August 04, 2002
The Fool's Gold of 'Converg...
The Fool's Gold of 'Convergence': The L.A. Times' Michael Hiltzik does a solid job detailing how all those mega-media mergers doomed themselves in the pursuit of synergy, leading to massive share-price plummets and an anticipated trend toward dis-aggregation. One key paragraph:
Almost all attempts by major media companies to build branded Web sites to attract audiences had ended in costly failure: That year saw the demise of Disney's Go.com, NBC's Snap.com and AOL Time Warner's Entertaindom.com. Such companies as Viacom and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., which had taken their time plunging into the Internet and been ridiculed for their tardiness, were now congratulated for their prescience.
Here's a riddle, my precious: What do these failed synergizer-bunnies have in common with the media moaners
who once called them Big Brother? A:
An insulting lack of faith in the intelligence of consumers.
Posted by at August 4, 2002 12:26 PM
Matt, is the new Boston newspaper you refer to in your piece The Boston Metro? Because it is - and I mean this earnestly - pooh. Basically cut and paste of the Reuters news feed with one or two local items chucked in.
(Which is not to say I didn't submit a column for their "citizen columnist" section - being free it's the most read paper here... :)
Aye, Oliver, but here's what's interesting: 1) It makes money. The USA Today took 10 years to make money. 2) It makes money because technology allows it to, because it distributes for free, (hence "most read," which is interesting), and because it runs a lot of wire. But there are other similarly-modeled papers -- the Nashville one is a good example -- that runs damned *little* wire, yet also makes money. 3) There are two-dozen Metro papers on five continents, varying wildly in content & quality. It is the fastest-growing newspaper chain in the world.
There are other interesting things about the paper's demographics (unlike monopolist dailies, it skews young, female, and of the ranks of people who don't normally read newspapers). But mostly it (and the similar papers) are testament to a *new* model that is turning conventional wisdom about newspapering right on its ear. Ask Layne about the various free papers in Finland (for some reason, he knows about them). We have crossed an inflection point beyond which it is possible to produce profitable newspapers on the cheap. My guess is that this can be done in a high-quality fashion....
You're right there. Their distro method is very cool, as they have people literally at every subway stop handing it out and its in piles in front of the supermarket. My friends, who are in that demographic the advertisers want (mid-20s dingleberries like me), all pick it up religiously and look at me weird when I say "It would be nice if we could get some news about Boston in the Boston newspaper". I like the method and the idea, I just would like *some* local color to it. Like a column. From a funny, yet angry black man.
Oliver -- Go knock on the editor's door, and insist. You're good, cheap, and have excellent references. Seriously, go do that right now, and tell me how it goes.