By paulgillin | December 17, 2008 - 9:03 am - Posted in Facebook, Fake News, Hyper-local, Paywalls, Solutions

We really must get back to our day job at some point, but this is too damned interesting. We spent the early morning hours scouring our favorite blogs for reaction to yesterday’s blockbuster announcement in Detroit. There was plenty:

Take Our PollMark Potts likes the Detroit model in concept, saying it could be a test bed for other innovative Gannett micro-destinations like MomsLikeMe and Metromix. But he stresses that the Detroit consortium needs to move with speed and agility to launch new services and not spend too much time fretting about how save print. “As of this week, Detroit may be the nation’s most interesting laboratory for online news,” he writes.

Steve Outing is more pessimistic. While he applauds the reduction in home-delivery frequency, he thinks charging for the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday editions is a bad idea and that the “digital replica” of the print editions is badder. He’s also disappointed there wasn’t more vision outlined around a mobile strategy. And he thinks the whole plan will be tweaked pretty quickly as reality sets in. He’s probably right.

Poynter Media Business Analyst Rick Edmonds has an exceptionally cogent and impartial analysis of Detroit Media’s chances of success. He notes that daily newspapers typically derive as much as half their ad revenue from Sunday editions and then spread the costs across the rest of the week. The gamble in Detroit is that reader flight precipitated by these changes won’t cancel out the cost-saving benefits.

Newspaper executives have been talking about this idea for five years, but no one has done anything with it because of the much-feared-but-never-tested theory that you don’t mess with the daily news habit. Now Detroit has no choice, and if they can pull it off, they’ll set a course for the entire industry. Edmonds likes their chances. And he adds, perceptively, “AnĀ upside is that if readers and advertisers mostly accept the change, that could pave the way to a full flipĀ to online-only several years hence.”

Speaking of the daily news habit, Mark Potts leaves no question about where he stands. “Oh, puh-leeze,” he writes in response to an unnamed Gannett executive’s paean to the virtues of dailiness. “That thinking…is proof that newspapers are still living a fantasy that their products are the centers of their customers’ news and information universe…

It’s simply not that reducing home delivery will drive readers to other sources of news: They’re already there! They’ve been making the switch for years, relying more on the Web…”

BTW, The Detroit Free Press live-blogged the press conference. And you can watch all 42 minutes of it here.

And finally, why aren’t there any female newspaper pundits? Suggestions are welcome.


Canada’s largest newspaper publisher is cutting 10% of its workforce. Sun Media will eliminate 600 positions and restructure its operations in western Canada, Ontario and Quebec. The reasons are all the usual ones everyone else cites. As Mark Hamilton has pointed out, Canada has about one-tenth the population of the US, which should give you an idea of how big this cutback really is.

Veteran newspaper publisher Martin Langeveld has several predictions for 2009. On the whole, he sees newspapers’ prospects improving after a dreadful start. Among his more notable forecasts:

  • No other newspaper companies will file for bankruptcy.
  • Some major dailies will switch their Sunday package fully to Saturday and drop Sunday publication entirely.
  • At least 25 daily newspapers will close outright
  • A reporter without an active blog will start to be seen as a dinosaur.

And this one that we didn’t get at all. Please to enlighten:

  • Some innovative new approaches to journalism will emanate from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

From the AP: “The American Society of Newspaper Editors scheduled an April vote in Chicago to become simply the American Society of News Editors. Under the proposed changes, which require membership approval, editors of news Web sites also would be permitted to join, as would leaders of journalism programs.” Jeff Jarvis chuckles.

The Portland Oregonian will stop delivering to homes, stores or news boxes in the Eugene-Springfield area, which is the second largest metro region in the state. So it’s not really the Oregonian so much any more, is it?

The daily weekly Bristol Press in Connecticut will fold in mid-January if a buyer can’t be found. Owner Journal-Register Co. is shopping it and 11 other central Connecticut weeklies. The company shuttered three Philadelphia-area weeklies last week.

Did you know that the Washington Post‘s newsstand price has more than doubled in the last year? It’s true.

What’s your favorite 21st-century newspaper innovation?” asks Slate’s Jack Shafer at the tail end of a rather dour essay on the industry’s lack of innovation. His candidates: “The incredibly clever and useful” New York Times Reader, the TimesOpen API program, the Big Picture at the Boston Globe and Adrian Holovay’s Send him your nominations

And Finally

Mark Hamilton pointed us to this cool mashup of the most e-mailed stories from newspapers around the English-speaking world. is one of those forehead-slappingly simple ideas that you wish you had thought of. It’s the work of a Brooklynite who calls himself Tim Brennan. It consists of only two pages at this point, but who knows where Mr. Brennan will take it. Check it out and give him some link love.



This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 17th, 2008 at 9:03 am and is filed under Facebook, Fake News, Hyper-local, Paywalls, Solutions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments Off on Now a Word From Our Pundits


  1. December 17, 2008 @ 10:54 am

    “Please to enlighten:
    * Some innovative new approaches to journalism will emanate from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.”

    Heh, I was wondering when somebody might ask.

    Cedar Rapids is where Chuck Peters is CEO of Gazette Communications. He became famous for live-blogging the November API Summit for an Industry in Crisis, and is in the process of blowing up the business (he dropped that terminology, though in favor of C3:Complete Community Connection). See his blog at for further enlightenment.

    Posted by Martin Langeveld
  2. December 17, 2008 @ 2:38 pm

    On the Detroit Experiment: If they had tried this 5 or 3 or 2 years ago they might have had a chance. They have waited until they have no margin for error on the readership or the revenue side. Given what appears to be on the horizon for newspaper in the advertising realm, they are probably doomed no matter what they do. But pulling the daily paper out from under their most loyal readers just assures they haven’t left their fate to chance.

    Posted by sizzlingjboy
  3. December 17, 2008 @ 9:17 pm

    The Bristol Press is a daily, not a weekly.

    Posted by Steve Collins
  4. December 18, 2008 @ 8:10 am

    Thanks for correcting my mistake on the Bristol Press.

    And for clarifying the great Cedar Rapids mystery, Martin!

    Posted by paulgillin
  5. December 18, 2008 @ 5:39 pm

    My favourite 21st century newspaper innovation is the death of the newspaper.

    Posted by Evil Pundit