SocraticGadfly: MediaNews - The latest old media woes

January 16, 2010

MediaNews - The latest old media woes

MediaNews, one of the nation's largest newspaper companies, is also the latest to file Chapter 11. As I e-mailed a friend, Dean Singleton may have done a great job of building up MediaNews, but as chairman of AP, he was pretty clueless about how to monetize online newspapers, and related matters.

Paywalling, for example, is one matter.

Point No. 1, even before Deano became AP's chair? When newspapers said look at the "TV model for online papers, did they forget there was such a thing as cable TV? Let alone premium cable?

Point No. 2, on specific, why didn't AP jack rates for Yahoo, Google, MSN, et al high enough to potentially force them to paywall content, therefore giving member newspapers protection to paywall?

Point No. 3 - As both owner of a major newspaper company and AP chairman, why didn't he recognize that, on this issue, AP and its member newspapers are somewhat at cross interests?

Issue No. 2 is general business management.

Point No. 1? If you're not going to paywall locally generated content as well as AP written news, why do you post it online even before your print newspapers come out? (This is not specific to Singleton, BTW.) If online newspapers aren't "monetized" yet, this is a handout. It's like if Campbell's started selling its soup in plastic bottles as well as cans, and said that because the plastic bottles were made more quickly, it would give them away for free.

Anyway, that's a few thoughts for now.

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