My name is Paul Gillin and I love newspapers. I’ve spent 25 years in technology journalism, the first 17 of them in print. Since 1999, I’ve worked principally online. That experience has taught me about the tectonic shifts that are taking place in the media world, changes that will ultimately destroy 95% of American major metropolitan newspapers.
If the tongue-in-cheek title of this blog implies that I take some satisfaction in this collapse, that’s not my intent. Sometimes you just luck into a domain name that works. I’m a newspaper junkie from way back. I got into journalism in large part because of the crusading work of The Washington Post and The New York Times during the Nixon administration, and I have always had the greatest respect for the institution of the newspaper. Sadly, the economic foundation of these media scions is badly broken. The high fixed cost of print publishing makes the major metro newspaper business model unsustainable in a world that increasingly wants information to be free.
Add to that the toll from management neglect during the heady days of the industry and damaging scandals at a few major publications and you have an industry that’s teetering on the brink of an abyss. The newspaper model scales up very well but, it scales down very badly. It costs a newspaper nearly as much to deliver 25,000 copies as it does to deliver 50,000 copies. Readership has been in decline for 30 years and shows no signs of ending. Meanwhile, new competition has sprung up online with a vastly superior cost structure and an interactive format that appeals to the new generation of readers. On top of that, many newspapers assumed huge debt loads over the last two years, forcing them to plow dwindling profits into debt service.
Ultimately, this painful decline will give birth to a new model of journalism built upon aggregation and reader-generated content. I’m an optimist, and I think the new journalism will be better in many ways than what preceded it. It’s just that getting there is going to hurt a lot.
I started this blog in early 2007 after an essay I had written about the impending collapse of the newspaper industry was rejected by several op-ed editors. One told me it was “too implausible.” It seemed so at the time. Newspaper industry revenues hit a record that year. But as followers of the technology industries know, businesses often enjoy their most profitable years just before they collapse. Here’s a more recent piece outlining my thoughts about the new kind of journalism that will emerge online after the debris is cleared away.
When I’m not tending this blog, I advise marketers and business executives on strategies to optimize their use of social media and online channels to reach buyers cost-effectively. I do a lot of speaking and seminars. I have a knack for simplifying complex concepts and making technology trends understandable.
My books are The New Influencers, which is about the changes in markets being driven by the new breed of bloggers and podcasters. It’s received more than 100 positive reviews and was awarded a silver medal in the business category by Foreword magazine. I followed that with Secrets of Social Media Marketing (2008), Social Marketing to the Business Customer (co-written with Eric Schwartzman, 2011) and Attack of the Customers (2012). In between the business books I also squeezed in The Joy of Geocaching, which is about an Internet-enabled global game that my wife and co-author, Dana, like to play.
Finally, I’m a Senior Fellow and board member of the Society for New Communications Research. I’m married to Dana, who makes me smile all the time. I have four children, two in their twenties and a pair of adorable toddler twins (right). I like to cook, scuba dive, ski, golf and geocache. I’ve been a Boston Red Sox season ticket holder since 2004.
If you’d like to reach me directly, e-mail paul [at] gillin.com or Tweet @pgillin. I enjoy reading your comments.