge (thus the huge number of "Democratic", "Tribunes" and "Republican" papers (The various "Tribunes" started as either Whig or later Republican papers in opposition to President Jackson and his Democratic followers). Do to Radio and later TV, the need to consolidate printing to keep costs down lead to a slow decline in the number of papers per city. For example in Pittsburgh you had 10 major papers in 1900, but 2000 you had one.

Pittsburgh Dispatch, died in 1927:

Pittsburgh Leader, died also in 1927:

Pittsburgh Times (Died in 1900, while before Radio)

Pittsburgh Telegraph (Merged with the Sun in 1927):

Pittsburgh Sun, (Became the Sun-Telegraph in 1927, merged with the Post-Gazette in 1960)

The Pittsburgh Post, merged with the Gazette in 1927:

The Pittsburgh Gazette, the only paper still being published (I do NOT count the Tribune-Review, I go with papers that are intended to be profitable, not someone's hobby).

In 1900 the Gazette's Proper Name was the commercial gazette:

The Pittsburgh Daily News:

The Pittsburgh Press, which was sold to the Post-Gazette in 1992

The Evening Record, which merged with the Press in 1899:

The above are the MAJOR papers, here is a list of ALL Pittsburgh Papers:

The major reason for the mergers was to reduce printing costs but it also had the side affect of being able to shift cost of paying reporters over a larger body of buyers. People purchased newspapers for the News, the want ads, the Public Notices and the advertisements.

You have to understand, the want ads and public notices were a steady source of income. They had to be published and were willing to pay a flat rate to get them printed. On the other hand Advertisements in the actual body of the paper, were sold on the basis of how many people purchased the paper. If no one bought a paper, the advertiser did not have to pay a cent, but if a million people purchased a paper, the advertiser had to pay the rate for 1 million people seeing his or her advertisement. Notice Want Ads and Advertisements were two different ways to make money and Advertisements revenue depended on how many papers were sold (This encouraged consolidation for it meant more revenue per paper sold, given the fixed cost to produce the paper were cut in half do to having one instead of two papers).

Smaller papers would pay larger papers for use of what their reported reported, another source of revenue. Smaller market papers would get extra revenue if something occurred in their area if the larger papers picked up their stories (And most papers did). This encouraged larger papers to expand their news reporters to gain more revenue, and it also encouraged smaller papers to expand their local reporters for other papers would pick up the reports.

As I said Radio and later TV cut into this system, but also tapped into it. It was not uncommon for Radio and TV reporters to report what the local paper or a large non local paper had reported. The News agencies paid for the privilege of using such news, in fact Radio and later TV actually joined in on this exchange.

Newspapers, Radio and TV all started to decline BEFORE the advent of the net. Mostly by cutting back staff to save themselves money. This accelerated with the advent of the Net as a widespread phenomena. One aspect of this dual hit is that till the 1990s, the most profitable papers were evening papers. TV had a hit on them, but TV and Radio had a bigger hit on morning papers. This changed in the 1990s, as cable news expanded, the evening papers were hit hard, but people increased their purchasing of morning papers. In many ways the Net increased this tendency after 2000, but then a few years later, even morning papers saw a drop in sales. This drop in sales, caused papers to lay off even more reporters to cut costs, which made the paper more and more what you could get off the net and sales dropped even more.

Now, most papers are also on the net, but the problem with the net is that you lost two sets of revenue, first the revenue from selling a paper AND the revenue from Wants ads and Public Notices. Advertising revenue is how news articles on the net is expected to pay they way, but every paper have had a problem with Advertising. Advertising are finding the ads most people see on the net today as ineffective. The longer ads you see on the more popular cites (such as the Daily show) are more effective and for that reason advertisers are willing to pay more for, but papers have found those ads turn off viewers (i.e. the viewer bypasses the ad or just hits the back button to get out of the ad). The New York Times tried to use a pay for view system, but so few people agreed to pay for the right to read the Times on line, the Times had to drop it. On top of this, local government and other agencies have found that it is more effective to put their public notices on the net then to publish them in the papers, so even this source of revenue has been cut (Through not completely yet, but I am expecting it, once papers are forced to go to three times a week or less publications, many states will change notification laws to permit agencies, local government and other groups that MUST advertise "public notices" that such notices can be "published" on the web).

The biggest problem with papers is the net, and how can they pay for their overhead with the net. I hate to say this, I do not see a paper surviving unless it becomes like the Huffington Post, nothing by articles written by people at home and no where near where the news is concurring OR publish by some agency who wants to news to get out, even if it cost them money. People tend to forget that prior to the advent of the Pulp paper newspaper, about 1850, most people received news not from newspapers, which were mere advertisement pieces, by from their local pulpit. This included news like what happened where, what taxes are due when, what the Government expects its citizens to due, all came through the local pulpit in. This is why, if someone did a coup, it was important to have the support of the church OR if you did not to grab the Bishops and force them to support the coup. Since 1850, grabbing the local bishop has been replaced by grabbing control of the local papers, and later Radios (after 1920) and TV (after 1950). The reason to grab the Bishops prior to about 1850, Newspapers after 1850, Radio, after 1920 and TV after 1950 was the same, to control what news went to the people. Today the net can be added to that list, and soon the papers will join the bishops as no longer being a factor is spreading news (Please note this situation was known at the time of the adoption of the Bill of Rights, and why it is worded the way it is, the writers knew they had to use religious groups to spread news, for that is how it was done at that time, but the time of the Civil War, newspapers had replaced religious groups as the primary means of spreading news and thus the post Civil War proposed amendments reflected this fact).

Given the above, and that Radio and TV are following the papers into irrelevancy as to spreading news, what will replace them? Papers, Radio and TV will become more and more instruments of others who want a message out, i.e. where you sent your press releases to. I expect to see less and less "Reporting" in the sense a reporter goes out and report from where the news is occurring. People will slowly catch on that they have to do the reporting on things they want out themselves, so I see people doing U-Tube type filming and providing it to such news agencies. I also see a lot of people, spreading news themselves via the net, especially if they are on the scene.

The problem is sooner or later someone with an agenda will find that the best way to get their message to people is to also give them news. I am NOT talking about people sharing ideas with one or two other people, that was always done by letters or just talking, but getting news to the masses. How do you tell people taxes are going up? Prior to about 1850 it was via the pulpit (For example, during the years before the American Revolution, you had the committees of correspondence spreading the cause of fighting the British, but these were small collection of men who them went to local religious leaders to tell the people as a whole what was going on, many of the members of the committees of correspondence were themselves religious leaders of New England).

In many ways, the early church had fulfilled the function of spreading news but it was more by accident then design, when it duplicated imperial positions throughout the Roman Empire. The early church needed to keep its various parts informed of what was going on elsewhere and thus duplicated the imperial governing system (Thus to this day, Bishops rule dioceses, and priest parishes, for these real actual late Roman Empire sub-divisions). The main difference was the church added what we call churches, where everyone in the parish could gather and hear the mass AND where they could gather and hear any news (Pagan Temples, did NOT have a place for EVERYONE to sit, you offered your sacrifice to the priests, who took it inside the temple, made the sacrifice, then then came out and said it was acceptable, thus it was more one on one with the priests and no way to get all the people together to spread any news). Constantine recognize this difference and embraced Christianity for he needed to be able to get news to his subjects AND to get news from them. The Church, by the time of Constantine could do that, no one else could, Constantine thus embraced it for that reason more then any other. Spreading news was a secondary function of the Church, but it was the most important function as far as any secular government was concerned and remained the most important function of the church until the pulp newspaper came into existence around 1850 and replaced the Church in this news spreading function.

I suspect someone will again fulfill this function. I mentioned that the Church had done this is the past, but that was over 150 years ago and may NOT be able to resume that role. On the other hand someone will, maybe DU. On the other hand it has to be some group with almost universal access to people, places and things (and respected). The Church fulfilled these functions from 300 to 1850 AD. The Church (and I mean all Churches, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist etc) can provide a way to do so by having its leaders provide a place where reliable news could be repeated (and censoring out unreliable news). This is what the Pulpit did prior to 1850. My point is someone will step into this vacuum, but it has to be some group with a common idea of where society should be going for it will be a service provided at a lost.

The Church's main function ia to spread the Word of God and thus the church is willing to set up a system to spread that word AND ANY OTHER NEWS THAT PEOPLE NEEDED TO KNOW. Thus it will be someone whose cost incurred to spread the news will be a small addition cost to they main source of revenue. I lean to Churches to resume this function for I see no one else willing to do so while losing money. I may be wrong, but that is the problem I see with anyone else doing so, who is capable of running a net based news system, who gets first hand accounts of news people want to hear, gather those accounts and make them available to the people as a whole? I do NOT see a pastor in his pulpit spreading the news by oral presentation to his congregation, but a pastor running a web site telling people what is going on in his parish, what the children are eating at school and slowly expanding that news service to other news matter. Furthermore this has to be something that one generation hands off to another. Like a Pastor telling his assistant of what is being done, the assistant joining in, making changes but keeping up the process, all paid for by donation from members of the parish.

It is possible for some other group to set up such a system, for example, a university setting it up for its students and then expanding it to cover the News in the City it is located in. A professor can set it up, expand it and have others join in and when the professor retires, he is replaced by one of the other people keeping up the service, while they main source of revenue remains teaching students. The problem I see with a University is the same problem I see with independent churches (i.e. Churches NOT tied in with a larger religious group) is how do you expand it to the country (and maybe even the world) as a whole? The Catholic Church has parishes all over the world as do most Protestant, Jewish, Islamic and Buddhist religions (and I can add the Communist Party and some other Secular international political parities). Each have the capability to set up a system (and you may see more then one, and you may see all of these groups work together to set one up, or a combination, i.e. some groups work together on one system, other groups working on another and at the same time one of the groups working alone). I can not rule out the CIA, MI5, and even the KGB wanting to set up such a system for they own purposes.

Unless someone can figure out how to make an actual profit on news from the net, something like the above will step into the vacuum and provide news. The real question is who and when.

Side note: This news spreading function was one of the reasons Heresy was considered a crime worse then Treason prior to 1648 and the treaty of Westphalia (That Treaty contained a clause, rejected only by the Vatican who wanted the ability to spread Catholicism and was willing to give that right to the Protestants in exchange, that the Prince of a Country could decide what the Religion would be, thus making Heresy and Treason one and the same crime). Thus, it was rare to have religion as the basis of war after 1648, for any Prince had the right to declare what was the religion of his subjects. On the other hand, the fact that the Church (both Catholic and Protestant) still were the main ways for people to get news remained and would remain till pulp paper (invented 1801), the Railroads (1840s) and high speed presses made it possible to sell papers for less then a penny a paper. Papers became affordable even to working class people and the news that use to be provided via the Pulpit started to be duplicated by such papers and then slowly replaced the pulpits as we neared the US Civil War.

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Omaha Steve Sep 2012 OP
DBoon Sep 2012 #1
Angry Dragon Sep 2012 #2
Comrade_McKenzie Sep 2012 #3
LineLineNew Reply No one has yet to figure out how to make a PROFIT with on line news.
happyslug Sep 2012 #7
AndyTiedye Sep 2012 #4
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