Two new entries in the almost-but-on-second-thought-no front: Google considered buying a newspaper but decided against it. Eric Schmidt tells the Financial Times that “There is a line and we’re going to stay on our side of it. We have done well by letting content people creating great content in their own way.” He also says Google has no interest in buying The New York Times, but says David Geffen would make a great owner.”
Schmidt, whose company is often reviled as the great Satan by newspaper publishers, says that the loss of smaller papers come in particular is a tragedy. “The reporting that keeps the mayor honest is going to be gone and I don’t know what to do about that,” he says.
Without explicitly stating that newspapers should become nonprofits, Schmidt implies that the model has appeal. “Newsgathering and profitability model has always been an uncomfortable relationship,” he says. But he dismisses the idea that nonprofit is a panacea. “I don’t know how to solve the problem taking for-profit structures and transitioning them to a nonprofit world without some very generous person between,” he says. But that’s not going to be Google.
There’s a 10-minute video at the link above. If you think Schmidt is some kind of business velociraptor, watch the vid. He has a Ph.D. in engineering, is thoughtful and contemplative and is also flat-out brilliant.
Also in the might-have-been category, the Washington Post‘s two managing editors told visitors to an online chat last night that the Post considered expanding its distribution base into Baltimore, where the Sun is hemorrhaging, but decided against it. “The best and most cost effective way to get us in Baltimore is either online or through a Kindle subscription,” they wrote as one. “We have indeed evaluated whether it makes economic sense for us to sell subscriptions in the Baltimore area and determined that the math doesn’t work in our favor.”
That’s all she wrote for the Tucson Citizen. A last-ditch attempt attempt by the Arizona attorney general to save the newspaper failed when U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins said the AG had failed to show that violations of antitrust laws or of the Newspaper Preservation Act had occurred. Quoting verbatim: “While regrettable that the Citizen‘s illustrious legacy must come to end, it can not be said at this time, the decision to close the Citizen involves an anti-trust violation. The Court can not say at this point in time that there is a violation of the Newspaper Preservation Act,” wrote the judge, who definitely should hire one of the Citizen‘s laid-off copy editors.
The Federal Trade Commission will hold a series of workshops entitled “Can News Media Survive the Internet Age? Competition, Consumer Protection, and First Amendment Perspectives” beginning on September 15. From the release: “The workshops will consider a wide range of issues, including possible business and non-profit models for news organizations, the role of targeted behavioral and other online advertising, whether additional, limited antitrust exemptions may be necessary under these unique circumstances, and the implications of online news for both copyright protection and the availability of broadband access.”
The Associated Press is offering a novel buyout program: employees get $500 for every year of service but their pension benefits are increased to 14% to 16% above that which they would normally receive. The plan is clearly aimed at older employees. Applicants must be at least 55 years of age with at least 10 years of AP service and the combination must add up to 75.
Latest layoffs totals, from Erica Smith’s Paper Cuts blog:
Salt Lake Tribune: 3
Raleigh News & Observer: 31
Durham, N.C. Herald-Sun: 7
Detroit Newspaper Partnership: 150
Baton Rouge Advocate: 49
Honolulu Advertiser: 15
From the Columbia Journalism Review: “Stephen Colbert weighed in on future of journalism right now, taking a side in the debate over the role of print: ‘Newspapers are an important part of our lives, not to read, of course, but, when you’re moving you can’t wrap your dishes in a blog.'”
This entry was posted on Thursday, May 21st, 2009 at 6:40 pm and is filed under Business News, BusinessModel, Layoffs, Local news, NewMedia, Newspapers, OnlineMedia, R.I.P.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.