Publishers Unsure About Newspapers Future

Editor & Publisher reports on an American Press Association (IAPA) seminar that shows publishers still at odds as to the best way to approach newspapers’ transition online. Wall Street Journal Publisher L. Gordon Crovitz seemed to tell the crowd what they wanted to hear:

“Our goal is keeping a business model in order to maintain news departments that are as large as they have been, and that maintain the lifestyles of the people in those large newsrooms.”

That is an interesting business model: focusing on keeping things as they were in light of a sea change in the media business. Not that I don’t agree with spirit of what he is saying – that the one thing he would like to keep are the factors that lead to great journalism. But finding the right strategy seems to find newspapers in an increasingly desperate situation:

“Newspaper economist Robert Picard warned another overflow session warned IAPA members, the majority of whom are the owners or publishers of newspapers and groups, that they need to change their way of doing business quickly — and not by continuing to cut newsrooms.”

Some talk about the past:

“While the Journal has managed to keep its circulation flat for the past decade — something many other top-25 circulation papers have been unable to do — Crovitz acknowledged those numbers don´t tell the whole story. “I think the quality of that circulation, it’s fair to say, is of less quality. We´ve gone more into bulk (sales), we’ve become more aggressive in finding ways for people to sample our paper.”

And some talk about the future:

“Crovitz, who also has the title executive chairman of the Consumer Media Group of Dow Jones & Co., said he was optimistic about the future of newspapers — while warning that today’s children who are growing up in an environment of near-seamless information and entertainment on demand will be far more challenging for newspapers than even the teenagers and 20-somethings who confound them now.”