To save local news publications, readers in local communities will need to show renewed interest and willingness to pay for a newspaper subscription. This seems highly unlikely given that most newspapers still treat subscriptions like they did a decade ago.
By that I mean they have more in common with lawn care businesses than modern media businesses — billing people weekly rather than monthly. Grass typically grows enough after a week that this makes sense for a lawn care business to charge a person every seven days. By contrast, news is highly abundant and clearly doesn’t require payment for anyone that still desires to follow daily happenings — saying nothing of the quality. And yet, newspapers seem to think restricting access to their premium “product” is indeed the best way to show value of its news if offering a discounted weekly price doesn’t work.
Read the post on Medium and if you have time watch this 2009 Senate hearing on the Future of Journalism and Newspapers, especially David Simon’s testimony:
Understand I’m not making an argument against the Internet and all that it offers. But you do not in my city run into bloggers or so-called citizen journalists at City Hall or in the courthouse hallways or at the bars where police officers gather.
You don’t see them consistently nurturing and then pressing sources. You don’t see them holding institutions accountable on a daily basis. Why?
Because high end journalism is a profession. It requires daily full-time commitment by trained men and women who return to the same beats day in and day out, reporting was the hardest and in some ways most gratifying job i ever had.
I’m offended to think anyone, anywhere believes American monoliths such as insulated, self-preserving and self-justifying school districts and chief executives can be held to task by amateurs pursuing the task without compensation, training or for that matter, sufficient standing to make public officials even care who it is they’re lying to or who they are withholding information from.